Friday, November 8, 2002

He is, perhaps, the only man on the planet whose upcoming nuptials were announced at a major press conference by the president of the United States.
That’s it, girls. Forget about it: White House spokesman Ari Fleischer is getting married tomorrow, taking one of the nation’s most eligible bachelors off the romance market.
Mr. Fleischer, 41, will marry Rebecca Davis, 26, who works on the staff of Austin Smythe, a deputy of White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr.
“We’re here in honor of Ari Fleischer,” President Bush told an appreciative press corps yesterday.
“Since he’s getting married this weekend, I thought it appropriate to leave the podium that he occupies empty in honor of the fact that he’s getting married. I hope you all have sent your gifts to him,” Mr. Bush continued. “Ari, I did what you asked me to do. I’m sure he’s on C-SPAN right now.”
Officially, the White House had nothing to say about the wedding, the reception, the honeymoon or any other pleasantries. Details were as scarce as contented Democrats yesterday.
“Mr. Fleischer will be getting married in a secure and undisclosed location,” deadpanned one White House spokeswoman.
The announcement was in keeping with a man known for fair-minded and serious discourse at the White House podium, underscored with occasional taciturn demeanor.
“The small rumor we have heard is that the wedding will take place in Indiana,” said a White House reporter yesterday. “The bride-to-be is from Indiana.”
Mr. Fleischer did not allude to his wedding in a press conference Wednesday, though he seemed in good spirits, telling reporter Helen Thomas that she sounded “like a commercial that didn’t work.”
Miss Davis and Mr. Fleischer dated a year before becoming engaged in late April, complete with a diamond engagement ring from Tiffany’s.
“She’s a wonderful, marvelous woman, and I’m incredibly lucky she said yes,” Mr. Fleischer said at the time, describing the moment as poignant and joyful.
Did their eyes meet across the Oval Office? Was there a friendly go-between or persistent noodge involved? Well, there was some possible matchmaking, and certainly a romantic awakening and it did happen on common territory.
Insiders say “the match” took place “on campus” and that Miss Davis is just plain “lovely,” according to a report from the New York Post.
Though not as tacky as paparazzi maneuvers, Washington press high jinks have followed the couple over the six-month course of their engagement.
There was, for example, a Washington Post report in June that noted that Mr. Fleischer and Miss Davis had “thoughtfully put up a few gift ideas for the less-well-heeled on the Target (that’s tar-ZHAY) gift registry.”
The Washingtonian picked up the story, describing Mr. Fleischer as “furious over news reports that he has opened a wedding-gift registry at Target,” pronouncing it a “serious invasion of privacy.”
The story was picked up by the Associated Press and became international gossip.
Wags at National Public Radio joined in. Members of the comedy quiz show “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” logged onto the online Target gift registry and purchased a $9.99 bundt cake for the couple, throwing in gift wrapping and shipping costs.
“Anytime a bald Jewish guy and I’m one myself manages to get a nice girl, it’s cause for celebration,” host Peter Sagal told The Washington Post.
“I’m flattered. We’ll see if the ethics office, which prohibits me from receiving gifts from people I don’t know, is similarly flattered,” Mr. Fleischer responded.
Meanwhile, California-based Democratic strategist Bob Mulholland sent the couple a pair of washcloths. Mr. Mulholland shared the handwritten thank-you note he received from Miss Davis with his cronies, citing a minor grammatical error and noting it was “dumb” for her to thank him for a “10-dollar item,” according to Roll Call.
The weekly newspaper also reported that Mr. Fleischer was spotted looking at pricey makeup at the Nordstrom store in Pentagon City.
“Have the hot lights of the White House briefing room gotten to White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer to the point that he’s shopping for a new shade of blush?” asked columnist Ed Henry.
Turns out Mr. Fleischer simply was helping Miss Davis pick out a gift for his own mother.
“I faithfully accompanied my fiancee to wherever it was she mischievously led me,” he commented. “I just did what I was told.”

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