- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Alter egos

We now learn from Paul Light, head of government studies at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution, that it will take President-elect George W. Bush well into 2002 to fully muster his administration.

This primarily because of the standard Senate confirmation hurdles an estimated 600 senior Bush presidential appointees will have to cross before landing in office.

Not that the process was any speedier for President Clinton, who instead of "shrinking government" was actually adding record layers of political authority to the tops of federal agencies.

Mr. Light found that Mr. Clinton created 16 additional top titles in government from "deputy to the deputy secretary" and "principal assistant deputy undersecretary," to "associate principal deputy."

"The past six years have witnessed the most significant reshaping of the federal work force in recent history," Mr. Light said midway into Mr. Clinton's second term.

"Never has a president had so many layers … juxtaposed between him and the front lines of government. Since 1993, the 14 government departments have created 16 new titles at the top, including a stunning number of new alter-ego deputy posts."

Leaping lizards

As for Vice President Al Gore, he too invented new government titles while "reinventing" government.

We recall White House aides Doug Farbrother and Greg Woods, both assigned to Mr. Gore's National Performance (Reinvention) Review, deciding the best way to begin reinventing was with catchier job titles.

So Mr. Farbrother, as his White House business card showed, invented the new title: "Raging Inexorable Thunderlizard of Reinvention."

Mr. Woods, at the same time, ordained himself "Raging Inexorable Thunderlizard Evangelist."

This column later learned that Tom Peters, author of "In Search of Excellence," had given a pep talk to Mr. Gore's staff, stressing if they really wanted to "change" government they needed to be something beyond "deputy associates" to the vice president.

"So we decided to get rid of the dull old titles," Mr. Farbrother explained, in order "to make a cultural change."

Farewell gaffe

Before we bid a fond adieu to Vice President Al Gore, Reed Irvine, chairman of Accuracy in Media in Washington, can't believe this column and others like it didn't pick up on yet another gaffe in the vice president's farewell "prime-time" address to the nation last week.

"If George W. Bush or Dan Quayle had made this gaffe it would have been reported immediately, but I haven't seen or heard a single reference to it in the media," Mr. Irvine tells Inside the Beltway.

"In winding up his concession speech, Gore said, 'In the words of our great hymn, 'America, America,' let us crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.'

"The song, not a hymn, is 'America the Beautiful' by Katherine Lee Bates," says the media watchdog. "The first and last verses end with the refrain, 'America, America, God shed his grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.' "

Staying enrolled

Six weeks ago, outraged Democrats led by Sen.-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton were calling for the abolishment of the Electoral College.

Now, demands to drop out of the college created by our Founding Fathers have all but vanished with Vice President Al Gore.

David King, an expert on Congress and the Electoral College and a professor at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, says the political reality is that the Electoral College will never go away.

Mr. King explains that if the nation did away with the process of electing our president, political campaigns "would just be media campaigns."

"Just draw a map of the U.S. and divide it by major media markets and those would be the campaign targets," Mr. King says.

See you in 2004

In retrospect, Florida's previously obscure state capital of Tallahassee is delighted to have been the focal point of the 2000 presidential election.

As Florida Gov. Jeb Bush noted yesterday, the city since Election Day has benefited from a "tremendous economic boom," thanks to "so many guests from all across the country."

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