COLUMNS

The Puzzling Prez

  • Capital Connections ®
  • |
  • August 01, 2001

by Karen Feld

Did the Washington Post’s former publisher, the very gracious and gutsy Katherine Graham, take the secret of Deep Throat’s identity to the grave with her? At the recent star-studded memorial service, historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. remarked that Deep Throat “may very well be among us this morning.” Was the mysterious source perhaps one of the eulogizers? Henry the “K” perhaps, or did Kissinger and Mrs. Graham just indulge in friendly movie dates back in the Watergate days?

President Bush’s preparation for his European visit last month was somewhat puzzling. There was a crisis of sorts, but not in the area of foreign policy. The President spent the weekend before his departure at Camp David with his family piecing together a custom-made puzzle. The hand-cut, one-of-a-kind mahogany puzzle was a gift from his mom, another avid puzzler. After the President’s Scottie puppy, Barney, ate three pieces of the Bush Inaugural scene, an aide placed an emergency phone call to Elms Puzzles in Harrison, ME. to replace Barney’s bites. Puzzle Lady Betsy Stuart came to the rescue and FedEx’ed a freshly cut puzzle to the President.

As summer winds down, jockeying is underway for a coveted invitation to President Bush’s first State Dinner. The official White House event, scheduled for September 5, honors Mexican President Vincente Fox and his new bride, Martha. That should endear our President to the 20 million Hispanic voters. Expect to see the usual roster of prominent Mexican-Americans, GOP contributors, daddy’s pals, Texans, sports giants, and Members of Congress, and a not surprising shortlist from Hollywood. President Bush’s Hollywood A-List is still under wraps, but one person who surely won’t be on it is Alec Baldwin. Hmm, is he still packing for his threatened move to Canada?

Ever wonder if there’s life after gossip? Legendary Hollywood chronicler Rona Barrett is now manufacturing her own line of gourmet lavender products, everything from applesauce to mayonnaise, and even an anti-aging cream. Lavender is an under-used herb, and one you can “cook with and sleep with,” she told me. “You can taste the fragrance.” She grows many varieties on seven acres at her Santa Ynez, California, ranch. Do you ever miss the gossip biz? “Never.” Miss Rona has sworn off that dish – one less veteran columnist tracking Gary Condit’s shenanigans. If you’re a longtime fan, you may want to buy her limited edition signed tea chest filled with lavender bags. Lavender by Rona Barrett is not only organic and hand-harvested but purchases support the needs of the aging through The Rona Barrett Foundation.

Where are they going? Capitalizing on his Clinton connection, former presidential advisor turned investment banker Rahm Emanuel is eyeing a House race in Chicago as is Dr. William Kennedy Smith, who was acquitted of rape ten years ago and has since founded Physicians Against Land Mines. . .And Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, apparently not dissuaded by the underside of politics, hopes to land a Sarasota Congressional seat.

While President Clinton is the toast of Harlem this month, “Man From Hope” producer Harry Thomason is still trying to convince his presidential pal to do a talk show. Offers for the world charmer are stacking up. Currently, he’s winding down from The White House and warming up to his future with $250,000 talk gigs “From Hope to the Highest Place.”

Talk of Harry Thomason shows just how small a town Washington is. W’s Hollywood supporter, Gerald McRaney, made an appearance as co-host of President Bush’s first “In Performance” at the White House, a traditional musical event hosted by the First Family. Coincidentally, McRaney was a recurring character on Designing Women, Harry Thomason’s breakout hit with his wife, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. In fact, Thomason is responsible for playing matchmaker for McRaney and his current wife, Delta Burke.

The Bush family members are not the only politicos littering the headlines these days – the Kennedy kids stay in the news too. Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend used her 50th birthday to raise money and build a mailing list for a gubernatorial race. Her brother, Chris, who runs the Merchandise Mart in Chicago is eyeing a bid for Illinois lieutenant governor.

Could Washington survive without a summer scandal? Everyone is still buzzing about Rep. Gary Condit and his antics. Even in DC, Wonk Central, power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. But this episode is a PR nightmare. Need we say more!

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