- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Just kidding, Donald

Talk about an “A-list” headlining the American Spectator’s Robert L. Bartley dinner (and dancing) Nov. 15 at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, although the evening’s master of ceremonies will no doubt be a bit uncomfortable when introducing the keynote speaker.

That master of ceremonies would be myriad-hat wearer Ben Stein, and the keynote address will be delivered by Secretary of DefenseDonald H. Rumsfeld.

Inside the Beltway can’t help but recall Mr. Stein, in his “CBS Sunday Morning” commentary barely one week ago pointing out that the situation in Iraq has become so difficult that if he were still a White House speechwriter, as he was under Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford, this is what he would suggest President Bush announce today:

“My fellow Americans, I have some sobering news. It is my duty above all to protect the nation and to protect the Constitution. I sincerely believed I was doing that when I ordered the invasion of Iraq. I still believe Saddam Hussein was the most dangerous man in the world. But it is clear to me now that things are not working out well in Iraq.

“Despite the incredible competence, bravery and sacrifice of our men and women on the ground there, Iraq is still a violent, largely out-of-control country. We may be making more terrorists than we destroy. The word ‘quagmire’ comes to mind.

“It is clear that changes must be made. I have this morning accepted Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation with sincere thanks for his service to the nation. Despite his flaws, he is a great American. He will be replaced by a truly heroic American, Senator John McCain of Arizona.”

Two-day election?

To ensure that the balloting may

Proceed in an orderly way:

On Tuesday, please note,

All Republicans vote —

And all Democrats on the next day.

F.R. Duplantier

Luntz leak

“I will discuss the significance of what I expect to be a significant power shift in Washington, with a particular emphasis on the implications for corporate America.”

— leading Washington political pollster Frank Luntz, who leans to the right, hinting of his prediction of a rise to power by Democrats when providing the subject matter of his Election Day conference call today at 4 p.m., several hours before the polls close.

Long distancer

Hats off to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission chief Edward McGaffigan Jr., for becoming, as of Friday, the longest-serving person in his post — 9 years, 11 months and 30 days under his belt.

Previous record holder: former NRC Commissioner Kenneth C. Rogers.

Mr. McGaffigan, first appointed to the regulatory body in 1996 by President Clinton, also is the first person to have been nominated (twice by Mr. Clinton) and confirmed to three terms on the panel. He begins his 10th year of service on Dec. 9.

Nevertheless, as Eliot B. Brenner, the NRC’s director of public affairs, tells Inside the Beltway of Washington’s all-too-familiar ways: “He had a 103-day break between his second and third terms while awaiting Senate confirmation of his nomination.”

The commissioner, who grew up in Boston (an avid runner, he has completed six U.S. Marine Corps marathons and one JFK 50 Miler) and lives in Arlington with his two children (his wife of 18 years, Peggy, passed away in 2000), will be honored by his fellow commissioners and senior staffers at an event tomorrow at NRC headquarters.

Ben then

We opened this morning’s column with an item about Ben Stein, whom younger generations know as a movie and TV actor and his “gets the red out” Visine commercials. Indeed, his speech in his film role as the teacher in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” has been ranked as one of the 50 most famous scenes in American film.

But whereas Mr. Stein resides today in Beverly Hills, Calif., it’s interesting to recall that he was born in Washington in 1944, grew up in Silver Spring and attended Montgomery Blair High School.

He was a Washington poverty lawyer in his early years, then a trial lawyer for the Federal Trade Commission, and an adjunct at American University, lecturing on politics and society. As we mentioned, he spent two years as a speechwriter for Presidents Nixon and Ford, although he has stressed he did not write the line “I am not a crook.”

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

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