- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Welcome, senor

As nice an American host as he’s been to illegal aliens, President Bush could never make it as a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

In New Mexico yesterday to observe training exercises by the patrol, Mr. Bush watched as a simulated traffic stop was made and commands shouted out in Spanish to the occupants of the vehicle.

“A resigned looking couple sat in a white Ford Taurus wagon as they were interviewed by agents. The results were ambiguous,” stated the White House pool report. “On the passenger side, the woman emerged and an agent put her hands behind her back …

“The man, who had been sitting on the driver’s side, appeared to fare better, getting an ‘hola’ and a handshake from the president.”

Enough isn’t enough

Was it an outraged President Bush, Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell who declared: “This [argument for same-sex ‘marriage’] reflects a demand for political correctness that has gone berserk. We live in an era in which tolerance has progressed beyond a mere call for acceptance and crossed over to become a demand for the rest of us to give up beliefs that we revere and hold most dear in order to prove our collective purity. At some point, a line must be drawn by rational men and women who are willing to say, ‘Enough!’”

Actually, it was Democratic Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, although you’d never know it today. We take you back to Sept. 10, 1996, when Mr. Byrd joined his Republican colleague, then-Sen. Don Nickles of Oklahoma, in co-sponsoring the Defense of Marriage Act. The outspoken Democrat observed that in his nearly half-century of service in Congress he never envisioned such a measure would be required.

“It is incomprehensible to me that federal legislation would be needed to provide a definition of two terms that for thousands of years have been perfectly clear and unquestioned,” Mr. Byrd said.

“That we have arrived at a point where the Congress … must actually reaffirm in the statute books something as simple as the definition of ‘marriage’ and ‘spouse’ is almost beyond my grasp,” he said.

His 1996 act declared marriage a legal union between husband and wife — “and that a spouse is a husband or wife of the opposite sex,” Mr. Byrd clarified for anybody confused.

“To insist that male-male or female-female relationships must have the same status as the marriage relationship is more than unwise, it is patently absurd,” he further stated. “If same-sex marriage is accepted, the announcement will be official: America will have said that children do not need a mother and a father, two mothers or two fathers will be just as good.

“This would be a catastrophe,” Mr. Byrd said. “I say to my colleagues, let us take our stand. The time is now. The subject is relevant. Let us defend the oldest institution, the institution of marriage between male and female, as set forth in the Holy Bible.”

Wouldn’t you know, the Marriage Protection Amendment now being considered one decade later in the Senate — backed by President Bush — has the support of only one other Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

Still Catholic

Catholic church pews in America are as crowded as they were before the revelations of sexual abuse by clergy. Collection plates, however, aren’t as full as they were five years ago.

Negative reaction to the sexual-abuse scandal hasn’t led to any measurable numbers of Catholics leaving the church nationally, says a new paper by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research on the Apostolate. Indeed, the study by the Catholic institution reflects stability in weekly levels of Mass attendance from 2000 to 2005.

On the other hand, Catholics have become less likely to contribute financially: the percentage of Catholics giving to their diocesan annual appeal declined from 38 percent in 2002 to 29 percent in 2005.

But study co-author Mark Gray stressed that respondents “more often cited personal financial reasons for their change in giving than the sexual-abuse scandal.”

When do we retire?

Former Rep. Christopher Cox, California Republican, is settling into his post as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

In a recent speech, he referred to new challenges facing the SEC and America alike, when technology has revolutionized almost every aspect of life, including life itself.

“When my father was born,” the 53-year-old Mr. Cox pointed out, “life expectancy in the U.S. was 49 years. At the end of the 20th century, the average life expectancy was 77. For children born since then, fully half will live to see their 90th birthday. At least 10 percent of babies born today should live to 100.”

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

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