- The Washington Times - Monday, February 14, 2005

Grapes of wrath

“Please RSVP … we need to know how much Australian and American wine and beer to buy.”

Myron Ebell, director of global warming and international environmental policy for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, inviting allies in the Bush administration, Congress, business, labor “and our Australian mates” to a reception this Wednesday to celebrate the United States’ and Australia’s not joining what’s being called the “European” Kyoto Protocol, which goes into effect this week.

Flamingo Joe

All the president’s men (and women, of course) are making plans for tomorrow evening’s party at Teatro Goldoni in memory of Joe Canzeri, the affable assistant to Ronald Reagan.

Mr. Canzeri, who died in November at 74, was described in his obituary as “a fun-loving impresario of special events and a quick, resourceful advance man for some of the most powerful people in the world,” including Nelson A. Rockefeller for 16 years.

The night of reminiscing will be hosted by former Reagan White House Chief of Staff Michael Deaver; Nancy Reagan’s former press secretary, Sheila Tate; and Washingtonian magazine’s Chuck Conconi, who dined with Mr. Canzeri when he was in town for Mr. Reagan’s funeral in June.

The invitation is adorned with pink flamingos and an amusing newspaper item dated April 26, 1983, in which Mr. Conconi, then with The Washington Post, observed that Mr. Canzeri was probably seeing the long-necked creatures in his dreams after a plastic flock of the colorful birds landed one day in his Georgetown yard.

Getting “flamingoed” was the rage in those days, and within hours, Mr. Canzeri was receiving phone calls from people who wanted a few of their own, including two ladies from a senior citizens home, as well as the now-deceased political guru Lee Atwater, who asked for a pair to auction at a fund-raiser.

Mr. Deaver and outgoing White House social secretary Muffie Brandon, it turned out, had conspired to give Mr. Canzeri the distinction of having the first pink flamingos in Georgetown.

“I have secret plans to get even with Deaver,” Mr. Canzeri was overheard to comment.

In addition to Mr. Deaver, other familiar Reagan alumni on the tribute list include James Lake, Ken Duberstein, William Webster, Fred Ryan and a lot of the president’s women, too.

Life of the party

Every four years it’s the same argument: Why hold costly national political conventions if the party’s nominee already is crowned?

Yet every four years, Republicans and Democrats alike flock to places like New York City and Boston, host cities of the 2004 conventions, where the biggest concern these predictable days is what cocktail party to attend.

Likewise, newspapermen and TV anchors have found it increasingly difficult to report any significant news from the almost weeklong extravaganzas. And who pays for it all?

“Taxpayers, unfortunately, have had to bear the brunt of the cost for these conventions, which last year totaled almost a third of a billion dollars,” says Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, Maryland Republican, one of several lawmakers who want the pickpocketing to stop.

“The conventions no longer serve the purpose they were intended to serve [when they] used to decide a political party’s presidential nominee,” the congressman says. “However, it has been a long time since there was any suspense or even pretense about the nominee from either the Republican or Democratic … conventions.”

Last year, taxpayers forked over about $40 million for the Republican convention in Gotham and almost $50 million for the Democrats’ bash in Boston. And this does not count the tremendous costs that host cities coughed up to provide security, police protection and transportation services.

Love it or leave it

We’re glad to see the Fox News/Opinion Dynamics pollsters are taking a breather from politics on this Valentine’s Day, albeit by asking 900 “registered voters” whether they will celebrate this romantic day.

Surprisingly, 20 percent of men and 22 percent of women said they will “ignore” Valentine’s Day today. An additional 8 percent of men and 6 percent of women said they “dread” Valentine’s Day.

Condi mint

Will our paths someday entwine?

Will your faithful heart be mine?

It would be so nice,

Condoleezza Rice,

If you’d be my Valentine.

F.R. Duplantier, not the first American of late to have a Condi crush.

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

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