In Six Years in Office, One Year at Camp David

By Al Kamen
Monday, January 15, 2007

AHappy Anniversary to President Bush and first lady Laura Bush, who have reached their first anniversary in terms of time spent at Camp David. Mark Knoller, CBS White House correspondent and the unofficial archivist for the White House press corps, reports on the CBS Web site that the Bushes took off Friday for their 116th visit to the beautiful presidential retreat and their 365th day there.

Both Bushes, Knoller told us, think he's being unfair in his counting method, because Knoller counts a partial day as a full one. So on Friday, Bush got to Camp David before noon, but it counted as a full day.

Applying the same method, Knoller reported that Bush's time there "isn't that much." After all, "President Jimmy Carter spent 376 days at Camp David during his single four-year term in office." And Bush will have to ratchet up the pace a bit in the next two years to best President Reagan's record 517 days there.

As for the ranch at Crawford, Knoller tells us that, as of Jan. 1, Bush had spent 405 full or partial days there.

Adhere to Party Lines, Or Else . . .

House Republicans may have lost the majority and have the Bush albatross around their ratings, but unlike the Democrats, they still place a priority on party discipline.

Last week, two prominent Republican outliers, Reps. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Walter B. Jones (N.C.), lost choice committee posts, apparently for defying their party's positions, according to reports in National Journal's CongressDaily.

Flake says he lost a seat on the House Judiciary Committee because his views on immigration reform -- which include a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants -- weren't in sync with the GOP's. House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (Ohio) said, "There is absolutely no truth to that."

Flake also said Republican colleagues were upset with him because he pushed to cut earmarks, saying his loss of the Judiciary seat was "DeLay-esque retribution for members who speak up."

Meanwhile, Jones, a longtime critic of the Iraq war, said Duncan Hunter (Calif.), ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, passed him over for a key subcommittee leadership post and gave it to someone with less seniority. Jones waxed philosophical about the move: "We have to pay a price, from time to time."

Intraparty 'Communication'

Fortunately for reporters -- and perhaps Republicans -- Democrats cannot resist sniping at one another. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) took to the floor on Thursday to offer this about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and her colleagues' 100-hour agenda:

"I am happy to see the House doing their 100 hours and moving things along very quickly. I admire and respect that. But having served in that body, I know how quickly they can move things and, frankly, sometimes how much thoughtful consideration goes into matters that are on that House floor."


Kurdish Connection?

Former ambassador to Croatia Peter W. Galbraith, testifying last week at a Senate hearing about Iraq, noted that he'd been asked by committee staffers to "clarify my relationship with the Kurdistan Regional Government."

The query probably was sparked by rumors over the years that Galbraith was formally advising the Kurds. His biography is on the KRG's "Kurdistan, The Other Iraq" Web site, which lists him as an "adviser to the Kurdistan Regional Government."

In his testimony, Galbraith said he'd "been friends of the Kurdish leaders and for that matter, other Iraqis, for a very long period of time, but I am not in a paid relationship with the Kurdistan Regional Government."

In an e-mail exchange Friday and Saturday, Galbraith wrote that he hadn't seen the Web site and "to the extent that it implies a formal relationship with the KRG, it is inaccurate." Galbraith wrote that he had been paid by "two Kurdish clients" for four months in late 2003-2004 for "either an educational program on negotiations or conducting a negotiation" -- all outside this country.

"I do not lobby or represent anyone in the U.S.," he wrote, adding that he specifically noted this in his recent book on Iraq and explained there that the KRG has "provided security, accommodation and in-country transportation" when he visits.

FDA's Allergic Reaction

Barely sworn in and . . . the Food and Drug Administration has warned freshman Rep. Steven L. Kagen (D-Wis.), a physician, that his old Wisconsin allergy practice was in apparent violation of federal law for manufacturing and selling allergy shots without a valid license.

The FDA sent him a letter Dec. 18 but posted it on its Web site Thursday, saying that Kagen manufactured a variety of ragweed and grass allergen vaccines from commercially distributed pollen and sold the shots to patients at his clinic and in at least 24 other states, the Associated Press reported. Kagen, in a statement to the AP, said he and the FDA were "discussing" the process used by his clinic, "like other allergy clinics," for making customized medications for patients.

As the Revolving Door Turns

Moving over . . . administration communications veteran Mark D. Pfeifle, who's worked at the White House, the Interior Department and the Pentagon and also headed the Social Security reform "war room" at the Treasury Department, is headed back to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. He will be deputy national security adviser for strategic communications and global outreach.

Going private . . . longtime Democratic Hill staffer Paul Braithwaite, who's now executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus and before that was an assistant secretary of labor in the Clinton administration.

Staff researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to this column.

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