- The Washington Times - Friday, February 16, 2007

License to drink

As was debated during the Vietnam War, a portion of the American public today is arguing that if a member of the U.S. military is old enough to die fighting for his or her country, then they ought to be mature enough to enjoy a beer.

The president emeritus of Middlebury College in Vermont, John M. McCardell Jr., is about to start a nationwide campaign in support of legislation to lower state minimum drinking age laws to 18. But there’s a catch: Young adults would first have to pass an alcohol education course before bellying up to the bar.

“Choose Responsibility” is the newly incorporated organization that Mr. McCardell and his team of college students are forming to push for the change, or so we read in the Middlebury Campus newspaper. Rather than simply lowering the national legal drinking age from 21 to 18, the paper reports, the organization advocates that states “launch alcohol education programs to teach young adults about responsible purchase, possession and consumption.”

“Upon successful completion of a course, a participant could receive a license to consume and purchase alcohol at the age of 18. The license would be legal in the state in which the 18-year-old is a resident” or attends college.

Mr. McCardell is a Maryland native who graduated from Washington and Lee University in Virginia. He did his graduate work at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and received his doctorate at Harvard.

Switching gears

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, thought twice after saying the United States has lost the war in Iraq. In an interview this week with WERS-FM radio in Boston, Mr. Schumer was asked whether the war in Iraq was winnable.

“No,” he replied.

After hesitating, the senator added: “Well, I don’t think it’s winnable. I think it needs a dramatic change in strategy. Certainly the way they’re pursuing it it’s not winnable. The bottom line is no one bargained for what we’re doing now, which is policing a civil war.”

Mr. Schumer argued that the U.S. military needs to switch its mission from policing a civil war to what the original intent “was supposed to be — counterterrorism. That would take maybe 30,000 or 40,000 troops — not in harm’s way, but in camps,” he explained.

“And if al Qaeda set up base, they could go in there and wipe out those bases. But that’s it. The rest of the troops should come home.”

America’s bodyguards

There’s been a lot of complaining, and from within the ranks, about the haphazard way the war against terrorism is being fought within our own borders. But Rep. Al Green, Texas Democrat, says the worst thing Americans can do is give up hope.

According to a recent Office of Personnel Management survey, the Department of Homeland Security came in dead last when it comes to federal job satisfaction.

“[A]nd we know that this is unacceptable, they were dead last,” Mr. Green said. “But I believe that they can improve. And I want to share my optimism because the Department of Homeland Security is a department that every one of us is depending on who lives in the homeland.”

Greatest generation

Thanks to the many readers who wrote this week to Inside the Beltway on a variety of issues, and we wish there were more space to publish your viewpoints. Here is one such letter worth publishing, written by Todd D. Mora, an executive with Comstock Public Schools in Kalamazoo, Mich.

“I read through the list of [the most historic] Republican speeches that you had in your column and would respectfully request that you add Ronald Reagan’s ‘The Boys of Point du Hoc’ speech as one of the greatest of all time,” he writes.

“Without the Point du Hoc speech I don’t think that the World War II veterans of this country would have ever been recognized for the selfless sacrifices to defend our country and stop evil. I personally think that Ronald Reagan took the initiative to change the country’s view on veterans after the brave men and women had been forgotten and maligned in the previous two decades.”

Mr. Reagan made his remarks at the U.S. Ranger Monument in Point du Hoc, France, on June 6, 1984, a day that he happened to deliver two speeches commemorating the 40th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. He later spoke at Omaha Beach, France.

“I doubt we would have a WWII memorial today if he hadn’t given that speech. Nor do I think that we would have ever honored our WWII veterans properly without his leadership,” Mr. Mora writes.

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

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