Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Campaign’s over

What’s become of Teresa Heinz Kerry?

Preceding its Women Who Make a Difference Awards Dinner on March 1, the National Council for Research on Women is featuring “a conversation with Teresa Heinz,” chairwoman of Heinz Family Philanthropies and, up until Election Day, the highly visible better half of Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.

“Teresa Heinz will speak to her commitment to women’s economic security, including Social Security and retirement,” writes the council, not bothering to mention her married name in several references.

“I just checked, and she no longer uses her [entire] last name; only during the [presidential] campaign did she use Kerry,” the council’s Tamara Rodriguez Reichberg told Inside the Beltway upon our inquiry.

Leading by example

When a political panel discussion in Washington this week turned to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s drifting to the center of the polity — including her recent praise of the Clinton administration for helping lower the number of abortions performed in this country — former Ambassador Richard Carlson, who was seated in the audience, couldn’t help but recall a joke he’d heard that morning.

It had to do with Mrs. Clinton’s recent fainting spell in Buffalo, N.Y., and … well, what might have been behind it (come to think of it, the former first lady wouldn’t be the oldest woman on the planet to carry a baby full term).

As one might expect, ladies in the audience were visibly aghast at the mere thought, while the few men in attendance who weren’t laughing offered a polite smile.

Suffice it to say, Mr. Carlson, former president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, got the panel’s undivided attention.

Fair warning

Chicago-based Tribune Media Services (TMS) is cautioning its lineup of nationally syndicated columnists not to get caught in the same honey trap as Armstrong Williams.

TMS dropped syndication of the black pundit’s column after he acknowledged accepting $240,000 from the Bush administration to promote its education-reform law.

“Recent news events have cast a national spotlight on the subject of media credibility,” TMS Vice President John C. Twohey writes in a two-page letter to columnists, this one among them. “I’m referring, in particular, to disclosures that two syndicated columnists — one associated with TMS — accepted money from the federal government to promote White House initiatives.”

Reminding that credibility is among the most valuable assets of journalism, Mr. Twohey warns that columnists who “engage in activities that compromise their journalistic independence and integrity will jeopardize their relationship with TMS.”

Power couple

President Bush‘s special assistant for legislative affairs, Ginger Loper, is jumping ship to become vice president of the Washington lobbying firm Timmons and Co.

Mrs. Loper, who handled the administration’s hot-button issues such as Social Security, health care and taxes, is married to Brett Loper, deputy chief of staff to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas.

Sunset cruise

Our “Dramamine” column item from earlier this week — that it costs just about the same for an 80-year-old American to live out his or her days on a luxury cruise ship ($230,497) as in an assisted-living facility ($228,075) — generated considerable response.

“On our October cruise on Royal Caribbean lines, there was an elderly lady who actually resided on the ship ‘Voyager of the Sea,’” writes Becky Jackson-Turner of Acworth, Ga.

“Medicare took care of her medical needs, which were few, and whenever the ship would pull in to its main port, she would disembark for a few hours. …

“She told us that it was just more financially feasible to do this than living in an assisted-living home and was much more fun,” Mrs. Jackson-Turner recalls. “She got to meet new people all the time, always had great food and always had her bed turned down for her when it was time to sleep — with a mint to boot.

“We were blown away, but even more so when she told us of at least 20 other people she knew who did the same, except a lot of them change ships every once in a while to add a little variety.”

• John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or

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