Curtains for That Civility Stuff; Model Grandkid; Go Albert III; In Kerry's Web; Bushtractions; Pulling Up Anchor; Some Perk; No Diamond Jim; Clueless in D.C.; Court Busing; Psyched Out
No Diamond Jim; Clueless in D.C.; Court busing; Psyched out
Curtains for that civility stuff
Those obnoxious "Mean People Suck" bumper stickers are being ripped off cars throughout official Washington, as the scuttling of the GOP Senate majority due to Sen. Jim Jeffords's defection has cleared the way for a resumption of the capital's favorite sport: partisan bickering. "The change in the Senate has effectively ended President Bush's ban on partisan sniping," says a top GOP official. It's a relief to both sides. Democrats tell us they were tired of whispering sweet nothings in GOP ears, and Republicans say they're happy to stop the "fraud." Especially cheerful: the Republican National Committee. "Chairman [Jim] Gilmore is champing at the bit to turn it up," says an insider. Don't look for Bush to break his civility code. But so what: His aides and allies are already at it, blasting White Houses foes like California Gov. Gray Davis for hiring former Gore spin doctors to help him out of the energy crisis. However, all Bush mouthpieces will try to refrain from personal attacks, we're told. Instead: The GOP will mine newspaper morgues and personal info to highlight hypocritical actions by Democrats.
Deja vu aboard the Sequoia
Should President Bush renew use of the now privately held Sequoia presidential yacht, we have a pretty good idea of what he would do with it: He'd pack it with dignitaries and pols, lend it to cabinet secretaries to lobby policymakers, and fill the mess with nachos and steak. Our inside tip: Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld used to oversee the Sequoia operation for former President Ford, and their memos spell it all out. Documents from the Ford library show that the duo found the newly renovated ship to be a great way to schmooze. Says a May 8, 1975, memo to Rumsfeld: It's "a beautiful and gracious way to entertain . . . to influence groups to support administration domestic and foreign policy." If Bush does board, as planned, he can simply reissue the old Ford menus, which featured nachos, chalupas, pepper steak, and "miniature franks in blankets." On Bush's use: We hear the Sequoia Presidential Yacht Foundation and shipowner Gary Silversmith will tap naval cadets and Sea Scouts as onboard escorts.
Friends say first grandmother Barbara Bush is displeased that Lauren Bush, the 16-year-old daughter of Neil and Sharon Bush, is spending so much time modeling. But she's not blaming the so-called Bush babe. She is angered that the parents haven't let her live a normal life.
Go Albert III
The former veep's son, Albert Gore III, will probably be suited up in a Harvard University football jersey come fall. Gore, a pigskin standout at the exclusive Sidwell Friends School in Washington, was recruited by several colleges to play lacrosse or football.
In Kerry's web
While all his likely foes posture, Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry is moving quickly to set up a presidential campaign staff. Among the major new moves: He hired Ben Green, Al Gore's 2000 campaign Web man, to run johnkerry.com. The plan: create an E-mail list of 200,000 subscribers and raise cash online. Also, he has recruited top Silicon Valley fundraisers, a clear sign he plans to add technology to his stable of issue positions.
It's no secret that President Bush isn't the most compelling public speaker on the scene, but now we learn that he even has trouble maintaining his own attention when giving a speech. Volunteers, staff, and ushers have been told to STAND STILL when Bush is speaking.
Pulling up anchor
Coast Guard port-security commandos dispatched with great fanfare to the Navy's Persian Gulf HQ after the deadly USS Cole bombing are turning the job over to the Navy. But it's not because they want to. Officials say that the CG can't afford the $400,000 tab the Navy is charging to house and feed the team, sent abroad at a cost of $4 million. It has led some coasties to gripe that the service is turning tail without first fighting for more money, but others say it shows how cash-starved the service is.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is having trouble keeping workers, so officials have looked to the dot coms for morale-boosting ideas. Their goal: Keep workers at the staid agency happy with some cool things to do. But while perks at some local tech firms include free Corvettes, the SEC took another path. It set up a Ping-Pong table in a conference room. Whoopee!
No Diamond Jim
So what's Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords's defection from the Republican Party worth to the rest of us? Little. Although Internet entrepreneurs swamped eBay with trinkets playing off the move, few dollars are changing hands. Top bid for a "Jeffords for President in 2004" button is $5.50. And there are no takers for a $9.99 T-shirt sporting a Ben & Jerry's-like carton of ice cream reading, "Dem & Jeffords: Vermont's Finest."
Clueless in D.C.
More proof that the White House was blindsided by the defection of Republican Sen. Jim Jeffords: Vice President Dick Cheney bragged on the GOP majority in a May 11 fundraising letter. In begging party bigs to buy a $25,000 table at the June 27 President's Dinner, he writes: "If we lose our majority in either the Senate or the House of Representatives, the liberal Democrats will have 'veto power' over the president's plans and Washington will once again be gripped by gridlock."
Turns out that conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas likes busing. For himself, that is. His wife confirms that he digs tooling around in his motor home. "It's like a John Madden-mobile," Virginia Thomas tells us, referring to the football commentator's traveling RV.
Three letters explain how former Clinton attack dog Lanny Davis scored an Air Force One ride to Washington after President Bush's recent Yale University commencement speech: DKE (Delta Kappa Epsilon), the fraternity Davis and Bush joined as Yale undergrads. The duo chatted for a long time on the ride home, mostly about the old days, like the time Bush hazed DKE recruit Davis. The lawyer tells us that he faced the normal five-hour hazing, ending with him standing beside a DKE brand shoved in a vat of hot coals. At this point, Bush and the others blindfolded Davis and asked him to lift his shirt. He did. Then Davis felt it: the hot sizzle of skin. But it was only a cigarette. "They really psyched me out," he says.
Daily Washington Whispers at www.usnews.com/whispers
"If we started writing stories about every minor trying to buy beer with a fake ID . . . we'd have no room for news in our newspaper."
Marshall Maher, of the Daily Texan, on covering the first daughters' alcohol cases
"He is getting back some of his own."
Barbara Bush, the president's mother, in a vague reference to the underage drinking difficulties facing first daughter Jenna
"It was like pulling teeth to get all this paper from the FBI."
John Danforth, the former senator who probed the FBI's Waco case
"I've already committed my felonies, so people won't have to worry."
Russell Means, an American Indian activist and felon running for governor of New Mexico
With Roger Simon, Ulrich Boser, Richard J. Newman, Margaret Mannix and Kenneth T. Walsh
This story appears in the June 11, 2001 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.