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Levey Live: Speaking Freely

Friday, August 13, 1999

"Levey Live: Speaking Freely," hosted by Washington Post columnist Bob Levey, appears every Friday from 1 to 2 p.m. Eastern time. It is a live, open-agenda discussion offering washingtonpost.com users around the world the opportunity to ask questions and discuss topics of their choice with Bob.

Bob Levey
Bob Levey
Dan Murano/washingtonpost.com

Fearless Bob takes your questions about virtually everything, from sports and politics (there's a difference?) to world events, Metro area traffic and issues raised in DC. Bob's columns.

Here is a transcript of today's session:





Washington DC: I still say, being 32, you have a great photo and look 'dash'ingly handsome, not a word implied about being ancient -and, no, I'm not butt-ugly and desperate-.

On the serious side, a lot of info out there: Bush's Son - fly by night son of a great father-president; Gore - on again-off again w- an angry press following; Quale - knowledgeable and experienced but timid on the political side; E.Dole - out of sight-out of mind lately....

What's your perception and possible vote at the moment? I was in for Gore's values until I heard Bush was son of President Bush which swayed me to 100% until I read his historical dossier'. I love the idea of him having his father as an advisor but he can't go crying to daddy in a crisis. Now, I'm considering Quale. Input?

Bob Levey: Many thanks for the kind words about my looks. The certificate for a free eye exam is in the mail.
In any case, you wouldn't think I was the cat's meow if you saw me now. I'm in Bristol, Conn., at the Eastern Regional finals of the Little League. The D.C. team (with my son at shortstop) has just won its third of four games to advance to the quarterfinals. Papa Levey is sitting at this borrowed computer in a scroungy tee-shirt and grubby shorts. He hardly looks like a cover boy.
Anyway, about politics....
I don't want to give you my personal preference for President because some yo-yo is bound to take it as proof that either I or The Post is biased. But I will say that no one has Gore's credentials, or his potential to attract strong people to work in his administration.


Bob Levey: Very sorry for the late start today. Our server was on the fritz. We'll go until 2:10 p.m. Eastern time so no one feels cheated.


Arlington, VA: Why do mention your son all of the time in your column, and have so rarely mentioned your daughter that I didn't even know you had more than one child until a few weeks ago, after reading your column for the past 10 years?

Bob Levey: You must not be reading very carefully. I write a happy birthday note to each child each year. My daughter has been alive for five more years than my son, so she has had five more mentions. I'm sure you're thinking that I favor my son because you just read my birthday tribute to him last week. Stick around for Dec. 16, and I'll cheer for Emily's 18th.


Falls Church, VA: Was the movie "All the President's Men" actually filmed on location at the Post? Did you have a bit role in the movie, such as shuffling papers on your desk while Redford and Hoffman walked by?

Bob Levey: It was filmed partly on location at The Post, partly not. I met both Redford and Hoffman during the shooting. Both great guys, both totally involved in trying to understand the news biz from the inside out before jumping in front of a camera. I have great respect for both of them. Somehow, the producers left me out of the movie. Clearly a bum decision, based on how many women write in to this show to tell me how stunning I am. But I was one of the Posties who contributed "authentic trash" to a barrel set up at the front of the newsroom. The trash was then shipped to California and strewn about a mock newsroom. So if you're looking for Levey in that film, all you'll ever see of him are a few scribbled notes and a few coffee lids.


washington, dc: I was wondering when and where I can get the earliest copy of the Sunday classified section of the Washington Post?

Bob Levey: Come on by The Post's main building at 1150 15th St. NW on Saturday night at about 10:20 p.m., when the first edition hits the street. That timing may be a little optimistic, given that we don't produce papers at 15th Street any more. But it's close.


Washington, DC: Re earlier question about who to support for President. "Great father-president" Bush? Does anyone recall that Bush wasn't elected to a second term, and that he along with his VP were the subject of much late nite show hilarity? Why does everyone think Bush is so great in retrospect when he wasn't that "great" at the time?

Bob Levey: That's the way it always goes. Once we look in our rearview mirror at a politician, he looks better than he ever did whilst in the driver's seat. Witness Richard Nixon. He was the worst person ever to hold the office (and one of the worst people ever to walk the face of the earth). And yet, less than five years after he left office, David Frost was fawningly asking him about his legacy, and his future political career.


Arlington, VA: Bob,

What is your take on Warren Beatty's possible presidential run?

Bob Levey: I'd rather vote for his sister Shirley


Annandale, VA: Hi Bob,
You've mentioned in the past that one day you were in New Mexico working for a local paper and the next, you were at the Post. What exactly happened? Was it one of those "Lana Turner discovered at the soda counter" sort of stories? Also, what was the Post like in the mid-60's? Did it have the awe inspiring reputation that it enjoys now?

Bob Levey: I got lucky as heck and got hired by Ben Bradlee when I was 22 years old. Nothing close would happen today. I had only a year's experience, and to say I was wet behind the ears would be the understatement of the 20th Century (and probably the 21st).
The Post's newsroom in 1967 (when I washed up on shore) was a strange combination of oldies and new-ies. I was given a seat next to an old rewrite man, Harry Gabbett. The Gab-ster was right out those bad movies we all love so much. He drank his dinner and hated everyone equally. But right down the aisle were people like Carl Bernstein (later famous in Watergate), Len Downie (now the executive editor) and Bob Kaiser (the former managing editor). It was, if you will, a case study in how the newspaper business was changing as it passed from one generation to the next.


Bethesda, Maryland: My husband and I have been asked to designate a portion of a family foundation gift. Your "Send a Kid to Camp" drive made quite an impression on me, and that is one of the charities we are considering. That said, I have two questions: is it too early to send money for next year's campaign? Also, how could I get a copy of the 501-c- form relatively quickly? Thanks.

Bob Levey: It is never too early for a Send a Kid to Camp check. Many thanks for your generosity. You can get all the documentation you need from Suzy Chambers at 202-289-1510, extension 126.


Alexandria, VA: Bob: Kind of curious why there wasn't any writeup in the Post's sports section on the Little League Eastern Regionals this week. If there was, did not see.

Bob Levey: My spies tell me there have been three-inch stories each of the last three days in the FanFare column of the sports section. There better have been, because I called in the notes myself each night!
Which gives me yet another opportunity to scream.....
GO D.C.!
Our local Little League champs are playing incredible ball. They have a real chance to make it to the Little League World series in Williamsport, Pa., next week.
My first call after I finish today's show is to the sports editor, to tell him to get off his wallet and send a reporter up here to cover the first playoff game Monday.
Or should I volunteer to cover it myself? I'd do it, but I worry about conflict of interest.
Any of you Web-sters have an opinion about that?


Newark, Delaware: Bob,

Shirley MacLaine was already President. I believe she was James K. Polk.

Bob Levey: Shirley always did look good in drag....


Metro Area: A while back I was sent a list of the top ten things to know about driving in the metro area. One was that if you stay far enough behind a car that you won't rear-end it, someone will move into that space making you more dangerous than if you had been tailgating in the first place. Given this happened to me -8- times on this morning's commute, I know this is true...WHY? Why can't we all just get along on the road?

Bob Levey: Because we transfer stress from other areas of our lives into the world of cars. One time, a guy cut me off on Connecticut Avenue very rudely and dangerously. I pulled alongside him at the next light and gave him the famous Lo-o-o-o-ong Bob Levey Glare. He rolled down the window. I figured here comes the AK-47. No, he wanted to apologize. He said he had done it because he just had a fight with his girl friend.


dc: I know you're dying to tell us, so I'll make it easier for you: How goes your son's team in the tourney?

Also, any idea what those horizontal speaker-type things being installed in Metro are?

Bob Levey: Thought you'd never ask!!!!!!
The D.C. champs are 3-1. They have beaten the state champs from New York, Delaware and Maryland. They have lost (on a home run in the final inning) to the champs from Pennsylvania. By beating Maryland today, they clinched a berth in the quarterfinals Monday night.
No D.C. Little League championship team has ever won more than one game up here in Bristol before, so this is a huge step for our local Little League program, as well as a great chance for this group of kids to go farther. Yes, perhaps all the way.
As for those contraptions in Metro, I haven't the slightest. But I'll have the general manager of Metro on the show in a few weeks as my guest. You can ask him then.


Vienna Va: Every time there is a tragic incident with guns -as in Granada Hills- the president of the NRA go on TV defending guns. Do you feel that is appropriate during these difficult situations? Or maybe he should keep quiet while people are grieving?

Second Question, the President of the NRA mentioned that there were probably 21 laws broken during this incident.
If the laws can be broken so easily and not enforced, maybe it is time to ban guns?

Bob Levey: I can see why network producers would always want to have an NRA spokesman on the air after a disaster like the one in Los Angeles. But why do the NRA people agree to do it? They always look like bloodthirsty saps. Can't they just let tensions subside a little? That wouldn't just be good public relations. It would be common sense.
I don't want to see every shooting incident turned into a political referendum. But that's what the NRA always looks as if it's doing. If in fact that's what it intends to do, that organization is even worse than I think it is.
Ban guns? You're darn tootin'. What in the world are we waiting for? For the next nut to get luckier with one of his 70 shots and actually kill someone?


Washington, DC: Speaking of "All the President's Men," can you think of anything that occured in the film that didn't really happen? I've always wondered if some aspects -i.e., Woodward's paranoia in the parking garage- were true or if they were exaggerated by the Hollywood filmmakers.

Bob Levey: I can't swear that the parking lot scenes played out exactly the way the movie portrayed them. But everything else was either bone-accurate or so close that you can take it to the bank.


Washington, DC: Hi Bob. -Go DC Little Leaguers!-

Re: driving rage. Maybe you can resolve an ongoing discussion between me and my dear spouse. I believe that if someone is so overcome by road rage to drive in a way that is already dangerous, it is even more dangerous to procoke more anger by honking, flashing high beams, glaring and especially using foul language or signs. My spouse, disagrees and believes it is the right of the 'victim' to lash out. What's your take?

Bob Levey: Your spouse must be spoiling for a fight. I always give the most serious head cases as wide a berth as possible. Why push someone over the edge?


Fairfax, VA: Hi Bob, I know this question does not concern sports, politics, world news or metro traffic but.... I stopped smoking in January and have gained 17 unwanted pounds. Have you or any of your readers used FAT BURNERS as part of a routine of walking and low calorie-low fat eating? HELP!

Bob Levey: Most people who quit smoking gain weight. I'm not aware of any silver-bullet answer. Just keep exercising and avoid gorging. Your weight will stabilize, I promise. In the meantime, you won't have to make reservations for an early grave.


Fairfax, VA: Bob, Love the chat.
I have a quick question for you that I'm not sure if you'll know, but since you know ALMOST everything about DC, I thought I'd give you a try. Sometime ago I heard about a charity -I have no idea where it was located- that collected donated suits & dresses and offered them -free- to the women participating in the welfare to work program. In fact someone worked with these women to coordinate outfits geared towards a professional environment. I have changed jobs and no longer need a lot of the suits that I own and would like to find a worthwile cause to donate them to. I know there's always the Salvation Army, but this other organization seemed like such a great and useful idea - since many of the women looking for their first job don't have the clothes necessary to wear to the interview in the first place. They are nice clothes and I would love to have them to to an extra-good cause like this. Do you know anything about this charity or if there is something like it in DC? Thanks so much for your assistance.

Bob Levey: There is such a group, and my mind is so addled by Little League screaming that I can't remember its name. Send me an e-mail at leveyb@washpost.com and I'll mail you back with name, rank and serial number. It may be as soon as next week. But if our guys go to the World Series, it won't be until nearly Labor Day.
Go D.C.! (Do I have it bad, or what?)


dc: For the past few months, and weeks, the national media has been reporting every case of shootings in public places -including one in New Mexico on the wire-. Now, is this a recent "trend" in the occurence itself, or have they always been happening but haven't been widely reported? Personally I think the media feed on these incidents and are too quick to report them without any substantive information.

Bob Levey: Some media make the mistake of going wall-to-wall the second one of these incidents occurs. I think that's always a mistake, and leads to charges of overcoverage. But in general, there's no question that an incident like the one in L.A. is a major news story. Try it this way: Would you really feel satisfied as a news consumer if all we gave you were three inches on page A27? You can't hide from news when it happens. What you have to do is to present it in a balanced, fair way. But you should never run in fear of a story just because it contains violence and blood.


DC: GO DC! A few years ago I was in Bristol to watch a college roomate's little brother pitch his team into the quarterfinals. The games were exciting, the kids were having a great time, but the parents were out of control. Foul language, threatening kids on the other team, and more than one fist fight between overzealous daddys. Have things improved at all?

Bob Levey: Some parents have been mighty vocal up here, verging on abusive. But NEVER toward opposing team members. And there have been no fistfights. The mistake that parents make in a highyl charged environment like this one is to turn their anxiety into screams at their own kids. That only means the poor kid will strike out the next time up, too.
Oh, yeah.
Almost forgot.
Go D.C.!


arl.: My girlfriend and I have a bet -dinner-. I think your wife cuts your hair, she says your too big a star for that. I base my opinion on your, um, well-known "thriftiness." Also, the part is a little funky...

Bob Levey: Sorry for the delay in answering this one. I've been laughing too hard.
No, my wife does not cut my hair. A wonderful woman named Melissa does. She's been doing it for more than 10 years. I hope she does it for 40 more.
As for the funky part, hey, you ought to catch my act up here in Connecticut. I've been wearing a D.C. flag wrapped around my head like a turban. Shamelessly, I'm hoping to make the cutaway shots on ESPN. You know, look at that nutcake father, dancing in the stands. How can any red-blooded producer resist?
Anyway, what a flag does to a coiffure shouldn't happen to a dog. My hair looks as if it went three rounds with an industrial-strength floor buffer--and lost.
As for being too big a star..... Frank Sinatra was a star, pal. Bob Levey is just a poor, humble, brain-dead typist.
Go D.C.!


Mtn. View, CA: A few words of enouragement for the person who quit smoking. I quit last fall. I gained about 15 pounds. Since then, I've lost about 40, so that's a net 25 pound loss. Don't worry, it will come back off. :-

Bob Levey: If the Left Coast says it, it can't be wrong. Thanks, Mountain View


Dupont Circle: Hello Bob, Love the chat and the hair. This past weekend, I was walking through the circle and the fountain was running water. Why doesn't the city shut off the fountain water and share with Maryland and Virginia??

Bob Levey: Sounds like a Levey crusade is needed. Don't worry. This baseball thing can't go on forever. I'll soon be home, to tilt windmills familiar and unfamiliar.
In the meantime....
Go D.C.!


Albuquerque, NM: What lessons can the O's take from the Little League playoffs?

Bob Levey: Don't try to bust fences. Do bunt whenever possible. And throw to the right base.


MCLEAN VA: I believe than judge Susan Weber Wright handled the Monica Lewinsky affair correctly by fining President Clinton. Do you believe that this should have been the approach in the House originally?

Bob Levey: The House might have done something like this if the leadership weren't so viciously determined to blast Clinton into the next county. In any case, yes, I agree that Judge Wright handled the case well. But my favored solution was always for Clinton to resign. How in the world can that man STILL stand before us and pretend to be our leader, as if nothing happened? It's a bad movie. We deserve much more and much better.


Newark, Delaware: There once was a writer named Levey,

Who's son was a Little League peewee.

Praising he did,

For the team of his kid,

Ending each paragraph with "Go D.C.!"

Bob Levey: Well, not each.
I think I avoided it two or three times.
But not now.
Go D.C.!


Arlington, VA: Rumor is that the Star is going to print a picture of Gingrich holding hands with a young woman outside a restaurant in NYC. Any chance that was actually you?

Seriously, I respect you and know that your're not the type. But what does this say about the huge hypocrisy during the Monicagate affair, if one of the chief Republican attack dogs was having his own affair with a young staffer?

Bob Levey: Not just him, my friend. Bob Livingston was so wrapped up in extracurricular sex that he had to step down. And what about Henry Hyde (75 Is Not Too Young) Hyde? My favorite quote from the whole disaster was Hyde saying that he had a "youthful indiscretion"--at the age of 41. If that doesn't tell you that politicians twist words, nothing else ever will.


Baltimore: Ever since my friends and I heard about Levey Live we've tuned in. We love the concept! Any chance of seeing you on the boob-tube?

Bob Levey: Been there before and may soon be there again. Bulletins as they happen (isn't that how the TV crowd puts it?)


Washington, DC: Suited for Change:

Saturday, August 14, 1999 DC's Suited for Change will be accepting donations
of Women's Professional clothing. Anything acceptable to wear to a job
interview including, pants, suits, skirts, shoes, scarves, bags, and coats
will be accepted. This donation is tax deductible and goes to women in
shelters who are interviewing for jobs in the DC Metro area.
The donation center is at the address listed below and will accept donations
from 9-12; just drive up in front of the building and someone will come to
your car and give you a tax deduction receipt and pick up the clothing. The
clothing needs to be clean and on a hanger if possible.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Suited for Change
1712 "I" St. NW
Washington, DC 20006

Bob Levey: Bingo. Thanks


Arlington, VA: What kind of moron would vote for someone simply because they thought the father did a good job -which I won't even go into-? I'm too upset now--I'll have to take the rest of the day off sick.

Bob Levey: Don't do it, Arlington. Come on up here to Connecticut and root your fool head off. No therapy is better.
By the way, you WILL drive yourself insane if you try to induce your fellow humanoids to cast their votes intelligently. After the Monica mess, I'm just glad that anyone is voting at all.


FFX, VA: Go DC!
Go Allie!

Bob, as a seasoned veteran of DC, how can you be surprised when a politician caught red handed didn't resign, but talked his way out of trouble? Come now...

Hey don't sweat the hair, you could have G. Gordon Liddy's hair style!

Bob Levey: I feel a column idea coming on......
Worst hair in the history of D.C.!
I vote for Til Hazel, the big-time zoning attorney in Northern Virginia.
Total crewcut.
Must shave it with a tractor.
Never more than half an inch high.
Live a little, Til.


Baltimore: GO DC!!
I know, amoung your many causes, you've been trying to raise 2mill. for the arts in MC. How goes the battle? And, what can we broke folk do to help

Bob Levey: For any who don't know, I am indeed the chair of a campaign to raise $2 million for the arts at Montgomery College. We're about two-thirds of the way there, which means that we're close enough to smell the finish line. Anyone wanting info can call me at 202-334-7276 or e-mail me at leveyb@washpost.com.


Falls Church, VA: So your trash made it to the big screen but not you? You mean with looks like yours and all the movies filmed here you've never been an extra in any of them? Hard to believe, Bob. You need an agent. -I'm NOT volunteering, by the way-

Bob Levey: Might be my next career. Hey, if starlets can be sexy on the silver screen at 45, think of what I can do at nearly 86!


Montreal, Quebec: Dear Mr. Levey,

Would you comment a little on presidential politics and Post coverage. Although no primary vote has been cast, we're being told that GW Bush is the Republican front runner -He's got the most money!-. Never mind that the American people no very little about his policy postitions, the Washington Post does a four-part series that reads like _The Right Stuff_. To my mind, there is something awfully wrong with this picture. Wouldn't it be better to cover the major issues facing the country and describe how the candidates stack up? If they haven't stated a position, isn't _that_ the story -no story yet-. Why do we have to hear about GW's ill-fated sister, his relationship with his mother, the brief engagement to the Yale girl, etc, before we know anything substantive about what his "vision thing" is for the country? Isn't the Post throwing gasoline on the fire of the cult of celebrity?

Bob Levey: If you're implying that The Post series on Dubbayew was a "sponge job" (as we call it in the news biz), you're way off base.
First of all, we'll do similiar six-part series (not four) on all the other major surviving candidates.
Second, the series didn't make George look that good, if you ask me. He seems to have no center, not to care about anything very much. So he likes being the center of attention. Is that a reason to elect him president?


Arlington: re: the Metro "speakers"

I believe this person is referring to the long-awaited message boards that are supposed to tell us how long until the next train arrives a'la the London Underground. Now that they're up almost everywhere I wonder how long it will take to turn them on.

Bob Levey: One miracle at a time, OK?


Washington: I've been meaning to write you about this for awhile now....I live in DC and take the metro to and from work each day. I live far enough inside the city that there are rarely seats during rush hour. I'm 5'3". Not really short but short enough that I can't reach the top handles -the bars that run along the roof of the metro cars- on the metro without a pretty chunky pair heals. Anway, I get a little peeved when some tall person gets on the metro and leans on the poles that people are supposed to hold onto. But, if I just say "excuse me", people are automatically defensive. What gives with these tall but clueless and cranky communters?

Bob Levey: Keep saying it. They're wrong and you're right.


Baltimore: Where is the next game, and does the Levey clan attend every game?

Bob Levey: Thought you'd never ask.....
D.C. closes out the first round on Sunday against the defending World Champs from Toms River, N.J. Then the playoffs begin on Monday.
Of course, you can't guess what I'm about to type, can you?
Go D.C.!
Go D.C.!
and for good measure....
Go D.C.!


Bob Levey: That'll do it for today. Be sure to check out our Tuesday show, which appears from noon to 1 p.m. Eastern time. The 8/17 show will originate again from Bristol. Either our kids will be in the Mid-Atlantic finals, or they will just have been eliminated. Either way, join us and find out how the Great Run feels.
Oh, yeah.
Go D.C.!



© 1999 The Washington Post Company


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