- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 13, 2000

Washington show

Former White House Chief of Staff Leon E. Panetta says President Clinton's impeachment is one reason young people have become "turned off" with politics and American government.
"I have a lot of concerns," Mr. Panetta told Inside the Beltway in an interview yesterday.
It was in Mr. Panetta's West Wing offices in 1995 that Monica Lewinsky, fresh from college, began answering phones. Her unpaid internship ultimately led to a paid position in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, access to the Oval Office, and an unforgettable chapter in American history.
Mr. Panetta was here to assume the chairmanship of the Center for National Policy dedicated to improving government through better public policy and commitment to public service. We asked him about the state of American government as we approach a new century.
He immediately pointed to a new study on collegiate interest in political careers, conducted by his own Panetta Institute for Public Policy at California State University at Monterey Bay, which Mr. Panetta says "confirmed my worst suspicions."
"Students are turned off by politics," he says. "They told us that national politics is not relevant to their lives. They consider that what goes on in Washington is a show rather than governing.
"My biggest concern is that they're not inspired to get involved like my generation was," he says.
Mr. Panetta blames a combination of factors for the malaise, citing not only Mr. Clinton's impeachment but also increasing congressional "gridlock and partisanship."
"I've always wondered why parties in control don't find governing as important as tearing up the other side," says the former California congressman, who was chairman of the House Budget Committee.
Despite the ink wasted on Mr. Clinton's myriad legal troubles, the former White House chief of staff from 1994 to 1997 says all the bad press won't be the president's lasting legacy.
"The president's greatest legacy is what he was able to accomplish with the economy balancing the budget and reducing the deficit," says Mr. Panetta. "We have the strongest economy in our history, and that will be the fundamental legacy of the Clinton administration."[

Washington drama


Like Monica Lewinsky, but within another stained administration, John D. Ehrlichman was also granted access to off-limits areas of the White House.
As President Nixon's assistant for domestic affairs, Mr. Ehrlichman's executive office career ended with his resignation in 1973 and convictions for Watergate-related crimes in 1974 and 1975.
On Feb. 10, the White House pass that on some level facilitated Mr. Ehrlichman's undoing will be auctioned off by Anderson Auctions, an Ohio-based firm that specializes in rare political memorabilia (they ought to get their hands on a certain blue dress).
"Ehrlichman's White House pass is a substantial collectible from one of our country's most trying political eras," says Al Anderson, principal of Anderson Auctions.
"The fact that it is from the Nixon years and once belonged to one of the main characters in the drama make it not only historical, but valuable."
He describes the blue and white pass, which features Ehrlichman's name, photo and the presidential seal, as being in mint condition. Bidding shall start at $300.

Washington thriller


Democrats Al Gore and Bill Bradley have no shortage of spies infiltrating both campaign camps.
The vice president's spies last week intercepted a campaign memo from the former New Jersey senator's campaign, which hoped to designate this past Tuesday as "Let Congress Know Day" and encourage congressmen and senators to support Bill Bradley for president.
It was a good idea, as lawmakers have an automatic vote at the Democratic National Convention and are therefore critical to deciding the nomination.
What did the Gore camp do but beat the Bradley camp to the punch, creating its own "Let Congress Know Day," without changing a word.
Because campaign rules don't cover plagiarism, the Bradley folks had to re-energize their efforts, as evidenced in a subsequent memo (also intercepted by the Gore camp) that reads in part:
"The Gore campaign got wind of our program and in turn put together [an appeal] to their supporters to try and counter our efforts. The best response, of course, is to make sure you make your telephone call to your member of Congress today."[

Washington soap

"I am not sure there is anything left. But welcome to our weekly briefing here."
White House spokesman Joe Lockhart yesterday.

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