- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 16, 2000

Sheriff Shrub

Molly Ivins, the syndicated columnist and feminist author from Texas who declared in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, "I, for one, do not think the president's sex life has squat to do with his job," has a new book titled, "Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush."
We'll let you know if Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala hosts another book party for Miss Ivins in her home, as she did for the author's last book in 1998.
In the meantime, this latest profile of Mr. Bush, co-written with Lou Dubose, editor of the Texas Observer, gives "Dubya" low marks as a two-term Texas governor. Consider this passage:
"Where Bush is weak is on the governance side of politics. From the [gubernatorial] record, it appears that he doesn't know much, doesn't do much and doesn't care about governing."
So how does a governor who "doesn't care about governing" succeed?
First, Mr. Bush is a likable guy. "Far more culturally a Texan than his father, at ease with the kind of locker-room bull, rough language, and physical contact characteristic of Texas politicians."
Second, Texas political operative and consultant Karl Rove, who many call "Bush's brain."
Third, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to be governor of Texas. Texas is known in policy circles as a "weak governor system," she notes, whereby the governor is the fifth most powerful statewide office. Miss Ivins says Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock actually ran Texas through Shrub's, as she's nicknamed him, entire first term.
"The puzzle of Bush is why someone with so little interest in or attention for policy, for making government work, would want the job of president, or even governor," she says.

Conspiring Democrats

"I want to tell you my personal experience with Democrats in my condominium," writes T.R. Horn, who lives inside the Beltway.
"Since I am a minority, these educated, white Democrats assume that I too am a Democrat and so they confide in me freely. They all advise me to vote for John McCain in the Virginia primary and then for Al Gore in the general election. They want John McCain to be the Republican nominee, because they believe that Al Gore can beat McCain."

On the road again

For nearly four years, Sheila Burke, chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, has commuted daily from her home in McLean, Va., to Cambridge, Mass., where she's executive dean of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Now, with her family foremost in mind, she's landed the ideal job closer read 459 miles to home as undersecretary for American Museums, Programs and National Outreach at the Smithsonian Institution.
"It's bittersweet; extraordinarily difficult to leave," says Mrs. Burke in a telephone interview from Harvard. "If not for the commute, this is a job I have loved. The mission of the school is right on point.
"But I'm going to a place just as exciting, with just as great a challenge," she adds.
On Friday, newly installed Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence M. Small announced a major reorganization for the institution as it enters the 21st century. In doing so, he vowed to make the art agency's 16 museums and galleries, plus the National Zoological Park, more accessible to the American population.
Which means, wouldn't you know, that at the top of Mrs. Burke's many priorities will be to launch "traveling exhibits" taking American culture historically housed in Washington on the road.

Powerful perches

Speaking of Harvard, we have it on good authority that Joe Lockhart, White House press secretary under President Clinton, will discuss "The Power of the Podium" at 8 this evening at the Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass.
And who better to give the introduction than former Clinton counselor David R. Gergen, currently the Kennedy School's professor of public service. We say currently because Mr. Gergen is known for switching hats between journalism, government policy and academia.
This column asked Mr. Gergen four years ago, after he departed Mr. Clinton's side and filled his previous post as editor at large of U.S. News & World Report, if he missed the White House.
"Which one?" laughed Mr. Gergen, who also served in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations.

Pass the turnips

Bruce G. Friedrich, Vegetarian Campaign Coordinator of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, tells us he's written to each of the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates asking they support an excise tax on meat, similar to taxes on tobacco and alcohol.
Mr. Friedrich says eating animals is harmful to human health, costing $123 billion annually in health care alone. He claims meat eaters are 10 times more likely to die of heart attacks, and 40 percent more likely to get cancer, whichever strikes first.

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