Walking the Talk

By Al Kamen
Friday, April 21, 2006

At a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters Wednesday, a leading politician opined on immigration policy and on how we're all immigrants.

"Most of us weren't born in America at some point in our lives," he said.

Another "Bushism of the week"?

Think again. It was Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean . A couple more of those and we may need to start monitoring "Dean-o-bites of the week."

P.S. I Knew That

Despite President Bush 's strong endorsement this week of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld , the sniping from folks who've left -- especially from those working on their memoirs -- is bound to continue.

For example, Robert Scheer , a columnist for liberal magazine the Nation, wrote last week that he chatted with former secretary of state Colin L. Powell at a reception in Los Angeles.

Scheer writes that he noted to Powell that "the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate showed that his State Department had gotten it right on the nonexistent Iraq nuclear threat. I asked why did the President ignore that wisdom in his stated case for the invasion?"

"The CIA was pushing the aluminum tube argument heavily and [Vice President] Cheney went with that instead of what our guys wrote," Powell said, according to Scheer.

And what about the reference in Bush's State of the Union address to Iraq's Saddam Hussein trying to buy enriched uranium in Niger? "That was a big mistake," Powell said. "It should never have been in the speech. I didn't need [former diplomat Joseph C. ] Wilson to tell me that there wasn't a Niger connection. He didn't tell us anything we didn't already know. I never believed it."

Scheer wrote that he pressed Powell as to why Bush played up the Iraq nuclear threat. "Powell said it wasn't the President: 'That was all Cheney.' "

P.S. They Hate You

Michael D. Brown , who "resigned" from FEMA after the botched Katrina recovery effort, had some advice for Rumsfeld. "I think I should call the secretary," he told FOX News Channel's Neil Cavuto the other day, "and say watch your back, because you never know. . . . We laugh about this in Washington and you serve at the pleasure of the president, but that's the absolute truth -- here today, gone tomorrow."

P.S. I Love You

Still unclear how a phrase "I think you're an [a seven-letter expletive beginning with a vowel]" ended up in correspondence from Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) to a constituent.

The letter was a straightforward response to a query about oil. Emerson, in a statement to the Associated Press, which first got the letter, said she couldn't explain what happened, and "every apology has been made to" Bill Jones of Centerville, Mo., the recipient. "We cannot determine whether the" insulting language was added by someone in the office or with access to it, she said, but it's on office letterhead.

A spokesman said Emerson signed the Feb. 15 letter and included a message at the bottom: "PS -- please forgive the delay in responding."

Well, sometimes you want to get the wording just right.

Circumnavigating Lautenberg

With his new post as White House deputy chief of staff, Joel D. Kaplan continues his climb in the administration that began when he was a key part of the legendary Brooks Brothers Riot that helped persuade Miami election officials to stop the recount.

This didn't sit well with some in the Senate when he came up for confirmation as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. We recall Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) was critical of his participation in the event, but Lautenberg didn't put a hold on the nomination.

No confirmation needed this time.

It's Just Down the Column From Bologna

Correction: for Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez , who is said to be the next ambassador to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. The restaurant he wants is Dal Bolognese, not Da Bologna. And his predecessor, former congressman Tony P. Hall (Ohio) is, of course, a Democrat.

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