- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 14, 2006

Winning Americans

Democratic Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, currently weighing another bid for the White House in 2008, already has picked up political pollster Frank Luntz’s new book, “Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear.”

As the pollster preaches, Americans prefer politicians who see the proverbial glass as half-full rather than half-empty.

“A cramped, sour, negative outlook on life comes across as downright un-American. Both Al Gore and John Kerry learned that lesson the hard way,” Mr. Luntz writes. “One key to Bill Clinton’s natural appeal was that he always seemed relatively sunny and upbeat, even at his most self-indulgent or when wallowing in self-pity.”

Mr. Clinton also spoke of “building a bridge to the 21st century.” By contrast, says Mr. Luntz, his opponent for re-election in 1996, Bob Dole, seemed to want to build a bridge to the “16th century.”

“Things used to be better, Dole remembered, because he was there. He was an old man telling the kids about the lost world of his childhood, when the sun shone a little brighter and the sea sparkled a little bluer,” he writes.

The exact opposite, in other words, of RonaldReagan’s “Morning in America” language. Even the Gipper’s farewell letter to the American people in 1994, in which he disclosed that he had Alzheimer’s disease, touched everybody, says Mr. Luntz.

“I know that for America, there will always be a bright dawn ahead,” Mr. Reagan had written.

“Indomitable good cheer — in a letter announcing that he was afflicted with a cruel, terminal illness,” says the pollster. “That is the winning optimism Americans love.”

For the record

“Mr. Speaker,” reads an insert from Rep. Charlie Norwood, Georgia Republican, in the Congressional Record, “on rollcall No. 527; condemning the decision of St. Denis, France, to name a street in honor of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted murderer of Philadelphia Police Officer Danny Faulkner. Had I been present, I would have voted ‘yea.’ ”

Mr. Norwood, who had a lung transplant in 2004, has been recuperating in his Washington apartment after cancer treatment in recent days. Still, he says, “I plan on being back up to speed when the gavel falls to open the new Congress in January.”

$40 million man

That was the former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry criticizing the FBI during an interview this week with Bill Press, host of “The Bill Press Show.”

Mr. Press had recalled that several years ago, when he first moved to Washington, he saw T-shirts that said Mr. Barry had been set up.

“Were you set up, and how are you doing today — are you clean today?” wondered Mr. Press.

“Absolutely,” replied Mr. Barry. “The FBI spent $40 million over many years trying to do something with me. They had a sting at the Vista [Hotel]; they set it up.

“But it’s been 17 years. I’m clean of any mind-altering chemicals, and I feel good about it.”

On Jan. 18, 1990, Mr. Barry’s former girlfriend, Hazel Diane “Rasheeda<" Moore, helped the FBI lure the mayor into a Washington hotel room, where he was videotaped smoking a crack pipe.

Agents stormed the room, read the mayor his rights and led him away in handcuffs.

Looking good, Santa

We had to laugh at our invitation from the District-based senior citizens’ lobby “60 Plus Association,” headed by longtime President Bush pal Jim Martin. The organization is holding its annual Christmas celebration today at Piola in Arlington.

“You know you’re getting old when Santa starts looking younger,” it reads.

It was Mr. Martin who gave Mr. Bush his first-ever political job after he graduated from college.

Cancel the ark

Richard Gray, science correspondent for the London Sunday Telegraph, brings us this scoop: “Mankind has had less effect on global warming than previously supposed, a United Nations report on climate change will claim next year.

“The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there can be little doubt that humans are responsible for warming the planet, but the organization has reduced its overall estimate of this effect by 25 percent.”

Mr. Gray also reports that the U.N. panel will lower its predictions of how much sea levels will rise in comparison with its last report in 2001.

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

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