- The Washington Times - Monday, September 10, 2007

Try, try again?

In our previous column, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe told the story about his young son, Jack, accidentally stepping on the gas pedal of a golf cart instead of the brake and running into then-first ladyHillary Rodham Clinton, sending “her flying.”

Mr. McAuliffe’s immediate concern: “My son kills the first lady.”

Fortunately, Mrs. Clinton was able to pick herself up from the ground at Camp David and dust herself off.

Now, Inside the Beltway has received this shortened, one-sentence letter from Kensington resident Roger Johnson: “To Jack McAuliffe: If at first you don’t succeed … ”

Politics aside

“If you ever want to get my father talking, bring up fly fishing.”

Or so Vice President DickCheney’s daughter, Mary Cheney, said Friday evening in the elevator of the Hay Adams Hotel, where, on the rooftop terrace overlooking the White House, the conservative Weekly Standard magazine was hosting its 2008 presidential primary kickoff party.

Sure enough, as soon as we stepped outside, there was Mr. Cheney and Weekly Standard senior writer Matt Labash swapping stories about catching fish on a fly — including catfish, of all ugly creatures.

Indeed, when Mr. Labash’s wife, Alana, approached to shake Mr. Cheney’s hand, she was all but “brushed aside” by the pair of engrossed anglers.

“Labash, bless him, not only writes well, but he’s a fishing nut of the first order,” Washington Post outdoors columnist Angus Phillips tried explaining last year. “Lately, he’s been obsessed with an unlikely quest — to catch a catfish from a kayak on a fly rod.”

As for Mr. Cheney, we might recall that when she introduced her husband to the nation in 2000 to accept his party’s vice presidential nomination, Lynne Cheney cautioned: “I would say one of the keys to understanding Dick Cheney is understanding fly fishing.”

Washington & Lee

Rest assured, Academy Award-winning actor and director Robert Duvall, who this column reported last Friday will host a cocktail fundraiser at his Virginia estate later this month to benefit Republican presidential candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani, is a descendent of Robert E. Lee.

As for our including a childless George Washington in the same lineage line, Mr. Duvall’s biography explains: ” … He can actually trace his family back to President George Washington. Washington himself had no biological children, but his wife, Martha Custis, did, and he adopted them after the death of Martha’s first husband. Her son, John Custis, had a son of his own, Washington Custis, whose daughter, Mary Custis, was Robert E. Lee’s wife.”

Beyond Baghdad

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is scheduled to give a speech today at the American Enterprise Institute, concerned that once Gen. David H. Petraeus issues his report today on the Iraq troop surge, members of Congress will “hide” in the smaller Iraq war argument to the detriment of the larger global war on terrorism.

He says his speech is designed to make the case for a larger dialogue about the war on terrorism, not only the battles being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, but dealing with the “enemies” of Iran, Syria, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and other forces “that want to destroy our civilization.”

Anticipating unfavorable Democratic response to Gen. Petraeus‘ report, the one-time Republican leader says: “Imagine that Lincoln had tried to assess Antietem and Gettysburg without thinking about the larger war for the preservation of the Union. Imagine that FDR had tried to assess Pearl Harbor … without looking at the larger war with Nazi Germany, imperial Japan and fascist Italy.”

Come early

Saudi Arabian Ambassador AdelA. al-Jubeir welcomed a long line of U.S. officials and members of Congress into his Washington embassy Friday evening in observance of the kingdom’s 77th National Day.

Founded in 1932 by King Abdulaziz al-Saud, the modern kingdom traditionally celebrates its anniversary on Sept. 23; however, the Washington reception was held early because the anniversary this year falls in the Islamic holy period of Ramadan.

John McCaslin can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin @washington times.com.

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