Federal File: Vice-President Bennett?; Christmas conflict; Jury duty

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Secretary of Education William J. Bennett, who has repeatedly brushed aside suggestions that he has lofty political ambitions, said recently that he would "seriously" consider a run for the Vice Presidency if asked by either George Bush or Robert Dole. He made the remark on the commentator John McLaughlin's weekly television program.

In a September interview with Education Week, Mr. Bennett denied that he was campaigning for the Number Two spot. "I doubt I will be asked or offered any position on the ticket," he said.

Secretary Bennett sent a Christmas greeting to ed employees last month that inspired discomfort, not cheer, among at least a few recipients.

The greeting, photocopied on green paper with a holly border, included a Biblical verse, Mr. Bennett's signature, and wishes from the Secretary and his family for "all the blessings of the holiday season."

It "caused considerable comment," said one ed employee who expressed concern about a religious message being sent under federal auspices and at federal expense.

"I was more amused, but I'm sure this is offensive to some people," he said. "I don't think [the verse] refers to a particular sect, but there are people in government other than Christians and Jews."

Loye W. Miller, Mr. Bennett's spokesman, thinks anyone offended by the greeting is being a spoilsport.

"It is perfectly appropriate for the Secretary to send Christmas greetings to his employees," Mr. Miller said.

The passage in question quotes from Isaiah 9:

"For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government shall be upon His Shoulder:

And His name will be called

Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God,

The Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."

If you were charged with drug possession, would you want Secretary Bennett's anti-drug expert on the jury, however sincere his assurances of impartiality?

John Walters, a special assistant to Mr. Bennett whose duties include handling issues related to drugs, recently spent four days serving on a District of Columbia Superior Court jury in just such a case.

The defendant was found guilty of possession of marijuana and pcp "I would like to say that I think we were fair," Mr. Walters said.--jm

Vol. 07, Issue 15 & 16

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