COLUMNS

D.C. native gets skewered: More than a family affair

  • The Washington Examiner
  • |
  • May 27, 2005

by Karen Feld

buzz

From New York to San Francisco there’s buzz about Sean Wilsey’s gossipy new memoir, “Oh the Glory of it All.” But don’t miss the Washington connections everywhere in this 482-page tome that could fill tabloids about D.C. natives. The evil stepmother, uber-socialite Dede Wilsey, who gets skewered in the book, is the daughter of Ruth and Wiley T. Buchanan Jr. Dede grew up right here in D.C., and the subject of scandal certainly isn’t new to her. Her daddy was a Nixon pal, who served as ambassador to Austria and Luxembourg, and as President Eisenhower’s chief of protocol. Her mom – one of the last of Washington’s grande dames – is heir to the Dow Chemical fortune, and Ruth Buchanan Wheeler also spent time at Beaulieu, her home in Newport, R.I., which was once owned by the Astors and the Vanderbilts.

Dede ran off years ago with John Traina, whom she married and then divorced. Traina later married best-selling novelist Danielle Steel, and Dede married real estate magnate Al Wilsey, who was previously married to the author’s mother, Pat Montandon, a San Francisco hostess, society columnist and Dede’s much older best friend. And yes, he also had an affair with Danielle Steel. Are you still with me? Dede, who grew up here in D.C. as Diane Dow Buchanan, is now 61 and a widow, living in San Francisco. This cast of characters can fill tabloids … might be a good rainy Memorial Day weekend read. And the saga doesn’t end with this memoir; we hear Dede is talking about a lawsuit against the publisher, Penguin Group. Get out your scorecard to keep track.

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Israeli Cabinet Minister Natan Sharansky offered up his advice at two D.C. forums recently.

A statesman gets his due

Speaking of books, banker John Whitehead, who was married briefly to the late newscaster Nancy Dickerson, has written a fascinating memoir of a different variety scheduled to be released next week. It’s titled “A Life in Leadership: From D-Day to Ground Zero.” Whitehead lived in Washington during his years as deputy secretary of state under President Reagan. More recently he was named chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation by New York Gov. George Pataki after 9/11.

CQ Drudged: Doomsday predictions blow Web site

Congressional Quarterly’s Internet system crashed Wednesday morning for an hour and a half as a result of a link to a CQ Homeland Security story on the Drudge Report. Insiders say CQ averaged 540 hits a minute, and more than 130,000 in just four hours. Needless to say, that volume of hits clogged every network connection. It’s no wonder. The story, “Mushroom Clouds: New Mapping Tool Shows – Blast Effects in Washington,” says that if terrorists detonated a 20-kiloton nuclear bomb inside a truck in Dupont Circle, the blast would rip through the White House as well as most of downtown, and if the same weapon were detonated from a plane above the city, it would blast the Capitol and all the way to Northern Virginia, according to a new mapping system devised by the Federation of American Scientists. The graphic mapping system uses colored circles to illustrate the path of a potential blast in 25 American cities.

An Israeli’s take on democracy, the state and dissidents

Israeli Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Natan Sharansky, who calls himself a survivor – nine years in a Soviet Gulag and nine years in Israeli politics – spoke at a lunch sponsored by the Israel Project last week and to an America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) meeting in D.C. earlier this week. He offered this advice to President Bush: “Foreign heads of state are not allies. Speak to dissidents, not the state. For example, the Egyptian people want liberation and the state wants to set up a dynasty. [President] Mubarak is not sensitive to the voices of his people.”

He added, “No one can export democracy to another country or culture.” Sharansky said that it’s “independent economy and economic partnerships” that encourage democracy. He doesn’t think poverty and terrorism go hand in hand. “If that were the case then Bangladesh would be overrun and there would be none in Saudi Arabia. … It is found more in how leaders treat their own people.”

… And a little quiet, colorful protest against Sharon’s policies

Veteran reporter Trudy Feldman had everyone abuzz at the AIPAC event she covered when Ariel Sharon spoke earlier this week. She took off her jacket to reveal an orange sweater, the color the Gush Katif Gaza supporters wear and which is now forbidden in the democracy called Israel. No word as to whether Sharon took notice of Trudy and her sweater.

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