- The Washington Times - Monday, January 8, 2007

Comrade Pelosi

Capitol Hill residents and congressional staffers alike are curious about large posters of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that have gone up in the neighborhood.

Indeed, the posters are on display in several Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast bus shelters — the sort of space frequently reserved for fashion models and movie stars. The poster is a close-up photograph of a smiling Mrs. Pelosi, and in extra-large type: “Congratulations Madame Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”

Meanwhile, there is no indication (not even in the tiniest of print) who is sponsoring or paying for the posters.

“It’s turned into a fun guessing game,” Maggie Hall, who passes a Pelosi poster several times a day, told Inside the Beltway yesterday. “It’s quite a topic of conversation in the coffee shops and watering holes on the Hill. You see people really getting up close to it, trying to find the name of the organization or individual who’s put it up.”

Inside the Beltway was unable to reach Metro’s advertising department yesterday.

Sensational heist

As far as William Bennett is concerned, ongoing revelations and circumstances surrounding classified-document heists from the National Archives by former National Security Adviser Samuel R. Berger have gotten neither the attention nor the scrutiny they deserve.

To help right that wrong, Mr. Bennett, a former Republican Cabinet member-turned-radio talk-show host, is sponsoring a unique contest. Through his popular radio show, “Bill Bennett’s Morning in America,” he is offering $1,000 to the person who writes the most creative “Sandy Berger” lyrics to the tune of a popular song. (think “Bette Davis Eyes” as “Sandy Berger Lies,” but there are infinite possibilities.)

Wannabe songwriters and contestants should go to www.bennettmornings.com for more information. Deadline for submissions is Friday, with the winner announced on Jan. 19. And yes, Inside the Beltway will publish the winning lyrics in their entirety.

Rising to Reagan

A leader’s ascension to conservatism was described over the weekend by Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in Sea Island, Ga., where the likely 2008 presidential contender addressed Awakening 2007, a conservative gathering created a dozen years ago to stimulate dialogue about important issues confronting America.

“Now, I wasn’t always a Ronald Reagan conservative. Neither was Ronald Reagan, by the way,” noted the Republican governor. “Perhaps some in this room have had the opportunity to listen, learn and benefit from life’s experience — and to grow in wisdom, as I have.

“My life experience convinced me that Ronald Reagan was right.”


That was Michael Gerson, former chief speechwriter to President Bush from 2001 to 2006, discussing the president’s “voracious” reading habits and related perceptions during a guest appearance on C-SPAN’s “Q&A;” with Brian Lamb last night.

“[A] couple of months ago it was leaked out by somebody that he was reading Albert Camus’ ‘The Stranger.’ Does that track for what you know of George Bush?” asked Mr. Lamb.

“Sure,” Mr. Gerson replied. “The president is a voracious reader and recommended to me a variety of books when I was at the White House, and gave them to me. He recommended to me … ‘A Godly Hero,’ the biography of William Jennings Bryan, a book he’d read.

“Recommended to me … the book on Martin Luther King and Lyndon Johnson, the relationship between the two men. And he recommended to me the pope’s [Benedict XVI] book on relativism.”

That left Mr. Lamb scratching his head.

“So, why then is his image one of — you know, people scoff at the fact that he reads. And they say he’s not very intelligent. I mean, you hear that. Where does that come from? And why? Does he want that kind of an image?” the interviewer asked.

“I don’t know,” Mr. Gerson reasoned. “Throughout his career, in some ways, he’s benefited from being underestimated. … The assumption would be that he, you know, that he would fail. And, of course, we succeeded in a variety of these settings, and certain people always seem to be shocked and surprised.”

Offered Mr. Gerson: “I think the president is — he’s not anti-intellectual, but he is anti-elitist.”

Puttin’ on the Ritz

“I will be interviewed on [NBC’s] ‘Today’ show [this] morning … talking about the language of politics and the best words for the 2008 election. If for no other reason, tune in to see the most expensive clothing I have ever worn — and why this will be the first and last time you’ll ever see me in a suit.”

— Washington political pollster Frank Luntz, well-known for his casual tieless attire even at formal affairs and whose new book, “Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear,” is released today.

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

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