- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 9, 2004

Twain’s creed

As he prepares to retire from the Senate after 38 years, it’s hard to tell who Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, South Carolina Democrat, is more critical of these days — newspaper editors, Congress or President Bush.

“In the beginning, Thomas Jefferson observed that if he had to choose ‘between a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government,’ he would choose the latter,” the senior Democrat writes in a guest column published by the State newspaper in Columbia, S.C.

“He envisioned the press would report the truth to the American people, keeping the Congress honest. The government wouldn’t stay free long without a free press.”

Rather, the Washington press corps today, says Mr. Hollings, “has joined the political fray, and the watchdog has become the attack dog. As a result, Mark Twain’s admonition has become the creed of both Congress and the media: The truth is so precious a commodity it should be used sparingly.”

The worst offenders, he says, are newspapers that refuse to report “the truth” about Iraq.

If they had “kept Congress honest,” he concludes, “we would not be sending GIs to a war that most believe is a mistake and the top command says we can’t win.”

All together now

Who wasn’t chuckling this week when 25 volunteers with the Public Advocate of the United States broke into traditional religious Christmas carols in front of the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union?

The caroling, organizers say, was to highlight the ACLU’s “continuing disregard for the rights of their many pro-family targets,” including the Boy Scouts of America.

“Public Advocate hopes that the spirit of the Christmas season will fill the members and employees of the ACLU and that they will … renounce their efforts to destroy traditional values in America,” said Advocate President Eugene Delgaudio, who was happy to report a short time later that several ACLU staff members actually stepped outside to join in the songs of the season.

Parade marshal

Whom in North Carolina didn’t we hear from after writing this week that former Democratic vice-presidential nominee and retiring Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina still insists that he hasn’t given thought to seeking the White House in 2008?

Hard to believe, given all the fuss his aides made prior to Mr. Edwards’ farewell address to constituents, taking extraordinary care to position — and reposition — American flags behind him on the stage.

A man who identifies himself as Sonny, a neighbor of Mr. Edwards’ in North Carolina, writes to Inside the Beltway: “If this guy was being run out of town on a rail, he would think he was leading a parade.”

Apart from Kofi

Not all news coming out of the United Nations is raising eyebrows.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has appointed Duane Parde, executive director of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the nation’s largest organization of state legislators, to the United States National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO for short.

Actually, the United States withdrew from UNESCO during the end of President Reagan’s first term in 1984, citing irresponsible spending and a bloated bureaucracy. In the 20 years since, UNESCO significantly improved its overall operations, leading President Bush to rejoin the global organization in 2002.

Through the State Department, the commission advises Uncle Sam on issues related to education, science, communications, culture, and the formulation and implementation of U.S. policy toward UNESCO.

“As we look toward our children’s future, it becomes extremely important to place a high value on communication, information and knowledge,” says Mr. Parde. “This is precisely how we will break down the digital divide and create opportunities for all people, regardless of race, creed or economic sustainability.”

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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