- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Wise Irishman

“I am having fun listening to Teresa Heinz Kerry. The Democrats muzzled Hillary Rodham Clinton in ‘92 after the ‘baking cookies’ remark, but I don’t think John Kerry will be able to do so with his meal ticket. When I was growing up, I had friends who wanted to marry girls with some wealth, but my dad, a wise old Irishman, told me: ‘No one works harder for his money than the man who marries it.’”

— Irish-American Republicans founder and co-chairman Frank Duggan.

Diverse party

Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin and Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele today will announce some rather surprising 2004 Republican National Convention delegation diversity numbers.

The RNC has just completed certification of the 2,509 delegates and 2,344 alternate delegates, who will make up the most diverse Republican delegation in the party’s history.

Georgia on his mind

Mikhail Saakashvili, the 36-year-old American-educated lawyer who led Georgia’s “Rose Revolution” last November that ousted former Soviet strongman Eduard Shevardnadze, arrives in Washington today to address the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The new president, who pledged to end corruption in Georgia and unify a fractious region, enjoys strong backing from the Bush White House. Yet, his popularity at home is showing signs of waning.

There have been repeated reports of human rights violations in the country, including the torture of political prisoners. Sulkhan Molashvili, ex-chairman of Georgia’s Chamber of Control, the government’s top auditing institution, says he was subjected to electric shock. And just last week, the 36-year-old ex-governor of Kakhaberi village, Roland Kakhidze, died in government custody.

Mr. Kakhidze had been arrested in early June on charges of possessing drugs, which fellow party members say were planted by police during a search of his home.

“Death of Kakhidze is a stigma of shame for the Georgian authorities,” said Levan Berdzenishvili, a member of the opposition Republic Party.

Meanwhile, the International Press Institute, a global network of editors in more than 120 countries, condemned a recent police raid on the independent newspaper Georgian Times. Management at the paper maintains the raid is part of a deliberate campaign to exert political pressure on the publication, while the government says it is investigating financial irregularities.

Finally, on the verge of invading breakaway South Ossetia, where blood already has been spilled, Mr. Saakashvili was forced to cut short a recent visit to Israel. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones arrived in Georgia last Friday to discuss South Ossetia with Mr. Saakashvili.

Next stop after Washington? A more tranquil Georgia — and the city of Atlanta — where Mr. Saakashvili will receive an American Bar Association award for “leadership in legal reform.”

Tissue, Patrick?

We’ve just finished reading “The Meaning of Is: The Squandered Impeachment and Wasted Legacy of William Jefferson Clinton,” authored by the one-time senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, former Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican.

During the House debate on impeachment, writes Mr. Barr, now a political analyst for CNN and contributing editor of the American Spectator, things started to take on “surreal overtones.”

“One of the oddest moments occurred … adjacent to the House chamber, after making an argument in favor of impeachment in which I quoted John F. Kennedy,” the former congressman recalls. “At the time, one of the many lesser Kennedys who populate Washington — in this case young [Rhode Island Rep.] Patrick Kennedy, nephew of the former president — was hanging around the room.

“Patrick was one of those pompous characters you encounter frequently in Washington who completely personifies the phrase ‘snot-nosed rich kid.’ An admitted cocaine user, he made at least one trip to rehab before his family bought him a congressional seat in Rhode Island by spending a phenomenal amount of cash in this small state.

“Patrick — outraged that I had dared to quote his uncle in support of impeachment — came running across the room, yelling that I was a ‘racist’ who ‘lied’ and was therefore not allowed to quote JFK. I reminded Patrick that House rules forbade this kind of behavior and — in a moment of self-indulgence — called him a ‘young man.’

“‘I am a duly elected representative who can say what he wants,’ the young Kennedy shot back.

“‘I am duly impressed,’ I responded, before he stalked away.”

• Fans of this column will enjoy John McCaslin’s new book, “Inside the Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops and Shenanigans From Around the Nation’s Capital.”

You can purchase it through BarnesandNoble.com.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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