Dan Senor, Anticipating a Little Quiet Time
Dan Senor, the spiffy U.S. spokesman who served for many months as the press briefer on events in Iraq, is back from Baghdad, far more famous than he ever imagined.
Getting the rock star treatment -- kisses, hugs, handshakes, photographs -- Senor was barely able to finish a plate of hummus and pita as fans greeted him at the Park Hyatt in Washington last week during a reception hosted by the Iraqi Embassy to celebrate sovereignty. Typical compliments: "I watched you every day. . . . You did a wonderful job. . . . We want to thank you for risking your life." (Clifford May, head of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies here, punned: "He's an Iraq star.")
Senor, 32, who originally signed on for a 90-day tour of duty in the war zone, became one of the longest-deployed civilians, working for L. Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority. "Fifteen months, but who's counting?" Senor said, smiling and exchanging pleasantries in Arabic with Iraqi admirers. "I'm very proud of the work we did there."
He told us he will remain "engaged on Iraq issues" for the Bush administration, but as for the immediate future, "I'm going to disappear and use my vacation."
Grounds for Appeal
* Thanks, Hanks! That's the message White House newshounds sent to all-star actor Tom Hanks after he gave the journos a fancy new espresso maker.
Touring the briefing room over Memorial Day weekend with his wife and one of his sons, and discovering that it lacked a coffee maker, Hanks had a caffeine machine delivered last week with a note: "I hope this machine will make the 24-hour cycle of news a bit more pleasant. Add water, insert pod, press button and REPORT. All good things, Tom Hanks."
One glitch: The $1,000 Illy machine currently isn't working. A replacement part is on the way. "It is going to come in handy during those background briefings," says Knight Ridder's Ron Hutcheson, president of the White House Correspondents' Association, who wrote Hanks: "I can't promise favorable coverage if you ever run for president, but you have at least earned the gratitude of the White House press corps with your generous gift."
* One shockingly good reason to attend Republican pollster's Frank Luntz's fifth annual Baseball All-Star Party on July 13: to see his original "Addams Family" electric chair. (And liberals say Republicans are boring!) When the 42-year-old Luntz invited 100 of his closest buddies, including actual Democrats, for a shindig, he touted his eclectic new household additions, some acquired on eBay. They include the chair from the TV series, a life-size Terminator statue, a baseball bat with 41 Hall-of-Famer signatures and "authentic John Kerry flip-flop cards," whatever they are. "Some people invest money in summer homes, other people invest in antiques or great works of art. I invest in pop culture," Luntz told us. But an electric chair? "I don't spend my money on clothes. . . . I sit in the back of planes. . . . I gotta spend my money on something."
* Business mogul, TV star, comb-over king. Next up: foreign policy adviser? Donald Trump gets all fired up over the Iraq invasion in the new issue of Esquire. "What was the purpose of the whole thing?" he asks. "Hundreds and hundreds of young people killed. And what about the people coming back with no arms and no legs? Not to mention the other side. All those Iraqi kids who've been blown to pieces. And it turns out that all the reasons for the war were blatantly wrong. All this for nothing!" The Donald also says that, if he were the national boss, "I would have been tougher on terrorism. Bin Laden would have been caught long ago. Tell me, how is it possible that we can't find a guy who's six foot six and supposedly needs a dialysis machine? Can you explain that one to me?"
The Annals of Puffery
An Occasional Verbatim Press Release
* "May the best candidate win, but when it comes to the best presidential hair, George W. Bush has America's vote, according to Wahl Clipper Corp.'s 2004 Grooming Survey. . . . Despite John Kerry's recent claim that the Kerry-Edwards ticket has the best hair, Wahl's survey found that the majority of Americans overwhelmingly voted for Bush's hair over Kerry's (Bush, 51 percent; Kerry, 30 percent; neither, 10 percent; don't know, 9 percent.) 'Wahl isn't choosing sides politically, but when it comes to what we know best -- hair -- we're interested in what Americans think is a fitting hairstyle for their president,' said Pat Anello, director of marketing for Wahl Clipper. 'Whether you're running for president or running a busy schedule, Wahl has innovative, quality products that make grooming easy.' "
With Anne Schroeder