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In the Loop

A President Precedent

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, March 23, 2005; Page A13

Some European allies were said to have been decidedly lukewarm to the president's pick for a new president of the World Bank. European bankers, according to a New York Times dispatch from London, "said there might well be some resentment of the [selection] in some of those nations because of his close association with [an unpopular] war."

" 'He is going to have to convince some of those countries who have been cool to the war that he is now a banker and a missionary who has their interests at heart,' a source here commented."

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Wait a minute! That was a 1967 article by reporter Alvin Shuster about Lyndon B. Johnson's selection of Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara to run the bank. The war was, of course, Vietnam. The Euros worried that his departure would lead to escalation of the conflict.

The preliminary Euro yipping and whining over President Bush's pick for World Bank president, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, seen as a key architect of the Iraq war, apparently has subsided and everyone has, predictably, fallen in line. The only question now is, whether there'll be a movie about Iraq after his memoirs.

Rep. Sessions Rolls a 5 and an 0

We missed a rollicking 50th-birthday party bash in Vegas on Saturday afternoon for Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.). D.C. lobbyists, in Nevada to attend his leadership political action committee meeting, threw the party at the bar at the ESPN Zone in the New York New York Hotel & Casino. (They don't drink early out there. They just stay on East Coast time. )

The noise was a bit much, one observer said, noting that March Madness was in full swing and everyone was screaming and yelling at the screens.

Also, the bar is conveniently just up the staircase from the sports book area, which saw a lot of activity during the party.

We trust Sessions didn't gamble. He voted against the Internet gambling bill.

Park Your Perk at NTSB

Folks at the National Transportation Safety Board are doing some head-scratching these days. Ellen Engleman Conners, whose two-year term as chairman expired Monday, has moved out of the chairman's very fine office. Vice Chairman Mark V. Rosenker is now the acting chairman -- though he hasn't moved in to the official office.

But Rosenker's two-year term as vice chairman is up April 3; his five-year board term expires at the end of this year. So the White House could redesignate him as vice chairman and allow him to be acting chairman for a few months so someone would be in charge.

The odd thing is that scuttlebutt has it that Engleman Conners -- who's had some rocky relations with other members -- indeed is going to be renominated to head the agency and it's unclear why that has not happened yet.

Losing the chairman's office may not mean much in some places, but the NTSB is not known for its perks. Some claim the NTSB chairman is the highest ranking government official without a car and driver, a source of pride for the worker bees.

Meanwhile, resistance is brewing to Nevada Democratic Sen. Harry M. Reid's pick of Kathryn "Kitty" O. Higgins, a deputy secretary of labor in the Clinton days, to replace outgoing board member Carol J. Carmody. The Air Line Pilots Association is leading the opposition, which is apparently picking up steam, arguing that Higgins does not have the legally required experience.

Social Security Retires to Parallel Universe

A plaintive Loop reminder: Whenever you've got a nifty campaign on an issue, and you've picked the appropriately catchy theme, please, please remember to snatch up all related Internet domain names.

The Bush administration has a fine slogan -- "Strengthening Social Security" -- and a Web site, www.strengtheningsocialsecurity.gov, that links to the Treasury Department and lauds the administration's arguments in favor of changes. The site hails the "60 Stops in 60 Days" tour supporting the administration and lists all of the top officials flying around the country to build support for this. (Only 40 days left.)

And sure enough, as night follows day, up pops www.strengtheningsocialsecurity.com, a parody site put up by "New Yorkers United to Protect Social Security." It looks much like the real one, but it attacks President Bush's "vision to dismantle and destroy Social Security" and accuses him of "fear-mongering."

If you want updates from the famed 60-60 tour and click on that link, you get a sign-up form to fight the tour group and then a picture of people opposing Bush's changes, including a beefy-looking guy named " Charles, 52, Staten Island," who says: "If my Representative votes to privatize Social Security, fuhgeddaboutit."

Martins March on Washington

It's a big month for the Martin family of Washington.

On March 16, Kevin J. Martin was named chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Yesterday, Washington lawyer Catherine J. Martin, who has worked at the Commerce Department and has been a spokeswoman for Vice President Cheney, was named White House deputy communications director for policy and planning. This is Washington power-couple level.

Also, Tevi Troy, formerly at the Labor Department, assistant in the White House Cabinet affairs shop and more recently a Bush campaign adviser, has been named deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy.

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