- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2006

Mad about Mel

That was Hollywood actress Fran Drescher (“the Nanny”) forwarding an e-mail to Inside the Beltway yesterday, stating that with the recent unrest in the Middle East, the accompanying rise of anti-Semitism “and Mel Gibson’s big mouth,” it is important to be reminded of Israel’s many contributions to the world during nearly 60 years of its existence.

Come one, come all

What a difference six years makes. Whereas in 2000 Sen. Joe Lieberman all but was crowned vice president, today he’s fighting for his Capitol Hill seat (and the ironic thing, everybody seems to like the guy).

The Connecticut Democrat, who has publicly aligned himself with the Bush administration in the war on terror, will know by the close of Tuesday whether he survived the primary to face a final round of voting in November — at least as a Democratic candidate (he says he’ll run as an independent if he comes up short in next week’s voting).

“The future of our party, state and country is in our hands,” his wife, Hadassah Lieberman, went so far as to tell voters this week.

If fact, she is now appealing, in writing, to registered Republicans. She says while it is too late to change party affiliation and vote as Democrats next Tuesday, Republicans can still be of assistance by contacting their left-leaning friends and urging them to the polls.

Still, Mr. Lieberman’s days as a Democrat may be numbered. His party challenger, Ned Lamont, holds as much as a 14-point lead over the incumbent senator, according to one recent poll. All this despite the July 24 campaign appearance by former President Bill Clinton on behalf of the embattled senator.

Two words

Political campaigns are forever in search of the perfect sound bite, a catchphrase that will resonate with voters. In the green hills and hollows surrounding Monongahela, Pa., Republican congressional nominee Diana Irey didn’t need to look far for hers.

“If you’re wondering how it is that this little congressional campaign in southwestern Pennsylvania is attracting so much attention, I’ve got two words for you: Jack Murtha,” she says of her Democratic opponent, the most outspoken member of Congress against the U.S.-led war in Iraq (and now the target of a lawsuit by a Marine Corps staff sergeant who claims Mr. Murtha defamed him in the latest case of slain Iraqi civilians).

Indeed, Mrs. Irey says people from all over the country are making contributions to her campaign. And this week she reported another milestone — “our one-millionth hit to our Web site.”

“To date, we’ve received contributions from each of the 50 states, and we’ve even received contributions online from American soldiers on the ground in Iraq,” she adds. “When Jack Murtha says ‘we can’t win this militarily,’ and counsels retreat and surrender in the war on terror, that doesn’t just affect southwestern Pennsylvania, it affects the entire country.”

Handy pick

F. Philip Handy, the state chairman of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s three gubernatorial campaigns, will become a senior campaign adviser to Sen. John McCain of Arizona as he weighs a repeat bid for the White House in 2008.

Besides advising the Republican on education policy, Mr. Handy will become co-chairman of the senator’s Straight Talk America PAC.

Currently, Mr. Handy is chairman of the Florida State Board of Education, appointed by Mr. Bush. He was also recently appointed by President Bush to the National Board of Education Sciences, where he serves as vice chairman.

Not a movie

Pirates of the Caribbean and other high seas criminals could be less of a threat to Americans if legislation introduced on Capitol Hill passes muster.

“The statistics of violent crimes against Americans on board cruise ships are astounding,” reports Rep. Curt Weldon, Pennsylvania Republican and vice chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “Dozens of American citizens have been raped, killed or simply disappeared without a trace and without a thorough investigation by the FBI.”

Since 2001, the FBI has opened more than 300 crime cases on the high seas, Mr. Weldon said. Of the 28 persons who have disappeared from cruise ships since 2003, only five have been found.

The bill, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii Democrat, would require operators of foreign vessels to notify the FBI within 24 hours of a violent crime against an American on board their ship.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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