- The Washington Times - Monday, December 18, 2000

Transitional verbs

Today, the Bush-Cheney transition team in McLean starts moving into its big headquarters downtown, bit by bit.

Still, the Virginia site open since Nov. 30 and set in a business district just off Interstate 66 is in full bloom as a political launching pad.

One end of a conference room has been turned into a briefings post, swathed in royal-blue draping with American flags, a White House-style podium, microphone, lights.

Press Secretary Ari Fleischer serenely holds court here for the 30 or 40 reporters who show up for the daily briefing; and yes, the press is already getting antsy and demanding.

They want a list of Cabinet appointees before there is such a list. They want to know about foreign policy, the inauguration, Mrs. Bush's status.

Meanwhile, everyone, it seems, wants a part of it.

More than 30,000 resumes have already arrived from would-be Bush-ites; the dossiers arrive, Mr. Fleischer said, at the rate of 4,100 a day. He expects to build a "diverse" team.

"There's a tremendous task at hand," spokeswoman Julianna Glover-Weiss told The Washington Times. "Always in the back of our minds is the phrase, 'Time is of the essence.' We're going to be very methodical about this."

New Politics

One group is already "marshaling resources to pass the Bush/GOP agenda."

It's "new politics," say the folks at the new Issues Management Center. Such politics include, they say, "a conservative agenda that includes many Democrats and cultivates their support to strengthen and fortify a national consensus for moving the country forward on education, Social Security, tax relief, Medicare and health care reform."

The center aspires to "spearhead a national grass-roots and communications campaign … a clearinghouse for information that puts a human face on the Bush agenda."

They're looking to build a content bank of editorials, think tank fare and other erudite materials. Interested parties can fax press releases, fact sheets and background material in support of this agenda to 703/683-1703.

Smart Alec

Actor Alec Baldwin once said he would leave the country if Texas Gov. George W. Bush became president. Now some of Mr. Bush's supporters are prepared to help Mr. Baldwin pack. They're circulating a letter through cyberspace to that effect, reports IMDB, an on-line movie database.

"Their tongue-in-cheek missive reads, 'We need volunteers to help pack and to load moving vans. We also need airfare for those irreplaceable national treasures so they can relocate before they change their minds. For the cost of a small SUV, you can sponsor one of the celebrities and their unfortunate relocation. Operators are standing by."

Lone Star secrets

Folks down in Texas expect their governor to announce his resignation date today, once the much-anticipated Electoral College votes are in.

It will be followed by a "swift transfer of power among the state's top leadership, including a secret vote to replace Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry as president of the Senate," the Austin, Texas, American-Statesman reports.

But how to do it?

"For the first time, senators will elect one of their own to lead them. Because it's a first, the Senate has no procedure for electing its presiding officer other than the constitutional requirement that [state Sen. Rodney] Ellis as the Senate's president pro tem has 30 days to convene the Senate to elect a leader," the paper continued.

Though the Senate will convene publicly, it would cast secret ballots if new rules proposed by Mr. Ellis, a Democrat from Houston and Senate president pro tempore, take effect.

That does not sit well with Sen. Steve Ogden, a Republican, who wants a public vote. Secrecy, he said, violates the Texas Constitution and open-meetings laws.

"There are always back-room deals," he said. "I just think it's important for me to tell my constituents where I stand by voting publicly."

No honeymoon

Former Republican candidate for president Gary Bauer doesn't think Republicans should get too cozy too soon. When Mr. Bush takes office, he should take a hard look at the many executive orders that President Clinton left waiting on the White House doorstep.

"Why should the liberal Democratic president get to pass executive orders, then the conservative Republican president swallows hard and leaves them on the books? We ought to repeal any of those executive orders that violate our governing philosophy, and we ought to issue a few that promote our government philosophy," Mr. Bauer told ABC Friday.

But there is room for consensus out there, Mr. Bauer allowed.

"If there's a great desire in the next couple of months to sit around the campfire and sing 'Kum Ba Yah,' I would suggest that Republicans and Democrats do it on campaign-finance reform," he said.

Hollywood tearjerker

Barbra Streisand is full of untrammeled sorrow over President-elect George W. Bush's victory.

"It's a very sad occasion, and one that could set a terrible legal precedent," Miss Streisand told this week's Variety. "Al Gore is not the only loser. It's democracy and the American people as well."

Miss Streisand is due at the White House on Wednesday to receive a National Medal of Arts, along with 10 other people.

But will things be dicey?

In her book "Hillary's Choice," Gail Sheehy reported that first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton became irate over rumors that Miss Streisand had bragged about spending the night at the White House when President Clinton was there alone in 1993.

His wife had been visiting her dying father in Little Rock, Ark.

Mrs. Clinton, the book claimed, scratched Mr. Clinton in the face.

Is it the finale, the New York Post wonders?

"We'll find out if Hillary buried the hatchet if Streisand is invited to sleep over at the White House with her new husband, James Brolin," the paper observed.

Give us a sign

Tom Cooney, one of President Bush's former "Thousand Points of Light," will be much in evidence on Super Bowl Sunday on Jan. 28 in Tampa, Fla.

All eyes will be on his hands.

Mr. Cooney, 65, will sign the the national anthem when the big moments comes. He has been interpreting the anthem for 38 years in various stadiums and arenas around the country. A member of the Deaf Sports Hall of Fame, he has taught four U.S. presidents basic sign language, along with other celebrities and sports stars.

The Backstreet Boys will sing the anthem itself, the NFL announced Friday.

Gore takes off

Vice President Al Gore spent the weekend on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas. Aides say he's relaxing in private after his prolonged fight for the White House.

The veep didn't plan to make any public appearances during his stay. Spokeswoman Camille Johnston says Mr. Gore and his wife, Tipper, will return to Washington tomorrow, when he is set to meet President-elect George W. Bush.

The meeting is meant to be a gesture of unity after weeks of disputing the results of the Nov. 7 presidential election.

"I imagine old Al needs a vacation," said Mark Felts, 35, a tourist from Dallas who was walking on the white-sand beach at Magens Bay yesterday. "It's probably a lot less stressful to be here on this beach than to be president."

Secret service agents and police blocked the road on the nearby peninsula of Peterborg, turning away reporters and others who tried to approach the area where the vice president was believed to be staying.

When Mr. Gore's caravan rolled into the area Saturday, a sign affixed to a palm tree greeted him with the words: "Gore in 4" apparently a voice of support for another run in 2004.

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