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A Lovely Consolation Prize for Ms. Kennedy?

By Al Kamen
Friday, January 23, 2009

Caroline Kennedy didn't get that Senate seat from New York, but that doesn't mean there aren't lots of fine government jobs she would be perfect for, jobs right there in Manhattan. Take, for example, some excellent possibilities at the United Nations.

There's ambassador to the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a job that would require her to promote culture and science and education. This would require a move to Paris, but President Obama has said that everyone's got to make sacrifices for the greater good. And "ask not . . ." Perhaps more to her liking would be representing the United States in the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, which fights world hunger. Can't be much more perfect than that. Sure, lots of travel to some pretty rough places in the developing world, and she'd have to move to Rome, you know, but she can surely handle it. And the food in Rome . . .

Then there's the Court of St. James's in London, where her grandfather served. And the administration could always create a position for her as ambassador-at-large for this or that. Or, if she still wants to come down here -- and those reported nanny and tax matters can be resolved -- she could run the Peace Corps, circling back to the place her dad started.

But the best option may be at the U.N. as ambassador for economic and social issues. It's high-profile, lots of parties, and there's no lifting, heavy or otherwise. Just take the Second Avenue bus down to 44th . . .

It's All About the Pin

Looks as though Obama's mantras are not going to take root very easily. Take his inaugural-address exhortation that "the time has come to set aside childish things."

Just a few minutes later, on the pavement outside the House side of the Capitol, Capitol Police put up a barricade to secure the area while former president George W. Bush's helicopter took off. Only members of Congress were allowed to move within the secure zone. Among those caught outside the barrier was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's chief of staff, John Lawrence.

But while Lawrence waited patiently, Rep. Jim Moran's wife, LuAnn Bennett, did not, we're told. She tried to argue her way in, then called her husband, who came storming out of the Capitol.

"Is this the guy who's not letting you in?" he shouted, beckoning to the cop. "That's not the policy! Spouses get in if they show their pin! So get on the phone!" The cop finally relented and let Mrs. Moran in.

After that, somebody else piped up: "This person is Larry Summers's wife. She's really cold." The cop didn't let her in.

So maybe the time hasn't come quite yet?

Friends With High Numbers

Official Washington is abuzz with word that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is poised to tap a longtime friend and Democratic mega-donor as her undersecretary for public diplomacy. Judith A. McHale, one of the area's most prominent female executives, who stepped down in 2006 as president of Discovery Communications, may take a job that has been especially difficult given Washington's reputation abroad.

Her résumé doesn't reflect an excess of diplomatic experience, but we're reminded that this is a job that involves selling a message.

McHale has been close to Clinton for decades and was an early and prolific fundraiser for the former first lady's presidential bid. During the 2008 campaign cycle, McHale donated $109,600 to Democratic politicians and campaign committees, campaign finance records show.

Wow! Not that good a job.

Stay! Go!

On Jan. 9, Mark R. Dybul, Bush's global AIDS coordinator, informed his staff via e-mail that he had been asked to stay on for an indeterminate length of time. "I wanted to let you know that I have been asked to rescind my resignation so I will be continuing in the coordinator position beyond the inauguration. Look forward to our continuing work together," he wrote.

But "indeterminate" doesn't mean forever. Doesn't even mean two weeks, in this case. Dybul has been asked to submit his resignation, and he did so effective close of business Wednesday. Our colleague Ceci Connolly notes that he was spotted in jeans telling staffers, "I'm no longer your coordinator."

Latest name to surface as a possible successor: Eric Goosby, an African American Clintonite who headed the Office of HIV/AIDS Policy in the Department of Health and Human Services and is now chief medical officer and CEO of a major AIDS foundation on the Left Coast.

Cheney vs. Bush on Libby

Just one day after leaving the White House, former vice president Dick Cheney publicly broke with his boss of eight years, saying he disagreed with Bush's decision not to pardon convicted felon I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff.

After Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice for his role in the outing of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson to the news media, Bush commuted his prison term, a move he later described as "fair and balanced." But he refused to pardon Libby, a decision that angered many of Bush's supporters -- including, we now know, Cheney.

In an interview Wednesday with Stephen F. Hayes, a writer for the conservative Weekly Standard and author of a Cheney biography, the former vice president said: "Obviously, I disagree with President Bush's decision."

Cheney added, "Scooter Libby is one of the most capable and honorable men I've ever known. He's been an outstanding public servant throughout his career. He was the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice, and I strongly believe that he deserved a presidential pardon."

Pentagon Watch

On injured reserve: Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. Seems Gates tore a ligament in his left arm trying to attach a snowplow blade to a tractor in Washington state over the holiday and will have surgery today. He will have to wear a sling for a while, our colleague Ann Scott Tyson reports.

At a news conference yesterday, Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen said that if the law on the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military changes, they will comply with the law.

Gates also responded to questions raised by the Senate Armed Services Committee about lobbying work for Raytheon by Obama's nominee for deputy defense secretary, William Lynn.

"People in the transition certainly recognized that it was an issue," Gates said. "And I interviewed Bill Lynn; I was very impressed with his credentials; he came with the highest recommendations of a number of people that I respect a lot. And I asked that an exception be made, because I felt that he could play the role of the deputy in a better manner than anybody else that I saw.

"The White House counsel's office, presidential personnel and our own general counsel's office are in the process," he said, of getting the committee whatever information it needs.

And Now for Something Completely Different

The crowd at Foggy Bottom waited for about 50 minutes in the ornate Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room before Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton came in to unveil special envoys George J. Mitchell and Richard C. Holbrooke. While the guests waited, they listened to musical renditions of "America, the Beautiful" and the Monty Python theme song, also known as "The Liberty Bell March," among other numbers.

Green Light

Enviros, in "trust-but-verify" mode on new Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, have been much more trusting of late when they're told David J. Hayes, deputy secretary for Bruce Babbitt in the Clinton administration, is to be reprising that role shortly.

With Philip Rucker

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