- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Reed run

Inside the Beltway has learned that Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition, will run for state party chairman of the Georgia GOP.

"Mr. Reed sees it as a necessary move because he has been involved in the grass-roots level for so long," a spokesman for Mr. Reed confirmed when we inquired yesterday.

Upon stepping down from the Christian Coalition, Mr. Reed founded Century Strategies, a Georgia-based political consulting firm. In the past year, he has worked as an adviser to George W. Bush's presidential campaign.

"We were recruited by leading members of the Georgia delegation, as well as by some state legislative leaders," the Reed aide adds.

Facing Mr. Reed for the chairman's post will be Georgia politico David Schaefer.

Beyond chad

The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) tomorrow will release a Blueprint policy journal, abruptly titled: "Why Gore Lost."

The Gore volume will contain a postelection poll and analysis conducted by presidential pollster Mark Penn, examining how voters ultimately viewed Mr. Gore and why some Gore messages resonated and others failed.

Meanwhile, contrasting political facets of the Democratic Party will huddle in Washington tomorrow to discuss the results of the 2000 election and what a new Democratic majority might look like in the future.

Money and missions

Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered his inaugural address at the State Department yesterday, pledging to rely heavily on the experience of career diplomats, including when it comes to choosing U.S. ambassadors.

Former President Bill Clinton's first secretary of state, Warren Christopher, also promised to put experience above politics, although a term later his successor, Madeleine K. Albright, was criticized for bypassing diplomatic veterans.

When Mr. Clinton took office, nearly 100 of 162 ambassador posts stood empty. And like past administrations, the former commander in chief filled about one in three of those ambassadorships with a political appointee (often one who forked over a large amount of money to the president's campaign).

But former President Reagan holds the modern-day record of perk appointments, awarding 35 percent of ambassadorships at the start of his second term to friends and campaign contributors.

Former President Bush followed closely with 34 percent, even though Congress has put a cap of 30 percent on such patronage appointments.

Richard M. Nixon's political appointments stood at 32 percent, Gerald R. Ford's at 28 percent, John F. Kennedy's at 28 percent, Lyndon B. Johnson's at 27 percent, and last and certainly least Jimmy Carter's with 22 percent.

Butt of jokes

Our recent item on the Voice of America board of governors' dismissal of roughly three dozen broadcasters and managers on the eve of the Bush administration generated considerable response from within the agency.

Most noted that these latest cuts were just the second wave of "muting the VOA." The first wave of cuts, says one VOA senior official, was executed on Oct. 13, when "several dozen journalists, many of them among the best and brightest and highly specialized, were fired."

We also have obtained a letter one high-ranking VOA official sent recently to Congress, observing that VOA is needed not only in post-communist Eastern Europe now as much as during the Cold War to counter "foreign propaganda challenges," but also to curb the ridicule the United States still receives after the contested 2000 presidential election.

"We are unable to explain responsibly and in an objective manner to more than 100 million people of mostly post-Communist Europe our present unprecedented political developments," the VOA official told Congress. "We have recently been unable to report objectively and in-depth on the tragedy of the USS Cole, turmoil in the Balkans and American initiatives in the Middle East, either."

Furthermore, he warned: "Long after the new U.S. president is sworn in on January 20, regardless of who he is, America's democracy and electoral process will be challenged, discussed and yes, even ridiculed abroad.

"If we are willing to expand radio broadcasts to fill in information gaps during political turmoil in the Balkans, Rwanda or Indonesia, to name a few, we should apply the same criteria when American democracy is challenged by the uninformed or ridiculed by the malicious."

Two Cubas

Speaking of embassies, a new embassy so to speak will open its doors in Washington next month, taking direct aim at the official diplomatic delegation of Cuban President Fidel Castro.

The Cuban American National Foundation says its new Washington headquarters, not too far from Embassy Row, will be called "The Free Cuba Embassy."

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