- The Washington Times - Monday, May 15, 2006

Find a hydrant

That was no ordinary pair of trees that President Bush planted on Sunday evening with Australian Prime Minister John Howard at that country’s ambassador’s residence.

One is an American Elm and direct descendant of a tree planted at the White House in 1826 by John Quincy Adams. The other, a Southern Magnolia, got its roots from a tree planted at the White House by Andrew Jackson in 1835.

Mr. Bush says it’s now up to Australia’s ambassador, Dennis Richardson, “to look after the trees — and to keep his two Rottweilers away from them.”

Not buying a bridge

So, Chris Simcox, president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, tell us how you really feel about President Bush’s gesture to send the National Guard to the southern frontier:

“Sending unarmed troops to assist the [U.S.] Border Patrol with logistics consisting of paper-pushing and vehicle maintenance is … [a] political scheme during an election year. President Bush’s political maneuver will do nothing more than place career desk jockeys and support personnel in a very dangerous environment — and will greatly anger the American people.”

Anything else?

“We do not take lightly those who try to take us for fools.”

Pat’s opinion

“Americans are holding on in Iraq today, not because we anticipate the glorious fruits of victory, but because we do not want to witness another defeat for the United States.”

— Conservative commentator Patrick J. Buchanan, comparing the war in Iraq today to what he calls the only war America ever “lost” — Vietnam in 1975.

Love thy neighbor

Controversy swirls around this week’s cinema release of “The Da Vinci Code,” no better demonstrated than by tonight’s screening of the St. Ignatius Press documentary “The Da Vinci Hoax” — just one block away from the Motion Picture Association of America’s early screening of “The Da Vinci Code.”

The hoax version (aren’t both hoaxes?) is based on a book written by Carl Olson and Sandra Miesel, exposing what they call the historical inaccuracies in Dan Brown’s best-selling novel.

Mr. Olson promises that “considering we will be just down the block from the Hollywood executives for our screening, we will ‘love thy neighbor.’ ”

Conspiracy again

The “myth” that Democrats have no vision will be countered today when Kelly Young, executive director of 21st Century Democrats, releases a list of 10 congressional and state candidates the group supports in 2006.

He says it’s all a “media spin … that today’s Democratic leadership doesn’t stand for anything and doesn’t differentiate itself from Republicans in any meaningful way.”

It’s fortitude, stupid!

Our item about much-hyped “town hall” debates of recent presidential elections — and whether they’ve lost their appeal since first orchestrated by Bill Clinton in 1992 — generated considerable reader response.

Whereas the new format widely was regarded as a rejuvenation of public involvement, we cited one study suggesting that presidential candidates have gained nearly complete control over the town hall exchange. Indeed, in 2004, a strict code of conduct was agreed to beforehand by President Bush and his opponent, Sen. John Kerry, where audience questions were screened and selected in advance.

Then again, writes Mike Bates of Tinley Park, Ill., maybe that’s not such a bad idea.

“The town hall debates you mention were depressing from the beginning,” he opines. “In 1992, a man in the audience asked the assembled candidates — George Bush, Bill Clinton and H. Ross Perot — this question: ‘And I ask the three of you, how can we, as symbolically the children of the future president, expect the two of you, the three of you, to meet our needs …’

“I would have loved if one of the candidates would have had the intestinal fortitude to respond, ‘Look, buster, you’re a full-grown man and appear to be able to take care of yourself. Unless you’re in some severe distress, you don’t need anyone to look after you. … I’m not your daddy, and it’s not my responsibility to meet your needs. If you want pampering that bad, you’d better look somewhere else.’”

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

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