- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Can he fly?

With Osama bin Laden still breathing down his neck and Iran standing stubborn if not firm on nuclear expansion, George W. Bush finds he doesn’t have enough time remaining to be a lame-duck president.

“If Bush goes home with Iran’s nuclear program not shut down,” frequent conservative critic Patrick J. Buchanan wrote this week, “his legacy will be Iraq and a failed presidency.”

Certainly not a legacy Mr. Bush wanted to leave for historians. Nevertheless, as President Clinton proved before him, there’s still time to rebound.

James R. Hedtke, author of “Lame Duck Presidents: Myth or Reality,” writes in the current issue of the Ripon Forum: “With two years left in office, Bush stands at the crossroads of his presidency. Though the prospects for a successful final [22] months in office look dim, there is still a glimmer of light. That Clinton could reinvigorate a beleaguered presidency in 1999 should give hope to Bush in 2007.”

Mr. Hedtke says the success or failure of Mr. Bush hinges largely on events in Iraq, not on his lame-duck status. And if his recent “policy and command changes in Iraq prove to be effective, this lame duck might yet soar.”

Glider ‘guts’

Walter Cronkite and Andy Rooney, who were among eight civilian and military combat journalists making up “The Writing 69th,” both make appearances in the new film “Silent Wings: The American Glider Pilots of World War II.”

Narrated by actor Hal Holbrook, the long-overdue film on an almost-forgotten fighting force interviews several surviving glider veterans and features rare archival footage and photographs that “put the audience right at the center of the action in the hazardous world of the American glider pilot.”

“Being a glider pilot was one of the toughest assignments in the war,” said the film’s producer-director, Robert Child. “These heroic men flew troops and supplies into battle — landing virtually on top of the enemy. If they survived the crash landing, then they fought on the ground.

“Thousands of lives were saved and battles won because of their efforts. In fact, one pilot we interviewed said the ‘G’ in their emblem didn’t stand for glider; It stood for ‘guts.’ ”

One general described glider pilots as “the most uninhibited individuals ever to wear an American uniform.”

Lessons of corn

In between one lawmaker’s revelation that illegal aliens were using Uncle Sam’s services to wire money home to Mexico, and another congressman’s call for the country to apologize for slavery, a passage from JohnSteinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” filtered up from the House floor this week.

“The people came out of their houses and smelled the hot stinging air and covered their noses from it,” read Rep. Sam Farr, California Democrat. “Men stood by their fences and looked at the ruined corn, drying fast now …

“And the women came out of the houses to stand beside their men — to feel whether this time the men would break. The women studied the men’s faces secretly, for the corn could go, as long as something else remained,” the congressman continued. “After a while, the faces of the watching men lost their bemused perplexity and became hard and angry and resistant. Then the women knew that they were safe.”

Yes, it would do lawmakers good to equate these lessons of corn to the fight against terrorism. Mr. Farr, however, was merely celebrating the late author’s birthday, Feb. 27, 1902.

Chip and dip

There was a great deal of response to our item this week about President Bush purportedly “double dipping” during a recent White House event — as in, taking one bite out of dip-laden finger food, whether it be a corn chip or carrot, only to then dip the remainder of the snack back into the communal dip bowl.

“I am moved to respond,” says Dan Kuester of the Iowa State University News Service in Ames, Iowa. “Experienced dippers know that the easiest way to avoid taking two dips, despite what your ‘expert’ advocates, is to simply break your dipping stick into two pieces and dip one time with each.

“For instance: If the carrot is too long and will require more than a single swim in the dip pool, simply break it. Then you may enjoy two dip-covered, guilt-free, germless pieces of dip-covered yumminess without the social embarrassment of the dip-mouth-dip-mouth progression — known in the vernacular as the double dip.”

Finally, a woman who didn’t identify herself writes: “I swear, I almost drowned giggling in my bathtub. Gourmet magazine (March 2007), p.49: National Chip and Dip Day is March 23.”

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


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