Continuing our series of features leading up to this summer's Democratic and Republican conventions in Boston and New York respectively, we pay a visit to the historic Ritz-Carlton in Boston, where doorman Norman Pashoian has been waiting ever so patiently for the politicians to come calling.
Pashoian, you see, has been greeting presidents and heads of state at his Arlington Street post for an amazing 57 years, opening his first door on the heels of Harry S. Truman becoming president.
Upstairs in the Ritz, we've learned, the plush presidential suite will be enhanced during the July 26-29 convention with framed photos and duplicates of presidential documents from the nearby John F. Kennedy Library.
Which leads us to wonder who will be staying in the famous suite, where composer Irving Berlin wrote songs for his Broadway show, "Mr. President."
"The identity of the guest ... will not be revealed, in keeping with the nearly century-old tradition of discretion at the Ritz-Carlton, Boston," says the hotel's Caron Le Brun.
Still, we have it on good authority that the evening turndown service will not include the usual chocolate mints on the pillows, rather presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's favorite chocolate chip cookies. Hmmm.
Delegates staying in the hotel will be returning home with red, white and blue pillowcases embroidered with the words, "The Democratic National Convention, July 2004, The Ritz-Carlton, Boston."
FLIRTING WITH HILLARY
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton doesn't appreciate the generous tax cut provided to her and former President Bill Clinton by the "compassionate" President Bush, which isn't to say she's returning the money.
"I know what my compassionate mother thinks about a budget that gives her daughter and son-in-law tax cuts while kicking 300,000 poor kids out of after-school programs," Sen. Clinton writes in the new afterword of the paperback version of her recent best seller, "Living History."
The former first lady-turned-New York Democratic senator also writes in her updated book that she's "worried about my country," which is a far different place from three years ago.
"When I first arrived in the Senate, I was dismayed to find the Bush administration and its congressional allies using every lever of power available to undo the economic, social and global progress achieved during my husband's presidency," she says.
"I admit I viewed that prospect dimly because I believe my husband was a very good president who left our nation well prepared for the future."
As for the success of "Living History," in which she tells the story of her 30-year adventure in love and politics with Bill Clinton, Sen. Clinton says her "right hand occasionally swelled from signing my name so many times."
She also sees fit to reveal that one middle-aged man who stood in line during one of her many book signings "handed me his business card with the handwritten message, 'If you're ever single, give me a call.'"
An expert in digital security who was campaign security adviser to Wesley Clark during the Democratic primary is guaranteeing campaign "sabotage" and "espionage" - through the use of technology and the Internet - during the homestretch of the 2004 presidential race.
David H. Holtzman, a former cryptographic and intelligence analyst at the Defense Special Missile and Astronautics Center who focused chiefly on the Soviet manned space program, says altered photographic images of John Kerry and Jane Fonda, which appeared recently on the Internet, are just the beginning.
It's only a matter of time until one campaign digitally "invades" the other, says Holtzman, causing a "digital Watergate" scandal for the 21st century.
The former chief scientist at IBM's Internet Information Technology group, who now teaches at American University, says that for every positive use of technology during the campaign, it is equally possible for campaign strategists or supporters to implement negative or destructive tactics, including:
-Hacking into the other campaign's computers to gain secret strategic information, private information about a candidate, and information about major campaign contributors, endorsers and lobbyists.
-Sending e-mails from phony addresses.
-Hacking and creating a "denial of service" assault on the opposing campaign's Web site, not only preventing voters from gaining information about the candidate, but also not allowing them to make campaign contributions.
FOR THE CHILDREN
Antennae quivered over Washington after an announcement by the Children's Health Environmental Network that President Bush's environmental record warrants an "F."
"Trust those instincts," says Competitive Enterprise Institute counsel Christopher C. Horner, who undertook a quick "check" of political giving by CHEN's top brass. "Revealing the following expose - that CHEN, in fact, is yet another in a series of front groups of 'Clintonistas' and other left-wing political activists, albeit one seeking that last refuge of 'the children,'" Horner says.
The group's chair, Lynn Goldman, a former assistant administrator in the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton administration, not only gave $1,000 to Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign, but only weeks ago gave money to Democrat John Kerry's presidential bid.
The CEI lawyer cites numerous other contributions to recent Democratic candidates by CHEN's higher-ups.
"Humorously, and representative of what appears to be John Kerry's fate as the Democrats' default presidential candidate, is CHEN vice chair Dick Batchelor, whose penchant for picking winners did not stop with his $1,000 contribution in 2000 to Al Gore," notes Horner.
"Batchelor gave $1,000 to (presidential candidate) Bob Graham in 2003; when that didn't pan out, he gave $2,000 to (presidential candidate) Dick Gephardt, backing up an earlier $5,000 to the Democratic National Committee, and of course he has already dished out $1,000 to Kerry."
An overflowing sack of mail this week, on the top a letter from reader Bob Emmrich of Cincinnati:
"While browsing the Associated Press wires Tuesday, I came across the piece that reported President Bush's 51-43 percent poll lead over John Kerry in Florida. The story was headlined, 'Bush slightly ahead of Kerry in Florida poll.'
"Where else but in the mainstream American media would an 8 percentage point lead by a Republican candidate translate into 'slightly ahead'? It's going to be a long, ugly summer and fall, I suspect."
As for John W. Dean's new book, "Worse Than Watergate," in which the former Nixon White House counsel charges that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have created "the most secretive presidency in my lifetime," Marilyn Jameson of Pittsburgh writes:
"Please tell me, is this the John Dean that taught and professed the 'can't recall' testimony on the witness stand? You know, the defense Hillary Clinton took before she 'wrote' her 'tell all' book? John Dean/Monica Lewinsky - they just need to keep coming back again and again."