Communications Loss At the White House

The Great Communicator will soon lose one of his most potent weapons: Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, who plans to leave the White House near the end of this month to "pursue other writing opportunities."

Noonan has been thought one of the best of an excellent team of speechwriters, responsible for some of Reagan's more evocative, patriotic oratory, including the address he made after the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.

Noonan made it clear that she's not following the example of chief Reagan speechwriter Bentley T. Elliott, who announced in May that he would leave the White House to work for Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) and his Fund for an American Renaissance. Her departure is "not political, it's literary," she says. But the two departures, taken together, significantly thin Reagan's rhetorical ranks. Anthony Dolan remains as Reagan's chief writer.

Fowler for Second Term

President Reagan plans to keep Mark S. Fowler as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission after Fowler's present term expires on June 30. The White House announced yesterday that Reagan would nominate Fowler to a new term and, upon confirmation, designate him chairman.

Fowler, a 44-year-old Canadian-born communications expert, has been FCC chairman since 1981.

Dogged Effort

The Senate hearing room was packed for the vote on controversial federal court nominee Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, but first Judiciary Committee Chairman Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) ran through a spate of routine nominations -- reading the names of obscure judges, federal marshals and the like, asking for any objections and briskly moving on.

Thurmond, who supported Sessions' nomination, held the same monotone as he slipped in, "Sessions of Alabama, any objection?"

"Yes, Mr. Chairman," exclaimed a startled Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), the panel's ranking Democrat. "You are a sly dog. I aspire to be as good."

On a Roll

It may not be the stuff of which Guinness writes, but for Rep. Charles E. Bennett (D-Fla.), it was clearly something to crow about: On Wednesday, Bennett completed his 35th consecutive year in the House without missing a legislative vote on any roll call.

During his 38 years in Congress, Bennett's office reported, the third most senior member of the House logged 10,951 recorded votes and 4,420 recorded quorum calls for a total of 15,371 roll calls.

Long-Deserved Homage

For a few moments yesterday, President Reagan turned his breakfast lobbying session on tax overhaul with 75 senators into a homage to Sen. Russell B. Long (D-La.), calling him "the senators' senator."

Long, who is retiring after 38 years in the Senate, chaired the Senate Finance Committee from 1966 to 1980, and is widely known as the elder statesman of tax writing. He coined a now-famous comeback to those who try to cut their own taxes at the expense of others: "Don't tax you, don't tax me. Tax that fella behind the tree."

So Reagan presented Long with a green T-shirt emblazoned with the Louisianan's saying. On the back was a large, leafy tree.