Those closest to Ronald Reagan worried as far back as 1976 whether the former California governor had enough stamina to campaign for the presidency, Craig Shirley writes in his just-published book, "Reagan's Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign that Started It All."
"Reagan enjoyed campaigning," says Shirley, a former Reagan aide who currently heads a Washington public-relations firm, "but Mrs. Reagan was concerned that the campaign was pushing her husband too hard."
Late one evening, the author recalls, Nancy Reagan called family friend and campaign aide Nancy Reynolds in New Hampshire to make sure that her husband "was in bed and asleep."
"Mrs. Reagan insisted that Reynolds go down the hall and knock on the governor's door to see if he was in his pajamas and in bed," writes Shirley. "Reynolds protested, but Mrs. Reagan insisted. Reynolds knocked on the door and woke the governor.
"When she whispered through the door that Mrs. Reagan wanted to know 'Ronnie' was in bed and asleep, the formerly slumbering Reagan yelled back at the door, 'Can't I ever escape you two Nancys?'"
An attractive reporter for the CBS affiliate in San Francisco when she first met Ronald Reagan in 1966, Reynolds went to work for the governor in Sacramento shortly thereafter. She could be blunt, the author recalls. Like when Reagan told her in 1979 that he was running a second time for president.
"Don't you think you're too old?" she blurted out.
Reagan only chuckled, and when Miss Reynolds tried holding the door for him on the campaign trail, he said: "My mother told me ladies go through the door first, so we can stand here all day, and you let me hold that door for you, or we don't go through."
GUNS AND FREEDOM
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been named "Gun Rights Defender of the Month" for January by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
"I have sort of a pure Second Amendment view of the right to bear arms," committee spokesman John Michael Snyder quotes Miss Rice as saying, while pointing to biographer Antonia Felix's book, "The Condoleezza Rice Story."
"The secretary's father, John Rice, and his neighbors guarded the streets of Birmingham, Ala., at night with shotguns during the civil-rights crises during Condi's childhood," Snyder says.
"Ms. Felix wrote that 'the memory of her father out on patrol lies behind Rice's opposition to gun control today. Had those guns been registered, she argues, (police commissioner) Bull Connor would have had a legal right to take them away, thereby removing one of the black community's only means of self-defense.'"
'I'M TOO NICE'
"I'm sorry for the confusion - one of (my) attorneys told me it was filed, and I repeated it," says Washington lobbyist and landlord Beth Solomon, explaining that her $60,000 lawsuit against a New York Times scribe - reportedly filed in D.C. Superior Court - was pulled back at the "last minute" for several additions.
An attorney for Solomon, Jim O'Dea, explained to The Beltway Beat on Monday that a penthouse rented to reporter Jennifer 8. Lee was, upon second examination, "so trashed" that he now has included "additional damages" to the original complaint. He said the lawsuit was to be filed Tuesday at the latest, and damages should total anywhere from $127,000 to $149,000.
Writing to The Beltway Beat from New York, Lee - who added the "8" as a teenager to get attention - stressed "there has not been a lawsuit filed yet - nor are we sure there will be."
By regularly hosting VIP-style parties in the penthouse, the reporter stands accused of severely damaging floors, interior walls, appliances and furniture. "My baby grand piano, passed down in my family, was destroyed - they used it as a wet bar," Solomon charges.
In addition, Lee told this column that Larry Bank, identified in this space and elsewhere as her attorney, is actually "in real estate and is negotiating this as a favor because I'm a bad negotiator because I'm too nice."
"He's not a lawyer because this is not a legal matter, since there is no lawsuit yet. I don't have a lawyer," Lee said.
"She will when she gets it," O'Dea said of the pending suit.
Now Saddam knows they don't need him.
They have chosen their brethren to lead them,
And the dye on their fingers
In memory lingers
As the emblem of long-denied freedom.
- F.R. Duplantier
Average total cost for an 80-year-old American to live out the rest of his or her days on a luxury cruise ship: $230,497
Average cost to live them out in an assisted-living facility: $228,075
- Harper's Index, February 2005
He's written numerous novels that were translated into more than 20 languages, with many - "Jurassic Park," "The Lost World," "The Great Train Robbery," "Rising Sun," "Congo" and "The Andromeda Strain" - winding up on the big screen.
Friday, writer and filmmaker Michael Crichton, a graduate of Harvard Medical School (yes, he created the hit television series "ER," too), came to Washington and specifically the American Enterprise Institute to warn that science and science-based policies have been captured by political interests with regrettable human, economic and policy consequences.
This theme comes as no surprise, given his latest blockbuster novel, "State of Fear," which details how alarmist green "nongovernmental organizations," or NGOs, cynically manipulate the public through one scare campaign after another - in this case "man-made global warming" - recycling breathtaking slices of their enormous booty into more fund-raising campaigns touting the alarm of the day.
Crichton detailed the corruption of science by politics and set forth a prescription for competitive and verified research ensuring that searching for the truth trumps the pursuit of fame and research grants.
Taking questions from the audience, Crichton did not disappoint, humorously batting away defensively silly media harangues.
The ultimate moment of life imitating Crichton's art, however, came when one young scribe unwittingly stepped directly from the pages of "State of Fear." Quite possibly, in all seriousness, the concerned scribbler anxiously wondered how, were we to actually reform this corrupt politicization of scientific policy matters, could the state then ensure continued viability of the NGOs?
Indeed, there would be few more difficult tasks in such a futuristic hell.
COUGH IT UP
Several lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and his vice presidential running mate, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, have broken a federal statute by pocketing thousands of dollars in salary while being away from their jobs during 2003 and 2004.
An obscure federal statute requires congressional absentees to forfeit pay unless they or a family member are ill, but some lawmakers seem reluctant to comply, says the National Taxpayers Union.
The NTU says "chronically absent" members of the 108th Congress, besides Kerry and Edwards, include Democratic presidential candidates Bob Graham, former senator of Florida; Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut; former House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri; and Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio.
And there's numerous other sitting senators and congressmen - too many to list here - who improperly accepted salaries while off stumping for votes.
The NTU says compliance with 2 U.S. Code 39, requiring the secretary of the Senate and the chief administrative officer of the House of Representatives to deduct congressional salary for days of unexcused absences, has been sparse, but not nonexistent.
"In 1971, Representative Edwin Edwards abided by the no-work, no-pay law while running for Louisiana governor," says the nonpartisan union.
And while federal law does not require presidents to forfeit their pay while seeking re-election, the NTU notes that George W. Bush relinquished his governor's salary for days spent outside Texas campaigning for president in 2000.
SEE YOUR SHADOW?
Job Corps, the Labor Department's educational and vocational training program for people ages 16 to 24, is celebrating its 40th year and Groundhog Day at the same time this year.
The Job Corps calls it "Groundhog Job Shadow Day," which also falls on Wednesday. And this year, for the first time, a shadow will descend on the White House.
Two dozen members of Congress also will have shadows, or Job Corps youth following them, as will officials of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, C-SPAN and Comcast Sportsnet, to name a few of the local participants.
In fact, hundreds of thousands of Job Corps participants - each in search of a better job and skills - will be shadowing chosen professions across the country Wednesday, through the combined efforts of organizations like Junior Achievement and America's Promise.
Some conservative columnists know
How to puff up their post-status quo,
But I'm stuck in a stall
And the White House won't call
With down payments of dubious dough.
- F.R. Duplantier
NOT SO GLAAD
A black journalist is not happy that her minority group has been overlooked in this year's presentation of Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards, a charge that GLAAD denies.
Jasmyne Cannick, a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, says 2004 was "groundbreaking" for blacks in their coverage of homosexual concerns - from black churches supporting or opposing same-sex "marriage," to the alarming rise in HIV infection rates among blacks, to tackling issues once considered taboo.
"That is why the absence of any substantive recognition of black journalists among this year's GLAAD nominees is so shocking," she says. "Maybe GLAAD should add a parenthetical to its mission statement.
"A possibly more accurate mission statement might read 'promoting and ensuring fair, accurate and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation for people who are not black.'"
GLAAD spokeswoman Glennda Testone told this column yesterday that she doesn't know where Cannick "is coming from," countering that award nominees represent a "diverse set of stories and voices that GLAAD is very proud to acknowledge."
She named Derrick Z. Jackson, a black columnist for the Boston Globe, as one such nominee and stressed that "winners have not yet been selected."
LIVING WITH GUNS
Arguing that criminals, not guns, are the root cause of crime and violence in America, a veteran congressman has reintroduced legislation to ensure the constitutional right of all Americans to own a gun and unload it in defense of self, family and home.
The alternative, says Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, Maryland Republican, is found right here in the nation's capital, a city that banned the private ownership of handguns and "was rewarded with a higher homicide rate that now ranks amongst the highest in the country."
The congressman recalls the words of Thomas Jefferson, that gun restrictions "disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes."
BACK TO SCHOOL
David Demarest, White House communications director for four years under President George H.W. Bush who went on to become senior executive for Visa and BankAmerica, is headed back to college.
That is, to become vice president for public affairs at Stanford University.
"To join a world-class institution like Stanford is both an honor and a privilege," said Demarest, whose appointment is effective March 1.
Stanford President John Hennessy says the former White House official will coordinate Stanford's communications and direct its relationship with government at all levels.
DOG EAT CAT
We reported recently that investigators of voter fraud in California determined that of the state's pets illegally registered to vote, cats tend to vote Republican and dogs tend to vote Democrat.
Now, a Maryland physicist writing a "dissertation on dichotomies in the differential equations for universal 'expectation values' as a function of time applying to all individual biosystems" is questioning the scientific method and authority of fraud investigators in reaching their conclusions.
"I remind you," Seamus Finbar of Annapolis writes to The Beltway Beat, of "a higher authority than any statistical poll; the authority of the ubiquitous existentialist Dr. Franz Kafka in his immutable and unchallengeable assessment of all dogs: 'The totality of all knowledge and of all questions and answers lies in the dog.'
"Frequently I consult my 165 pound Rottweiler-Mastiff when I am stumped in the universal language mathematics. His name is Max," says the physicist.
"Naturally Max is a Republican," he continues. "Even his eyes are reddish, not blueish. They reflect the color in each state of our republic last Election Day. Max snarled when he read the title of your (column): 'Left-leaning dogs.'"
As for cats, Finbar educates: "Cats live within the boundary conditions of their own solipsistic little world; are unstable and unpredictable even today. They are loyal only to those who feed them and stroke their fur. Seems that cats are Democrats to me."