A Sticky Pot of Rice

  • Capital Connections ®
  • |
  • June 14, 2000

by Karen Feld

While Elian and his Dad keep a low profile in their makeshift Cuban compound in Washington, Cuban and American representatives are working behind the scenes to negotiate the REAL deal. President Clinton wants to lift the embargo against Cuba-not only to leave a foreign affairs legacy, but also to help his home state rice farmers. Last week Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln, co-sponsor of several Senate bills in favor of lifting the embargo, went on a so-called fact-finding mission to Havana. Sponsored by the Arkansas Farm Bureau, the group met with Fidel, and then issued a statement: “Now is the time to lift this embargo, provide opportunity for American farmers, and give the Cuban people a taste of democracy, not to mention Arkansas rice.” When I traveled to Cuba in February, I heard a lot more desire for American rice than Elian’s return. Ah! That pot of rice is getting awfully sticky.

Dubbed “Silver Fox” by the Secret Service, Barbara Bush relishes the latest Washington buzz for the GOP dream team–Dubya and his brother Florida Governor Jeb. Could the Bush boys lead the winning team out of Philly? Don’t count anyone out of the VP sweepstakes. After all, this is Millennium 2000! If Dr. Laura contemplated a run with Pat Buchanan, anything goes!….No more pre-med for Chelsea. The First Daughter switched her major at Stanford U. to political science. Will she doff a baseball cap one day and make a run with her Mom?

Baseball is not just a guy thing. Major League Baseball has named a woman, Lucy Calautti, to handle their government relations issues in Washington. Lucy has not only worked for a senator, she’s married to one, Kent Conrad (D-ND). And this isn’t her first high profile job, she was an aerial photographer in the Navy during the Vietnam War. Now for the one big question: will D.C. get a ball team?

Actress Jane Alexander whose new book, “Command Performance : An Actress in The Theater of Politics, ” told me this week that when she initially took the job as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, she was “an idealist.” But now she calls herself “a cynical idealist.” “I expected more from the top people in government. I didn’t expect so much partisanship, so much infighting, and so much lack of collaboration.” She compared Washington politics to her first love, the theater, where “everything is really very collaborative and cooperative. ” Alexander, who lives in New York with her husband, former “Law and Order” producer, Ed Sherin, says that Rep. Rick Lazio was “very helpful” in supporting the arts but “I’m a Democrat so of course I’m supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

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