- The Washington Times - Monday, February 9, 2004

Bushwhacked within

An Act of Congress signed in 1846 by President Polk established the Smithsonian Institution to be the steward of the national collections.

President Bush and his supporters might be surprised to learn that the souvenir store of the National Museum of American History, the nation’s flagship history museum, recently was peddling magnets poking fun at the 43rd president and his vocal miscues. And in an election year, no less.

One magnet shows a picture of Mr. Bush and schoolchildren with the words: “‘Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?’ — George W. Bush.”

Another magnet quotes the president as saying: “‘It’s your money. You paid for it.’ — George W. Bush.”

When first reached yesterday, Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas thought the magnets might be related to the museum’s exhibition “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden.”

“We have the gavel from Clinton’s impeachment proceedings on display, not people’s most favorite moment of history,” she observed. But hearing the magnets’ message, she said: “I’m not sure they are appropriate.”

Late yesterday afternoon, after confirming its museum store was selling the two Bush magnets and two similarly unflattering Bush cards, the Smithsonian pulled the items from display.

“They will discontinue selling them,” Ms. St. Thomas said.

However, she warns all politicians, once the museum’s separate “American Presidency” exhibition gift shop opens its doors March 15, the Bush items and a “full range of Republican and Democrat political humor” already ordered will go on sale.

Besides the Clinton impeachment gavel, more than 900 historical artifacts are on display, from George Washington’s battle sword to the top hat worn by Abraham Lincoln the night of his assassination.

Souls for sale

Washington is “a city of young idealists and old cynics,” many of whom sell their souls so as to be accepted, “to be part of the action.”

“If they are not careful,” writes former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican, “they will fit right in before they understand the city and its self-absorption. The city is involved in an eternal love affair with itself.”

Seduction driven by insecurity is one of “Armey’s Axioms: 40 Hard-Earned Truths From Politics, Faith, and Life” — young people who desire to fit in with the “big shots,” who spend much of their time being seen at “cocktail parties, dinners, testimonials, awards and banquets.”

When the book was published, Mr. Armey was asked by CNN’s Candy Crowley if he took anything valuable with him from his two decades in politics.

“I think the one that is most helpful to me personally in my own life … is insecurity and audacity in light of the Lord’s promise: ‘I will neither leave you nor forsake you.’ If you can get insecurity out of your life you will be better, more productive, more able, more helpful, because 90 percent of mean and hurtful things I ever did in my life was when I was acting out of my own insecurity.

“And now that could be in politics, or it can be in my marriage, it can be at work, it can be at church, it can be at the PTA. If you let insecurity drive your behavior, you’re going to be hurtful to someone.”

At the Heritage Foundation’s Lehrman Auditorium tomorrow afternoon at 12:30, the often controversial former House leader, now senior policy adviser for the law firm Piper Rudnick and co-chairman of the Citizens for a Sound Economy, has been asked to discuss the “hard-earned truths.”

Kerry’s fault

A former aide to President Clinton is suggesting that John Kerry and the anti-Vietnam War organization he once led were the real reasons Republicans broke into Watergate in 1972.

Bob Weiner, the 1971-72 Youth Voter Registration director for the Young Democrats office at the Watergate headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and a White House staffer for six years, told this columnist yesterday that he has re-examined Watergate hearing volumes held by the Library of Congress.

He points out that Watergate burglar James McCord testified that the DNC office was broken into because its staff was “working closely with violence groups.” Upon further questioning, he repeatedly named the Kerry-led Vietnam Veterans Against the War, which he accused of being “a violence-oriented group.”

One-man band

“It was a small delegation. But it was quality.”

—Vice President Dick Cheney, referring this week to the 10 years he served as a congressman from Wyoming. Wyoming to this day has only one seat in the House of Representatives, currently filled by five-term Republican Rep. Barbara Cubin.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected].

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