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In the Loop

Terms of Endearment

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, December 1, 2004; Page A23

Seems that the Bush administration, unlike previous White Houses, is not necessarily averse to allowing its ambassadors to have second tours. For example, word is that John Thomas "Tom" Schieffer, the Texas oilman who brought President Bush into the Texas Rangers baseball club partnership and who is now ambassador to Australia, is to hang out in the Pacific a while longer, this time as ambassador to Japan.

Veterans of the Reagan administration recall that the practice, with rare exceptions, was for non-foreign service (aka political) ambassadors to give up their posts at the end of the first term and head home. President Bill Clinton also felt that one term was plenty and folks lucky enough to get plum assignments should move aside to give others a chance.

_____In the Loop_____
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Rumor's as Phony as a $2 Bill (The Washington Post, Nov 15, 2004)
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But there are always exceptions. For example, Thomas J. Dodd, a Latin America policy expert and brother of Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), was allowed to go from Uruguay to Costa Rica. But despite some bleating and whining, the rules were enforced.

The policy this time has been not to request mass resignations but to handle things case by case. Most incumbents will want to come home anyway, some veterans predict, for personal reasons or because it is not as exciting a life as they might have expected. Besides, they've already acquired the snappy lifetime title (the Honorable, His Excellency, the Ambassador) to go along with their less lofty "fat cat" moniker.

Schieffer, brother of CBS News's Bob Schieffer, has not been formally named, but the authoritative Nelson Report has confirmed buzz in the Japanese media on the nomination.

No More Happy Daze

Don't forget to enter the In the Loop Name That Tune Contest! This is to help the hapless Democrats -- still wandering in search of campaign strategies that can beat the Republican juggernaut -- come up with a catchy theme song to give at least musical coherence to the effort. Let's face it, "Happy Days Are Here Again" is way outdated. Folk, rock, country, punk, opera, reggae -- any type will do.

Send your entry -- and rationale -- via e-mail to intheloop@washpost.comor mail to In the Loop, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Deadline is midnight Monday. Top 10 winners get a still-rare, highly coveted In the Loop T-shirt.

Entries on background are welcome, but everyone must include telephone contact numbers to be eligible.

Feith and Drum Corps Marches On

These may be times of highest anxiety in some agencies, but a serene calm has settled over the Defense Department. Undersecretary for Policy Douglas J. Feith yesterday had a policy "all hands" meeting at the Pentagon. At the meeting, it was "announced that all the members of the team were going to remain in place," according to an Army colonel briefed on the gathering.

So Mssrs. Donald H. Rumsfeld, Paul D. Wolfowitz, William J. Luti, deputy undersecretary for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, and Feith will be there for quite a while, cleaning up perhaps a few remaining loose ends in Iraq and working on other matters. The Iranians and North Koreans should take note.

Proximity Fuse

Speaking of the Iranians, national security adviser-designate Stephen J. Hadley is headed to Bahrain for a conference of Middle East leaders to talk about security matters in the Persian Gulf.

The question everyone here is asking is whether the Bahrainis have the same wonderful sense of humor that the Egyptians have. Seems a week ago, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was at a similar confab in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and had been seated at dinner next to a guy he had pledged not to talk to, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi.

As luck would have it, Kharrazi will also be attending this week's meeting in Bahrain. That could mean two of the highest U.S. foreign policy officials would be meeting with Kharrazi, who we don't talk to, in a period of two weeks.

But Don't Quote Me

Reporters traveling with Bush in Canada yesterday were given one of those "background" briefings by a "senior administration official."

A question was raised at the end of the briefing about Venezuela's plans to purchase MiG fighters from Russia. "And that is -- is there a concern for the U.S.?" a reporter asked.

The "senior administration official" responded, "Let me put it this way: We shoot down MiGs."

Ah. So this is why they don't let them go on the record.


Laura L. Cox, formerly an aide in the House and Senate, a Treasury Department official and more recently managing executive for external and governmental affairs at the Securities and Exchange Commission, is leaving to join PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as partner in charge of professional and governmental activities.

For the Democrats, James Patrick Manley, press secretary for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.) for the past 11 years, is moving to new Senate Democratic leader Harry M. Reid's office to be staff director of the Senate Democratic Communications Center.

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