A “Statesman” Waits in the Wings

  • Capital Connections ®
  • |
  • September 22, 1999

by Karen Feld

Strom Thurmond (R-SC), who at 96, is the oldest senator, is in failing health, say insiders. If he’s unable to serve out his current term, his ninth, which is up in 2002, sources say South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges (D), will likely appoint a “statesman” who would not run for re-election to fill the vacancy. The name that comes to mind is Education Secretary Richard Riley, a native of Greenville, SC, and the well-respected former Governor.

People visit the Rail Stop, an eatery in The Plains, VA, to catch a glimpse of co-owner, neighbor and actor Robert Duvall (“A Civil Action,” “The Apostle”); others satisfy their culinary tastes. But Duvall’s companion, equestrian and Tango dancer Lucianna Pedrazza, fancies herself as a restauranteur which doesn’t make for a peace-loving kitchen. Residents of this horse country town outside of Washington, DC, say the end result may be that Duvall’s partner and chef de jour may just buy him out.

Democrats might say that it’s as bland as its namesake, but “George W. Bush for President” bottled water is one of the campaign-sanctioned items available at It’s also a sign that the GOP nomination is all but George W’s to lose, at least as far as the supplier of the political paraphernalia is concerned. Before a single vote has been cast, the chief merchandiser for the last four GOP Presidential nominees has already thrown its weight behind George W. After all, we haven’t received keepsakes promoting Sen. John McCain or Elizabeth Dole.

Entrepreneurship isn’t solely in the GOP domain, but these items certainly aren’t sanctioned by The White House. The women linked to President Clinton are hitching a ride on the e-commerce highway. Monica Lewinsky is selling her self-designed fabric purses and totes at — the labels read “Made especially for you by Monica.” She designed the bags between testimony for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr and the Congressional Impeachment team. Gennifer Flowers is hawking everything from copies of her Bill Clinton “love tapes” to Presidente Cigars on her site, No word yet about Paula Jones, who was once rumored to be throwing her fifteen minutes behind a psychic hotline gig.

“ER,” the TV series, focuses attention on hospitals; “The Practice” showcases defense lawyers on TV. Will “The West Wing,” the new TV drama that premieres this week, make the comings and goings of Executive Branch politics a weekly hit? At least one cast member has a resume that might be useful — former Hollywood bad boy Rob Lowe. You may remember he had his own trouble with sex, lies, videotapes and politics when he was caught making home movies of his bedroom antics with a minor during the 1988 Democratic Convention in Atlanta. The question is, why should people watch the fictional shenanigans of the West Wing when they can watch what really happens — like the arrest of former intern Tangela Burkhart for stalking George Stephanopoulos — on the news?

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