A press release Monday caught our eye. Prominent actor and political talking head Ron Silver was having a news conference Wednesday at the National Press Club to talk about his new "unflinching expose" of the United Nations' "failures to resolve human rights abuses, improve economic and social development and enhance world security."
Silver, who's had "a lifelong interest in international affairs," would be there to talk about the documentary -- "Broken Promises: The United Nations at 60" -- which he hosted and narrated. It's produced by Citizens United, a conservative group headed by David Bossie, who became famous for investigations of Whitewater and other matters in the Clinton administration, and Floyd Brown, maker of that very subtle but quite effective Willie Horton ad in the 1988 Bush 1-Dukakis race. Unclear if they'd had a similar lifelong interest in things international.
We decided not to go, figuring that, with two major celebrities bashing the United Nations, the small room would be packed and it would be hard to get in. Turns out we were wrong. No reporters showed, and the news conference was scrubbed.
As the World Bank Turns . . .
It was approaching midnight Friday when folks in the World Bank's Middle East and North Africa department got an e-mail from their boss, Christiaan J. Portman, telling them that their colleague Shaha Riza was being detailed over to the State Department -- as of Monday.
The short notice sparked speculation that her reported relationship with bank President Paul Wolfowitz -- they're said to have been dating for a couple years -- may have contributed to her departure.
Not at all, we are assured by insiders. This was not an abrupt appointment but one that's been in the works for some time. Riza, who was born in Tunisia and educated in Saudi Arabia, is uniquely qualified to help the State Department design and launch a fund to promote democracy in the Middle East. She's also had more than 20 years working on these issues at the National Endowment for Democracy and at the bank.
. . . and Turns
Speaking of the World Bank, word that Wolfowitz is interested in getting some wingtips on the ground in Baghdad -- the bank handles Iraqi programs from Jordan -- is making some folks a bit nervous. "Bankers, as a rule," one wag opined, "prefer to go in after the shooting is over, not in the middle of a war." Well, times change.
Rove Veers Off-Course, Stays on Message
White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, who's been given a lead role in the Katrina relief effort, came in for criticism for taking off to Aspen, Colo., last week to attend what U.S. News and World Report called a "super-exclusive" conference of wealthy folks.
A "GOP insider," the magazine said in this week's issue, "wondered whether it was appropriate for Bush's political guru to hobnob with the rich and powerful at the exclusive resort at a time when the administration is supposed to be focused on helping the victims of hurricane Katrina and showing empathy for their plight."
Well, Rove is fully capable of multi-tasking. That's why tomorrow, just about when Hurricane Rita will be blasting Galveston, Tex., he probably will be safe and sound in the auditorium at Grazies Italian Grill in Fargo, N.D., speaking to 57 members of the North Dakota state GOP committee. And he's to be the featured guest at a fundraiser that night. (There's also been talk Rove may induce popular Gov. John Hoeven (R) to run against Sen. Kent Conrad (D) next year.)
State GOP executive director Jason Stverak e-mailed late yesterday afternoon to say that the press will be allowed to cover the speech "at the end of our state committee meeting."
Our Man in the 'Stans'?
The Times of India, reporting on word that career diplomat and longtime State Department spokesman Richard A. Boucher is likely to head a newly reconfigured South Asia bureau that would include all the Central Asian countries -- Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, etc. -- says that wags have begun calling the bureau "Boucherstan."
He Ought to Like the Weather
Looks as though, by the end of this Bush term, there'll be very few Bush Rangers left in this country. Yet another embassy, this one in Oslo, has fallen to the Rangers. The White House said yesterday that Ranger Benson K. Whitney, a venture capitalist, is the pick for that fine posting. Whitney, in addition to having raised $200,000 for the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign, was also the campaign's executive director in Minnesota.
White House Aide on a JAG
Temporary White House job opening! Today is White House deputy political director Tim Griffin's last day at the White House for a while. Griffin, a lawyer, is being called up as a member of the Army Reserve to report for duty with the Judge Advocate General's Corps at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Wait for It
Note: Because of the volume of entries -- lot of anger out there, it seems -- winners of the Loop "Brownie's Next Gig" contest will not be announced until next week.