- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Barnes factor

Our item about former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes coming to town tonight to warn that mudslinging by both parties is threatening to tear apart the fabric of the country raised a few eyebrows, including one gentleman’s who wrote: “Kind of ironic having him talk about partisan politics.”

Indeed, it was Mr. Barnes who stepped forward during the height of the 2004 presidential campaign to say he was now ashamed to have helped get a young George W. Bush into the National Guard. As angered as President Bush was by the suspiciously timed confession, little did he — or Mr. Barnes, for that matter — realize it would help seal his second term in the White House.

As it was, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, took his Vietnam War service from several decades ago and made it a central theme of his 2004 campaign — at a time when a more urgent, if not more unpopular, war was raging in Iraq. The rest, as they say, is history.

File and run

“Or maybe the case has no merit.”

So suggests the latest issue of the American Lawyer, citing one theory as to why Valerie Plame of CIA-leak fame suddenly parted ways with her attorney, Proskauer Rose partner Christopher Wolf — her next-door neighbor, no less — shortly after her civil action was filed against senior Bush administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney and White House aide Karl Rove.

“The breakup was a shock,” writes the magazine’sElizabethGoldberg, given that Mr. Wolf had filed the suit only “a month earlier.”

Headlined “File and run,” the article quotes lawyer Victoria Toensing, a former chief counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, as saying: “I’m amazed Proskauer took the case in the first place.”

Another theory: “Proskauer might have gotten cold feet,” writes Ms. Goldberg. “The firm wants to beef up its D.C. practice … [a]nd heading the Plame case was not likely to please the Bush administration.”

Pass the sugar

Nancy Dickerson, who earned her final reward in the fall of 1997, was the first reporter to speak with John F. Kennedy after his presidential inauguration. She had dinner with Lyndon B. Johnson the night after JFK was killed.

“Mom was one of Kennedy’s favorite things: a woman,” writes her son John Dickerson, a former White House correspondent for Time magazine, in his new book, “On Her Trail: My Mother, Nancy Dickerson, TV News’ First Woman Star.”

“She was regularly mistaken for Jackie,” he continues. “They went to the same hairdresser and had the same taste in clothes. When the ladies of the press corps put on their annual skits … there was no question that she would play the first lady. Even Jackie Kennedy saw the resemblance.”

On occasion, adds Mr. Dickerson, his mother “loved to point out that she’d dated Jack Kennedy when he was a bachelor.”

As he put it: “The conventional wisdom was that his libido was so gargantuan that if you dated Jack Kennedy it meant that you’d slept with Jack Kennedy.”

But not his mother.

“She didn’t have an affair,” he said. “In this light, Mom’s later quote to a Jackie Onassis biographer saddens me. She told him that for Jack ‘sex was not much more than a cup of coffee.’”

If you build it

Constructing a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent illegal entry was the subject of thought-provoking debate yesterday on “The Grandy and Andy Morning Show” on WMAL-630 AM.

Co-host AndyParks told his listeners that MexicanForeign SecretaryLuis Ernesto Derbez is now contemplating legal action against the United States over the homeland security proposal, if indeed such an endless wall could ever be built in the first place.

All of which prompted a wake-up call from “Dave in Chantilly.” The Virginia resident revealed he works alongside a “crew” of 100 or so men (no foreign nationalities provided) who spend the entire day scampering up and down walls.

Get it?

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

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