Winless Bob Shrum, Looking To Score in Real Estate

By Richard Leiby
The Washington Post
Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Movin' On Up: Just over a year ago, Democratic strategist Bob Shrum and his wife, Marylouise Oates, paid $1.2 million for a 13-room home on Cleveland Avenue in Northwest Washington. They put out a "For Sale" sign yesterday. Asking price: $2.6 million.

If they get it, that would seem like a tidy profit -- which, as one wag in the local real estate biz noted, "makes up for the stunning loss in the presidential race, I guess." (Shrum advised John Kerry.) But Oates, describing the house as "perfect," told us yesterday, "We put an enormous amount of money into it." She cited various improvements since December 2003, including a remodeled kitchen with a custom French stove, a new guest suite and a breakfast room.

"Everything is beautiful," she said. "I spent an entire year redoing the house. . . . This house was done to be the perfect house for the Kerry administration."

The power couple are moving to New York, where Shrum, a political fixture here for three decades, will teach and write as a fellow at New York University. He leaves behind an 0-8 record on presidential campaigns, with better luck in statewide races, and plans to write a book.

Oates, a onetime society columnist and veteran of real estate transactions, said they'll be renting in Chelsea. "I'd have to make a lot more money on this house to buy an apartment in New York," she told us. "Have you looked at New York prices? They're breathtaking."

Hanky-Panky and Hankie-Panky: The Quiz

• Seven deadly sins on Capitol Hill? We're shocked. But not Brad Meltzer, a Hill intern turned author who makes sport of political sinning with a contest that begins today for the paperback release of his latest bestseller, "The Zero Game." His publisher invites Beltway gossips to vie for a set of signed Meltzer books by correctly answering trivia questions that he claims are based in fact. Such as:

Author Brad Meltzer makes a game of political sinning with a trivia contest that starts today. James A. Parcell - The Washington Post "Lust: Which senator once reached for a handkerchief in his pocket and proceeded to wipe his brow with a pair of women's panties?"

"Envy: Which senator once had a dimmer switch in their secret hideaway?"

"Sloth: Which current congressman uses the term 'Great Americans' as a codeword to ask his staff if the person he's speaking to is a big donor?"

(Hint: The alleged panties-wielding senator is a southern Democrat, now retired, but we don't want to give everything away. )

Meltzer's fifth novel is a thriller about two Hill aides who run a betting game about Congress; one of them turns up dead. "Since the book came out I've had staffers contact me and tell me about their own betting scheme in Congress," Meltzer, 34, told us yesterday from his home in South Florida. "Everyone keeps saying, 'You didn't make up anything -- we've been doing that for years!' "

As for the "Great Americans" code, Meltzer got that from a current congressional aide. "I said, 'Is your boss going to be mad when he reads it?' And the staffer says, 'He doesn't read anything, don't worry!' "

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• Detroit Pistons star forward Rasheed Wall ace was quite blunt when asked what he'd say upon meeting President Bush. "I don't have [expletive] to say to him. I didn't vote for him. It's just something we have to do," he told the Detroit Free Press prior to his visit to the White House yesterday. But evidently no hard feelings on either side: He and the prez shook hands during yesterday's photo op. Bush thanked the NBA champs for setting a good example for kids, supporting tsunami relief and "providing entertainment for our troops overseas." Dubya also quipped to the finals MVP, Chauncey Billups: "So nobody expected you to win -- I know how you feel."

• Pundits get exercised: George Stephanopoulos wants the record to reflect that he does, in fact, sweat when he works out. The issue arose when Laura Ingraham ribbed the ABC News host on her radio show. Turns out they recently exercised at the same Washington health club. "There wasn't a bead of sweat on you!" she alleged. Said Stephanopoulos: "It's a myth! I've got to knock it down." As for maintaining his Adonis physique, he credited two workout secrets: a "super-slow" regimen and "years and years of practice trying to keep up with Peter Jennings."

• Jordan's Queen Rania, 34, gave birth Sunday to a boy -- her fourth child -- on the 43rd birthday of the baby's father, King Abdullah II. The infant prince is named Hashem, after the prophet Muhammad's grandfather and founder of the Hashemite dynasty.

With Anne Schroeder

© 2005 The Washington Post Company