- The Washington Times - Monday, January 29, 2007

Mrs. Pelosi?

Now that the Democrats are fully in charge of Capitol Hill, an organization of black Americans is asking for an apology — from them.

“The Democratic Party’s wall of deception and denial about that party’s past racism and failed socialism is beginning to crack,” declares Frances Rice, chairwoman of the National Black Republican Association. “In a surprising and long-overdue move, the Democrats in North Carolina did what we, as black Americans, demand that the national leaders of the Democratic Party do — apologize to black Americans.”

She’s referring to the apology issued Jan. 20 by the 700-member North Carolina Democratic Executive Committee, acknowledging past racist activity supported by the state’s Democratic Party.

“In spite of their history of racism and failed socialism that fostered urban black poverty, national Democratic Party leaders refuse to apologize,” says Miss Rice, who paraphrases author Michael Scheurer, former CIA senior analyst and chief of the Osama bin Laden unit, as saying, “History shows the Democratic Party is and always has been the party of ‘Four S’s: Slavery, Secession, Segregation and now Socialism.’ ”

Lt. Dan

“Hey man, I look just like you.”

Or so actor and military advocate Gary Sinise tells Inside the Beltway he was told recently by one double-leg amputee he visited at a U.S. military hospital. We had asked Mr. Sinise to comment on how common it was today for disabled members of the armed services to relate to his memorable “Lieutenant Dan” character — a disabled Vietnam veteran who lost both legs — in the 1994 movie “Forrest Gump.”

Mr. Sinise, the star of the highly rated CBS-TV crime drama “CSI: N.Y.,” has been in Washington for the past several days visiting with injured troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and raising awareness and private funds for the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, which will be built on a two-acre site adjacent to the National Mall within view of the U.S. Capitol.

Prefer the pews

President Bush “surprised us by skipping his usual church visit,” heading to Maryland at 8:15 a.m. yesterday, according to the White House pool report. Despite the “rain and mud” that eventually turned to sleet and snow, Mr. Bush was obviously aching for some exercise when he missed the Sunday sermon.

Reporters tagging along weren’t any happier when their press van suffered a flat tire.

Federal ‘Oscars’

We are pleased to announce that the Partnership for Public Service (PPS) is now accepting nominations for the 2007 Service to America Medals, the most prestigious awards honoring the nation’s public servants. Nominations will be accepted — from all Americans — through March 1 by visiting www.servicetoamerica medals.org.

“As we celebrate our finest actors, actresses and filmmakers who are spinning stories of heroism in Hollywood, certainly we should also be recognizing the men and women of our civil service who routinely perform real-life acts of heroism away from the camera’s lens,” says PPS President Max Stier.

Nine medals will be awarded in September to outstanding federal employees, including the coveted Federal Employee of the Year Medal.

When in doubt

“There’s a symptom apparent in America right now,” opines Tony Award-winning playwright John Patrick Shanley, who is bringing Broadway’s popular play, “Doubt,” starring Cherry Jones, to Washington’s National Theatre for a two-week run in March.

The symptom, he wrote recently, is evident in political talk shows, in entertainment coverage, in artistic criticism, and in religious discussion.

“We are living in a courtroom culture,” Mr. Shanley explains. “We were living in a celebrity culture, but that’s dead. Now we’re only interested in celebrities if they’re in court. We are living in a culture of extreme advocacy, of confrontation, of judgment and of verdict. Discussion has given way to debate. Communication has become a contest of wills. Public talking has become obnoxious and insincere.”

For a playwright like himself, he says, this culture was “the beginning of an idea.”

“I saw a piece of real estate on which I might build a play, a play that sat on something silent in my life and in my time. I started with a title: ‘Doubt.’

“It is doubt (so often experienced initially as weakness) that changes things. When a man feels unsteady, when he falters, when hard-won knowledge evaporates before his eyes, he’s on the verge of growth.”

The play will run from March 13 to 25.

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

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