- The Washington Times - Monday, March 1, 2004

Rummy the romantic

A glimpse of the softer side of Donald H. Rumsfeld unexpectedly pops up on page 131 of “Rumsfeld’s War,” the new book on the tough-minded defense secretary by Rowan Scarborough, defense and national security reporter for The Washington Times.

Mr. Scarborough writes that Mr. Rumsfeld surprised his wife, Joyce, on her 70th birthday Sept. 18, 2002, with a book about her consisting of photographs that he compiled and a narrative that he wrote. He called it “Joyce Rumsfeld: A Joy to the World,” had it printed in brown hardcover and gave copies to the couple’s three children and other family members.

“Don told me, ‘There will be many books about me and nobody is going to write a book about Joyce,’” a family friend confided to Mr. Scarborough. “In the midst of all this, I think it’s the most touching thing I’ve ever heard. He had a million other things to think about and to do, and I know very few men who would have taken the time and effort to do something like that.”

Child prevention

Inside the Beltway has received advance word that “street teams” of Planned Parenthood volunteers will begin distributing condoms at District-area subway stations and sporting events to draw attention to the upcoming March for Women’s Lives.

(One would think a simple notice or two about the march in the newspaper might do the trick).

“It is time to gear up and get aggressive,” Planned Parenthood’s Tracy Leaman writes to supporters, saying the teams will converge on the District, Maryland and Virginia “at Metro stops, concerts, sports events … everywhere!”

“The street teams will be handing out condoms attached to cards about the march,” she says.

Given the fact that youngsters usually accompany this columnist to sporting events, via the subway, I inquired of Ms. Leaman if it ever dawned on Planned Parenthood that the condoms might pique the curiosity of children accompanying parents who are handed the rubber sheaths?

“Um … we haven’t thought that far,” she acknowledged.

“Our target audience are people who will be using condoms,” she said. “Clearly, we will have to train the volunteers.”

Age discrimination

“Children of all ages are welcome to attend, as long as there is at least one child 7 years old or under and no more than two adults per group,” the White House stresses of this year’s annual Easter Egg Roll, to be held Monday, April 12, on the South Lawn of the White House.


Why should anyone pay attention to Constitution Party presidential candidate Michael Peroutka?

“We’ll probably be on more state ballots than Ralph Nader,” says the candidate, who has nicknamed President Bush and the four remaining Democratic presidential hopefuls “Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber.”

Name that union

Jennifer Leischer, communications associate for the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, invites Inside the Beltway readers to participate in a contest announced in the latest Fordham Foundation weekly education newsletter, the Education Gadfly:

“True, [Education Secretary] Rod Paige should not have called the National Education Association ‘a terrorist organization.’ Given the times in which we live, the middle word in that phrase might have been better chosen. (How about ‘hostile,’ ‘disgraceful,’ ‘selfish,’ ‘anti-child’?)

“But we’re cheered by Paige’s frequently memorable turns-of-phrase and his stubborn insistence on calling a spade what it is rather than a teaspoon. Such character is in short supply in Washington. Already, the education secretary gets credit for the best line in recent political memory, when he described the NCLB [No Child Left Behind] opposition as ‘a coalition of the whining.’ And we loved his give-no-ground apology for this week’s gaffe.

“In honor of this transformation of mild-mannered educator into take-no-prisoners warrior, we’d like to sponsor a contest for the best description of the NEA. Is it a union of mass destruction? A group of dead-enders? Don’t limit yourself to war-on-terror comparisons; let your creative juices flow.

“Gadfly serves as judge, with points given for wit, style, and economy of phrasing. Multiple entries are encouraged. Author of the best description gets his or her name in next week’s issue and a much-desired Fordham T-shirt. Send your entries to [email protected]

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

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