- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2001

Welcome to D.C.

A senior Bush administration official, like dozens of other White House staff members missing the "W" key from his computer keyboard, tells Inside the Beltway that vandalism to the White House and adjacent Old Executive Office Building isn't as bad as the "red tape" to replace the damaged items.

"I've been filling out one bureaucratic form after another to get one very minor thing fixed … that had been broken in my office," says the official, anonymous until the item is replaced.

"It's unbelievable what you have to go through."

Done in threes

Actually, at this stage in the new Bush administration, thousands of presidential appointees, along with those picked to fill advisory panels and boards, are busy filling out thick packets of forms, which can take two months.

On top of the heap, we learn from the Presidential Appointee Initiative (PAI) of the Council for Excellence in Government, is the White House Personal Data Statement Questionnaire, followed by the SF 86 Questionnaire, and the SF 278, to name a few.

Questions can get very specific, about divorce, drug use, alcohol treatment, brushes with the law and credit problems. But not to worry.

Those in the know say the eight or so lawyers in the White House counsel's office vetting the paperwork have seen and heard it all.

"Some peccadillo in your past is probably not going to pose a major obstacle to your nomination and confirmation," says the PAI.

Once the completed and signed forms are returned to the White House counsel's office, the FBI begins its own checks, interviewing ex-bosses, ex-spouses, friends, neighbors and foes. The Internal Revenue Service also examines past tax returns.

Complained one Pentagon official to the PAI: "Be prepared to spend two months to fill out the forms. The forms are unbelievable and they're redundant and annoying. They ask the same question three different ways to see if they can catch you. And then you go through this with three different organizations."

State of Democrats

Democrats led by Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana will make a "substantive" announcement today regarding the party's direction for the 21st century, while leadership changes will also be announced within the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC).

A progressive "road map" announced today by Mr. Bayh will steer the Democratic Party toward achieving universal health care, modernizing Medicare, completing welfare reform, transforming America's military, expanding the new economy, and closing the student-achievement gap.

57th and 8th

There were two fewer speakers at last evening's 57th annual "Salute to Congress" Congressional Dinner, hosted by the Washington Press Club Foundation, but there was a wedding anniversary to celebrate.

Traditionally, two freshman members of Congress get their feet wet by addressing the black-tie dinner, but speakers this year were narrowed to four: the master of ceremonies, syndicated columnist Mark Shields; Rep. David Dreier, California Republican; Sen. John B. Breaux, Louisiana Democrat; and New York Times scribe and foundation President Adam Clymer.

"We just decided to shorten the program for time purposes," says the dinner's organizer. "It was running too long."

Dinner guests of The Washington Times included Secretary of State Colin Powell; Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and her husband, Sen. Mitch McConnell; House Majority Whip Tom DeLay of Texas; Sen. George F. Allen, Virginia Republican; Republican Reps. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Jennifer Dunn of Washington, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Constance A. Morella of Maryland, Bob Barr of Georgia and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat; and Virginia Attorney General Mark L. Earley.

There was added celebration at the tables of The Washington Times, where Wesley Pruden, editor in chief of the newspaper, led a champagne toast to Mr. McConnell and Elaine Chao, who celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary yesterday.

Quipped Tom DeLay, looking about the room crowded with reporters: "You really know how to impress a girl, senator."

Preserving presidents

Two new heads of two presidential libraries have been named.

Washington's former director of the Center for the Defense Leadership and Management Program at the National Defense University, Edward Douglas Menarchik, has become director of the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.

And Dennis A. Daellenbach has left the Ronald Reagan Library, where he oversaw administration and facility management, to become director of the Gerald R. Ford Library in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Mr. Daellenbach certainly brings experience to the job. Besides 10 years at the Reagan library, he spent 14 years at the Ford library and five more at the Eisenhower library.

Mr. Bush's library houses 38 million pages of official and personal papers, 2 million photographs and 67,000 presidential gifts; Mr. Ford's library stores 21 million pages of official and personal papers, 326,000 photographs and 8,000 gifts.

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