Ford felt dissed by Reagan and Bush One of the Reagan era's biggest boasts--that it reversed the 1970s "decade of neglect" in the military--really irked former President Ford , who blamed congressional Democrats and Jimmy Carter for slashing the Pentagon budget. But only now are we learning that Ford, who served from 1974 to 1977, squawked when former Vice President Bush made the claim at the 1984 recommissioning of the USS Iowa. In a letter to "George" uncovered by historian Gil Troy , Ford flashed: "It is not accurate to lump the Ford administration in the same category with President Carter on defense matters." He also vented at Reagan Chief of Staff James Baker , who had suggested new language the prez and veep could use to fight Walter Mondale in the 1984 election. "I resent being lumped in with Carter and the Democratic Congresses on this vital issue," wrote Ford. For Troy, whose Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s is out this week, it was shocking correspondence. "I've rarely seen this kind of back and forth," he said, "and certainly not at the president-to-president level."
Unplug and watch
Here's more evidence of how pathetic Washington life can be. Some congressional and K Street season-ticket holders to the Washington Nationals baseball team want the new stadium to be wireless so they can work on laptops and watch. But thankfully there's resistance. Al Madison , boss of the Washington public-relations firm Madison & Co., who also works with the D.C. Baseball PAC, says, "Washington's strivers should take a chill pill, unplug the toys, and enjoy the game."
Follow the money
In the "Not So Fast" category comes the administration's $200 million in emergency funding for the Palestinian Authority. We hear that House GOP leaders first want the Government Accountability Office to audit how past blank checks have been spent before any more money is shipped overseas. Specifically, they want to see if U.S. funds have gone to Palestinian terrorist groups in the past. The White House is balking.
Swifties' new ad
The gang that brought us the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have a new campaign headed to TVs this week: pushing national standards for driver's licenses. The stated goal: Stop terrorists from getting the ID. The ads, sponsored by the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License, are meant to back legislation on Capitol Hill. Starting this week, a scary ad from the GOP firm Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, producers of the Swift Boat ads, appears in Washington. Why them? "These guys can really capture hearts and minds," says a coalition executive.
Dick, drop that rod
Those fish-lovers at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have added Vice President Dick Cheney to the public figures on their most-wanted list. Just a few weeks after they asked former President Jimmy Carter to turn in his rod and reel, they are urging Cheney to give up fishing. "We hope," says PETA's Karin Robertson , "that you will agree that tormenting these sensitive animals is a pastime that belongs in the past." Cheney, a famed Jackson Hole, Wyo., angler, wouldn't comment.
It was a classic Washington story. According to a Page 1 Washington Post story, short-fused Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld had about had enough of pesky members of Congress during a recent hearing of the House Armed Services Committee. So he cut his testimony short, went to lunch, and headed to an afternoon Senate hearing. "Donald Rumsfeld," said the paper the GOP loves to hate, "doesn't do accommodating very well." Loaded language? Some inside the paper thought so. Worse: Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter said the story wasn't right. Seems there was a deal to let Rummy leave early. Hunter wrote the Post, but the paper didn't run the letter. So when Rumsfeld appeared before the panel again last week, Hunter explained, "You did precisely as we agreed to." Rumsfeld thanked Hunter for the "very accurate explanation." Then he added, "I wonder if it will appear in the Washington Post. Probably not." It didn't.
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With Julian E. Barnes