- The Washington Times - Monday, February 23, 2004

Agnew annals

Victor Gold, who was press secretary to Vice President Spiro Agnew, got a chuckle out of our item yesterday about Clinton Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich nicknaming radical conservatives “Radcons.”

“During the campaign of 1970 we coined the word ‘Radic-lib’ for radical liberal — to separate them from the old, traditional liberals,” Mr. Gold says. “So when I read your item I figured Reich was either reading up on my old boss, or else he stole it directly.”

Given his illustrious career, we wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Gold coined the word. Prior to working for Mr. Agnew, he was deputy press secretary to Barry Goldwater in 1964, and later served as a speechwriter for Gerald R. Ford, Bob Dole and George Bush.

Mr. Gold today is a national correspondent for Washingtonian magazine, covering political affairs.

Clean deck

It took long enough, but the Federal Communications Commission is no longer accepting perks from influential lobbying groups in Washington.

So when all five members of the FCC attend the National Association of Broadcasters’ annual convention in Las Vegas in April, they won’t do so on NAB’s dime.

“[U]nlike last year, the trip is being paid for by the FCC, not the broadcasters,” says a spokesman for the Center for Public Integrity.

FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell ordered an end to the questionable practice of accepting free travel and entertainment from industries it regulates after condemnation by Congress and the public.

Thumbs up

Before they rush out to see Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ,” President Bush yesterday encouraged the nation’s governors to see another timely movie about persecution.

“You ought to see the movie ‘Osama,’” Mr. Bush told governors during a White House meeting. “It talks about what it was like to be a woman in Afghanistan during the Taliban era. … [T]hat movie will bring home what it means to be liberated from the clutches of barbarism.”

Another big fan of “Osama” is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, who recently hosted a private screening of the film at the Washington office of the Motion Picture Association of America. Premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, it’s the first entirely Afghan film shot since the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban regime, which banned all movies as contrary to Islam.

Inspired by a true story, the film features a 12-year-old girl whose mother loses her job when the Taliban closes the hospital where she works. With her husband and brother dead, she is unable to leave the house without a “legal companion,” so the mother disguises her daughter as a boy. The girl then becomes known as Osama.

Young Ike

Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the arrival of the first B-2 stealth bomber — the most powerful military plane in the world — and nobody is more proud than Rep. Ike Skelton, Missouri Democrat and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.

After all, starting at an early age, Mr. Skelton paved the way for the B-2’s arrival.

“I will never forget one particular warm autumn day in my hometown of Lexington,” says the congressman. “I was 11 years of age, and I was with my buddies … when I heard and saw the Army Air Corps C-47s pulling gliders above us.”

The Air Corps, he knew, had a base in nearby Sedalia. What he didn’t know was that its pilots were training for the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion at Normandy.

Mr. Skelton’s first job was washing airplanes and raking dirt floors of hangars at the old Lexington airport. One day, he peered into an airplane and atop the right seat spotted a large set of radio equipment.

“This massive equipment allowed the plane to serve as a drone, pulling targets for the Army Air Corps pilots to practice shooting,” he says. “In my wildest dreams, I could never have imagined that years after seeing those planes … that I would be a part of making that Sedalia Army Air Field, now known as Whiteman, the most modern bomber base in the world.”

Whiteman has been home to the B-47 wing, and during the height of the Cold War it was a Minuteman I and II missile installation. Two decades ago, Mr. Skelton proposed that the futuristic B-2 be based there, and in 1986 Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger concurred.

The secretary even let Mr. Skelton make the announcement.

“This plane flies for the same purpose as the planes I saw in 1943: to preserve freedom,” says the 72-year-old congressman. “The airplanes have changed, but the mission remains the same.”

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

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