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Inside the Beltway: Correspondents’ Dinner going to the dog

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Uggie, the canine star of the Oscar-winning film “The Artist,” may join The Washington Times on April 28 at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

He’s suave, he’s svelte, he’s funny, he wears a nice tuxedo and he knows when to sit. What better guest, then, for the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner? But of course. It is with lighthearted pride and a few yips that The Washington Times announces that Uggie — the canine star of the Oscar-winning film “The Artist” — has agreed to be our special guest April 28 at the annual fete for journalists, politicians, celebrities, top brass and, now, dogs of distinction.

And as the deadline minders like to say, the situation is “developing.” Uggie and his ace trainer Omar von Muller have made it clear that they pine to meet President Obama. But indeed, the situation is developing. It is a cliffhanger, in fact. Will Uggie and Omar get their wish? Will Uggie, an old hand at such things, be the star of the red carpet and upstage Republicans and Democrats alike? More soon. And our message to Uggie: If it is within our power to offer a dog his ultimate Washington wish, The Times will take the ball and run with it.

THE CROWDED MALL

Things are going to get a little tight on the Mall: The tea party and the atheists are both planning huge rallies — at the same time on the coveted verdant public spaces between the U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. The Tea Party Patriots, the nation’s largest umbrella group for the grass-roots movement, plans a big “Road to Repeal Rally” to protest the “monstrosity” of health care reform and government interference. The date? March 24 on the Mall.

Then there’s the “Reason Rally,” organized by 20 groups including the American Atheists and the National Atheist Party, billed as “the largest secular movement in world history” and the “Woodstock for non-belief.” They insists the event is not out to trash religion, saying it is a chance for those with a “god-free” lifestyle to both run for office and “come out of the closet.” The event is also scheduled for March 24, and on the Mall.

Someone else will also be in town for the atheist event, meanwhile: Larry Taunton, a Christian author who has publicly debated the likes of Christopher Hitchens, among others. The location and timing of the “Reason Rally,” he says, have been strategically planned to affect the 2012 elections.

“Make no mistake, atheism has been responsible for some of the worst horrors of the 20th century. Atheism has contributed nothing positive to the world as we know it. Nothing,” Mr. Taunton observes. “We must not ignore this march on Washington. It is nothing short of a first step toward an attempt to remove the role of religion from American life, starting with politics.”

A MEMORIAL MOMENT

Many will remember one Dr. Christian J. Lambertsen on Saturday. The man who has long been called the “father of U.S. combat swimming” with respect and affectionate gratitude will be buried at sea near a most appropriate spot — the U.S. Army Special Forces Underwater Operations School in Key West, Fla. Dr. Lambertsen, a physician and Army veteran, died Feb. 11 at age 93.

He was also an agent for the Office of Strategic Services — the forerunner of the CIA — which recruited the canny young officer after he successfully repurposed such motley items as carbon dioxide filters from anesthesia equipment and bicycle pumps. Dr. Lambertsen, a powerful swimmer and experienced diver himself, had invented an underwater breathing system, ultimately billing that invention “self-contained underwater breathing apparatus,” or scuba.

Needless to say, the clandestine possibilities were numerous; Dr. Lambertsen was awarded the Legion of Merit by Maj. Gen. William J. Donovan, then leader of the OSS. Dr. Lambertsen also received the distinguished service award from the OSS Society, presented by Adm. Eric Olson, commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, in 2009.

Rest in peace, Dr. Lambertsen.

CULTURAL MOMENT

“To say the United States is finished and gone, that’s just baloney talk. I don’t accept that.”

- Saudi Arabia’s Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Al-Saud, to Forbes magazine. The prince is worth $18 billion and ranks 29th on the Forbes Billionaires List.

L’OBAMA

An interesting vignette from Georgia on Super Tuesday. Though they were there to cover presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, a few international types revealed what many Republicans already know: The global press adores President Obama.

“French people and even worldwide listeners are, of course, with Barack Obama,” Radio France International correspondent Stefanie Schuler — who has a reported audience of 50 million in Europe and Africa — told local NBC affiliate WXIA during an encounter in Smyrna, a town just northwest of Atlanta. Many listeners, the reporter said, “have a hard time understanding why anyone would want to defeat him”.

Swiss Television reporter Karin Bauer agreed that “most of her audience admires President Obama,” and is amused by his conservative rivals.

“They think it’s a bit funny,” Ms. Bauer said. “But in the eyes of the Europeans, I think Mitt Romney is most liked for his liberal views. People mostly can relate to him in Switzerland.”

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About the Author

Jennifer Harper

To read Jennifer Harper’s Inside the Beltway columns, click here. Contact her at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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