- The Washington Times - Monday, March 21, 2005

President’s pajamas?

It was after midnight yesterday when the House passed unprecedented legislation aimed at saving the life of Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman whose feeding tube was ordered removed by a state court.

At precisely 1:11 a.m., the bill reached President Bush for his signature.

Obviously, not your typical bill signing. No pomp and no ceremony. On top of that, reporters are well aware that Mr. Bush retires early most nights, very early. Their curiosity is understandable.

Reporter: “Can you go over what went on last night in terms of the president signing the bill and how it went down?”

White House spokesman Scott McClellan: “The staff secretary, Brett Kavanaugh, walked the legislation over to the residence for the president to sign. He came outside his bedroom and signed it in the residence.”

Reporter: “Had he been asleep?”

Mr. McClellan: “Yes, he was woken up after it was passed, when it was ready to be signed.”

Reporter: “He came out of his bedroom and literally signed it standing up in the hall — is that how it went?”

Mr. McClellan: “That’s correct, yes. He was just standing in the hall in the residence and signed the legislation then.”

Reporter: “Was he wearing …? ”

Reporter: “Is it safe to assume he wasn’t wearing a suit and tie at the time?”

Mr. McClellan: “I’m not going into that much detail.”

Gossip, of sorts

A year and a half after taking over the Reliable Source column in The Washington Post, Richard Leiby says he’s giving up the space for friendlier real estate.

“It’s not a good fit anymore,” says a source in the Post newsroom. “It’s been exhausting. I think you have to love it, and this isn’t fun” for Mr. Leiby, who took over the column in the fall of 2003 when columnist Lloyd Grove left the newspaper.

Giving no date for his final column, Mr. Leiby says he will remain at The Post, albeit walking a beat that doesn’t require event coverage three or four nights each week.

Interviewed by the New York Times last year about writing gossip, Mr. Leiby said: “There really is not a gossip column at The Washington Post. We’re really writing fairly rigorously sourced items of news interest, as opposed to who’s sleeping with whom.”

No word on Mr. Leiby’s replacement.

Latest cause

“It’s Social Security, stupid.”

Or so reads the subject of a memo to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from party strategist James Carville, who got an entire presidential campaign message to consist of the words, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Aiming to elect more Democrats to a Senate controlled by Republicans, Mr. Carville supplied the DSCC with five things every Democrat should know about Social Security.

Patriots up in arms

Chaired by former Rep. Bob Barr, Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances, a national network of organizations from across the political spectrum, will begin its educational efforts today in Washington.

The group plans to teach Americans about provisions of the Patriot Act that are supposedly out of line with the Constitution and violate Fourth Amendment freedoms, including the right to privacy.

Other “patriots” besides the Georgia Republican include Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union; Laura Murphy, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union; Paul Weyrich, chairman and chief executive officer of the Free Congress Foundation; and John Snyder of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Among other things, the group will call on President Bush to reconsider his unqualified endorsement of the Patriot Act, and will seek congressional review of the most intrusive, unchecked provisions of the act.

In closing

Terri Schiavo breathes on her own. Her heart beats on its own. She laughs, she cries, she is alive, and we must defend her life.”

Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, North Carolina Republican, who flew to Washington from his home in Cherryville, N.C., to cast a vote early yesterday morning on behalf of brain-damaged Floridian Terri Schiavo, whose feeding tube was ordered removed by a state court.

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

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