- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 22, 1999

Tinsel with tin

Tinsmith Chris Hagemann was ecstatic when President and Mrs. Clinton invited him to create two tin ornaments for the large Christmas tree in the White House Blue Room.
Better yet, when the White House sent Mr. Hagemann and his wife, Ruth, an invitation to fly to Washington to view firsthand his delicately crafted works on a special White House tour, they jumped at the chance making the 1,400-mile journey from Fremont, Neb., to Washington, last Friday.
Wouldn't you know, for more than an hour the couple scoured every twig of the giant (18 and 1/2 feet tall) Washington state fir tree, yet they still couldn't find either of their hand-crafted tin ornaments.
A disappointed Mrs. Hagemann on a mission to take photographs of the honorable placement for her proud mother confronted her husband, asking why the ornaments, which he'd spent 60 hours crafting, weren't on the tree?
He had to wonder himself. He explained to his wife that on the canoe ornament he'd inscribed "Sic Semper Tyrannis" "Thus ever to tyrants" in Latin. Upon the sphere ornament, also in Latin, he inscribed "Live Free or Die."
Innocent enough, the first inscription being the motto of Virginia, Mr. Hagemann's native state, and the latter the motto of New Hampshire.
Mr. Hagemann did confess that a certain incident Vice President Al Gore's infamous canoe ride, when precious water was released from a dam to keep the presidential candidate afloat registered in his subconscious while crafting the ornament.
No, that couldn't be it.
"I made these ornaments for the people of this country, and I hope they were not lost, stolen or misplaced," says Mr. Hagemann.
We telephoned Mrs. Clinton's office, where on hearing our story, a very kind woman, Jennifer Smith, immediately launched a search for the missing canoe. At 4:25 p.m., the tiny vessel was found (hey, it's a big tree, remember?).
"We were able to find the ornaments, and they are on the Blue Room tree," Miss Smith said.
"One is on the bottom north quadrant, one is on the bottom south quadrant. The canoe is absolutely beautiful and is very small, about 5 inches, which is possibly why they were unable to find them, which we apologize for. But we do have pictures if that helps."

No mud for McCain

Upon learning that Texas Gov. George W. Bush is about "to go negative" against poll-climbing opponent John McCain, a source close to the Arizona senator informs this column that the second-place GOP presidential hopeful has just cut a radio spot saying that, despite the Texas governor's apparent new campaign strategy, he won't respond in negative tones, but rather "put his best face forward."

Nearing retirement

No longer embroiled in their own presidential campaigns, there was plenty of time yesterday for former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and his wife, Elizabeth, to share a leisurely lunch fruit plates, actually in the Willard Room of the Willard Intercontinental Hotel.

Gore & Associates

Dr. Paul S. Teller of Northwest Washington observes:
"I am a conservative Republican living here in Washington, D.C. (go figure).
"My cousin, who is a liberal Democrat working for Al Gore (go figure), always puts me on the White House Christmas Card list as a joke. In case you hadn't seen this year's card from the vice president, I thought I'd point out something very interesting.
"On the back of the card, you'll notice it says, 'Paid for by the Democratic National Committee.' But then on the right of the disclaimer, you'll notice the [International Brotherhood of] Teamsters logo.
"The presence of this logo makes one wonder who really paid for these cards. Or perhaps it's just that the DNC paid for the cards, but the Teamsters paid for the DNC."

Pigeons and cherries

Inside the Beltway gives top Christmas Card honors this year to Linda Roth Associates a public relations firm that represents several Washington area restaurants, including the Palm for best capturing everyday life in the nation's capital.
"A Washington D.C. Christmas," reads the top of the card, and beneath it, in the tradition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," one finds:
"Twelve Lobbyists in the Lobby
"Eleven Redskins Running
"Ten Spies Spying
"Nine Republicans Ranting
"Eight Democrats Doodling
"Seven Interns Learning
"Six Reporters Running
"Five Golden Contributions
"Four Senators Sleeping
"Three Whips Whipping
"Two Monuments Standing
"And a Pigeon in a Cherry Tree."

Peddling baloney

Has it occurred to anybody else that many proprietors spreading prophesies of gloom and doom come Jan. 1 are gladly peddling food, water, battery-powered generators and other expensive wares on credit?
Which shows, in their mind, what actually will occur when the year 2000 is ushered in: nothing.
Rest assured, if they'll allow credit up front, they plan to be around to cash in.

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