- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 20, 2005

Get up, Howard

It’s being touted as the first Washington event for Howard Dean since he became chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

“In FrankCapra’s classic ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,’ an inspired Jefferson Smith pleads, ‘Just get up off the ground, that’s all I ask … . Great principles don’t get lost once they come to light. They’re right here — you just have to see them again!’

“With that energy and passion,” comments Andrew Wright, a regional finance director of the DNC, “Governor Howard Dean has come to Washington to build our party from the ground up and fight for the values we all share.”

Democratic leaders will greet Mr. Dean by throwing a party in his honor Wednesday night at H20 on the Washington waterfront (tickets are $50, or $35 with a student ID). And don’t expect the former governor to get rowdy. The new Mr. Dean says he’s more serious and sober.

“Sometimes partisan politics gets overheated. I know that as well as anyone,” Mr. Dean said this past week, referring to his “I Have A Scream” performance that some think contributed to his losing the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination.

Instead, he explained, “when one party controls all three branches of government and then seeks to change the fundamental principles and rules of our democracy, we need to talk about it soberly and seriously.”

Congressional lunch

Let’s face it: Not everybody wants to break bread with a congressman.

“I’ve recently been granted lunch with Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia’s 8th District!” writes the EBay auctioneer in his coast-to-coast appeal. “I’m offering some of my lunch slots since, honestly, I don’t have many friends or family who are politically active.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a sit-down, face-to-face lunch with a congressman who has [introduced] many historic bills through his long career. 5 guest slots were offered, 4 slots are still available.”

“Please make sure you are able to pass a background check before bidding.”

Host call-in

In his first call to his own Fox News Radio show since colon cancer surgery, an upbeat Tony Snow was all laughs last Friday: “I’m feeling good,” he told listeners, while confessing to sitting around much of the day watching college basketball.

As Mr. Snow prepares to begin a long course of chemotherapy, plans are already under way by the network to “fix up a home studio for Tony to broadcast from while he is convalescing,” a Fox source says.

Money pit?

Congress originally had budgeted $265 million for the current “iteration” of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.

More recent Architect of the Capitol (AOC) estimates hovered around $454 million.

Now, the AOC has requested an additional $37 million for “unforeseen cost increases associated with construction.”

That means the Government Accountability Office wasn’t too far off last January when it predicted a final taxpayer price tag of $559 million.

The modern underground visitor center, which was supposed to have kept President Bush’s hair dry in time for the 2005 presidential inaugural — but is now as many as two years behind schedule — “is a five-acre money pit right under Congress’s nose,” says Citizens Against Government Waste president Tom Schatz.

“It is a classic example of a botched construction project that never should have been funded,” he says, criticizing Congress for ignoring “warnings of its ballooning costs and limited utility.”

Abandoning America

“Bush-hating expats,” “Multicultural mealymouths,” “Molson-drinking Zamboni drivers,” and “Gordon Lightfoot lovers.”

Just a few of the descriptions of our neighbors to the north culled from this week’s “Weekly Standard” cover story, “Welcome to Canada: The Great White Waste of Time.”

“Whenever I think of Canada … strike that. I’m an American, therefore I tend not to think of Canada,” begins senior writer Matt Labash. “On the rare occasion when I have considered the country … I’ve regarded it, as most Americans do, as North America’s attic, a mildewy recess that adds little value to the house, but serves as an excellent dead space for … drawing-room socialists, and hockey goons.”

The article concentrates both on “disillusioned Americans” such as Christopher Key, descendant of “Star-Spangled Banner” writer Francis Scott Key, who have been “running for the border in protest” since President Bush’s re-election.

“All the voices of moderation — Colin Powell — were going to be replaced by yes-people like Condoleezza Rice,” Mr. Key explains on leaving his homeland. “It’s going to get worse.”

And what’s so wrong, offers American expat Lorraine Wright, about Americans’ abandoning America?

“America is built on people leaving places,” she reminds Mr. Labash.

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

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