"Brownie" arrives

Posted: Dec 22, 2005 9:05 AM
Thanks to Don Fulsom, a White House correspondent during the Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton presidencies and UPI bureau chief in Washington for seven years, who each year hands The Beltway Beat the poem read at the Christmas Party in the White House press basement.

(For those who have not had the luxury of toiling in the White House basement, it is where select members of the White House press corps are provided desks and broadcast booths to file their stories - and where this newspaperman had the pleasure of working alongside Fulsom when President Reagan was in control of the country.)

Without further ado, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas - 2005 White House Press Basement Version," by Greg Clugston of Salem Radio News, who covers President Bush.

'Twas the night before Christmas and in the White House, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Christmas - I mean - "holiday" stockings were hung with great care, In hopes that Saint Nick - oops! - someone nice soon would be there.

The president was asleep, all snug in his bed, While visions of high poll numbers danced in his head.

It had been a rough year to start the second term - Trouble in Iraq, justices to confirm.

Supreme Court vacancies offered Bush some relief, When senators confirmed John Roberts as chief.

But conservatives revolted, setting political fires, When Bush picked counsel Harriet Miers.

The Social Security plan had come undone, Despite many road trips aboard Air Force One.

All of a sudden there arose such a clatter, Dubya jumped up to see what was the matter.

And who had arrived, storming D.C. in a hurry? Patrick Fitzgerald and his probing grand jury.

The CIA leak revealed Valerie Plame, So the prosecutor called witnesses by name:

"Now Novak! Now Karl! Now Russert! And Scooter! On Miller! On Wilson! On Woodward! And Cooper!"

Politics, law, reporting - all were at stake, As he asked about leaks and Niger yellowcake.

The media focused on Rove's legal plight, But it was Libby whom Fitzgerald chose to indict.

Suddenly, an alarm sounded. Emergency Code Red! Secret Service agents got the Bushes out of bed.

A Cessna was flying toward Lafayette Park, But basement reporters were kept in the dark.

The plane landed safely on the White House south grounds.

Out climbed the pilot - it was FEMA's Mike Brown.

With rolled-up sleeves and new Nordstrom clothes, Brown was a "fashion god" from his head to his toes.

He ran up to Bush with some turkey and dressing, Shouted "Happy Thanksgiving!" and whispered a blessing.

Brown's bad sense of timing could not be denied, As Bush turned around to go back inside.

And I heard him exclaim, as he turned the doorknob: "Merry Christmas to all! Brownie, heck of a job!"


It's not easy being the president's preacher.

The Beltway Beat has written numerous times about the Rev. Luis Leon, rector of St. John's Episcopal Church, a Lafayette Square landmark overlooking the White House. And where on most Sunday mornings you will find President Bush seated quietly, hands clasped in front of him, in pew 54.

Bush and Leon, a Cuban immigrant, have become close friends in recent years. Not only has the rector been Bush's White House dinner guest, the president honored him earlier this year by having him deliver the inaugural prayer - the first Latino ever to do so. On hand to bow her head in thanks was Leon's foster mother from Miami, who took custody of him when, without most of his family, he fled Cuba as an 11-year-old boy.

In a sermon earlier this month, Leon was discussing the importance of experiencing God beyond simply attending church and following ritual. Certain churchgoers, he noted, apply political "checklists'' to their faith, with questions such as, "Are you for same-sex marriage or not?'' (Word is Mr. Bush chuckled along with the rest of the congregation.)

For another example, he spoke of one letter he received from a person who said, "How dare you preach in front of the president'' - apparently assuming that because Leon was born in Cuba he adhered to ideologies Bush should not be hearing each Sunday.

"Well, hello, I'm rector of the church,'' Leon said to laughter from the congregation.


Tell me how can an innocent Child -
Holy Infant, so tender and mild -
Be the object of scorn
From the moment He's born:
Rejected, resented, reviled?

- F.R. Duplantier