The tall brunette brunching with John McLaughlin at the Peacock Cafe in Georgetown over the Jan. 20-21 weekend was Courtney Dolan, the TV talkmeister’s former “right-hand man — but there’s no proper way to say that,” she points out.
These days, Miss Dolan is busy in New York (and elsewhere) running the public relations department for the Financial Times, the popular “salmon pink” newspaper currently celebrating its 10th anniversary as a U.S. edition. Founded as the London Financial Guide in 1888, the broadsheet is printed in almost two dozen cities around the globe.
As for Mr. McLaughlin, his topics of late are the 2008 presidential election and the war in Iraq. He pointed out to his familiar gang of pundits recently: “If we stay [in Iraq] one more year, 12 months, we’ll lose over 1,000 Americans who will die, military who will die. [. . .] Now, do you think that a thousand American lives [. . .] is worth it?”
Oh, and before we leave the Peacock, ordering brunch at a table near the makeshift “McLaughlin Group” was former three-term Sen. Larry Pressler, the South Dakota Republican who now heads his own Washington law firm.
In 1996 — unlike 2006 — Mr. Pressler was the only incumbent Republican senator to lose re-election, ousted by Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson, who underwent surgery last month at George Washington University Hospital to stop bleeding in his brain.
Cato Institute President Ed Crane is more than “delighted” to welcome Daniel J. Mitchell, the Heritage Foundation’s esteemed McKenna Senior Fellow in Political Economy, to his think tank’s scholarly team as a senior fellow.
Commenting on his cross-over after so many years with Heritage, Mr. Mitchell says Cato will be an ideal platform for him “to argue for less spending and a simple and fair low-rate tax system,” while at the same time fighting “international bureaucracies that want to harmonize tax systems and create an OPEC for politicians.”
Poll to ponder
Percentage of Baghdad’s Shi’ites who say that all U.S. forces should leave Iraq within six months: 32
Percentage who say forces should be reduced even more gradually, as the “security situation improves”: 0
Harper’s Index, February 2007
Can’t find a ticket to the muchhyped Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band concert in Washington?
Not to worry. Inside the Beltway counts three Republican congressmen who are hosting campaign-fundraising receptions coinciding with the Feb. 1 show — Mr. Seger’s first concert tour in 10 years.
Reps. John R. “Randy” Kuhl Jr. of New York, Vern Buchanan of Florida, and Greg Walden of Oregon all have your ticket: $1,000 apiece, including food. (Hey, it beats juice and bagels on Capitol Hill.)
We told you recently about a unique National Archives exhibition to open just in time for spring break, “School House to White House: The Education of the Presidents.”
Now, Inside the Beltway has obtained one of the more intriguing items included in the exhibit, which opens March 30. As you can see, we’ve gotten hold of President Bush’s report card from Miss Kearns’ first-grade class (1952-53) at Sam Houston Elementary School in Midland, Texas.
By golly, young Dubya finished the year with a straight-A average, excelling in reading, writing and arithmetic — and earning himself a “G” in citizenship.
“Abandon hype, all ye who enter here! I am a reasonable, non-committed man. On the subject of climate change, that puts me in a decided minority. The world seems to be divided between the rabid believers and the rabid skeptics. Fundamentalists both, they can hardly communicate with each other. What on earth are we agnostics to do?”
— Roger Bootle, writing in the Jan. 22 edition of the Daily Telegraph
“Why didn’t you call me?” Washington pollster and crisis-control manager Frank Luntz said Jan. 23 when bumping into Steve Scully, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA), who spent last week defending the choice of “aging” impersonator Rich Little to headline this April’s WHCA dinner.
“I know what you’re going to say; I know what you’re going to say,” Mr. Scully replied.
What Mr. Luntz didn’t mind saying was that he personally puts Mr. Little in the “Johnny Carson camp” of has-been performers. Still, Mr. Scully, senior executive producer and political editor of C-SPAN, defended the seasoned entertainer.
“I spoke to Little yesterday, and he’s excited with all the publicity” and the chance to appear before the Washington crowd of reporters, politicians and visiting celebrities, Mr. Scully said.
He similarly downplayed reports that the WHCA had sought a more mild-mannered headliner for this year’s dinner, so as to prevent a repeat of last year’s routine by Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central, who some complained was too critical of President Bush, and for that matter, the press.
It’s taken him two-plus years to pick up the book, or else find it’s worthy of a second read. Either way, that’s the nose of Rep. Mike D. Rogers, Alabama Republican, buried in the 2004 bestseller, “Speaker: Lessons from Forty Years in Coaching and Politics,” by former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican.
Mr. Rogers was reading the book on a Jan. 22 evening flight from Atlanta to Washington. As for the lessons Mr. Hastert said he learned: When it comes to winning in politics, “underpromise and overproduce.”
To show how times have changed in “journalism,” Patrick W. Gavin, editor of the press-gossip Web log FishbowlDC, wonders if bloggers such as himself could have prevented Art Buchwald’s successful career as a syndicated columnist had the Internet been up and running a half-century or more ago.
He cites the recent obituary of the widely read columnist in The Washington Post, which pointed out that Mr. Buchwald dropped out of the University of Southern California after learning that he could use the GI Bill to study in Paris.
“Once there, Buchwald conned his way into a glamorous, albeit low-paying, job as nightlife and entertainment columnist for the European edition of the New York Herald Tribune. He knew nothing about haute cuisine, he later recalled, but got the job by claiming to have been a wine taster in the Marine Corps. He said he faked his role as food critic by making sure to ask if the mushrooms were fresh.”
Writes Mr. Gavin: “You’ve gotta be honest: Nowadays, had someone secured a columnist gig for a major paper by lying about his credentials, it wouldn’t take long before bloggers outed them. That’s a noble service that bloggers provide, for sure, but it’s also interesting to note, in Buchwald’s case, what we may have potentially lost (Buchwald’s career) had his little fib been discovered and, as a result, it permanently set him back or discouraged him from journalism.
“Food (with fresh mushrooms) for thought.”
So Jed Babbin, former deputy undersecretary of defense, how does it feel to officially enter the Fourth Estate as editor of Human Events?
“Well, it’s kind of like being handed the Crown Jewels right before somebody tries to steal them,” Mr. Babbin told Inside the Beltway on Jan. 23. “The [conservative] coalition is kind of ‘Balkanized’ right now, and I’m going to see what I can do to get it back together again — stir people up, get them to talk to teach other [. . .] and try to get back to the days of the Reagan revolution.
“But we have no Ronald Reagan to rally around,” he pointed out. “We have to facilitate this sort of conversation, and that’s what I aim to do.”
Regarding his new position, Mr. Babbin agrees “this is no doubt different, but it’s something I’ve been trying to do, golly, for more than a decade now. I started writing for American Spectator and doing radio broadcasts seven or eight years ago at least.”
He added: “I’ve always been billing myself as a recovering lawyer, and now I feel recovered.”
Human Events was founded in 1944, touting itself the country’s oldest conservative weekly. It was said to be Mr. Reagan’s favorite magazine.
When embedded with the Marine Corps in Iraq in 2003, CNN’s correspondents and producers kept safe in Warrior One, a refurbished Hummer that came under heavy fire near Baghdad.
Now, network spokeswoman Edie Emery tells us that after going on the auction block, Warrior One has raised $1.25 million for the Fisher House Foundation, which builds “comfort homes” for families of hospitalized military personnel.
The high bid of $1 million was offered by Dave Liniger, cofounder and chairman of RE/MAX International Inc. And get this: even though he was outbid, Dave Ressler, a Corvette car dealer, still donated $250,000 to Fisher House.
Samuel R. Berger, who served as President Clinton’s national security adviser, still is the topic of conversation for mishandling classified documents.