- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Finding snails

It has been a stressful couple of months for newly elected Virginia Democratic Sen. James H. Webb Jr., who is catching his breath after a whirlwind campaign, being sworn into office, introducing his first legislation, changing the diapers of his newborn daughter, Georgia LeAnh, and moving into a new home.

“That’s a lot for any 60-year-old,” acknowledges a close friend of former Sen. George Allen, who reveals it has been equally stressful for the Virginia Republican, who went from being a contender for the Republican nomination for president in 2008 to contemplating his future via strolls on a beach.

“[He] is enjoying quiet walks with his family along the shores of the Potomac River,” this column was told yesterday. “On one recent stroll, they discovered a beach, and his eight-year-old daughter [Brooke] found, to her delight, snails. Sometimes, getting out of the rat race brings great results.”

Mr. Allen, no doubt, would have preferred to depart the rat race under his own terms, although he did tell the Washington Business Journal in a 1998 interview: “I think it’s healthy to get out of government. If you stay in too long, you lose track of reality and the real world.”

Mr. Allen has kept mum about his place in the real world, saying only that there have been several overtures.

Calling Betsy Ross

A Capitol Hill Republican, who requests anonymity, couldn’t believe his eyes while jogging this week around the U.S. Capitol.

“I was disappointed that the [U.S.] flags flying over the Cannon, Longworth, Rayburn and Russell [House and Senate] buildings all have tears in them that are in plain sight,” he informs Inside the Beltway.

Senators and congressmen above whose offices these tattered flags fly should be reminded of the U.S. Flag Code: Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8(k), which states: “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

Scarlett returns

White House spokesman Tony Snow might get a vicarious kick out of Washington crisis-management mogul Eric Dezenhall’s latest novel, which centers on a presidential press secretary who knows his past has caught up with him when a gorgeous woman appears at the White House gates.

Mr. Dezenhall handed us a copy of “Spinning Dixie,” with a note that Washington readers in particular “should find it of interest.” The book is described as “a perfect mix of ‘The West Wing,’ ‘The Godfather,’ and ‘Gone with the Wind.’ ” Mr. Dezenhall is the chief executive officer of Dezenhall Resources, one of the nation’s top crisis-management firms. He has written four other novels.

No golfing

Three cheers for Rep. Lee Terry, Nebraska Republican, for introducing the Public Trust and Accountability Act, which would deny retirement benefits to any congressman, senator, judge or federal employee who is convicted of a crime that abuses his or her position in the federal government.

Popular dream

Conservative Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican and chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, is jumping aboard Mitt Romney’s presidential train, signing up as a senior adviser to the Romney for President Exploratory Committee.

“Senator DeMint believes, as I do, that we must find new solutions to help ensure the American dream for every citizen,” says the former Massachusetts governor, his sound bite echoing the campaign theme of 2008 Democratic presidential contender John Edwards, a former North Carolina senator and 2004 vice presidential nominee.

Second career?

Uncle Sam has been fretting over the U.S. government’s pending retirement crisis — the “retirement tsunami,” it has been dubbed — when federal workers numbering in the millions will clean out their desks and drive off into the sunset.

The Washington-based Partnership for Public Service is prepared to announce today what it hopes will be an innovative fix for the inevitable tsunami: a call to service for aging baby boomers.

“One solution to our government’s retirement crisis is on the flip side of the same coin,” says partnership President Max Stier. “Just as record numbers will be retiring from government in coming years, millions of healthy, well-educated boomers who want to do something meaningful will be retiring from their current jobs and looking for new professional opportunities — opportunities they can find in federal services.”

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

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