- The Washington Times - Monday, November 6, 2006

Plucked feathers

Given its team name, it’s a good thing the Washington Redskins don’t play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), or else they’d also be losing their feathers this season.

We travel south to the historic Virginia campus of the College of William & Mary, established by royal charter in 1693, where the NCAA has upheld on appeal its earlier ruling that the feathers attached to William & Mary’s logo are unacceptable.

“The feathers, combined with the ‘Tribe’ nickname used by the school’s sports teams, constitute a ‘hostile and abusive’ affront to Native American groups, according to the NCAA,” reports Ben Kennedy in the William & Mary Alumni Magazine.

All of which confuses college president Gene Nichol, among many others.

“Present NCAA determinations of mascot policy — what is allowed and what is forbidden — are neither comprehensible, nor capable of being sensibly defended,” the William & Mary president had written in his appeal.

“An interpretation that penalizes the College of William & Mary while embracing the depiction of a brave on horseback, in war paint, plunging a flaming spear into the turf at midfield, to the delight of 85,000 chanting, tomahawking fans, is, at best, enigmatic.”

Mr. Nichol was referring to the Florida State Seminoles. Still, as Mr. Kennedy points out, the NCAA is allowing the Seminoles to keep their nickname, war paint, spears and tomahawks.

Why?

Because the Seminole tribe has informed the NCAA that it likes the team’s name, as well as the spear ritual performed at each home game. William & Mary has been told it must pluck its feathers from its logo by the end of the 2007 athletic year.

Bubba’s wiggle

We can now confirm that Bill Clinton was in search of a little “wiggle room” when he told the grand jury, in very uncertain terms, that whether he had an affair with Monica Lewinsky depended on what one’s definition of “is” is.

To refresh your memory, here’s what Mr. Clinton said in his testimony, according to a footnote in special prosecutor KennethStarr’s report:

“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the — if he — if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not — that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement. … Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true.”

Now let’s turn to Tennessee author NancyFrench’s most-entertaining debut book “A Red State of Mind,” which tracks her move to the blue zone of Manhattan, where she clashed with blue-state concepts and residents, and on to Philadelphia, before settling again below the Mason-Dixon Line.

In one of our favorite chapters, the author explains how “Southerners tend to soften their language” for effect or whenever they might be in a pickle.

“Take Arkansas native President Clinton as an example,” Mrs. French writes. “He was known to utter sentences like ‘I might should do that,’ which suggests a greater sense of hesitance than just the word ‘should.’ This allows for a little wiggle room on both his part and the listeners.”

She goes on to explain that when “in confrontational mode, Southerners employ verbal mechanisms to take the edge off.”

On a bumper

Tomorrow’s much-anticipated, emotionally charged, party line-crossing 2006 midterm elections are no better summarized than by the motorist who parked his red car outside the Dubliner pub on Capitol Hill, its three bumper-stickers reading:

“Steele U.S. Senate,” “O’Malley for Maryland” and “Land of the Free Because of the Brave.”

Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele is the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate; Baltimore Mayor Martin OMalley is the Democratic gubernatorial candidate there; and as for the U.S. military, whose deployment in Iraq has become a key issue in this election, they are constantly fighting for our freedom to vote.

Being blunt

“Blacks are leaving the Democrat plantation in significant numbers and supporting Republican candidates.”

Frances Rice, chairman of the National Black Republican Association, writing to this column over the weekend that Democrats are losing their “grip” on the black vote.

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

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