- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Rest of the story

In 1979, a young California college student, Dennis Cardoza, was all set to begin a Capitol Hill internship with Al Gore, who was then a congressman from Tennessee.

But just when he finished packing his bags for Washington, Mr. Cardoza was told that his internship offer was rescinded, given instead to a Tennessee student.

Mr. Cardoza turned to the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars for help, and fortunately, he secured another internship with then-Rep. Martin Frost, Texas Democrat.

Now, some 25 years later, the former intern is a Democratic congressman, winning the seat held by former Rep. Gary A. Condit, California Democrat.

Most fittingly, when Mr. Cardoza took the oath of office for the first time, his old boss, Mr. Frost, was by his side.

Last night, the Washington Center honored Mr. Cardoza with its Alumnus of the Year award, given his impressive rise from congressional intern to U.S. congressman.

It’s worth noting that the Washington Center is commemorating its 30th anniversary as the largest provider of internships in the nation’s capital. Since 1975, according to its president, Michael Smith, it has brought more than 33,000 students to Washington for internships in Congress, federal agencies, nonprofits and corporate offices.

No third term?

Even though President Bush cannot seek re-election beyond this term in office, his second, that didn’t stop Democracy Corps lieutenants James Carville and Stan Greenberg from conducting a national survey of 1,000 likely voters asking whether they will continue to support Mr. Bush.

Key result of the survey: 45 percent of voters say they are “finished with him.”

Artistic ambassadors

The classic music of Paderewski and Chopin will be performed at the Library of Congress this evening with the hope that such artistic works will be resurrected as an important part of U.S. diplomacy.

“When great music is wedded to cultural exchange, it transforms and raises the human spirit and allows for artistic values to traverse cultural and political differences,” explains John Robilette, a concert pianist who will perform at the 7:30 p.m. program, entitled “Great Music, America and the World: The Emotional and Political Power of the Arts as Statecraft.”

With the support of President Reagan more than two decades ago, Mr. Robilette established the Artistic Ambassador Program, which sent “musical ambassadors” from the United States to 63 countries to perform, teach and interact with students and artists.

The program had “extraordinary” impact during the Cold War, with the Bangkok Post observing: “With artistic ambassadors like these, why does America need a naval presence?”

Tonight’s performance will be hosted by Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, chairman of the Senate Arts Caucus and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who says the music exchange program is one proven way “to improve America’s public diplomacy.”

Billy’s battles

It was several days after Hurricane Katrina had slammed into the southeastern Louisiana coast, and an emotional Billy Tauzin, president and chief executive officer of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, called his entire staff into PhRMA’s ninth-floor conference room on 15th Street Northwest.

He may no longer be the longtime congressman (nearly 25 years) representing hard-hit New Orleans and its surrounding parishes — Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District — but that didn’t stop Mr. Tauzin from traveling to the hurricane-ravaged region to console his former constituents.

It was a “stirring recount of his visit,” says PhRMA communications director Jennifer C. Page, during which “Billy, too, cried” while describing the “devastated residents who wept on his shoulder, wondering where to go and what to do.”

He then appealed to members of his staff to do everything they could to help with Katrina relief efforts. They opened their wallets and checkbooks and contributed almost $10,000, which PhRMA immediately matched.

Mr. Tauzin, a Democrat before switching to the Republican Party in 1995, was diagnosed with intestinal cancer early in 2004, and his recovery, PhRMA says, ultimately led him to accept his current lobbying position. PhRMA represents 35 of the top pharmaceutical companies in the country.

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

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