By Al Kamen
Monday, March 9, 2009
The Washington Post's article last week about the graying of President Obama had barely hit the Web site when New York PR maven Jacqueline Agosta fired off an e-mail news release noting: "Whether it is crow's feet, smile lines or wrinkles on their foreheads, signs of rapid aging are greatly exemplified in some of our former presidents such as Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush."
We're talking really rapid aging, it appears. "As Barack Obama nears his first 100 days in office," Agosta said, "Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Brian S. Glatt of The Premier Plastic Surgery Center of New Jersey takes a closer look on how -- and if -- our President will age gracefully compared to past presidents; as well as some cosmetic surgery solutions."
She helpfully included the doctor's "diagnosis." Glatt observed that while Obama looks great, "the enormous amount of stress and extremely long work hours will take a toll on his appearance." And "being a smoker already sets the stage for a faster progression of changes associated with aging. Smoking can wreak havoc on the skin and soft tissues. It greatly accelerates changes associated with aging, such as deepening of lines and a lack of good skin tone and texture."
But he's quit smoking. Hasn't he?NOTHING TO SCREAM ABOUT
Speaking of doctors, former Democratic National Committee chairman and six-term Vermont governor Howard Dean is the latest star to join the government affairs practice of law and lobbying mega-firm McKenna Long & Aldridge. He's not only a physician but also a "thought leader" on politics and policy, a man whose "network of relationships will benefit clients who are working in states and municipalities across the U.S.," the firm announced last week. Ah, yes, we knew that 50-state strategy made sense.
Sounds as though he's going to be doing some lobbying and strategizing for those clients. During last year's presidential campaign, you may recall, Dean spoke most unkindly of lobbyists.
"John McCain -- and this has been well documented -- is talking all the time about being a reformer and a maverick, and in fact he has taken thousands of dollars from corporations, ridden on their corporate jets, and then turned around and tried to do favors for them and get projects approved," Dean told the National Journal. "He has tons of lobbyists on his staff. This is a guy who is very close to the lobbyist community, a guy who has been documented again and again by taking contributions and then doing favors for it. This is not a guy who is a reformer. This is a guy who has been in Washington for 25 years and wants to give us four more years of the same, and I don't think we need that."
Dean joins an impressive lobbying team, including fellow senior policy adviser and former Georgia governor Zell Miller, the Democrat who gave that stirring keynote speech condemning his party and endorsing the greatness of President George W. Bush at the 2004 GOP convention in New York. (And this was before Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, the Democrat-turned-independent from Connecticut, made these speeches fashionable.)
Should make for interesting chats at the water cooler.PROGRESS ON NOMINATIONS
The Senate Judiciary Committee last week approved and sent to the full Senate the nominations of Thomas J. Perrelli to be associate attorney general and David S. Kris to be assistant attorney general for national security.
This means there will be some people at the Justice Department who are confirmed and legally empowered to help Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. sign all those Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are confident they will be able to break a GOP hold on the nomination of David Ogden to be deputy attorney general. Leahy noted that Ogden had gotten three Republican votes in committee, including that of ranking Republican Arlen Specter, so the Democrats think they are likely to break the filibuster sometime this week.
Ditto for the nominations of Austan Goolsbee and Cecilia Elena Rouse to be members of the Council of Economic Advisers. Goolsbee, a top Obama adviser who taught economics at the University of Chicago, made a little news during the campaign when he reportedly told the Canadians to ignore Obama's anti-NAFTA comments. Rouse, a labor economist and Princeton professor, was on President Bill Clinton's National Economic Council.
Both were approved Feb. 10 by the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee by a voice vote, but they have been stalled on the Senate floor since then.THE LONELINESS OF THE FIELD WORKER
We're hearing that a substantial number of loyal Obama campaign staffers are still out of work, milling about, waiting for jobs in the administration. The unemployed include not only low-level doorbell ringers but also top personnel in battleground states.
Judging from past administrations, it's likely campaign communications staffers fared better than others, since they could be slotted into comparable spinmeister jobs in Washington. Field operations folks, on the other hand, often have skills and experience not easily transferable to government work.DRAFTING COL. CROWLEY?
There's buzz that the administration is looking to bring Philip J. Crowley, senior director for public affairs for the Clinton National Security Council and before that principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, back into government to be top spokesman for the State Department.
Crowley, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, was a spokesman for the government and the military for 28 years, including 11 at the Pentagon and three at the White House. He served in the Air Force for 26 years, retiring as a colonel.
With Philip Rucker