- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Needs a vacation

“He wore a dark blue suit, looked tired and drawn.”

Or so the official White House pool report noted yesterday of President Bush, who interrupted his so-called “vacation” to comment on Hurricane Katrina.

Bring it on

Dorothy Helms, wife of retired North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms, says liberals are ready to “torpedo” today’s official release of her husband’s memoir, “Here’s Where I Stand.”

Then again, controversial books sell like pancakes, so Mr. Helms in his retirement will certainly welcome the publicity — good or bad.

Mrs. Helms says it’s taken her husband two years to write the memoir. Coinciding with its release, North Carolina Republican Sens. Elizabeth Dole and Richard M. Burr in the coming weeks will co-host a Washington salute to Mr. Helms at the Marriott Crystal Gateway.

Meanwhile, despite being in declining health, Mr. Helms has kept busy issuing a statement or two in advance of today’s publication. One such statement, provided to this column yesterday by his office in North Carolina, concerns the former senator orchestrating strong opposition to centrist Republican and former Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld’s nomination to be President Clinton’s ambassador to Mexico.

“My objection to William Weld wasn’t based on the way he conducted himself as governor or even how he would conduct himself as an ambassador in a place other than Mexico. India was where I wanted to send him,” Mr. Helms now states.

And as for Mr. Weld announcing in recent days that he is gearing up for a run for governor of New York, Mr. Helms states: “One of the things that makes America so great is that anyone can run for public office, and it’s up to the voters to decide who will best serve them. I wish Mr. Weld well.”

Se habla Espanol?

Mauro E. Mujica, chairman of U.S. English, is blasting an unprecedented school board vote in Dallas County, Texas, that requires school administrators to learn Spanish or else lose their jobs.

“This is part of a frightening trend, where English-speaking Americans are being asked to learn a foreign language, while nothing is expected out of non-English-speaking immigrants to America,” says Mr. Mujica, an immigrant from Chile whose office is one block from the White House.

“Instead of forcing their administrators to learn the language of immigrants, the district should open its facilities to programs that teach immigrant parents English.”

Mr. Mujica notes that Dallas County ranks 138th in the nation in the percentage of residents who speak Spanish at home, but is ninth in the concentration of Vietnamese speakers, eighth in the concentration of Urdu speakers and 14th in the concentration of Korean speakers. Yet the school board’s language “outreach” program makes no attempt to reach other immigrant families.

All my rowdy friends

Who better to back you up on the presidential campaign trail than Hank Williams Jr.?

Inside the Beltway is told that during a recent meeting in Tennessee, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who has his eyes on the White House in 2008, got a “pledge of support” from the country music star, who has been a vocal supporter of President Bush over the past six years.

“Hank has been a big supporter of the Republican Party,” Nashville PR mogul Kirt Webster, who represents Mr. Williams, told Inside the Beltway by telephone yesterday. “And he told Mr. Frist that he would be there to support him.”

Grammy time

Speaking of mixing music and politics, Gloria Estefan, Desmond Child and Earl Klugh will be among musicians lobbying Congress early next month at the first-ever Recording Arts Day on Capitol Hill.

In fact, Mrs. Estefan, we’re told, has planned a unique jam session with certain members of Congress for the Sept. 7 event (“American Idol” judge Randy Jackson will also be on Capitol Hill and perhaps will rate this unusual performance), which is in partnership with the Recording Arts and Sciences Congressional Caucus and the Recording Academy.

That same evening, the academy will honor Mrs. Estefan, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican, and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, at the annual “Grammys on the Hill” dinner at the Willard Inter-Continental Hotel. Mr. Alexander is chairman of the Senate’s Songwriters’ Caucus, while Mr. Hoyer has been an active advocate in Washington for creators’ rights.

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

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