- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Buffalo Al

We were fortunate to pay a visit this past weekend to the five museums of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyo., its board of trustees chaired by former Sen. Alan K. Simpson, Wyoming Republican.

The impressive collection at the Whitney Gallery of Western Art, one of the museums housed under one roof, includes the classic paintings and works of Charles M. Russell, Frederic Remington, George Catlin, Alfred Jacob Miller, Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran.

Then there’s the Cody Firearms Museum, which houses the world’s largest assemblage of American and European arms — more than 5,000 rifles, shotguns and pistols manufactured from the 1500s through today. And the Draper Museum of Natural History, which draws visitors along an interactive trail through the sights, sounds and smells of the early West.

“With no offense to my friends at the Smithsonian [Institution], these museums rival if not surpass the collections in Washington,” I remarked to Mr. Simpson.

“Come to think of it,” the former senator replied, “[the late novelist] James Michener was our guest of honor at one of the museum’s anniversary celebrations, and he referred to the museums as the ‘Smithsonian of the West.’”

It’s been almost 10 years since Mr. Simpson, a popular Republican whip and close friend of former President Bush, hung up his senatorial spurs, retiring in 1997. Since then, he’s kept busy as a visiting lecturer at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Shorenstein Center, and as director of the Institute of Politics. Most recently, he’s served on the American Battle Monuments Commission and as co-chairman of the Continuity in Government Commission.

Today, he and his wife, Ann, spend most of their time at home in Cody, surrounded by memories of their years in the nation’s capital.

A night for warriors

Last night was a night to remember the days before Shermanesque warfare, before partisanship in Washington meant leaving every village leveled, every field burned. The Henry M. Jackson Foundation honored two senators for distinguished public service exemplified by Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson “during a lifetime of public service.”

James R. Schlesinger, secretary of defense in the Nixon and Ford administration and Jimmy Carter’s secretary of energy, led the tributes at a dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel to Sens. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, and John McCain, Arizona Republican.

Mr. Lieberman was cited for his work in national security, human rights and public education issues. Mr. McCain was honored for his work in defense and campaign-finance issues and cited “for his ability to build consensus.”

Those issues interested Mr. Jackson, who died in 1981 and famously worked across party lines to forge legislation to protect both national security and the environment. The Washington state lawmaker was the epitome of the tough-minded Democrat of the sort that has become a tad scarce. Besides, how could we not like a senator that everyone called “Scoop”?

No backing out

A heavy crane today will lower the first large artifact into the Newseum’s soon-to-open new site on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and Capitol Hill.

“It’s a CONUS 1 satellite news-gathering truck and it will be part of an exhibit that will help visitors understand how technology has an impact on the speed of news,” Newseum spokesman Mike Fetters says of the world’s first satellite news-gathering vehicle.

In fact, the truck is so big it has to be installed now, with the remainder of the building constructed around it.

The keys to the truck were presented to Newseum founder Al Neuharth in 2001 by Stanley S. Hubbard, chairman and CEO of Hubbard Broadcasting Inc.

When it opens in 2007, the 250,000-square-foot museum will blend five centuries of news history with up-to-the-second technology exhibits on seven levels.

Those in need

We’d promised to write about the Afghan Medical Relief Foundation, given that we were seated next to its president, Dr. Moqim Rahmanzai, during our terrifying airplane flight into Washington recalled in yesterday’s column.

The good doctor happens to be a longtime acquaintance of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the pair having worked together on a number of initiatives. As for the medical foundation he oversees, its primary goal is to strengthen the health care infrastructure in war-torn Afghanistan.

He highlighted, for example, the foundation’s diabetes care program. Currently, 50 percent of primary care physicians in Kabul, 300 medical students, and staff of four main medical centers are being trained to screen, diagnose and treat diabetes.

Donations may be made to: Afghan Medical Relief Foundation, 3806 South 184th Ave., Omaha, NE 68130.

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

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