John McCaslin

One thing is for certain about the post-presidency of George W. Bush: "Under no circumstances" will first lady Laura Bush spend her retirement years living at the much-ballyhooed Texas ranch that she and the president have been "escaping" to for the past seven years.

Or so one gentleman in the know tells Inside the Beltway, explaining that the Bush family will settle down in Dallas and visit the Crawford ranch for weekend getaways.

Once writing about the ranch in the publication Cowboys & Indians, Eric O'Keefe recalled that, in 1999, when Gov. Bush gave architect David Heymann a list of design priorities for the new ranch house, his "top three requests were anything but extravagant: a king-sized bed, a good shower and some comfortable chairs on the porch."

The new Bush home, our source assures us, will be far more extravagant and certainly less dusty. In fact, Mrs. Bush yesterday commented three times in one sentence about the infamous Texas dust during a visit to Amarillo and Midland, both in western Texas.

Texans, meanwhile, are said to be following what Ken Herman of the Austin American-Statesman describes as Mr. Bush's "last roundup," "final rodeo," "last stampede," to gauge what impact his low approval ratings might have on the image of Texas.

Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson complained that Mr. Bush "has fed into that sort of image of Texas as shooting from the hip and proceeding on the basis of your own sense rather than consulting more broadly and looking for common ground."

But that's a good thing, countered Rep. Michael McCaul, Austin Republican, who told Mr. Herman that "Texans have a way of talking straight and sticking to our guns, and I don't think anyone can argue that the president, for better or worse, hasn't done that."

Furthermore, he argued, no lone person — not even a president — defines the Lone Star State.

Take Harry S. Truman, who left office with the lowest approval rating of any modern president, which "did not impact the way the nation or world viewed Missouri," the lawmaker said.

Buckles, et al.

The last living veteran of World War I to serve in Europe, Frank Woodruff Buckles — one of only three living World War I veterans in the U.S. — has arrived in Washington for the American Veteran Center's 10th annual conference at the Renaissance Washington Hotel.

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 .

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