- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 21, 2004


Pierre Salinger, White House press secretary to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, was laid to rest yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery after a funeral Mass at Washington’s Holy Trinity Church.

Robert Devaney had “the extraordinary luck of being one of Pierre Salinger’s last editors” — and at a not-so-major newspaper.

“Salinger, having retired from ABC News and taken hits for his allegations that the 1996 crash of TWA 800 off Long Island was no accident, returned from France to Washington — specifically to Georgetown, where he had lived before during the 1960s,” Mr. Devaney recalls.

“In 1998, Salinger spoke at a neighborhood event and, as editor in chief of the Georgetowner, I invited him to write a regular column for this now 50-year-old community newspaper. It made sense in Georgetowners’ mind. The Kennedys and Salinger: Sure, they are part of local history, too. To my amazement, Salinger agreed without hesitation — and with a twinkle in his eye.”

He penned columns for two years — until George W. Bush drove him from town.

“If Bush wins, I am going to leave the United States and spend the rest of my life in France,” Mr. Salinger wrote in November 2000.

“His comments made the news wires and, true to his words, Salinger left the USA in 2001 to live at his wife’s bed-and-breakfast near Le Thor, France,” notes Mr. Devaney. “He played that up, of course. The Georgetowner obliged with a colorful cover story, headlined ‘Bon Voyage, Pierre,’ and a photo of its departing columnist, who was wearing a T-shirt that read: ‘He’s not my president.’ ”

Kofi who?

A Big Boy Restaurant in Clio, Mich., was the unusual venue for a global briefing yesterday by Vice President Dick Cheney, who took his audience from World War II, through the Cold War and September 11, 2001, and finally to the war in Iraq today.

Globally speaking, what is a positive outcome of the latest conflict?

“First and foremost, of course, is the fact that five days after we dug Saddam [Hussein] out of his hole in northern Iraq, Moammar Gadhafi, the leader of Libya, went public and announced he was giving up all of his nuclear materials,” Mr. Cheney said.

“He had the uranium. He had the centrifuges to enrich the uranium. He had a design for a weapon. All of that is now under lock and here in the United States. He saw the wisdom of no longer pursuing those aspirations and contacted Tony Blair and President Bush. He didn’t call the United Nations.”

Relishes mud

We quoted former President Bill Clinton this week as saying that Democrats, in the waning days of the 2004 presidential campaign, were awaiting a “last-minute avalanche of mud we fully expect to come our way.”

Have you grabbed your goggles, James Carville?

“I’ve been on my share of campaigns, and I can tell you … staff and volunteers are out there, eating cold pizza, working 18-hour days, getting bags under their eyes the size of church bells, getting hit with Republican slime every 30 seconds — negative ads, negative mail, negative press releases, and negative phone calls,” says the Democratic strategist.

“And you know what? They’re loving it. They’re loving it because the meaner and nastier Republicans get, the more desperate it means they are.”

Eye for an eye

It’s not business as usual in the war room of the Democratic National Committee.

“This year is different,” says Michael Whouley, the party’s general election strategist. “We’re not just settling for putting up a good fight. This year we are going to do everything it takes to go toe-to-toe with the Republican smear machine.”

Which means?

“We are not letting a single Republican attack go unchallenged. This is the most important two weeks that we will ever face in American politics.”

One is enough

A White House spokesman says President Bush caught a few innings of both the American and National League baseball playoffs this week, but stopped short of contemplating the irony of yet another possible “Texas vs. Massachusetts” (Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox) World Series lineup.

Fans of this column will enjoy John McCaslin’s new book, “Inside the Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans From Around the Nation’s Capital.” Mr. McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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