- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Saga continues

Bill Clinton is running late again.

The notoriously tardy former commander in chief, it was announced with much fanfare two summers ago, would have his "candid" memoirs published in 2003 by Alfred A. Knopf.

Mr. Clinton reportedly is being paid $12 million the largest deal in book-publishing history to recall the myriad milestones of his celebrated albeit controversial life, which in no way is nearing retirement.

"Well, it's not scheduled for publication as of right now," Paul Bogaards, executive director of Knopf, tells Inside the Beltway in a telephone interview from New York. "Of course, that can always change."

Unlike past presidents in terms of public interest and intrigue, the globe-trotting Mr. Clinton enjoys unprecedented "staying power," thus Knopf's editors aren't overly concerned with a set publishing deadline for the hardcover (Vintage Books was to have released a trade paperback of the same memoirs in 2004).

"The writing of the book is going very well," Mr. Bogaards insists. "The president is enjoying his time with his editor, Bob Gottlieb, and we are all thrilled including the president. He is dedicated to the process, he writes on schedule, he is committed to his book, and that's great news as far as we are concerned."

Mr. Clinton's memoirs will center mostly on his two terms in the White House, and that said it will be interesting to read how his version owns up to former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's recollection of events. New York's junior Democratic senator is writing her own memoirs, for which Simon & Schuster reportedly has paid upward of $8.5 million.

Ja-Shin Tsang, a publicity assistant for Simon & Schuster, tells this column Mrs. Clinton's book is due for release in the spring, although she, too, said the date was not set in stone.

Stressful seat

"At this rate, the 43rd president of the United States is graying faster than any president since, well, the last one, Bill Clinton. The White House, it seems, brings white hair."

David Morris, writing in the Federal Paper, on how the 56-year-old George W. Bush is graying, almost before the nation's eyes. He says a head that had a light dusting of silver when the president took office 21 months ago now is heavier on the salt and lighter on the pepper.

Party is over

Long before yesterday's elections, the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate predicted a low voter turnout perhaps as low or lower than in 1998, the lowest in 56 years.

Then again, one can't vote if they're not registered.

Based on the registration figures from 13 states and in the District of Columbia, all of which require partisan registration, Democratic registration has fallen to about 30 percent of the voting-age population, marking the ninth straight midterm decline.

In fact, Democratic registration has declined in every jurisdiction except Delaware and Maryland, dropping 37 percent since its apex in 1996.

"Part of the decline in Democratic Party registration can be attributed to the emergence of a two-party South in the aftermath of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but the continuing erosion in Democratic allegiance may also be traced to its lack of consistent message, its lack of continuing grass-roots organization and its inability to maintain a consistent voice as the party of the average person and of popular governance," says Curtis Gans, CSAE's director.

And don't think the Republicans have a whole lot to brag about.

"The big winner is none of the above," says Mr. Gans, who notes Republican registration in these same 13 states and the District also fell, albeit by only 0.6 percentage points not nearly as bad as the Democratic Party's 37 percent plunge.

While Republican registration has been increasing steadily in the South up nearly threefold since 1962 it has declined by as much as 25 percent throughout much of the rest of the country.

Mr. Gans says such drops now threaten the American political system with a "lack of cohesion, increased volatility and de minimus support of leadership and direction."

Razor thin

If anybody knows what it's like to be on the winning end of a tight election, it's Sen. George Allen of Virginia.

Although he was not up for re-election yesterday, the Republican Mr. Allen last night journeyed to Charlottesville, historic home of Thomas Jefferson, in celebration of his first election 20 years ago as a member of the Virginia General Assembly.

In fact, he was elected to the seat once held by Jefferson.

Mr. Allen won that first election by only 25 votes.

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