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National Perspective

Washington Insight

June 17, 1998|From The Times Washington Bureau

WOMEN AT WORK: Not too many of the world's governments boast women as their foreign ministers, but two neighbors do: The United States, with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and Mexico, with Secretary of Foreign Relations Rosario Green. After a recent meeting, the two women held a joint news conference at the State Department. A reporter rose to ask Albright a question about Kosovo. "Madame Secretary," he began. Albright interrupted. "Which one?" she asked, evoking a good deal of laughter. "It doesn't happen often," Albright explained, "so I had to say that." The reporter tried again. "Mrs. Albright," he began.

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GRAND CANYON CURSE? As both a senator with higher ambitions and an amateur student of history, Republican John McCain is all too aware of the long list of Arizonans who have run for president and fallen short. And that knowledge provides him some perspective as he contemplates a bid himself in 2000. "Arizona has a unique problem. Barry Goldwater ran for president. Morris K. Udall ran for president. Bruce Babbitt ran for president," McCain said the other day. "Arizona may be the only state where mothers can't tell their children: 'Someday you can grow up to be president of the United States.' "

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WESTWARD HO IN 2000? In presidential politics, "no one would think of overlooking California," Republican Gov. Mike Leavitt of Utah points out. But everyone routinely overlooks the rest of the West, Leavitt complained recently at a Washington press conference called to promote his solution to the idea. That would be a non-California western regional presidential primary, staged sometime early in 2000 that would supposedly assure overlooked western states the attention they feel they deserve. Five such states--Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming--have already formed a bipartisan task force to set a date for the coordinated contests, and three others--North and South Dakota and Arizona--are said to be interested. But what about criticism that mega-state primaries, such as the South's Super Tuesday, force candidates into relying on massive media barrages with only superficial treatment of the issues? "Superficial is better than nothing," retorted Philip M. Burgess of the Center for the New West, a Denver-based think tank that is backing the new primary.

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IT DIDN'T TAKE: Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) was one of the few liberals on the government plane that flew to Arizona recently for Barry Goldwater's funeral. During the long flight, Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Charles Hagel (R-Neb.), two ultra-conservatives, began to tease Wellstone, one of the most liberal members of the Senate. If only Wellstone had read "The Conscience of a Conservative," Goldwater's treatise, Sessions and Hagel said, he'd be "on the right track." Wellstone had a quick rejoinder: "I did read it!"

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THE PRISON DIET: It's amazing what a little exercise, work, sobriety--and incarceration--can do for that "spare tire" problem. Or, in the case of inmate Joe Waldholtz, a whole truckload of spare tires. Waldholtz--the swindling, embezzling, free-spending former husband of former Republican Rep. Enid Greene Waldholtz of Utah, now Enid Greene once again--has dropped about 300 pounds since his legal problems began in 1995. So he recently told The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper. Waldholtz is serving a 37-month sentence for election fraud at a federal prison in Pennsylvania.

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