White Capitol

John McCaslin
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Posted: Jun 24, 2003 12:00 AM

When it comes to employing women and minorities, Congress had better take a look at its own hiring practices.

We've gotten a peek at National Journal's 2003 "Hill People," featuring profiles of 314 top staffers on Capitol Hill. And for the first time, the Journal has collected demographic information on the top aides - 55 who work for House and Senate leaders, 244 for congressional committees and 15 who run various caucuses and coalitions.

It turns out only 3.5 percent of the top aides are black and Hispanic, meaning 96 percent of the staffers are white. In addition, 84 percent of top aides to congressional leaders are male.

Among other findings, top Democratic staffers were more than twice as likely as Republicans to have received a bachelors degree from an Ivy League school. Republican aides were about twice as likely to have grown up in the South or Midwest as in the North, while Democratic staffers were more likely to have grown up in the North than any other region.NO MUSICAL CHAIRS

President Bush has put the word out to his political appointees: There will be no major job changes after Aug. 31.

The deadline was imposed by White House political aides in preparation for Bush's upcoming re-election campaign. It applies mainly to political appointees in the upper and middle ranks of the executive branch.

"The president doesn't want any surprises during the campaign," explains one administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. So, expect to see any resignations or agency head switches to take place between now and the end of August.

With the appointment of Scott McClellen as the new presidential spokesman on Friday, replacing Ari Fleischer, the White House staff is virtually set through November 2004. We're told to expect some changes, however, in various executive branch departments and agencies.

TEXAS CREATURE

"Bushenstein" is the scary title of a flash movie created by the Democratic National Committee and shown over the Internet.

The DNC says the purpose of the color animation, depicting President Bush as Dr. Frankenstein, is to show "just how dangerous a Bush-stacked Supreme Court is to American values."

The movie begins, "A dark and stormy night ... a madman at work ... creating an unspeakable creature ... who threatens our values."

DYING NATURALLY

"Cicero was asked which of Demosthenes' speeches he most admired. Cicero's answer was: 'The longest.' By the way, Demosthenes committed suicide. He carried some poison in a bracelet and he committed suicide. While I admire Demosthenes, I do not hope to follow his course in that regard." -- Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) speaking on the Senate floor in recent days.

PERMANENT PROTESTORS

The U.S.-led war in Iraq is history. But that doesn't mean the anti-war movement -- even if the war is against terrorism -- will end anytime soon. In fact, it never will.

"We should expect anti-war protests to accelerate rather than diminish in the months ahead," says John J. Tierney, faculty chairman at the Institute of World Politics in Washington. "If President Bush and his top advisors are correct in their view that the war against terrorism will be long and protracted, then it should also be clear that protest and dissension will be just as protracted."

Tierney, writing in the Capital Research Center's Organization Trends, says the short-term victory over Saddam Hussein will simply fuel the fires of anger and frustration against the U.S., both here and overseas. "We need to understand that war protest is a 'political' phenomenon against 'political' policies," he says. "It will not disappear after victories on distant battlefields. In this sense, the nature of the political enemy at home is almost exclusively ideological and, thus, permanent and resolute." Fortunately, he says, the anti-war movement has been "notably unsuccessful" to date.

D.H. RUMSFELD

Listen closely. What you hear coming from the mouth of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is actually an "art form." Call it "literary intelligence." The Pentagon's top dog, it turns out, has an unsung gift for free verse, haiku and sonnets.

In fact, Rumsfeld's poems are regularly embedded in the transcripts of his daily news briefings and interviews. All it took was for somebody to pull out the prose, which author Hart Seely has done in his amazing new book, "Pieces of Intelligence: The Existential Poetry of Donald H. Rumsfeld" (The Free Press, $12.95).

"At times, Rumsfeld composes in jazzy, lyrical riffs that pulsate with the rhythm of his childhood on the streets of Chicago. From there, he'll unfurl a Homeric tale cautioning us about the ways of bureaucracy," Seely notes. "He'll fire off rounds of irony with a Western cowboy's sensibility, enough for some to call him 'America's poet lariat.'"

Either way, the poetry of D.H. Rumsfeld demands to be read aloud. Let's begin with "Needless to Say":

Needless to say,

The president is correct.

Whatever it was he said.

-- Feb. 28, 2003, Pentagon briefing

 

"The Unknown"

As we know,

There are known knowns.

There are things we know we know.

We also know

There are known unknowns.

That is to say

We know there are some things

We do not know.

But there are also unknown unknowns,

The ones we don't know we don't know.

-- Feb. 12, 2002, Pentagon briefing

 

"Field of Schemes"

Is the playing field this wide?

Or is it that wide?

One can't know that

Until one knows up above.

The president can't know that

Until he knows what the possibilities are

And what the risks are

If the playing field's this wide

As opposed to that wide.

-- Jan. 23, 2002 interview with Reader's Digest

 

"Cheating woman"

She said she had a question

And she asked three.

I asked for an easy one

And she gave me a tough three.

-- April 26, 2002, meeting with troops in Kyrgyszstan

 

"End Zen"

How does it end?

It ends,

That's all.

- Feb. 8, 2003, briefing in Munich

WHO'S REALLY GREEN?

A congressman is blasting the Sierra Club for using the raging Arizona wildfires to attack efforts to strengthen federal forest-management policies.

Rob Smith, Southwest regional director of the Sierra Club, says the fires burning in Arizona "are further evidence that we should be focusing fuel-reduction efforts near communities, where homes and lives can be threatened. The Bush administration is instead pushing a plan through Congress that would focus limited funds on logging miles from communities."

Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.) calls the remarks "extremist rhetoric (that) is spectacularly unhelpful and disingenuous."

"It plays politics with tragedy and uses fire victims as pawns. It should be noted that this attack comes from the same group that lectured us not to point fingers of blame last year in the wake of (Arizona wildfires).

"The Sierra Club is embracing a myth that we must approach forest management and fire prevention their way or no way."

Sounding more "green" than the Sierra Club, Hayworth says Uncle Sam must instead commit the government "to protect not only the communities that find themselves in the path of these fires, but we also must protect the forestland and the ecosystems and wildlife and watersheds as well."