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National Perspective

Washington Insight

April 15, 1998|From The Times Washington Bureau

HE'S SO DIZZY: Visiting Sen. John Glenn on Tuesday as he trained to go back into space gave President Clinton some ideas. "I like it, I'm going to apply," Clinton smiled and said as he walked into a mock-up of the space shuttle at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Glenn, the Ohio Democrat and former astronaut, is training for a shuttle flight in October. In a video hookup with astronauts preparing for a shuttle launch at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, Clinton lauded their neurological research on "getting dizzy" and other problems affecting older people. Asked later if he suffers from dizziness, Clinton said, "Anybody who lives in Washington feels dizzy sometimes, but I was just kidding."

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UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: During a recent visit to independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's office, Linda Tripp, frequent caller and secret tape recorder of former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky, caught the eyes of television crews who have been staking out the building for weeks. When Tripp stepped onto a fourth-floor balcony for a cigarette break, the sleuths scurried to a nearby alley for what they hoped would be good camera angle. Instead, they got a close-up look at what appeared to be a couple of dope dealers. The startled pair quickly shifted their operation to a spot farther down the alley--still less than a block from FBI headquarters--while the camera crew, apparently even more shaken up than the dealers, hasn't been back to the alley since. Tripp, as far as we know, is still smoking.

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THE NON-ENERGIZER: Retiring Rep. Vic Fazio (D-West Sacramento) has taken himself out of the running as a possible successor to resigning Energy Secretary Federico Pena. An expert on energy and water development, Fazio has endorsed Pena's deputy, Elizabeth Moler, for the job. Fazio, perhaps infected with Potomac fever from his 10 terms in the House, still plans to pursue some other life in the nation's capital, associates say.

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ADVISE AND DISSENT? While Marine Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak is out showing the flag for the Clinton administration, his father, retired Marine Lt. Gen. Victor Krulak, has been assailing the administration--and taking no prisoners. "Brute" Krulak, 83, a hero of three wars and confidant of President John F. Kennedy, lambasted the Pentagon in one of his Copley News Service articles this month for a "hollowing" of an "emasculated and tired" military. While Clinton has increased the Pentagon budget, he says, most of the additional funds have gone to "humanitarian tasks, such as Peace Corps operations and buying blankets for the homeless." A spokeswoman for the commandant says Krulak pere, a former executive of the Copley news chain, is speaking for himself, and never talks to his son before he takes up the pen.

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DIPLOMATICALLY BRIEF: Fidel Castro and other Cuban leaders have made their mark on the world diplomatic scene with interminable speeches. So when Fernando Remirez de Estenoz, Cuba's chief diplomat in Washington, began a breakfast with reporters recently, he warned them: "We will try to be brief. Nevertheless, you know that I'm Cuban." Since the United States and Cuba have no diplomatic relations, Switzerland is in charge of Cuban diplomacy in Washington and some Swiss efficiency has clearly rubbed off on Remirez. He finished his presentation in 15 minutes and then briskly replied to questions. Asked about the health of Castro, Remirez replied, "The last time he made a public appearance, Castro spoke for six hours. In other words, he is in better shape than me."

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