- The Washington Times - Monday, September 2, 2002

Vacation's over
First lady Laura Bush's spousal role, described since September 11 as critical to the well-being of the nation, is cause for a new chapter in Kati Marton's re-released national best seller, "Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History."
Which isn't to say that Mrs. Bush's required consoling elevates her to "presidential adviser," an unofficial but powerful role assumed by her predecessor, now-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom critics equated to a "co-president."
Asked to recall the best advice she had given her husband since he became leader of the free world, Mrs. Bush glibly answered, "Let's see, I don't know. Cut his hair or something."
In fact, in the first nine months of her husband's administration when her presence was described as a "low profile pre-September 11 existence" Mrs. Bush spent enough time away from the White House to rival Bess Truman's record.
"The White House is not a glittering place of culture or style under the Bushes. It is not an exciting place intellectually or socially," Mrs. Marton opines. "Washington's social life holds little appeal for President Bush."
Perhaps White House adviser Mary Matalin said it best, once observing that Washington, as far as the Bushes are concerned, is "a very insular, phony place."

Joining George?
Katherine Harris, Florida's former secretary of state who certified that George W. Bush was the winner in Florida's hotly contested presidential election, is well on her way to winning her own seat in Washington that held by retiring Rep. Dan Miller, Florida Republican.
Mrs. Harris in recent days filed a pre-primary fund-raising report with the Federal Election Commission and, according to campaign records, raised more than $2.6 million in her quest for Congress.

Stop the presses
Behind the campaign slogan "Family Man, Crime Victim, Taxpayer," Georgetown resident Griff Jenkins confirmed yesterday that he will become the lone candidate for the Sept. 10 Republican mayoral primary in the District.
Mr. Jenkins told this column that he made the decision to run after his search committee wrote in an advisory: "If [Mayor] Tony Williams can mount a write-in campaign against four [fringe candidates], surely you can win a write-in campaign against no one."
The 31-year-old married father of one is executive producer of "The Oliver North Show" over the Radio America Network and Washington unit producer for "War Stories" on Fox News.
"If we wanted you to have monitoring representatives at the polling places we would have had to file by August 27, but who needs that? You'll be great in the debates," read the campaign advisory, signed by campaign manager Grant Swindells and legal adviser Bob Tompkins.
Asked yesterday about the embattled Mr. Williams, a write-in candidate himself, Mr. Jenkins said: "Tony Williams was a great mayor, but the District remains plagued by many problems. I am not part of the problem. I am a Republican."
But can a Republican even make a dent in this racially split Democratic city?
"Voter turnout is too low in the District," Mr. Jenkins said. "This campaign plans to reverse that trend in a major way. Unfortunately, I will be out of town until the end of the September [he leaves this evening on a cross-country book tour with Col. North], but look out in October."
In a telephone interview yesterday, Mr. Tompkins agreed: "There is a false myth that Republicans are stiff, overbearing white guys, and Griff pretty well blows that out of the water."
"I won't take money from Enron, and I am a huge [Washington Redskins coach] Steve Spurrier fan," Mr. Jenkins added. "I look forward to being mayor. If you write in my name, I will accept. This city has a bright future. And the future of this city is in your hands."

Gentleman's agreement
Congress is taking hits for increasing its salary by $5,000 to a total of $155,000 per year.
"Members of Congress have the only job in the country whose occupants can set their own salary without regard to performance, profit or economic climate," observes Council for Citizens Against Government Waste President Tom Schatz.
Congress amended the law in 1989 to allow for automatic "cost of living" increases every year, unless there is a specific vote to cancel it. This coming fiscal year will make four years in a row that Congress refused to turn down its pay raise, which some see as hypocritical and insensitive to the nation's hardships.
"Unfortunately," says Mr. Schatz, "both parties share a 'gentleman's agreement' to stay quiet on the issue and pass it with as little fanfare as possible."


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