This columnist caught up with piano-playing satirist and comedian Mark Russell while he was dining at Teatro Goldoni restaurant in Washington.
Your assessment, sir, of President Obama‘s inauguration?
"I was upset after he finished his inaugural address that the cherry blossoms didn’t bloom and the Potomac River didn’t turn into Bud Light," Mr. Russell replied.
In the category of the more things change the more they stay the same, veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas asked White House press secretary Robert Gibbs during a recent press briefing why President Obama was sending more American troops into Afghanistan "to kill people"?
Mr. Gibbs explained to the 88-year-old Miss Thomas that "terrorists" reside in Afghanistan
Gee, I thought that Obama brought hope,
Not a trip down the slippery slope.
Now I see that his change
Is a kind that is strange,
And I feel like a big, stupid dope!
— F.R. Duplantier
Headline of our column item two years ago: "A Steal."
After all, the late President Gerald R. Ford‘s longtime residence in Alexandria, which had languished on the market for 10 months, suddenly was "Reduced $100,000" to $899,000, announced McEnearney Associates, Inc.
That price reduction certainly should have sold the "National Historic Landmark," right? Figure that the nation’s 38th president lived at 514 Crown View Drive for nearly two decades — from the time he was a congressman from Michigan, while vice president, even for the first 10 days of his presidency.
In other words, the three-level, four-bedroom brick-and-wood house with a "gigantic swimming pool," knotty-pine kitchen, and classic pink bathroom actually served as the White House during the crucial period following the surrender and retreat of Richard M. Nixon.
Who knew in 2007 that the country was headed into one of the worst real-estate sales’ slumps in our lifetime?
Now, two years later, another ad is posted: "Live in a President’s House."
New price: $799,000
Speaking of former presidents, the Republican National Committee has narrowed the stormy eight years of George W. Bush’s presidency to two words, a legacy now adhered to white cotton T-shirts being sold on the RNC’s official Web site for $15.95: "Courage. Leadership."
EXHORT AWAY, SIR
The maiden speech on the Senate floor of newly elected Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado was uncommon, given the Democrat didn’t speak about specific legislation, rather "the perils we face, and my sincere hope that we will address the critical issues … with less rancor … to bridge the partisan divide."
Mr. Udall bucked the tradition, as he put it, "in which freshmen senators took some considerable time before … opening their mouths, and hoping to enlighten their wiser and more experienced colleagues."
MILLIONS TOO LATE
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to predict – given last week’s arrests of suspected financial scammers Nicholas Cosmo and Arthur Nadel, which follow on the heels of Bernie Madoff‘s purported massive Ponzi scheme – that a group of U.S. senators would now introduce S.331: "A bill to increase the number of federal law enforcement officials investigating and prosecuting financial fraud."
CODE FOR DUMMIES
The Libertarian Party says it takes him at his word and now Capitol Hill lawmakers should follow suit by giving every taxpayer a "Tim Geithner tax break" by simplifying the Internal Revenue Code.
"Congress should make sure what happened to Mr. Geithner, a finance professional, won’t continue to happen to millions of average folks," says Libertarian National Committee chairman Bill Redpath. "If the man running the IRS can’t understand the tax code with a computer helping him, how can the average taxpayer hope to do his taxes without breaking the law?"
Mr. Geithner, anointed Treasury secretary last week by a forgiving Congress, claimed an honest error had caused him not to pay certain required taxes.
The question now is whether we will all get a "Tom Daschle tax break?"
LOWE TO TEXAS
Effective April 12, Alan C. Lowe will become director of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Lewisville, Texas.
Mr. Bush’s library is temporarily located in Lewisville while a permanent library and museum for the nation’s 43rd president is being built on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Upon completion, it will become the 13th library in the National Archives Presidential Libraries system.
Mr. Lowe was interim director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, N.Y., and more recently led the building and development of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy in Tennessee. He first worked as an archivist at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.
CHANGE OF ADDRESS
Care to send a letter to former President Bush now that he’s packed up and moved from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
Here’s his new mailing address, as provided to this columnist:
George W. Bush
P.O. Box 259000
Dallas, TX 75225-9000
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid brushed aside the Democratic leadership’s controversial proposed economic-stimulus package long enough to set a date of Monday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m. for the traditional reading of George Washington‘s Farewell Address.
In our opinion, there’s no better time to pause and reflect on Washington’s words to his increasingly divided (politically speaking) young nation.
The U.S. Senate Historical Office recalls that Washington was "worn out by burdens of the presidency and attacks of political foes," until such time in September 1796 he threw up his arms and said enough is enough.
With the assistance of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, he composed a "Farewell Address" to the nation designed "to inspire and guide future generations." His principal concern was for the safety of the eight-year-old Constitution, fearing that the stability of the Republic was threatened by "political factionalism."
"Writing at a time before political parties had become accepted as vital extraconstitutional, opinion-focusing agencies, Washington feared that they carried the seeds of the nation’s destruction through petty factionalism," explains the Senate historian.
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