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Washington Insight

March 09, 1995

STROM REDEEMED: The public life of Sen. Strom Thurmond, the 92-year-old Republican from South Carolina, has taken many turns--but perhaps none sharper than Wednesday, when the Greater Washington Urban League honored the former segregationist. Officials for the league, a branch of one of the nation's most prestigious civil rights groups, said the announcement spurred howls of outrage from some black activists. But the league went forward with the award, saying it believes in the ability of people to change and embrace racial harmony. Chapter President Maudine Cooper noted that Thurmond, who opposed civil rights legislation for most of his career, had voted for extending the Voting Rights Act in 1991 and supported the 1986 bill to make Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday. "When we have talked, in Christianity, about redemption and salvation, are we hypocritical or are we serious?" Cooper asked.

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IT'S A KEEPER: One hundred days or 100 years from now, visitors to the Smithsonian's American History Museum will be able to view the well-thumbed copy of TV Guide containing the 10-point "contract with America" that was carried by House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) on the campaign trail last year. The museum's Political History Division says the magazine is a symbol of how politicians are using non-traditional media to reach audiences. Perhaps a footnote on the display should explain that the origin of the donation, as with most everything in Washington, is subject to interpretation. Gingrich's office said the gift was the museum's idea. Asked about that, museum officials glided effortlessly past the question, saying only how glad they are to have the copy.

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NO CONTRACT SEQUEL: The "contract with America" will be an only child. While the campaign manifesto continues to unify House Republicans, House leaders have decided there will be no second contract, no second 100 days. Their reasons: Many Republican committee chairmen are eager to move beyond the contract and push their own legislation, and the looming fight over budget cuts is expected to eat great amounts of congressional energy in the months ahead--as are other issues not in the contract, especially reforms of the telecommunications and financial service industries.

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WORLD BANKER: The White House has narrowed the list of candidates for World Bank president to three, sources say: Lawrence Summers is undersecretary of the Treasury for international affairs and the former chief economist of the World Bank. Bow Cutter is deputy director of the National Economic Council at the White House and has a strong background in management consulting that could be useful to pare the World Bank's bureaucracy. James Wolfensohn, a leading Wall Street investment banker and head of the Kennedy Center, has the same kind of background in big money that past World Bank presidents have had. The current president, Lewis Preston, has cancer and has taken a leave of absence, but has not yet resigned.

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DEMO HUMOR: The big turnout at a local restaurant for a party to celebrate a new book by President Clinton's pollster Stanley B. Greenberg, "Middle Class Dreams," caused one guest to remark that more Democrats were present than remained on Capitol Hill after the Republican election triumph last November. Actually, replied veteran party strategist Carl Wagner: "There are more Democrats here than voted last November."

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