- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2006

Here regardless

The White House yesterday said President Bush was unaware until recently of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to Dubai Ports World, a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates.

Members of both political parties, meanwhile, have vowed to stop the sale to the Dubai-based company.

It so happens that Mr. Bush on Jan. 25 announced his nomination of one of DPW’s senior executives, Dave Sanborn, to serve as U.S. maritime administrator, reporting directly to Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta.

Mr. Sanborn was serving as European and Latin American director of operations for Dubai Ports World.

Mohammed Sharaf, CEO of Dubai Ports World, commented after Mr. Bush’s announcement: “While we are sorry to lose such an experienced and capable executive, it is exactly those qualities that will make Dave an effective [maritime] administrator. We are proud of Dave’s selection and pleased that the Bush administration found such a capable executive.”

Bronze bandit

It was during lunch yesterday with Tim Doyle, economic-affairs officer with the Irish Embassy in Washington, that we learned that a bronze sculpture of former President Bill Clinton in Ballybunion, Ireland — unveiled with much fanfare in 1998 — had been vandalized.

The Munster Express newspaper, serving southeast Ireland since 1859, reported several months ago that a bronze golf ball was removed from the base of the statue, which stands more than 7 feet tall and depicts Mr. Clinton taking a golf swing.

The likeness of Mr. Clinton is a popular tourist attraction, marking the former president’s first-ever visit to Ballybunion, where he played a round of golf at its world-famous oceanside course.

This isn’t the first time we’ve reported on Mr. Clinton’s journeys to Ballybunion, where this columnist’s ancestors (a dozen brothers in all) ran a beachside bathhouse that’s still in operation today.

Take the day that Mr. Clinton’s sharp-eyed advance men, scouting the village ahead of one presidential visit, spotted a suspicious sign nailed above a boarded-up hairdresser’s shop: “Monica’s.”

Within minutes, village fathers (no doubt with wide grins on their faces, given the Monica Lewinsky scandal) were scrambling up a ladder to take the sign down.

Funny dame

It was a packed “press night” Tuesday at the National Theatre, and Dame Edna didn’t disappoint — flinging a flowering gladiolus into the outstretched hands of an audience member and declaring: “I’m a better shot than Dick Cheney.”

(She dared suggest there were reporters in the audience who actually hoped the vice president’s hunting pal didn’t pull through, which obviously makes for a more scandalous story.)

Direct from Broadway with a hilarious new comedy routine — “Dame Edna: Back With A Vengeance!” — and a splashing wardrobe of never-before-seen gowns, the famed international housewife (actually, Australian Barry Humphries) has landed in Washington for a limited engagement through March 5.

Oh, and her Christmas presents to President Bush last year: a “word-a-day” calendar and world atlas, although he had trouble finding “abroad” in the index.

Lives that matter

Amber Hildebrand, former media director of the Family Research Council, has joined Maximum Impact Public Relations as senior publicist. Foremost on her immediate agenda: promoting the new Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, an organization founded by the late woman’s family to end the practice of human euthanasia all over the world.

Timed to correspond with the publication of the Schindler family’s new book, “A Life That Matters,” the foundation will be officially launched in the coming weeks, says Max Pulsinelli, president of the Alexandria-based PR practice.

The nonprofit foundation is dedicated to ensuring rights of the disabled, the elderly and the vulnerable against care rationing, euthanasia and medical killing. Last March 31, the 41-year-old Mrs. Schiavo died of marked dehydration after more than 13 days without nutrition or hydration under court order.

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

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