Surrender Martha

Posted: Sep 20, 2002 12:00 AM
So what's likely to be the best-selling Halloween costume this year now that the scary mugs of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky are no longer around to frighten our children? Costume creator Gary Mitten tells this column to look for "Martha Stewart" knocking on a lot of doors come Oct. 31. In fact, Mitten has developed an entire Web business - - around the production of his "Martha" costumes and masks. "Sales for Halloween are going well," he said Thursday. Our favorite is the "Department of Correction" orange jumpsuit which "everyone is wearing this season." And just in time for Halloween, there's a "Martha mask" and black "Surrender Martha" top featuring a wicked witch riding a broom. MONICA'S SCAPEGOAT? The White House is as close as we get in this country to sacred ground, intern hopefuls will read in the "Insider's Guide to Political Internships: What to Do Once You're in the Door" (Westview Press). Bill Clinton and playmate Monica Lewinsky would certainly agree with the book's initial words of advice: "If you are caught breaking the rules, you will embarrass yourself and possibly the president." "Believe it or not," say political scientists and co-authors Grant Reeher and Mack Mariani, "this is not as obvious to everyone as it may seem. One intern in the Clinton White House was lucky enough to be stationed in the West Wing." Miss Lewinsky, right? Wrong. In fact, the authors don't even mention the most famous intern ever to stroll through the black gates of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Rather, this particular intern's encounter was with first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. "On one of the several days that the New York Yankees came to the White House as World Series champions, there was an event on the South Lawn honoring the team," the guide reveals. "This intern's luck continued, as he was invited to attend the event. But then he pressed his luck: He made his way into the White House and joined the VIP photo line with President and Mrs. Clinton. "When he came up in the line, the first lady turned to him, glanced at his badge (intern badges are adorned with a large 'I'), and said, in a less-than-friendly voice, 'Who do we have here?' That intern was never seen around the White House again." RETREATS, YOU SAY? President Bush has been back in the White House for just about two weeks, which means he's no doubt itching already to return to his 1,600-acre ranch near Crawford, Texas. Bush isn't the first White House occupant to savor a change of scenery to escape the pressures of the job. "Thomas Jefferson built the first presidential retreat, Poplar Forest," notes former Reagan adviser and author Peter Hannaford, author of the new book, "Ronald Reagan and His Ranch: The Western White House, 1981-89" (Images From the Past). George Washington had the nearest retreat, escaping to his beloved Mount Vernon just 13 miles south of Washington. John Adams recessed to Peacefield farm in Quincy, Mass., and just like today was excoriated by one newspaper for leaving the capital at a time when public opinion was "exceedingly agitated." James Madison preferred Montpelier in Virginia, while James Monroe fled to Ash Lawn and Oak Hill, both designed by Jefferson. It was Theodore Roosevelt who made popular the "summer White House," when almost the entire White House operation is boxed up and moved to the hinterlands. Lyndon B. Johnson was the first to have a ranch as his retreat, which reporters didn't mind as much as Jimmy Carter's spread in Plains, Ga., where one newspaper scribe posted in the peanut fields called it "the longest two weeks I have ever spent." Like Bush today, Ronald Reagan longed for his Rancho del Cielo near Santa Barbara, Calif. In fact, like Bush, Reagan greeted so many world leaders at the ranch that he renamed its main road, "Pennsylvania Avenue." And "intruders" at the so-called Western White House, recalls Hannaford, weren't of the same variety encountered in Washington. This posed an unusual challenge to Secret Service agents. "One day," Reagan wrote in his memoirs, "an agent came down from his post on the hill above the house, and his eyes were wide as saucers. He'd been sitting on his camp stool watching the house when a big mountain lion strolled past him only a few feet away." SPONTANEOUS PLEDGE In order to register and activate student voters for the fall election, the Democratic National Committee hosted 200 rallies across the country on Tuesday featuring top Democratic leaders. Apparently, things didn't go quite as planned. Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe was the star attraction at one such rally at the University of Maryland. Unfortunately, College Democrats were outflanked by youthful College Republicans 67 to 21. To make matters worse for the Clinton-picked DNC honcho, he entered the outdoor amphitheater at the rally to chants of, "Come Clean Terry." McAuliffe began his remarks by thanking the College Republicans for coming. Then the assembled students broke into the Pledge of Allegiance and the DNC had no choice but to stop speaking and join them. At the end of the event, the College Republicans boasted 23 newly registered voters and 71 new College Republicans. No word from College Democrats on their success. SCOTTISH STAND Virginia Sen. John Warner, not shy about wearing a kilt on the floor of the U.S. Senate - along with Trent Lott - is certainly proud of his Scottish heritage. Still, the Republican was skeptical after reading that an ancestor claimed to have built Balmoral Castle at the famous Scottish country estate of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. "A politician can get in awful lot of trouble by making claims that aren't true," he told the St. Andrew's Society of Washington this week. So Warner decided to write to Buckingham Palace for verification. After extensive research, palace historians wrote back to confirm that Warner's great-great grandfather, Alexander Stewart, did indeed build Balmoral Castle. The castle has been royal property since Prince Albert purchased it in 1852 for Queen Victoria. In his speech to the Scottish-American charitable society, Warner noted that he skipped a vote in the Senate Tuesday night so he could join the group at the Army-Navy Country Club in Arlington, Va. "I said to myself, 'The Senate be damned. I'm coming,'" he said. Warner had to cancel a previous speech to the society last year, just two days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Warner recalled the words of George Washington when he was facing the cruel winter at Valley Forge: "If all else fails, I will plant my flag on the Blue Ridge and make my stand among the Scotch-Irish of Virginia."