- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 1, 2009

W. speaks

Former President George W. Bush still has wisdom to share, and share it he will. Mr. Bush will begin a series of public speaking engagements on March 17 in Calgary, Alberta, on behalf of the Washington Speakers Bureau.

“Faced with challenges from a terrorist attack to a global financial crisis, he made difficult decisions that will shape the nation’s course and world affairs for decades to come. His leadership after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, was an inspiration to millions of Americans. His policies, while controversial at times, kept the country safe for more than seven years and liberated more than 50 million people from tyranny,” the bureau says of its new speaker.

Mr. Bush looks mighty happy in his official new photo.

Holder Part 2

The national discourse about race in America has been jolting forward in the political realm recently, inch by inch, and with some extrapolations.

“It’s pretty astonishing. We have a black president, a black attorney general, a black Supreme Court justice, a black chairman of the Republican National Committee, black governors, black CEOs at American Express and Aetna, a black NFL coach who just won the Super Bowl — and the most powerful person in television (Oprah Winfrey) and last year’s best-paid movie star (Will Smith, according to Forbes) are both black,” notes Brandt Goldstein, a New York Law School professor and Huffington Post contributor.

“Plus, late-night talk-show hosts are almost all comedians, and in case you hadn’t noticed, many of the biggest names in comedy are black. And yet on late-night TV, it’s white guy, white guy, white guy,” Mr. Goldstein reasons.

“Perhaps some insight into the Late Night White Guy Syndrome can be found in Attorney General Eric Holder’s ‘coward’ speech. During his remarks, Holder said that while the American workplace is largely integrated, the nation remains self-segregated in private life. We mix at the office, but not at home.”

Which suggests our engrained night-night moments are still in the Johnny Carson tradition, he says.

“Is white America prepared to have a black guy host more of these programs? If not, why not? After all, we’ve proved ourselves willing to trust an African-American man to keep watch over the entire country. Perhaps we’re finally ready for one to sit at a desk and interview Joaquin Phoenix before we turn out the lights,” Mr. Goldstein concludes.

Days of yore

George Washington signed a measure authorizing the first U.S. census on this day in 1790; it revealed the total U.S. population at the time to be 3,929,625.

March 1 was popular for grand entrances: Ohio entered the Union on this day in 1803, Maine in 1829 and Nebraska in 1867.

On this day in 1961, President Kennedy issued Executive Order No. 10924, establishing the Peace Corps as a new agency within the Department of State. He based the office on an idea once proposed by Henry Reuss, a Democratic congressman from Wisconsin. In the late 1950s, Mr. Reuss called his version the Point Four Youth Corps.

“Young Americans in their late teens and early 20s need a sense of purpose — the excitement and stimulus of taking part in great events,” Mr. Reuss said at the time.

Wait problem

What do journalists do while waiting upon the politician du jour? It can be a long wait. Sure, reporters stare off into space, phone home, text people, make grocery lists. They also discreetly do Sudoku, and they do crossword puzzles.

Here is a dream come true for them, or anyone who pines for a waiting time which is, well, not mindless. Simon & Schuster has bundled together a year’s worthy of snappy crossword puzzles into an application for iPhone or iPod.

The 365 Crosswords software is available via one simple download, “allowing users to play anytime, anywhere without a subscription,” the publisher says.

It has been issuing puzzles since 1924, and now aims to bring that “legacy” to the restless, frantic, mobile audience. Well, hurray.

The software is $4.99 from Apple’s App Store on iPhone and iPod touch, or at www.itunes.com/appstore.

Quotes of note

“He seems like Barney Fife to me.” — MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

“My intention is to be Prime Minister of Canada, not Governor General, which is mainly a ceremonial position.” — actor William Shatner, in a letter to a fan.

“Mr. President, we need you to rise above the daily politics of compromise.” — actor Harvey Fierstein, in a letter to President Obama.

By the numbers

91 percent of Democrats have a favorable view of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

72 percent of Republicans have an unfavorable view of Mrs. Clinton.

71 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of Democrats say North Korea is an enemy of the U.S.

60 percent of Americans overall agree North Korea is an enemy.

55 percent overall reject the idea that the U.S. should help North Korea restore its economy.

43 percent of Americans say China is not a U.S. adversary.

28 percent say China is an enemy; 29 percent are not sure.

Source: A Rasmussen Report survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted Feb. 18 and 19.

Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected] or 202/636-3085.

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