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In the Loop

The Beaten Need to March to a New Beat

By Al Kamen
Monday, November 22, 2004; Page A17

Word from Little Rock last week was that the Democrats, celebrating the opening of the Clinton Presidential Library, were still shell-shocked from their drubbing by the Republicans on Nov. 2.

There was, we're told, the expected Kerry-bashing, self-loathing and so on. Many were rationalizing that it wasn't that bad, that it could have been worse. Absolutely. After all, they've got more seats in Congress than the Bull Moose Party ever had, and they still outperform the Reform Party.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson is spending 10 days in Tanzania.

_____In the Loop_____
Follow the Trail of Rice (The Washington Post, Nov 19, 2004)
If You're Available Jan. 20 . . . (The Washington Post, Nov 17, 2004)
Rumor's as Phony as a $2 Bill (The Washington Post, Nov 15, 2004)
I Can Stay for Just a While -- I Think (The Washington Post, Nov 12, 2004)
Some Low, Some High, but 3 on the Money (The Washington Post, Nov 10, 2004)
More In the Loop

Others, concerned that near-total irrelevance may not be a virtue, were doing the beating-of-breast, gnashing-of-teeth routine, pondering how to climb out of the chasm, what week-long seminars to attend. Answers won't be forthcoming for a long time.

In the meantime, what the New New Democrats need is a new theme song. Let's face it. "Happy Days Are Here Again" was fine in the '50s. President Bill Clinton's "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" worked for him. But now it's time for something new.

Yes! Loop Fans can help! It's the Loop Name That Tune Contest! Something catchy for the Dems. Folk, rock, country, punk, opera or any other type will do. Something like Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive"?

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 Dec. 6. 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.

Ascending Kilimanjaro

Still trying to figure out why it was that our pal, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson, was required to hang out in Tanzania for 10 days in order to attend a three-day meeting of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

A piece of the answer came last week from Wisconsin media reports, which said that the former governor, whose second-term job prospects apparently are still up in the air, could be found today on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Yes, Thompson's daughter said, he had long-standing plans made before Nov. 2 to climb at least part of the famous mountain yesterday and today. The conference was scheduled to end on Friday, so Saturday likely was spent stretching and getting ready for the hike, which, while it doesn't necessarily include ropes and pitons and such, can still be plenty strenuous.

That explains why he won't be back at work until tomorrow. Still unclear is why he was there three days before the conference was to begin. An aide said that Thompson was to visit some program sites -- surely not for three days? -- and that he was not aware that Thompson had any plans to visit one of the country's magnificent game parks, but we're checking with game wardens and others there just in case.

The media accounts -- one with a headline, "What, Me Worry?" -- suggested Thompson's time could be better spent working on a job in the Bush second term, perhaps replacing Tom Ridge as head of Homeland Security.

A Wisconsin supporter noted somewhat archly that just because Thompson was in Africa didn't mean he was out of touch. "They have phones in Africa," he said.

But whether Thompson stays in the Cabinet or not is, in the end, not really his call to make. That's up to President Bush. Besides, if you were looking at all the money he would make if he takes a hike and goes private sector, you wouldn't be worried either.

Rumor Mill at State

Pure, unadulterated scuttlebutt has it that Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice often dines with and is close to Nicholas Burns, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, and that the two had dinner several nights before the election to discuss their respective futures. Apparently, Rice indicated she would stay on in a big job in a second Bush administration and wondered whether Burns would be in a position to help her. Nothing specific, just something good. Could be deputy secretary, maybe not.

Meanwhile, the Nelson Report has Philip D. Zelikow as yet the latest favorite for deputy secretary of state. Zelikow is a University of Virginia professor and Rice pal -- she seems to have a number of them these days -- and most recently the Sept. 11 commission's staff director.

William Burns, assistant secretary of state for Middle East matters, appears to be getting the nod to be ambassador to Russia, a place he has served in before and a job he has much wanted.

Talked about to replace William Burns at State is Danielle Pletka, now at the American Enterprise Institute and formerly on the Hill working for then-Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.).

Elliott Abrams, who had been mentioned for the Middle East job or ambassador to Israel, is strongly mentioned to join Rice at State in a counselor or policy planning role -- which are not Senate-confirmed jobs.

Note: Abrams would have a bit of trouble getting confirmed, but Friday's Loop erred. He pleaded guilty in 1991 -- and was later pardoned -- in connection with the Iran-contra scandal for withholding information from Congress, not lying to Congress.

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