- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 8, 2007

‘Russert Bingo’

“Let’s not ‘Meet the Press,’ ” blares the headline of a St. Louis University student editorial, complaining that the choice of NBC Sunday morning talk-show host Tim Russert as the school’s May 2007 commencement speaker “represents another selection in a disappointing trend that appears to be emerging.”

“For the past four years, seniors have been treated to uninspiring politicians or uninspiring pundits as their speaker at graduation,” the editorial states. “Moreover, the decision on who should be the commencement speaker has been made without consulting the senior class.”

Commencement speakers at the Jesuit-run Catholic university in recent years have ranged from former President Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, Madeleine K. Albright, to former British Prime Minister John Major. (Wow, we can relate to the students’ concerns.)

The graduating seniors add that Mr. Russert has delivered so many canned commencement addresses to so many colleges and universities that when he spoke at Harvard’s Commencement in 2005 the graduates played “Tim Russert Bingo.”

“Responding to the fact that Russert consistently gave similar addresses to all of the graduating classes that he spoke to, those seniors shouted ‘Bingo!’ whenever Russert repeated key phrases from other speeches,” the editorial explains. “The choice of commencement speaker should be one that seniors will remember, not an excuse to play bingo.”

At last count, according to Mr. Russert’s biography, the TV host has received 43 honorary doctorate degrees from American colleges and universities, no doubt running out of wall space to hang them all.

War and Graceland

What, asks the Library of Congress, do Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Rolling Stones have in common?

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington selected sound recordings made by them and 21 others, including reggae king Bob Marley, for the National Recording Registry to be preserved for all time.

Every year the librarian is responsible for selecting recordings deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” enough to be placed in the National Recording Registry. Recordings must be at least 10 years old.

The number of recordings named now stands at 225, with this week’s new additions spanning the years 1904-1986, including Roosevelt’s address to Congress after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; singer-songwriter Paul Simon’s album, “Graceland”; and the Rolling Stones’ rock ‘n’ roll classic, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

Party time?

Ask any conservative, and they’ll complain that the Republican Party isn’t what it used to be, straying too far to the center. Same goes for liberals, who hang precariously onto a moderating Democratic wing.

So what’s a party activist to do?

The current state and future prospects of political parties will be discussed at an unprecedented two-day symposium to be led this month by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a Democrat, and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a Republican.

And get this: they’ll come together at Gettysburg, Pa., no stranger to national division, as Gettysburg College plays host to the March 23-24 symposium that is sponsored by the Eisenhower Institute.

That said, Susan Eisenhower will speak on the parallels and contrasts of political parties between now and when her grandfather, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was president. In a 1958 letter, recently acquired by the institute, Mr. Eisenhower opined on the future of the Republican Party, a message that will be the focus of one symposium program.

Gore gas

So what has Al Gore become, politically speaking?

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has just sent a letter to the rotund former vice president, telling him: “You can’t be a meat-eating environmentalist.”

“The best and easiest way for Mr. Gore to show his critics that he’s truly committed to fighting global warming is to kick his meat habit immediately,” PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk says.

She’s not impressed that Mr. Gore’s Oscar-winning film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” failed to address that the meat industry is the largest contributor to greenhouse-gas emissions. Ms. Newkirk noted that in its report “Livestock’s Long Shadow—Environmental Issues and Options,” the United Nations determined that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined.

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

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