- The Washington Times - Monday, June 28, 2004

Boston party

We’re still four weeks away from the start of the Democratic National Convention in Boston, but this past weekend, the executive committee of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) got together in the host convention city.

Highlights included an update on the Democratic platform presented by the DNC’s platform drafting committee, which includes DNC platform Chairwoman Rep.Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio and DNC SecretaryAlice Germond (wife of syndicated columnist Jack Germond).

The committee also heard from DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe, from representatives of Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign and from the DNC political department on plans for November’s election.

The executive committee of the DNC consists of 67 members.

Boys will be boys

Keeping the boys orderly for the annual class picture at St. Mary’s Parochial School in Alexandria was no easy task for the Sisters of the Holy Cross, as this budding columnist observed during the 1960s.

And Vice President Dick Cheney proved last week that some things never change.

During the annual group picture-taking session in the Senate, as we all know by now, the vice president cursed at Democratic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy. The vice president cussed during a terse exchange on religion, politics and money — the same topics we Irish-American lads fought about on the steps of St. Mary’s.

President Bush avoided the Cheney-Leahy fallout by spending the night in Ireland’s Dromoland Castle, while outside, a symbolic citizen’s arrest warrant drawn up by the Irish Green Party was issued for the U.S. president.

Party leader Trevor Sargent explained that Mr. Bush violated international law by fighting terrorists in Iraq.

“I do think it is probably more important that Irish-Americans in America who have a vote would make the point based on or reflecting the opinion that is now being expressed in Ireland,” Mr. Sargent said. “So whether directly this message gets to George Bush or whether it gets to Irish-Americans, it is important to demonstrate so George Bush gets the feeling one way or another.”

One Irish-American who got the message was Mike Mooney, who forwarded it to fellow Irish-Americans, one of whom happens to be Frank Duggan, chairman of “Irish-American Republicans.” Mr. Duggan promptly wrote back:

“Dear Mike: The White House would like the Gaelic word for ‘casseroles,’ and the vice president wants to say ‘big time’ in Gaelic also. I think it was casserole, or something like that [that Mr. Bush once called a reporter]. Can you help us out with the translation? God bless, Frank Duggan.”

Mr. Mooney referred to his Gaelic dictionary and wrote back: “Casarol, with a long stroke over the O. Big is ‘Mor,’ pronounced Moore, like Tom Moore. Time is ‘Am,’ pronounce owmm. Does this help? Mike.”

“Thanks,” Mr. Duggan replied. “Now Cheney wants to know how to say ‘Go [expletive deleted].’ Best, Frank.”

Hillary’s conspiracy

What with all the froth swirling around Bill Clinton and his 957-page life these days, veteran Washington writer Cynthia Grenier’s memory threw up one particular encounter with the former president while covering the Alfalfa Club dinner.

Afterwards, guests and press were permitted to file by and shake the presidential hand, introducing themselves to Mr. Clinton. Smiling pleasantly, Mrs. Grenier introduced herself as “part of that vast right-wing conspiracy” (The “conspiracy” dreamed up by Hillary Rodham Clinton had just hit the news within the previous week).

“The president went all pink,” Mrs. Grenier recalls, and stumbled out: “Ah, no, that was a mistake … um, a mistake. There was no conspiracy. My office said so. It was a mistake.”

“I’ve rarely seen a public figure get so flustered and embarrassed,” she tells this column. “I gently patted him on the arm, saying, ‘That’s all right, Mr. President,’ and moved on.”

It so happened that Bob Bartley, editorial-page editor of the Wall Street Journal, was directly behind Mrs. Grenier in line. When the scribes had all passed out of earshot into the next room, Mr. Bartley burst out laughing.

“I can’t believe what Clinton just said to you,” he said, calling out to the other people in the room, “Did you hear what Clinton just said to Cynthia?” then repeating the exchange verbatim.

“Bill Clinton’s embarrassment was so broad and so obvious, you really couldn’t help but feel sorry for the man,” Mrs. Grenier says.

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

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