You remember Liz Carpenter. She's the one who ran the White House when Lyndon Johnson wasn't looking; who used to tell him when he'd ask why she didn't use her head, "I'm too busy using yours"; who liked to describe her job as taking care of "dogs, daughters and delphinium"; who claimed she knew so much about dogs "because I'm in the doghouse around here most of the time."
Now here she comes, ready to tell you more than you probably ever thought you'd need to know about the new Department of Education.
Remember, this is the same Liz Carpenter who told reporters that:
A large guillotine would be erected on the South Lawn for anyone who jumped the release date on details of Luci Johnson's wedding dress;
If press arrangements collapsed during a raft-ride with Lady Bird down the Rio Grande, "just put your copy in a bottle and float it";
If they missed the train on a whistle-stop campaign trip through the South, "just take out residence, register and vote."
All that was in her earlier lives and times in Washington, when she was staff director and press secretary to Lady Bird Johnson.
Now here she is again, this time as Jimmy Carter's nominee for a brand-new position, assistant secretary of education for public affairs under the brand-new secretary of education, Shirley Mount Hufstedler.
A month ago when the word first got out, she said she was coming up for "a fast run through" -- "to help Shirley Hufstedler on the transition team. And I'm coming with a suitcase, not a trunk."
Saturday night at a party for her in Georgetown given by Katie Louchheim a former deputy assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, Carpenter diclosed that the return from Austin had been the ultimate effort; a seven-suitcase move.
Washingtonians probably expect that in her suitcases are packed some of the best one-liners anybody's heard since she left town. That was three years ago, when she went home to Texas "permanently" (leaving her forwarding address with then-President-elect Jimmy Carter).
But also expected to come out of that Luggage are some of the same tricks that made her the P. T. Barnum of the greatest political show on earth: the three-ring circus that is Washington, D.C.
"From now on," UPI White House correspondent Helen Thomas told President Carter recently, "you're never going to hear about any other department."
Deadpanned Carpenter modestly: "I'll do my best."
At the Louchheim party, she elaborated a little on her qualifications, telling guests who included pals from her LBJ days plus spokesmen for the town's two most important offices, Jody Powell and Hodding Carter:
"I'm the token illiterate. I know what education needs."
Hufstedler, sharing the limelight, described Carpenter's assets another way: "inventing more little things, more ideas to bring the department to the attention of the world."
The first act of the Liz revival show -- a press briefing on the department's budget on Saturday -- was described by Hufstedler as "The only budget-opener in the history of Washington that was funny."
"There isn't anybody in the United States who doesn't know something about education, which is fine because it shows a trememdous reservoir for educational support," the secretary continued. "I want to bring to public attention all the wonderful things that are happening in education. Liz isn't going to be just a press secretary -- she's going to run the public affairs office."
"Think the Republicans will give you any problems?" Hodding Carter wondered.
"Liz has never seen a large battle she hasn't won," said Hufstedler. "I don't know how anybody can be an enemy of hers unless they have a death wish."
Jody powell, who knows a few things about the job, said that when Hufstedler told him who she wanted, "I told her you shouldn't get a press secretary who's better known than you are. But Shirley said that didn't bother her."
Carpenter said Hufstedler offered her the job by telling her, "I was needed. When you're 59 and you have a certain expertise in public affairs and you're needed, Well, it's very flattering."
She thinks "the big story of the '80s" will be education, and she's prepared to stick around town because "everything really depends -- civilization, the degree of democracy -- on how well the country is educated. I think I'll stay for a while."
Said Hufstedler: "You could pick up another suitcase."