- The Washington Times - Friday, September 22, 2000

Second fiddle

That was former Vice President Dan Quayle back in town for an evening address, part of the Senate majority leader's lecture series held in the Old Senate Chamber of the U.S. Capitol.

"I notice when I come back to Washington," he said, "that the people who have known me the longest still call me 'senator' rather than 'vice president.' I always thought that was because they knew me way back when. But this week, one of my former staffers set me straight.

"He said, 'They prefer to use the higher title.' I tend to agree."

Wrong Bill and Al

"Bill and Al deserve credit for the economic bliss we now enjoy but it's Bill Gates and Alan Greenspan, not Clinton and Gore," James Carter, senior economist of the Joint Economic Committee, informs this column.

"When entrepreneurs have the economic freedom that comes with price stability, small government and trade, America will prosper and politicians will attempt to grab the credit."

Pass the blini

Yes, those were Russians walking through the front doors of homes belonging to Republican Gov. John Engler and Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, both of Michigan.

In fact, more than 1,800 Russian leaders have been overnighting with American families in recent weeks, participants in a Library of Congress Russian leadership program to observe how American democracy works and how citizens conduct their daily lives.

For example, five Russian political and civic leaders arrived in the Pittsburgh area this week, matched as closely as possible with host communities and professional counterparts that is, judges observing judges, mayors watching mayors.

Members of the Russian Federal Assembly, as well as the State Duma and Federation Council equivalents of our House of Representatives and Senate are being hosted by U.S. lawmakers, the first two arrivals taken in earlier by Mr. Engler and Mr. Levin.

Political football

It's like reading "Angela's Ashes" all over again, except Frankie McCourt and his disheveled siblings aren't the children neglected in this surprising new Random House book, "Fifth Quarter: The Scrimmage of a Football Coach's Daughter," by Jennifer Allen.

The author is the daughter of George Allen, the late great coach of the Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins. She describes in personal detail an absent-minded, often frustrated father who cared little about anything in life except coaching, leaving a family of four children and a sharp-tongued, chain-smoking French Tunisian wife at home to fend for themselves.

"Washingtonians think their town resembles Paris," Jennifer's mother told her after President Nixon dispatched top aides John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman to help the Allens find a home in Washington. "If Paris passed gas, you'd have Washington."

The author recalls her father once being pegged a "Republican sympathizer" by Redskins owner Edward Bennett Williams, a known Democrat, for inviting people like Henry Kissinger and other Nixon administration officials into the Allen box. But her parents not only weren't political, she writes, they never bothered to vote.

"Plus," Jennifer says of her mother, "she was ashamed that she had given up her French citizenship to become a citizen of a country she deemed infantile."

That was a far cry from her patriotic son, Republican Virginia Senate candidate and former Gov. George F. Allen, who according to the book, took on a parenting role with his siblings in the seasonal absences of his father.

Other notable Washington players in "Fifth Quarter" include Spiro Agnew, Jack Kent Cooke, Sonny Jurgensen and former Washington Post editor Bill Bradlee, whom the Allen family suspected of tapping into their phone lines.

"It's nice to meet you because I'm suing you," Mrs. Allen informed Post writers at a cocktail party hosted by Mr. Bradlee.

(Coach Allen actually telephoned a CIA investigator to check out the telephone poles around his suburban Virginia home, Jennifer reveals, receiving back a 12-page report concluding there was "good concern" to believe the lines had been bugged.)

As for the author who could never quite get the coach's attention, "I had always thought my father loved his players more than anyone else. But now, I think, I was wrong. That season, my father forbade Sonny Jurgensen to stand in the team photograph because Sonny was injured again and could not play for most of the season.

"Years later, Sonny told me that he was so hurt by that that all his career he had wanted to be on a Super Bowl team and my father would not even let him pose in the photograph or stand on the sidelines at the Coliseum during the Super Bowl. That was Sonny's last season of his career."

Al alone

You don't have to be very clever

To know that I'm anxious to sever

All connections to him

Whom I once on a whim

Called the greatest president ever.

F.R. Duplantier

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