June 04, 2004
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Inside the Beltway

By John McCaslin

Altered environment
    Today is the deadline for applications for two new managerial positions at the Environmental Protection Agency: chiefs of "sexual orientation."

    Phyllis P. Harris, EPA principal deputy assistant administrator, explains that "since a number of people have expressed interest in serving in these capacities... we decided to advertise these opportunities."
    Job requirements: "Intimate knowledge and understanding of the community that you will be working with and representing."
    Hollywood Henry
    Imagine the world listening in on every single word you utter over the telephone for six years. National Archives has just released 20,000 pages of transcripts of phone calls made by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger from 1969 to 1974, including when he was a White House national security adviser in the Nixon administration.
    The pages contain "candid" comments on a variety of topics, from the Vietnam War to social events. In fact, Mr. Kissinger shared gossip over the phone with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Danny Kaye and Warren Beatty.
    Rewriting history
    Bob McEwan paid a visit to the new World War II Memorial in Washington this week and "got an unexpected history lesson."
    "Since I'm a baby boomer, I was one of the youngest in the crowd," Mr. McEwan tells Inside the Beltway. "Most were the age of my parents, veterans of 'the greatest war.' It was a beautiful day, and people were smiling and happy to be there. Hundreds of us milled around the memorial, reading the inspiring words of Ike and Truman that are engraved there."
    Mr. McEwan made his way around to the memorial's "Pacific" section, where a group had gathered to read the determined words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt when he announced the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor: "Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked."
    One woman, says Mr. McEwan, read the words aloud: "With confidence in our armed forces — with the unbounding determination of our people — we will gain the inevitable triumph."
    Suddenly, the woman became visibly angry: "Wait a minute," she told her husband. "They left out the end of the quote. They left out the most important part. Roosevelt said — 'so help us God.'... I know I'm right. I remember the speech."
    The couple shook their heads and walked away.
    As Mr. McEwan puts it, "The people who edited out that part of the speech when they engraved it on the memorial could have fooled me. I was born after the war. But they couldn't fool the people who were there. Roosevelt's words are engraved on their hearts."
    Those exact words were: "With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounded determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God."
    Terrorist wing
    Not going unanswered are the words of Sen. Tim Johnson, South Dakota Democrat, who referred to "the Taliban wing of the Republican Party."
    "Clearly outside the realm of appropriate campaign speech," says Chief Deputy Majority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican.
    Gone to Florida
    Political eyes are refocusing on Florida, what with the Sunshine State all but deciding the outcome of the 2000 presidential election.
    But before Floridians help choose the next president of the United States, they first must weed through a large slate of Senate candidates from both parties. In fact, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) has launched an on-the-ground communications operation to help hold on to the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Bob Graham.
    To be its chief spokesman, the DSCC has hired Floridian Alan Stonecipher, a veteran of numerous campaigns in the South, including Mr. Graham's re-election effort in 1992. Mr. Stonecipher is a former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party.
    Democrats say his role is to draw contrasts between "moderate" messages articulated by its three candidates and "extreme right wing" messages waged by eight Republican candidates.
    Republicans see Mr. Stonecipher's role as "attack dog," ready to pounce on every statement by former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez, the leading Republican candidate for a seat held by Democrats for nearly two decades.
    "Florida is a key battleground state in the fight for the Senate majority in November," says Sen. Jon Corzine, New Jersey Democrat and chairman of the DSCC. The three Democratic candidates are Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, six-term Rep. Peter Deutsch and former Education Commissioner Betty Castor.
    •John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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