- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Fanning the flames

Speculation about the 2008 presidential race is heating up, and two new books — released on the same day and by the same publisher, Judith Regan — are taking opposite sides of the debate.

“The Case for Hillary Clinton,” by former Michael Dukakis campaign manager and Fox News contributor Susan Estrich, takes the side of the senator from New York, while one-time Clinton confidant Dick Morris, in “Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race,” says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has the only chance of beating Mrs. Clinton.

Working behind the scenes to fuel the proverbial fire to the benefit of each author is public relations mogul Max Pulsinelli, who is navigating publicity on behalf of both authors at the same time.

Any conflict here?

“It’s really fun, actually,” Mr. Pulsinelli tells Inside the Beltway, “developing the point-counterpoint debate while maintaining the individuality of the titles.”

A longtime publicist, Mr. Pulsinelli is president of Maximum Impact Public Relations, a newly established public relations practice based in Washington.

Tall tales

The bottom line of “Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race,” written by former Clinton aide Dick Morris: “Rice doesn’t lie,” whereas until recently “Hillary appeared to find it almost impossible to avoid making up yarns to suit the convenience of the moment.”

Are you suggesting Mrs. Clinton is a liar?

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, explains Mr. Morris, has been on the Washington stage long enough to “realize how easily one can get caught” telling lies.

As for New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, he claims that her staff today “works overtime to script her and keep her under control, precisely because they know how easily she can be tempted into fabrications big and small.”

Franklin salute

It is a most kind and fitting gesture, compliments of the family of a local World War II veteran.

The children of 85-year-old James W. Lyons, who fortunately survived the relentless bombing of the aircraft carrier USS Franklin off the coast of Japan, are hosting a 60th anniversary reunion this weekend for their dad and his shipmates.

About 60 survivors and their families, numbering more than 200, will reunite at the Hyatt Regency in the Crystal City section of Arlington, no doubt recalling one of the Navy’s most harrowing days at sea.

On March 19, 1945, the Franklin came under seven-plane attack, sustaining heavy damage, loss of life and casualties. Taking a direct hit by two bombs, aircraft on the ship detonated, causing fires, explosions and extensive damage.

War historians say it was the worst damage any U.S. warship ever survived. They credit the efforts of the brave men of the Franklin, and other ships that came to its rescue, for preventing the carrier from being destroyed.

As for Mr. Lyons, who today from his Woodbridge, Va., home keeps tabs on his four children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, the force of the explosion literally knocked him overboard. He was rescued at sea by the crew of the USS Pittsburgh.

After the war, Mr. Lyons married Rita Moran, also a Navy veteran of World War II. He worked as a civilian at the Washington Navy Yard, retiring in 1982. Until 2003, he worked as a school bus attendant for Prince William County schools. His wife died in 1997.

His daughter, Kathleen Lyons, tells Inside the Beltway that many of her father’s shipmates will be paying respects for the first time at the World War II Memorial, where a memorial service and wreath-laying has been scheduled in their honor.

“Most are in their upper 70s in age or older,” Miss Lyons notes. “My father is 85 years old, and one of the oldest survivors. Some of the people coming are family members of men who were [killed in action] on March 19, 1945, [and] we have sons [attending] who were either very young or not born yet when their fathers left for the war.”

Welcoming the Franklin crew to the nation’s capital will be retired Navy Adm. Stansfield Turner, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and retired Capt. Gary Schnurrpusch, former chief of staff of the U.S. Navy, each of whom will be on hand at the Hyatt to salute and thank the veterans for their service to the country.

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

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