- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 17, 2005

Call to duty

So, Bob Schieffer, veteran CBS “Face the Nation” moderator and chief Washington correspondent, how does it feel at this stage of your career to be tapped as the person to smooth the transition from Dan Rather’s 24-year run as anchor of the “CBS Evening News”?

“This is something totally out of left field for me,” Mr. Schieffer told Inside the Beltway yesterday, acknowledging that he has mixed feelings about becoming anchor for what CBS says will be a “short transition period” ” beginning March 9 and lasting until such time the broadcast is revamped.

“There was a time in my life when I really wanted that [top anchor] job,” said Mr. Schieffer, who will turn 68 next Friday. “That time has long since passed.”

Nevertheless, out of loyalty to the network and as a longtime friend and colleague of Mr. Rather’s, the one-time Texas newspaperman who has covered every major beat in Washington for CBS for more than 30 years, he didn’t think twice about reporting for duty.

“I’m doing it because they asked me to do it,” he stated simply. “To help them get back on track. … And I think I can be of help.”

And how long might it take CBS to decide on a new format, one that CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves hinted could consist of multiple anchors?

“I don’t know how long it will be,” replied Mr. Schieffer. “My wife said if it lasts too long, she is going to renegotiate our [marriage and grandparenting] contract.”

Mr. Rather, 73, will leave the anchor desk on the 24th anniversary of his replacing Walter Cronkite. CBS insists that his departure is not related to discredited documents on which he had relied surrounding President Bush’s National Guard service.

(On Monday: The other Schieffer brother.)

Kicking back

Nurses, of all saviors in California, consider themselves the “most high-profile opponents” of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

And they’ve been tracking the Republican governor as he’s been meeting with lawmakers in Washington this week, searching for ways to increase the flow of federal money to help erase his state’s $8.6 billion shortfall.

What’s the registered nurses’ (RNs) beef with the governor?

He “waged a high-profile war with nurses, sharply cutting patient safety standards in hospitals, while declaring RNs to be ‘a special interest who don’t like me because I am always kicking their butts,’ ” recalls a spokesman for the California Nurses Association.

Earlier this week, nurses showed up in force at Mr. Schwarzenegger’s screening in Sacramento of the new Danny DeVito movie, “Be Cool,” protesting that the former actor no longer deserves “red carpet privileges” because he puts big industry above the needs of the public.

The nurses say their plight is worthy of Inside the Beltway coverage given the “international celebrity of [the governor] and the promotion of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to allow Schwarzenegger to run for president.”

Fit for command

Past honorees include Laura Schlessinger, Miss America 2003 Erika Harold and conservative pundit Ann Coulter.

Now, on the heels of the popular book “Unfit for Command,” Marji Ross, president of Regnery Publishing, will be crowned “Woman of the Year” tomorrow by the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute.

Ms. Ross’ conservative publishing house, with headquarters in the District, made a huge splash last year in publishing the best-selling anti-John Kerry book by Swiftboat veteran John O’Neill, among others, which some credit for sealing the re-election in November of President Bush.

In fact, we count 16 New York Times best sellers in the past four years for Regnery, including Newt Gingrich’s new title, “Winning the Future.”

The Luce Institute will present the award at the National Woman of the Year and Mentoring Lunch, coinciding with the Conservative Political Action Conference taking place this week in Washington. The annual luncheon promotes women role models.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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