- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Amnesty, stupid

Washington political pollster Frank Luntz, who in an earlier private memo told Congress that Americans are not only ready for an overhaul of illegal alien policy, “they are demanding it,” is now warning members that the competing House and Senate solutions must contain one consensus: “No amnesty.”

“Any Republican who votes for legislation on illegal immigration that walks, talks, looks or smells like amnesty will reap the wrath of a Republican electorate who see more and more reasons to stay home in November with each passing day,” Mr. Luntz says in a memo we obtained. “For Republican members of the Senate and House there will be no election amnesty in November for a miscast vote now.”

Reached yesterday, Mr. Luntz told Inside the Beltway that the amnesty argument is significant “because it is stepping right in the middle of the House and Senate fight, which is the dumbest thing I have ever seen. … And since the Republicans control both houses, they are shooting themselves not in the foot, but in the head.”

His research paper concludes “conclusively that any association with amnesty will turn the so-called Senate heroes of this summer into the martyrs of November.”

Power spot

Washington’s “Power Spot of the Year,” as announced at the Rammy Restaurant Awards Gala on Sunday night at the Marriott Wardman Park: The Capital Grille (strategically situated between the White House and Capitol Hill on Pennsylvania Avenue).

Hillary supporter

Virginia license plate spotted by Bryan Devereaux of Springfield: 08CLNTN.

Tarnished images

Leon E. Panetta, who was President Clinton’s chief of staff and is now director of the Leon and Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy, says recent ethics scandals on Capitol Hill have taken a toll on college students’ perceptions of elected members.

A paltry 31 percent find members honest and trustworthy, according to a nationwide survey of students. An overwhelming 71 percent, meanwhile, say they personally are not interested in running for national office.

“In a nation that depends on the desire of young people to become leaders and help govern our democracy, these poll results are a discouraging reminder that we are failing to inspire our youth to lives of public service,” says Mr. Panetta. “The paradox is that while there are young men and women willing to fight and die to establish a democracy in Iraq, a growing majority … have little interest in participating in our democracy here at home.”

Who’s the master?

We saved an encounter with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s pair of Portuguese water dogs, Splash and Sunny, for a rainy day. Given this week’s monsoon, here you go.

The two dogs were out for a walk one recent sunny day with one of Mr. Kennedy’s aides, who led them to a grassy park near the Russell Senate Office Building. Enjoying their lunch at the park were two congressional reporters, who watched as the dogs caught scent of their sandwiches and bounded over for some offerings.

At which point Sunny “lies down and won’t get up,” one of the reporters tells this column. “The aide says this happens often. I don’t know whether it’s because the dog is old or stubborn or what. But try as he might, the aide cannot get the dog to stand up again.

“He’s gently tugging the leash, calling to her, snapping, etc., to no avail. Finally, I suggest to the aide that he take a scrap of my sandwich and lure the dog to stand up. But he says he’s not allowed to feed them anything other than their own food.

“I tell the aide that he doesn’t have to feed her the sandwich, just lure her with it. So, he agrees that’s a good plan, takes the sandwich scrap, and after a few minutes of waving it around and coaxing, the dog finally stands up. The aide hands me back the scrap, thanks me, and they went on their way.”

Fast politicians

It turns out this year’s ACLI (American Council of Life Insurers) 25th Anniversary Capital Challenge 3-miler raised a record $16,800-plus for Special Olympics DC.

Fastest senators by sex: Sen. John E. Sununu, New Hampshire Republican (20:10), and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas Republican (38:58). Fastest representatives: Rep. Bart Gordon, Tennessee Democrat (18:05), and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (25:55), West Virginia Republican.

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

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