- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 6, 2000

None of the above?

The ranks of undecided voters are swelling as the presidential primary season kicks into high gear.
A new poll from the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy says that 74 percent of voters haven't picked a candidate in the presidential race up from 64 percent who were undecided in November.
That was a surprise to project co-director Thomas Patterson, who told the Associated Press, "We had expected the opposite finding."
Strong challengers to front-runners Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush may explain the shift, says Mr. Patterson: "Apparently, the upswing in the Bradley and McCain campaigns has served mainly to raise doubts about all the candidates."

My first boss

An average boy growing up along the banks of the Potomac River during the 1960s looked upon Henry H. Fowler his first employer with awe.
Not because the old neighbor paid handsomely a fin when he was in a good mood to pull weeds from between the bricks, or, come winter, chisel the ice from his walkway. Nor was it because he was the biggest tipper along a dying route of old Washington Star readers.
It wasn't even the stretch limousine that "Henry," as the neighborhood kids called him, would climb into every morning for his chauffeured ride across the river.
No, it wasn't the money. It was the signature written upon it: "Henry H. Fowler, Secretary of the Treasury."
Just to the bottom right of George Washington or, when Henry was generous, Abraham Lincoln. That's what most impressed the boy the most. He'd stash away all the "Henry dollars" he could get his hands on, pleased and honored to be working for somebody who not only paid but signed money.
A few years ago, before he broke both hips, it was Henry who proudly introduced the boy to his old friends during the Truman Library's "Legacy of Leadership" dinner, held amid tight security at the National Building Museum.
The aging gentleman went so far as to lead his former employee into a closed-door VIP reception (one like I'd never crashed before). In a span of minutes he introduced former President Jimmy Carter, former President Gerald Ford, and President Bill Clinton (the latter so stunned to greet the visitor that he promised an Oval Office interview, a kind albeit empty gesture that made Henry smile).
On Monday, the Treasury secretary under President Lyndon B. Johnson quietly passed away at age 91. He'd spent the last year in a nursing home.
Appropriately enough, just days before he died, the phone rang. It was Henry's wife, Trudy, wondering if the same boy wouldn't mind crossing the street one more time to handle a small chore.

Ed's first boss

You might say that conservative Heritage Foundation President Edwin J. Feulner Jr., owes his job to Democrat Henry H. Fowler.
"Joe Coors, our real Heritage founder, credits an insight that then-Secretary Fowler gave him back in 1967 at the Homestead Resort," Mr. Feulner reflected yesterday of the beer-brewing capitalist.
"Which was, 'Well, Mr. Coors, if you don't like the Brookings Institution, why don't you start your own little group?' "
Which, needless to say, Mr. Coors did just a few years later.
And wouldn't you know that Mr. Fowler was an early contributor to the conservative think-tank, becoming a member of the foundation's "Presidents Club."

Global suspense

More than 400 reporters from around the globe showed up for the Democratic National Convention's planning session in downtown Los Angeles, preparing for the historic event Aug. 14-17.
Scribes arrived from Germany, Spain, Japan, Britain, and from throughout Latin America, all anxious to write whether the first Democratic convention to be held in Los Angeles since 1960 when John F. Kennedy was nominated the Democratic candidate for president will throw its support behind Vice President Al Gore or former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley.

Hold your horses

Hillary Rodham Clinton is dashing back and forth across the Mason-Dixon Line so often these days that her staff can't keep up with which hat first lady or senatorial candidate she's wearing.
A schedule update yesterday advised reporters wishing to cover Mrs. Clinton's move to Chappaqua, N.Y., to contact the White House press office at "212-456-7150," her staff having mistakenly inserted New York City's 212 area code for Washington's 202 code.
We went ahead and rang the number anyway and reached a nice woman in the ABC News financial planning department.

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