- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Improving with Monica

Former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin writes in his new book, “In an Uncertain World,” what happens when politics and economics collide.

Like when Monica Lewinsky collided with the Asian economic crisis.

“The Lewinsky revelations … resulted in far less attention being paid to events overseas,” Mr. Rubin acknowledges. “The distraction kept the public from recognizing the threat from crisis abroad to the stability of the U.S. economy.”

As a result, on “the same day in August 1998 that Russia became the first of the crisis countries to default on its foreign debt, the president testified before a grand jury and made a televised speech apologizing to the nation about Monica Lewinsky.”

Still, the former Treasury secretary, who heads the executive committee of Citigroup, says he “truly admired the way Clinton had dealt with the crisis — even though the crisis was of his own making. He was remarkably focused and intent, doing his work while the storm raged around him.”

And, like everybody else, “I wondered how the president could do this. Sometime later, we had an interesting conversation. We’d been discussing the vice president’s campaigning difficulties during the primaries, and Clinton told me that he had used ‘mental devices’ to help him through the Lewinsky period … [and] he thought Gore might use similar techniques to overcome his difficulties and campaign more effectively.”

Incredibly enough, Mr. Rubin took these “mental devices” Mr. Clinton revealed and, for lack of his own personal crisis, applied them to his tennis game.

“While playing, I kept in mind the thought that even … a fine tennis player makes a lot of errors; the object is to focus on hitting the shot as well as possible and not to worry about either the likelihood of messing up or the outcome of the point,” he says.

“When I told [political operative] Steve Friedman that the Lewinsky matter had improved my tennis game, he waited with bated breath for what I had to say. He may have been somewhat disappointed by my explanation.”

Attack dog

The Democratic National Committee, in dire need of campaign cash, has enlisted CNN “Crossfire” co-host James Carville to call President Bush a liar.

Writing on behalf of the DNC, Mr. Carville says the president’s re-election strategy will be to continue politicizing the September 11 terrorist atrocities while questioning the patriotism of Democrats — who he says only want answers about Mr. Bush’s “State of the Union lies.”

Mr. Carville says Mr. Bush dreams “about a country with no debate and no dissent,” and calls another four years of his leadership “almost unimaginable.”

Off to Bhutan

As owner of the Washington-based Textile Conservation Services, Julia Brennan has performed treatments and surveys for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, George Washington’s Mount Vernon and the Turkish Embassy.

Now, the Getty Grant Program, in conjunction with the Friends of Bhutan Culture, is seeing to it that Ms. Brennan leads the first-ever textile training program in the kingdom of Bhutan, where she will also establish a conservation library to preserve Bhutanese cultural artifacts and sites.

It’s written that Bhutan, nestled in the eastern Himalayas, is a country visited by “a great many saints, mystics, scholars and pilgrims over the centuries,” who have blessed the land with an “invaluable spiritual and cultural legacy.”

New spokesman

Michael Reagan, eldest son of Ronald Reagan, is joining the daily talk lineup of Washington-based Radio America.

Heard for nearly 10 years over the Premiere Radio Network, Mr. Reagan is now joining the very network on which his father, while president, gave his weekly radio addresses.

Radio America President Jim Roberts says he intends to promote Mr. Reagan’s show aggressively and says the presidential son will be relied upon heavily as a spokesman for the network.


• The MoveOn.org event that was to have featured Sen. Jon Corzine, New Jersey Democrat, as one speaker was canceled, a MoveOn.org spokeswoman said.

• “Sonny must be turning over in his grave,” writes Ed Roberts of Baldwin Park, Calif., one of dozens of supporters of California Rep. Mary Bono, widow of Rep. Sonny Bono and who succeeded him in that office, to contact us after we mislabeled the congresswoman a Democrat yesterday.

We apologize for this egregious error and hope we haven’t ruined Mrs. Bono’s Thanksgiving.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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