- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 25, 2005

President’s counsel

“Be careful when choosing new hires

And make sure they fulfill your desires;

If you want to choose wiser,

Ask a trusted adviser.”

— Yours truly, Harriet Miers

F.R. Duplantier

Speak up, Al

We were huddling with a local broadcaster yesterday when the topic turned to Air America Radio, the nationwide network that brings the politics and opinions of left-wingers such as Al Franken into our living rooms and automobiles.

This columnist expressed curiosity about why Air America’s latest Arbitron numbers for its Washington affiliate, WWRC-AM (1260), are dismal — so low that they didn’t even measure on the listener scale — when barely two months ago, on Aug. 4, Air America Radio President Gary Krantz issued a rather upbeat press release saying his network’s Washington listenership had grown a whopping “300 percent” between spring 2004 and spring 2005.

The local broadcaster answered my question by forwarding the Arbitron figures from six months ago: Sure enough, Mr. Krantz was correct, listenership in Washington did grow 300 percent — but from 0.1 to 0.4 percent. Now, apparently, that minuscule 0.4 percent has switched networks.

Baby prop

Once was the time a politician could pick up a baby and mug for the camera. But these days a candidate had better be holding his own child — and if he doesn’t have any children, he at least ought to be married.

Just ask Virginia General Assembly incumbent Delegate Mark D. Sickles, a Democrat who stands accused of fabricating a family in his re-election campaign.

First, some background. Mr. Sickles, 48, was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2003, having moved to his district just outside Washington in 1987 to be close to Fort Belvoir, where he worked at the time for the U.S. Army.

In his current campaign, education and schools have become major issues, which has led Mr. Sickles’ Republican opponent, Ron Grignol, to charge that the Democrat is misrepresenting his personal life to bolster his education credentials.

“Last week Mark Sickles sent a mail piece deliberately misleading the voters in the 43rd District,” the Grignol campaign said.

How so?

“The mailer portrayed Mark prominently on the front of the piece cradling a toddler in his arms in a fatherly embrace. The problem is Mark Sickles does not have a child or a family.”

Jay Ford, Mr. Grignol’s campaign manager, says that after their opponent’s mailing “our office received multiple phone calls from confused voters asking, ‘Does Mark have a child?’ We did not know what people were talking about. We knew Mark to be unmarried with no children, so this naturally came as a surprise to us.”

Mr. Ford added that it “is disheartening to see how the political process has denigrated so very much that a candidate would attempt to purposely mislead our citizens … .”

Oh well, at least Mr. Sickles doesn’t have to change any diapers.

BQ in lights

Nationally syndicated talk-radio host Blanquita Cullum(“BQ” to her friends and fans) will be the hostess and stage-instruction reader for “Teacher of the Year,” a new two-act satire play by Joe David that has its Washington premiere Nov. 14 at the National Press Club.

This is just the latest role for Miss Cullum, who was appointed in 2002 by President Bush to be the first Hispanic woman and first talk-show host to sit on the Broadcasting Board of Governors — the governing arm of government broadcasting entities that includes the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe, Radio SAWA and World Television.

As for the play, described as “twistedly comic” by Chicago reviewer Sam Weller, it’s a madcap journey into the world of “sex education,” filled with laughter and no doubt colorful characters. The playwright, Mr. David, is the author of four books, “Teacher of the Year,” “The Fire Within,” “As Best We Can” and “Glad You Asked!”

One woman’s ‘Wish’

“The Living Room” of the Mandarin Oriental in Washington was the comfortable setting for last evening’s cocktail reception celebrating National Geographic editor Melina Gerosa Bellows‘ first work of fiction — a novel titled “Wish.”

Mrs. Bellows is the Washington-based editor-in-chief of National Geographic Kids, which to her credit is the fastest-growing magazine in America. She is married to Keith Bellows, editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveler magazine.

“Wish,” from what this columnist gathers, is a “chick book” (but don’t let that stop you guys from buying a copy for your girls). It’s the story of Bella Grandelli, who more than anything else in the world wants to be a bride, and her lifelong search for “the One” — that mysterious something that will finally make her happy and complete.

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



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