John McCaslin

Whip sting

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her outspoken anti-Iraqi war colleague, Rep. John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, are licking their wounds after a popular fellow Democratic leader — Washington Rep. Brian Baird, a senior Democratic whip on the Democratic Steering Committee, who was president of his 1998 freshman class — just returned home from Iraq to say that the U.S. military is "making real progress" in the war-torn country.

Furthermore, Mr. Baird told the Olympian newspaper, and despite Mr. Murtha's long-standing wishes for an immediate U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq, "the consequences of pulling back precipitously would be potentially catastrophic for the Iraqi people themselves ... and in the long run chaotic for the region as a whole and for our own security."

Back to basics

"It's going to be all Cheney all of the time."

Or so one Republican insider replied when asked by Inside the Beltway over the weekend who the Democrats will have left to beat up in the Bush White House now that Karl Rove has announced he is stepping down later this month as the president's deputy chief of staff.


Texas concerto

"The pool ... listened to a concerto of crickets. This lasted for nearly 2½ hours."

— White House press corps pool report reflecting the more-often-grueling-than-not duty of staking out President Bush while he vacations at his Texas ranch.


"As you can imagine, this is a very difficult time for everyone associated with Ronald Reagan, especially Nancy Reagan. She is devastated," says Frederick J. Ryan Jr., chairman of the board of trustees of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation.

"On Friday, she attended the funeral for Merv Griffin, a friend for 50 years. Saturday morning, she awakens to the news of Mike Deaver's passing. He had been among her closest of friends and confidants since the 1960s, when Ronald Reagan was governor [of California]."

Mr. Deaver, who for more than a decade has worked in the Washington office of the public relations firm Edelman, succumbed to pancreatic cancer at his Bethesda home. He was 69.

"As any advanceman or political operative will admit, to this day, the ultimate compliment on a presidential event is for it to be described as 'Deaveresque,' " Mr. Ryan, a former top Reagan aide, tells Inside the Beltway of the former White House deputy chief of staff, who orchestrated countless public appearances for Mr. Reagan, and in doing so helped to shape his popular presidency.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

Be the first to read John McCaslin's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.