- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bury the hatchet

Inside the Beltway has learned that NAACP ChairmanJulian Bond, who has repeatedly denounced the Republican Party and conservative black leaders alike, will come face-to-face this evening with U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Janice Rogers Brown. Judge Brown was nominated to her position by President Bush and is frequently mentioned as a possible Supreme Court nominee.

The two are among three prominent black leaders being saluted at a reception for the White House Fellowships program, hosted by conservative commentator Armstrong Williams in his Northeast Washington home.

Renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson of Johns Hopkins Hospital fame is the third honoree.

Mr. Williams, who sits on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships, was unavailable for comment yesterday, however a spokesman in his office stressed that “there will be no gauntlet — politics will be put to the side for this celebration of White House fellows.”

To the best of his knowledge, the spokesman said this will be the first time Mr. Bond and Judge Brown have met.

Mullah rocks

That was syndicated columnist Mark Steyn — “The man who likes to poke the world in the eye,” blared one recent headline — belting out a Rod Stewart classic while a guest on “Bill Bennett’s Morning in America” radio show this week.

Discussing his gloomy new book, “America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It,” Mr. Steyn was waxing on the hypocrisy of Islamism and recalled how U.S. military forces discovered vintage eight-track tapes of Mr. Stewart’s music in Taliban leader MullahOmar’s compound after the liberation of Afghanistan in 2001.

Suddenly, Mr. Steyn broke into song, riffing on the Stewart hit, “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy.”

Mr. Bennett’s producer, Seth Leibsohn, told the Beltway: “It was a unique moment for a talk show, but not so unique for Bennett’s show, where the former education secretary often breaks into song given his love of ‘50s rock and roll.”

Audio of Mr. Steyn’s spontaneous performance can be heard at bennettmornings.com.

Tacky reporting

Sheryl Stolberg, White House correspondent for the New York Times, learned the hard way this week to stick to reporting on President Bush and keep her interior-decorating critiques to herself.

“Your [reporting] pool is informed that some readers took offense to the previous pool report’s description of the pool hold in Boca [Raton, Fla.], which shall not be repeated here. Upon reflection, it seems an apology is in order to those who open their homes so that we might do our jobs. Please excuse your pool’s lack of graciousness. Good manners sometimes slip away after a tiring day.”

What on earth did she file in her initial White House pool report about Mr. Bush’s trip to Florida? Read for yourself:

“Fancy gated neighborhood called The Sanctuary, with big stucco houses. Jordan Zimmerman, founder and chairman of Zimmerman advertising, was the host. Your pool was holed up at the next door neighbor’s house, where there was a verrrrrry expensive Bentley and a less expensive Mercedes in the garage. We were in the pool room. Very big, but tacky decor, in the humble view of your pool.”

Place your bets

The 2008 presidential elections are still two years away, but as President Bush observed at his press conference yesterday, every possible major party candidate and then some are being weighed by all the pundits and their mothers.

Will Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, run and become the first woman president? Or might Illinois Sen. Barack Obama win his party’s nomination and become the nation’s first black commander in chief?

Obviously, it’s anybody’s guess — including who the ultimate Republican nominee will be. Still, it’s always fun to ponder, as political analysts at Intertops.com do with their updated odds on who will become the next president:

Hillary Rodham Clinton: 3 to 2

Barack Obama: 10 to 1

John McCain: 4 to 1

Al Gore: 6 to 1

Rudy Giuliani: 10 to 1

John Edwards: 12 to 1

Condoleezza Rice: 20 to 1

John Kerry: 25 to 1

Bill Frist: 30 to 1

Jeb Bush: 40 to 1

Newt Gingrich: 40 to 1

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

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