- The Washington Times - Monday, July 14, 2008

Hitting bottom

“It’s hard for voters to say that they are proud to be a Republican or proud to be a Democrat,” reacts Libertarian Party spokesman Andrew Davis to “single digit” approval ratings for Congress revealed in the latest Rasmussen poll — the worst approval rating for congressional members since Rasmussen began tracking the numbers.

Missed Leno

“I think it is important to let all … know that we worked very hard, late into the night, with significant members of the Senate staff. We worked very hard. In fact, I got home a little bit after midnight this morning, as did others.”

— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, letting the American people know that he stayed up past his bedtime on Friday.

Depressed yet?

That was Texas congressman and 2008 Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul scaring the britches off everybody in the House last week when expressing “grave concern” for America’s future.

“I have days, growing more frequent all the time, when I’m convinced the time is now upon us that some big events are about to occur,” he began. “These fast-approaching events … will affect all of us. They will not be limited to just some areas of our country. The world economy and political system will share in the chaos about to be unleashed.”

Mr. Paul warned of an “indeed frightening and an historic event,” one that “may even be worse than I first thought … now at our doorstep.”

“There are reasons to believe this coming crisis is different and bigger than the world has ever experienced,” he said. “The financial crisis, still in its early stages, is apparent to everyone: gasoline prices over $4 a gallon; skyrocketing education and medical-care costs; the collapse of the housing bubble; the bursting of the NASDAQ bubble; stock markets plunging; unemployment rising; massive underemployment; excessive government debt; and unmanageable personal debt.

“Little doubt exists as to whether we’ll get stagflation. The question that will soon be asked is: When will the stagflation become an inflationary depression?”

No guts, no glory

“Practice a little daring,” encouraged Tony Snow in May 2007, four months before stepping down as White House press secretary because of his recurrence of cancer. He was delivering the 118th annual commencement address to students of Catholic University of America in Washington.

“Something that’s tantalizing because it raises the question of whether this particular activity and goal lies inside or outside the limit of your abilities,” he explained. Mr. Snow spoke from experience, for in reality there were few things in life he did not test.

“Last summer, we were in Crawford, Texas, with the president,” he recalled. “And you know the president has this love of riding a bicycle off-road. It’s a treacherous and crazy thing, plunging down the hills, over seeming cliffs, ravines, up rocks. He loves it …

“So the first time out at the ranch, he said, ‘Snow, you ready to ride?’

“I looked around and said, ‘Well, I don’t have any shorts, sir.’

“And so he said, ‘Hey, Jerry, do you got shorts?’

“‘Yes sir.’ Hands out a pair of shorts.

“‘Well, all I have are these running shoes,’ I protested.

“‘They’ll do.’

“He hands off a T-shirt, so off we go,” he recalled. “But there was always that lingering fear. At one point he says, ‘OK, you’re going to need your brakes here. It’s straight down, it’s boulders. Oh, and the other side, it’s a cliff. Watch out.’

“We finally get to this place where the road parts. You go off-road, and there’s a drop of about 15 or 20 feet, it rises up again and then goes around the curve. The president goes down and goes ‘Woo hoo!’ Person behind him goes down and goes ‘Woo hoo!’ I’m in the back and I go ‘Waaaah.’ But there I am.

“OK, where am I? The limits of the abilities.” Mr. Snow continued. “Well, I go down. It’s great! I’m going full-speed. And then all of a sudden coming up a tree appears right in the middle of the path. ‘Ooof!’ Everybody hears it.

“‘Snow, you OK back there?’

“‘Yes, sir. Just hit a tree.’

“‘OK, well come on then.’

“I made the rest of the trip with a wobbly front tire which had been bent up in the encounter. The point’s simple. When a chance presents itself, take a prudent and interesting risk. If it doesn’t work out, that is OK. Don’t worry about that, either. You see, God presents blessings in unexpected packages. Don’t overlook them. Remember: no guts, no glory.”

Cheer them on

Take a late lunch and catch the 34th annual Bastille Day Races of wait staff balancing trays and ingredients along Pennsylvania Avenue between 12th and 13th streets at 2 p.m. today, presented, as always, by Brasserie Les Halles.

John McCaslin can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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