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This Time, He Really Was Railroaded

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) has sent word to the White House that non-career nominees had best get up to the committee by October -- which would be Monday -- to have any realistic chance of confirmation.

Posting an ambassador overseas is a pricey endeavor. Household goods need to be shipped, the old digs are repainted, artwork might need changing, running the cost to tens of thousands of dollars. And hundreds of man-hours are devoted to training in the "charm school" State Department course here for new ambassadors, followed by hours of briefings overseas from the Foreign Service and intelligence folks.

There is, of course, a no-cost solution to this problem. First, let's get real: Most of these high rollers really are more concerned with making sure they are called "Ambassador" and "the Honorable" for the rest of their lives.

The White House and the Senate simply need to work out a deal so these folks get put in a streamlined "confirm/no go" basket in which they would get Senate confirmation and claim the titles -- but don't get sent overseas, where they could do some serious damage.

No Tasering Here

Stanford University is having what passes these days for a campus uproar over the Hoover Institution's move to name former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld a visiting fellow. No riots or sit-ins, but there is an online petition effort -- more than 2,500 signatures by Friday -- decrying the move by Hoover -- the conservative think tank at the school.

On the other hand, there was nary a ripple at Syracuse University last week when Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. went up to dedicate a new building at the communications school for the beginning of the "Year of the First Amendment."

Hundreds of people attended Roberts's speech, according to the campus newspaper, the Daily Orange, but only a few scattered protesters noted Roberts's recent majority opinion in Morse v. Frederick, the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case that restricted student speech.

Maybe a few too many bong hits?

That's 'PREZ-i-dent Boosh' to You

Bit of a slip-up at the United Nations yesterday. Someone posted a copy of President Bush's underwhelming address on the U.N. Web site, but turns out it was a draft, complete with helpful phonetic pronunciations for various countries and people.

"The United States, salutes the nations that have recently taken strides toward liberty," the draft said, "including Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan [KEYR-geez-stan], Mauritania [moor-EH-tain-ee-a], Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Morocco."

"In Zimbabwe," the draft said, "the behavior of the Mugabe [moo-GAH-bee] regime is an assault on its people," and the U.N. "must insist on change in Harare [hah-RAR-ray]."

There was a tip of the hat to "French President Sarkozy [sar-KO-see]."

The mix-up seemed to unsettle even the usually mild-mannered White House press secretary, Dana Perino.

"On the speech -- your question about the speech," she told reporters, "the drafts are circulated, and there was an error made in trying to make sure that interpreters had what they needed. I don't know how the draft of the speech -- it was not final -- was posted, but it was, and it was taken down. There's really nothing more to say about it."

What about the phonetic spellings? "That's not unusual," she said. "We do that for many speeches."

"Does the president have a hard time pronouncing some of these countries' names?" a reporter asked.

"I think that's an offensive question. I'm going to just decline to comment on it."

What effrontery [eh-FRUNT-er-ee] !


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