According to satirist Mark Russell the word "Politics"
comes from the Greek. "Poli" meaning "many"
and "Tics" meaning "Blood sucking parasites".
Patricia and I are devout Republicans who have been
throwing a few bucks into political campaigns for years.
We have supported a lot of losers including nearly everyone
who has run for statewide office in California the last
few years. We sent a check to Rick Lazio hoping it would
help him beat Hillary Clinton. Alas, it didn't. Our
biggest gift in the last election was to Jim Rogan who
was targeted by Hollywood types after he served as a
prosecutor in the Clinton impeachment, but he failed
in his bid to stay in Congress. He couldn't match the
deep pockets of Barbara Streisand and Alec Baldwin.
Not all Hollywood types marched in lock-step though,
Jim Belushi served on Rogan's campaign committee and
we met him at a fundraiser.
were particularly incensed when that "Turncoat"
Jeffords of Vermont left the GOP, turning over control
of the Senate to the Democrats. We vowed to put our
money where our mouths had been all these years and
try to do something "significant". So, we
gave up a vacation we had planned for mid-year and used
the money to support a group called the "Republican
Senatorial Roundtable". In conjunction with that
membership we received an invitation to attend "The
President's dinner" on June 19th along with 6,399
of George "Dubya's" closest friends and supporters.
little essay is the story of our adventures in Washington,
D.C. while attending the Roundtable meeting and President's
sure by this time all our Democrat friends have hit
their "Delete" keys. If you haven't liked
the first few paragraphs of this little piece, you're
going to hate the rest of it. I recommend you bail out
planning our trip we discovered that if we went back
to D.C. for just the two days during which these events
took place, it would have cost us $1,200 each in air
fare. If we left early so as to stay over a Saturday
night, the fare was only $330 apiece. No wonder the
Airlines are on the brink of bankruptcy. We decided
to go early and use the savings to pay our hotel bill
at the beautiful Mayflower.
POST 9-11: If you haven't been to Washington since the
Terrorist attacks of September 11th, you will be surprised
at how the city has changed. White cement barricades
line many streets and Pennsylvania Avenue is completely
closed so one can barely get close enough to see the
White House way off in the distance. No tours of the
White House are available to anyone except selected
visits by school children.
Capitol as well as the House and Senate Office Buildings
are protected by the same metal detectors you've always
had to pass through, but now they are manned by an abundance
of armed guards who search your purse or briefcase with
a fine tooth comb.
You are allowed into the Capitol building only if you
have an appointment or if you are part of a tightly
controlled official tour group, even then you can only
enter through a heavily guarded side door.
was only one small demonstration outside the Capitol
building, a group of about 12 women wearing aprons and
pounding on pots and pans with wooden spoons whenever
the television camera was pointed at them. When a camera
wasn't aimed at them they stood around silently until
another camera crew came along at which point they became
animated again. Their cause had something to do with
welfare for single mothers. Patricia pointed out they
seemed pretty well dressed for folks worried about their
This group, however, was as heavily guarded as if they
had been a group of Hells Angels on Harleys. At least
6 armed police officers were close by.
beautiful Mayflower Hotel was nearly empty on the weekend
we were there. Things perked up a bit when Monday rolled
around, but it was never more than half full. Tourism
in DC has just fallen off the cliff since the "Outrage".
Things are so bad that new commercials have been filmed
featuring Laura Bush and several leading members of
Congress aimed at increasing tourism in the Nation's
THE SITES: Patricia and I had a couple of days to see
the sites, but we have been to Washington many times
before and had been to most of the usual sites, including
most all the Monuments. The only one we hadn't seen
was the Roosevelt Memorial, that monument to Political
Correctness featuring FDR in a wheelchair. He went to
such great lengths never to appear in public as a "cripple".
What an insult to his memory that statue is.
new site, on every street corner you will find a 4 foot
statue of either a donkey or an elephant (Get it? Democrats?
Republicans?) Each figure is decorated by a different
artist. Chicago started this trend with statues of Cow's
(get it? As in Mrs. O'Leary's?) several years ago, and
now nearly everyone is doing it as sort of whimsical
Sunday we took a cab to Georgetown and explored the
many shops, including a Hat Shop. Since a doctor recently
told me to keep my nearly bald dome covered, I thought
I'd see if I could find something truly distinguished.
The shop owner hovered near by and made several suggestions.
He brought me one particularly appealing wide brimmed
number, which I tried on. Patricia took one look at
me and broke out in hysterical laughter. I said to the
shop owner, "This is not a good sign." He
agreed and rushed to find another hat for me that Pat
wouldn't find quite so humorous.
Monday we went to the only other decent shopping place
within the city limits of D.C., the "Union Station".
The main railroad and Metro station for D.C., Union
Station has been completely redecorated and is crammed
full of interesting stores and shops for commuters to
dally on their way in or out of town. It was a lot of
we went to the American History Museum, part of the
Smithsonian. Pat said it reminded her of Disneyland,
as 4 out of 5 visitors seemed to be screaming children.
The Smithsonian has a reputation as one of the most
"Politically Correct" institutions in the
country. You may remember the flap they created when
they wanted to show a display arguing the Second World
War from the Japanese perspective next to the display
of the Enola Gay. In the American History Museum there
is a display called "Impeachment" where school
children are taught about the sins of Richard Nixon,
who was never impeached. But they learn only that Bill
Clinton was "Acquitted" in his Impeachment
trial, Acquitted is hardly the word one would use to
describe a man who plea-bargained on his last day in
office. Anyway, we didn't stay in the American History
Museum for very long.
Washington has some great restaurants and we visited
Monday night we met our friend George Sladoje at one
of our favorites, Ruth's Chris Steak House. George,
who lives in our hometown of Sierra Madre is the President
of the California Power Exchange. He was in D.C. to
give testimony before the Federal Energy Commission,
which is still trying to figure out how Gray Davis got
us into this electricity mess. Ruth's Chris has opened
units in California in Irvine, Beverly Hills etc., but
they just aren't the same as the ones in the east like
Washington or New York where they are famous for "the
best steak in town".
Union Station, we had lunch at B. Smith's a very upscale
Soul Food restaurant. Pat had the "Pulled Pork"
sandwich while I had the crab cakes with collard greens.
We recommend it highly.
had good Italian Food at Anna Maria's near Dupont Circle
and terrific New York Style thin crust Pizza at Bertucci's
a couple of blocks from the Mayflower on Connecticut
we could walk to many of these eateries, it is still
not advisable to stroll the streets of Washington without
knowing where you are. While Rudy Guliani made New York
City into a place where you need have no fear walking
around, there has not been a similar reformer performing
miracles in D.C. It's not quite as bad as San Francisco,
but you'll still have to step over sleeping bums and
fend off panhandlers in many areas.
CAPITOL HILL: On Tuesday Patricia and I called on two
Congressmen, Ed Royce, who represents the district in
Orange County where two of my Health System's hospitals
are located, and David Dreier who represents our home
district and is the Chairman of the House Rules Committee.
Royce is on the House Intelligence Committee and he
shared with us some interesting stories about our War
on Terrorism. He is instrumental in the legislation
to create a Department of Homeland Security and is no
fan of so-called "privacy legislation" which
is handcuffing the FBI and CIA in there efforts to get
the "Bad Guys". We met him in his office in
the Rayburn Building and he graciously agreed to have
a picture taken with us.
Dreier met us in the office of the Rules Committee in
the Capitol Building. He asked our indulgence while
he ate lunch, then produced an apple, which he ate with
gusto. He told us that it's all he has for lunch every
day, which no doubt accounts for his trim appearance.
Asked if he would mind if we had our picture taken with
him he said, "Are you kidding, I'm a politician,
I insist we have our picture taken together.
spoke with both Royce and Dreier about critical Health
Care legislation in which our Health System is interested,
and both were very helpful.
REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL ROUND TABLE: On Tuesday afternoon
we registered for the Roundtable events which included
a dinner at the Museum of Women in the Arts that evening
. The following day in the Mayflower Hotel there were
6 roundtable discussions involving Republican Senators.
Then, of course, the highlight of the event was the
registration Patricia met a woman who claimed to be
the only Republican in Marin County - probably true.
We quickly learned that the 180 or so people attending
were far from the flashy Hollywood types you see at
Democrat Fundraisers. Many were first generation Americans
and about 10% were Black with a like number of Asians.
The only ethnic group not noticeably represented was
the people we met were a man and woman, both doctors,
who had given up their faculty positions at Stanford
to take up practice in Scotts Bluff Nebraska. We became
friends with the Millers, a couple from northwest Missouri
who farm 2,500 acres with no employees, just themselves
and a few of their 8 children who have not yet left
the farm. They are very proud of their two oldest sons
who are Marines, one joined on September 12th. Most
of the people in attendance were this sort of "salt
of the earth".
Tuesday dinner at the Museum was attended by 15 Senators.
One of those, Mike Enzi of Wyoming and his wife sat
at our table. A very gregarious man, he soon had our
rapt attention as he told anecdotes about various Washington
characters. When he saw we were from California he told
us he sits on a sub-committee of which Barbara Boxer
is chair. We asked if she is really as big a "Twit"
as she appears on television. He said, "In spades"
and then told of several instances in which she had
made a fool of herself.
dinner speaker that night was Lynn Cheney and, of course,
she got two standing ovations. She spoke about the importance
of teaching history to children. She said, "Since
public schools don't teach history any more it is up
to parents to make sure that their children learn about
the great American heroes". She pointed out, "When
George Washington left Washington D.C. after 8 years
as President it was the first time in the history of
the world that a leader had peacefully and voluntarily
turned over his office to a successor."
night we had brief speeches by Senators Bill Frist of
Tennessee, Gordon Smith of Oregon (the only Republican
Senator on the Left Coast) and John Ensign of Nevada.
the panel discussions the following day we heard from
Senators Larry Craig of Nebraska, Kay Bailey Hutchinson
of Texas, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky along with Senators
Frist, Ensign and several others. My personal favorite
was Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania who told us that he
had come to Washington as a "Deficit Buster"
intent on producing surpluses. He said that now, however,
after seeing how both houses of Congress spend money
like a "Drunken Sailor" when a surplus exists,
he favors automatically returning any surplus directly
to the people in the form of tax rebates.
WITH DUBYA That night we put on our finest duds, a tux
for me and a long gown for Patricia and were taken by
bus to the Washington Convention Center for our "Dinner
with Dubya". More than 6,500 people attended and
to show you how far we were from the dais, our table
number was 673.
politicians are by and large great fundraisers, they
have yet to learn one of the most important lessons
of fundraising - donors should have the best seats.
at the Convention Center was tight, but, no more so
than going into the Capitol. We were ushered into the
huge auditorium. We were struck by how many young people
there were. There were also many interns and Congressional
staffers sitting at all of those excellent Congressional
tables. There were no plunging necklines or gaudy jewelry,
no plaid dinner jackets or sneakers sans socks.
were huge screens around the auditorium where the speakers
and entertainers were projected. Before the meeting
was called to order patriotic songs by popular singers
were played, such as Ray Charles' "America"
and Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA"
the exact stroke of 7 PM, President and Mrs. Bush entered
from the wings. After their standing ovation, Country
Singer Amy Grant sang a hymn as the invocation and we
were all invited to say the pledge of allegiance, "under
God" included. After President Bush proposed a
toast, he began his speech. It was wonderful. He talked
about the importance of individual responsibility and
that he wants to create a situation in this country
where "everyone who wants a job can have one."
He talked about the search for the terrorists and said,
"We will chase down the murderers one by one until
we have them all."
also said wonderful things about his wife, Laura, and
pointed out that he gets her morning coffee every morning.
Then he said, "I hope I don't get the rest of you
guys in trouble". He spoke for about 40 minutes
and when it was finished everyone in the audience wanted
him to say more. What a thrilling moment that was.
dinner, Country and Western star Vince Gill, the husband
of Amy Grant who had sung earlier, entertained. He was
introduced by Senator Frist of Tennessee and Don Nichols
of Oklahoma who argued about which state could take
credit for him. He was born in Oklahoma, but, now lives
meal itself included steak, shrimp, potatoes and asparagus
served in amazingly quick time considering the number
of people in the room. It was perhaps less than one
would expect given the price of a ticket.
was followed by dancing, but we had to catch our bus
back to the Mayflower.
following morning before we flew home we learned that
the White House had been evacuated the night before
because of a stupid private pilot that had violated
their air space. President Bush was angry that he hadn't
been notified, but, we weren't - he might have had to
leave before speaking.
IT WORTH IT? Every dime!