Inside the Beltway
McCaslin, John, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
WATER AND OIL
Trying to keep their fingers in American affairs, Burke's Peerage has coated every U.S. president since George Washington.
And now the London-based company says it's prepared, even at this early stage of presidential campaigning, to present a new coat of arms to the next president of the United States.
Apparently having a handle on the outcome of the distant primaries, Burke's Peerage, by the hand of Peter Spurrier - "foremost artist of Heraldry in the United Kingdom" - has produced coats of arms for the two leading candidates: Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore.
You're certain one of these two men will be crowned?
"Either Vice President Gore or Governor Bush will be enobled in the American tradition in approximately 15 months," says Harold Brooks-Baker of Burke's Peerage.
How can you be so sure?
"Because for the first time in recent American history there is no major contender for the White House, in either political party, other than the front-runners," says the British coat maker.
What about Democrat Bill Bradley, who's raised almost as many crumpets as Mr. Gore.
"Burke's Peerage feels duty bound to produce the presidential coats of arms well in advance," he says. "These two coats of arms may be considered controversial, but they represent the true economic, social and political history of each candidate."
Mr. Brooks-Baker insists George Washington's coat of arms inspired the presidential seal, the personal flag of the chief executive, even the U.S. flag: "The stars and stripes came directly from the general's British coat of arms."
Mr. Gore will like his coat. While trailing Mr. Bush in the polls, the motto on the scroll beneath his shield reads: "Secundus erit primus." Or, in Mr. Gore's language, "The second shall be first."
The tassels on Mr. Gore's mantling (which should have been stitched into William Jefferson Clinton's coat) allude to an Old Testament reading, in which the Lord says to Moses, "Make tassels on the corners of your garments and put a blue cord on each tassel. The tassels will serve as reminders that you will obey my Commandments."
And avid canoeist that he is, the lower part of Mr. Gore's shield is green, representing the natural vegetation of Tennessee, with the Mississippi River running through it.
As for Mr. Bush, he gets an oil rig on his vertical strip called a pale. And the motto on his scroll reads, "Filius prodigus nunc luceo." Translated, "The Prodigal son now shines. …