- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 6, 2009

A FINE WHINE

Bill Clinton and Al Gore got more breathless press coverage on Wednesday than the two female journalists they liberated from North Korea.

And no wonder.

The public reunion of the former White House team was Hollywood perfect - oh, the gravitas and sincerity, the humble mien, the quiet joy. Those dignified suits and august expressions, and my gosh. Teardrops (Mr. Gore’s) were shed at the height of the drama. Even the private jet that whisked Mr. Clinton to his destiny had showbiz underpinnings - it belongs to Hollywood producer Stephen Bing, who also footed the $200,000 fuel bill.

“All Americans should be grateful to both former President Clinton and Vice President Gore for their extraordinary work,” President Obama told the nation from the South Lawn of the White House.

There are no medals. Yet.

“Everyone is glad the journalists are home. The way it happened, however, was humiliating for the United States,” Republican strategist Ron Bonjean tells Inside the Beltway.

Kim Jong-il said ‘send Mr. Clinton and we’ll release them.’ So that’s what we do. There’s buzz around town that we were asked to cave for a terrorist country, a rogue nation. We gave them free publicity, a larger standing,” Mr. Bonjean continues.

“Kim could have asked for John McCain - or Paris Hilton, for that matter. The point is, he asked and we delivered. He got what he wanted.”

A FINE WINE

Inquiring minds want to know. What if President Obama had staged a Wine Summit rather than a Beer Summit while patching things up between Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sgt. James Crowley last week?

“The question to ask is this. How would things have gone at a wine summit, serving a gentler, more peaceful beverage like wine, rather than beer. Have you ever seen a bar fight in a wine bar?” Dan Searing tells Inside the Beltway.

Mr. Searing is a managing partner of Room 11, a new wine bar that previews to the press Thursday and opens to the public Monday.

“The president could have chosen an American wine, of course - like Folie a Deux cabernet sauvignon, Napa Valley 2006. That title translates into ‘a madness shared by two.’ It’s a psychiatric diagnosis,” Mr. Searing muses.

“And why not choose a wine that references to a famous Virginia diplomat? Jefferson Vineyards Petit Verdot 2007 would do. How could anybody carry on a grudge when you’re drinking a wine with ‘petit’ in the title?” he asks.

By the way, the handsome Room 11 is located at 3234 11th St. NW in the District (202/332-3234).

POLL DU JOUR

47 percent of Americans favor the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to serve on the Supreme Court.

54 percent favored Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s nomination in 2006.

42 percent favored Harriet Miers‘ nomination in 2005

60 percent favored John G. Roberts Jr.’s nomination in 2005.

53 percent favored Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s nomination in 1993.

52 percent favored Clarence Thomas‘ nomination in 1991.

38 percent favored Robert Bork’s nomination in 1987.

Source: A CNN/Opinion Research poll of 1,136 adults conducted July 31-Aug. 3, and historic findings from CNN/USA Today/Gallup polls.

MOMENT OF TRUTH

Republicans are dithering over the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. Former Christian Coalition chairman and public relations master Ralph Reed has advice for them.

Hey. Stay focused.

“A vote against her confirmation is not a vote against her personally. It is a vote against the imposition of quotas by judicial fiat, the reliance on foreign law by U.S. courts, more liberal protections for unlimited, taxpayer-funded abortion on demand, and the erosion of the Second Amendment right to bear arms,” Mr. Reed says in a memo to the GOP and conservatives.

“Republicans and red-state Democratic senators who oppose her will strengthen their position. Republicans who support Sotomayor may come to regret having done so, either because a conservative candidate could challenge them in a primary or they generate only lax support from the base in a general election,” Mr. Reed adds.

“For Republicans, the Sotomayor nomination is a political Rorschach test. If they fail it, the consequences in 2010 and beyond could be enormous.”

DUELING SOUND BITES

“The right-wing scream machine is back.”- Jim Dean, chairman of Democracy for America and brother of former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

“Help Republicans fight back against Obama and his political attack dogs’ dishonest vitriol.” - Michael S. Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Tales, outcry, mumbles to jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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