Bush forsakes Longhorns for Johnnies

A man’s gotta do what he’s gotta do, especially when he’s running for a second term in the White House.

That’s why President Bush apparently has switched his loyalty from the University of Texas Longhorns in favor of a small college football team in Minnesota, a once reliably Democratic state that he has high hopes of winning this year.
A man’s gotta do what he’s gotta do, especially when he’s running for a second term in the White House.

That’s why President Bush apparently has switched his loyalty from the University of Texas Longhorns in favor of a small college football team in Minnesota, a once reliably Democratic state that he has high hopes of winning this year.
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Bush greets St. John’s coach John Gagliardi at White House last year.

“Hitler does better among Jewish voters than Zell Miller does among Democrats.”
— Pollster Frank Luntz, explaining the fierce negative reaction of John Kerry supporters in a focus group he conducted during Tuesday night’s debate
when Vice President Cheney mentioned the Democratic senator from Georgia
The team is the Fighting Johnnies of St. John’s University, a school that claims Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-Minn.) as an alumnus. Kennedy joined Bush on the stage at a Sept. 16 rally at a baseball stadium in St. Cloud, Minn., a few miles from the St. John’s campus, along with Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and John
Gagliardi, coach of the Johnnies.

Gagliardi, who last year became the winningest coach in the history of college football when his team won the national small-college championship, met Bush last fall when he was honored, along with a group of other NCAA championship athletes, at a White House ceremony. He was leaving the stadium after the rally when two Secret Service agents intercepted him and escorted him to the bus Bush was riding in.

“He came out and greeted me,” Gagliardi told The Hill. “He thanked me for being there and asked me how our season was going, and said he hopes we win another national title. He was very cordial, and I was very impressed.”

Gagliardi said he told Bush that after winning his first national title at St. John’s in 1976, the Benedictine monk who was president of the university told him, “‘John, we love you.’ When I said what if we lose, he said, ‘John, we’ll still love you, but we’ll miss you.’ The president said it works the same way in politics.”


Goss’s stance on Haiti: Less military, more humanitarian

Now that ex-Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.) has been confirmed as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, don’t look for him to spend much time focusing on Haiti, a country he once spent time in as a CIA operative.

While Goss has never spoken publicly about his experience in Haiti, he’s made no secret of his opposition to the Clinton administration’s Haitian policies, including its support for former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

“They are trying to apply liberal left democratic politics on a country that is not ready for it,” he told The Hill in 1994, four years after the former Roman Catholic priest became Haiti’s first democratically elected president. “It’s like putting kindergartners at the controls of a 747. If you understand the country, you
understand that.”

Goss accurately predicted that Aristide would fail as president. Aristide, who had enjoyed great popular support as a champion of the poor, was overthrown in a bloody military coup months later and sought exile in the United States, where he lived for a time at the Jesuit residence at Georgetown University.

He was reinstated in 1994 with the help of some 20,000 troops, mostly American, but was forced into exile again in February in the face of a sweeping rebellion.

Goss said at the time that he also opposed spending billions of dollars on the U.S. military mission to Haiti but would like to see the United States support international humanitarian aid and investment, which is the Bush administration policy.

Goss’s stance on Aristide put him at odds with Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), who lived in Haiti from 1959 to ’63 and was a civilian Navy employee teaching French and Creole to Navy personnel and English to Haitians.


Former Rep. Sam Gibbons gets ready to wed again

If former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sam Gibbons (D-Fla.) didn’t believe that history repeats itself, he surely does now.

Gibbons, 84, who served 34 years in Congress before retiring in 1996, will be married in Tampa on Saturday to a longtime friend and high school classmate, Betty Culbreath.

Culbreath’s husband, the CEO of an energy company, died last Oct. 1, one day before the death of Gibbons’s wife, Martha.

Culbreath had introduced Gibbons to Martha, and Gibbons, in turn, introduced her to her future husband.

“He’s very excited,” Gibbons’s son Cliff, a Washington lobbyist and partner of his father in a D.C. and Florida-based lobbying firm, said Tuesday. “We were supposed to have lunch today, but he said, ‘I can’t. I’ve got too much to do to get ready for the wedding.’”


Sen. Hollings: I’d vote against my own bill

Sometimes, you just have to draw the line and vote against yourself.

That’s what Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) says he’d do if the Senate were to vote on his bill, S. 89, to reinstate mandatory military service, after the House defeated a companion bill Tuesday.

“We introduced a draft bill in January 2003, when our nation’s defense needed more troops — and we still do,” Hollings said in a statement yesterday. “We were misled into Iraq, and now the commander in chief tells the troops they can’t win. You don’t draft young Americans for a mistake, particularly when they can’t win. Under these circumstances, I would vote against my own bill.”

But Hollings won’t have to make that choice. He’s retiring this year, and Senate leaders say they aren’t likely to vote on the politically sensitive measure before Congress adjourns.


Helen Dewar’s admirers line up for her retirement reception

Many of the politicians she’s covered for more than a quarter-century bid a fond farewell Tuesday night to veteran Washington Post reporter Helen Dewar, who’s retiring at the end of this Congress.

More than a dozen senators, including Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), as well as the two top House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Steny Hoyer (Md.), turned out to praise the self-effacing Dewar at a reception in the Mansfield Room.

Dewar’s admirers included Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), as well as associate editor Robert Kaiser, who preceded Dewar as the Post’s Senate reporter.

Two former majority leaders, Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and Howard Baker (R-Tenn.), also sent their greetings. “Remember me?” Dole wrote. “I’m the one who leaked all thos e inside stories you wrote about.”

Dewar, whose first job at the Post was filling paste pots for the women’s page in 1959, later worked for the Northern Virginia Sun and returned to the Post in 1961. She was assigned to the Senate in 1979. Her successor has not yet been named.


Fact-check this: Web site sets it straight

Maybe Vice President Cheney should have done a better job of fact-checking before his debate with Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.).

Responding to Edwards’s criticism of his former employer, Halliburton, Cheney suggested viewers consult the web site “factcheck.com,” which he said was “an independent website sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, [where] you can get the specific details, with respect to Halliburton. ... There’s no substance to the charges.”

Cheney apparently was referring to factcheck.org, a site run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, which points out misleading and erroneous claims made by both campaigns.  

The Annenberg site pointed out that Cheney got its name wrong “and wrongly implied that we had rebutted allegations Edwards was making about what Cheney had done as chief executive officer of Halliburton.”

“In fact,” the site continued, “we did post an article pointing out that Cheney hasn’t profited personally while in office from Halliburton’s Iraq contracts, as falsely implied by a Kerry TV ad. But Edwards was talking about Cheney’s responsibility for earlier Halliburton troubles. And in fact, Edwards was mostly right.”

To be fair, the site also noted Edwards had “implied that Cheney was in charge of the company when it did business with Libya in violation of U.S. sanctions, but that happened long before Cheney joined the company."

Geoff Earle and Josephine Hearn contributed to this page.