- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 20, 2005

‘Tar & Feather’

“Incredibly predictable” is how Progress for America describes liberal special interest groups that started “their premeditated character assassination campaign within minutes of the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court.”

In fact, the conservative group, which has pledged an initial $18 million to combat “dishonest attacks” on Judge Roberts, had forecasted the attacks in its recent report: “Tar & Feather: The Liberal’s 10-Step Plan for Judicial Character Assassination.”

Take Step 1: “Before (and after) a vacancy is announced — whip your membership into a frenzy with overblown rhetoric.”

Who better in a frenzy than the Rev. Jesse Jackson, president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition? He told the Chicago Tribune that confirmation of Judge Roberts would set “the court back half a century. … He will roll back workers’ rights, women’s rights and civil rights.”

Step 3: “Once a nominee is named, immediately announce that the nominee’s record raises more questions than it answers.”

Enter Wade Henderson, of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, who told the Baltimore Sun: “At first blush, John Roberts may not appear to be an ultra-right judicial activist, but his approach to issues of protecting the rights and freedoms of individual Americans is, at best, unclear and, in some instances, deeply troubling.”

Overdue honor

When not voicing his own predictable concerns about President Bush‘s nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, found time this week to become co-sponsor of a bill to authorize the presentation of commemorative medals on behalf of Congress to American Indians who served as “code talkers” during U.S. conflicts in the 20th century — codes that were never broken by our enemies.

Wright stuff

Jim Wright, whose 1980s vanity book “Reflections of a Public Man” led, in a roundabout way, to his political downfall, has written a new book — “The Flying Circus: Pacific War, 1943, As Seen Through a Bombsight” — which will be celebrated at a U.S. Capitol book party on Wednesday evening.

Readers will learn that prior to his 34 years as a Texas congressman, including as speaker from 1987 to 1989, Mr. Wright enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps at the start of World War II. Commissioned as a pilot in 1942, he earned a Distinguished Flying Cross during combat in the South Pacific.

As for the previous book, one of several Mr. Wright has authored over the years, the House ethics committee in 1989 issued a report implying that he used bulk purchases from the tome to earn speaking fees above the maximum allowed by Congress. Furthermore, it was purported that his wife, Betty, was a recipient of perks — including a job — to avoid the gift limit.

As history would have it, Mr. Wright stepped down as speaker on May 31, 1989. One month later, he resigned from Congress, paving the way for the rapid ascension of Republican Newt Gingrich, who, need we remind anybody, had filed the original charges against Mr. Wright.

WWII memorial

Jim Wright, former House speaker and Distinguished Flying Cross medal holder, has yet to visit the National World War II Memorial in Washington.

So, the morning after a dinner in his honor at Teatro Goldoni on Wednesday, Mr. Wright will be led on a personal tour of the memorial by none other than former Marine Corps Commandant P.X. Kelley.

The retired general is the former chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission, which helped steer the memorial through its completion.

Dinner at Teatro will be hosted by Washington publicist Janet Donovan and Franklin Margiotta, publisher of Mr. Wright’s 1993 book, “Worth It All: My War for Peace.”

Fighting spiders

Mail keeps pouring in from military veterans who read our item this week on Sen. Byron L. Dorgan’s complaint to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld about a report of outdated, year-old food being consumed by members of the U.S. armed forces fighting in Iraq.

“The chow information was most amusing. Talk about pampered!” writes Inside the Beltway reader Stan Welli. “When I was in the Army from 1955-57 we were still eating ‘C’ rations left over from World War II. Honest.

“Some of the packages even contained olive drab match books with neat WWII slogans on them such as ‘Keep ‘em flying!’ or ‘Keep ‘em fighting!’

“Furthermore, some of the ammunition clips for our M-1 rifles actually had cobwebs between the eight rounds in each clip. Isn’t that scandalous? There’s never a whistle blower around when you need one.”

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

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