- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Living the dream

Sen. Barack Obama knew as early as the third grade that he wanted to be president of the United States.

The Voice of America and its Indonesian TV service are reporting that the Illinois Democrat, who recently made it official that he is seeking the presidency in 2008, “declared his goal of becoming president when he was in grade school in Indonesia more than 35 years ago.”

In an interview with VOA’s Indonesian Service, Mr. Obama’s third-grade teacher said he wrote in a class assignment that he “wanted to be president,” according to VOA’s Web site.

The assignment was called, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Mr. Obama, a Christian, attended Catholic school in Jakarta.

Longing for Lincoln

Americans are facing “the severest challenges we’ve ever faced in my lifetime,” says former NATO Ambassador David Abshire, who as president today of the Center for the Study of the Presidency (CSP) is working to identify the leadership characteristics needed in the next president.

“He or she’s not going to be a [Abraham] Lincoln, not going to be a genius,” says Mr. Abshire, who served under Ronald Reagan from 1983 to 1988, including as a Cabinet-level counselor.

“The portrait of the president we’re drawing up forgets the candidates and looks at the needs,” Mr. Abshire tells Inside the Beltway. “And one of the central features that’s needed in the next president is that it has got to be somebody like Lincoln, and [Franklin D.] Roosevelt and [Harry S.] Truman and [Dwight D.] Eisenhower, who knows how to mobilize the best talent, regardless of political stripes, to get the best minds.

“Roosevelt ended up with more Republicans in the end than Democrats because they knew how to organize,” he notes.

The Washington-based CSP is currently launching its “Agenda 2008,” a nonpartisan initiative that “seeks to forge a new national strategy and educate presidential candidates on the value and urgent need for inclusive, creative leadership on a dozen domestic and international challenges,” including re-establishing U.S. geopolitical leadership, securing the homeland and improving U.S. competitiveness in global markets.

In this column yesterday, Mr. Abshire said he has not been impressed with the leadership shown by the Bush administration, especially with regard to foreign policy.

The CSP, which was founded in 1965 to promote leadership in the presidency and Congress, says presidential candidates from both the Republican and Democratic parties have already been in contact with the center about its “Agenda 2008.”

Cyber candidate

By golly, that’s former Gov. Mitt Romney becoming the first potential 2008 Republican presidential candidate to have a Facebook profile.

“I am pleased to be the first,” Mr. Romney says in a statement sent to this column. “It goes without saying that technology is revolutionizing the way political campaigns are run in America. Facebook is just one part of our broader effort to mobilize the grass-roots network in cyberspace.”

Honoring 41

Former President George Bush this evening will be presented with the 2007 Ronald Reagan Freedom Award by former first lady Nancy Reagan.

Mrs. Reagan will make the presentation at a gala dinner at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in California, on what is the 96th anniversary of the birth of Ronald Reagan.

Mr. Bush, the ninth recipient of the award, is the first former president to be honored. Past winners include former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, retired Gen. Colin L. Powell, the Rev. Billy Graham, entertainer Bob Hope and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Fished up

When it comes to commercial fishing in the Mid-Atlantic region, minds often turn to North Carolina. Now the March 2007 issue of National Fisherman reports that the fishing off the Carolina coast has turned worse than bleak — to the point that in Brunswick County, adjacent to Wilmington, a collapse of the fishing industry is “imminent.”

“Today we have a commercial fishing industry that is, as one fish house owner described it, going down like a flaming plane,” says Barbara Gerrity-Blake, an official with the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission.

In 1997, the publication notes, commercial landings in North Carolina exceeded 228 million pounds. In 2005, landings dropped to 79 million pounds.

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

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