- The Washington Times - Monday, November 15, 2004

Pour you a pint?

Why all the secrecy at the British Embassy on Saturday night?

British Prime Minister Tony Blair already departed for home after meetings at the White House, but that didn’t stop President Bush and first lady Laura Bush from dressing in tuxedo and evening gown and making an unannounced two-plus-hour visit to U.K. soil on Massachusetts Avenue.

What gives?

“Closed event. No coverage,” reads the official White House pool report, which did confirm an “unusually secretive” event.

“We were not told where we were going until we got there, and we were not told what kind of event it was,” says David Jackson of the Dallas Morning News, who adds that he didn’t see much after he got there, either.

“Your pool was stashed in a small pub, complete with rotating disco ball, on the embassy grounds,” he explains.

It wasn’t until the wee hours — 4:04 a.m. yesterday — that the White House came clean: “A surprise birthday party for Condoleezza Rice.”

The president’s national security adviser and close confidante turned 50 yesterday.

Getting along

Two weeks after Republicans tightened their grip on terrified Democrats, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, Maine Republican, traveled to Pebble Beach, Calif., to accept an award for bipartisanship.

Retiring Sen. John B. Breaux, Louisiana Democrat, similarly received the annual Jefferson-Lincoln Award award from the Leon and Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy, presented to politicians who are able to put politics aside for the interest of the country.

“The fact is, we’ve all witnessed this mounting chorus of partisanship that has engulfed our nation’s politics,” Mrs. Snowe said Saturday night. “Indeed, our current system appears infused by a coarse partisanship, a raw ideology, a podium-thumping belligerence that all too often produces only political stagnation.”

She said the “sensible center — the moderate center where most Americans reside and where both political parties meet — has dissipated.”

Exacerbating matters, she added, is the loss of “consensus-forging leaders” on Capitol Hill, specifically former Republican Sens. Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming, Warren B. Rudman of New Hampshire, Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas, William S. Cohen of Maine, and John Chafee of Rhode Island, and former Democratic Sens. Sam Nunn of Georgia and Bob Kerrey of Nebraska.

Freshman faces

Virginia Sen. George Allen, chairman of the newly strengthened National Republican Senatorial Committee, gets the honor of introducing the seven newly elected Republican senators at a Capitol Hill reception this morning.

Soon to add a net four new votes among them for the Republican Party are Sens.-elect Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Mel Martinez of Florida, David Vitter of Louisiana, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and John Thune of South Dakota — the latter dethroning Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle.

History lesson

How does the Republican Party build a lasting majority?

“There are three earlier elections that were classic springboards to long, stable majorities,” notes former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. “Thomas Jefferson’s victory in 1800, William McKinley’s in 1896, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s re-election in 1936. In each case, a personality and a cause were fused into a new system of power that then went on to govern for a generation.

“Jefferson wiped out the Federalist Party, and his followers governed for 24 years. McKinley launched a Republican majority that lasted thirty-six years, with the only Democratic victory coming from a split in the Republican Party. Roosevelt’s majority kept the White House for 20 unbroken years and the House for 64 (with only two Republican interruptions, neither of which lasted past one term).”

Mr. Gingrich, now a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, expressed optimism for the future, saying President Bush’s political architect Karl Rove understands this history as well as any political analyst in modern times.

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

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