Washington Prowler

The President’s Scorecard

Plus, New York's seething senators. Cashing in on Sheila Jackson Lee.

By 2.6.02

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KEEPING SCORE
Much has been made of the so-called "scorecard" President Bush keeps in his Oval Office desk of the "Most Wanted" terrorists. The chart, which includes those killed or captured marked off with an "X", was compiled by the FBI. But it turns out Bush, the baseball fanatic, keeps scorecards on everything, whether it's budget battles or the Cabinet or policy issues. "Who's winning, who scored points, who lost points, who's performing at a high level, he's tracking everything," says a White House policy aide. "The President is always checking, marking, updating. Beyond the reports and the paper, it allows him to quickly evaluate what he needs to know before and after a meeting. Next thing, he'll be issuing trading cards on the stuff."

THE ODD COUPLE
The tragedies of September may have brought America together, but not necessarily New York's two U.S. senators. There has always been some tension between Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Hillary Clinton. Schumer, after all, is the senior senator and expects and thrives on the kind of media attention normally cast upon an influential leader from one of the country's largest states. But Hillary's celebrated presence as the "junior" senator has changed all that, and Schumer and his staff don't like it. The result: they gladly trash Hillary when given the opportunity.

A recent Washington Post Magazine profile of Mrs. Clinton, for instance, made much of her meeting with family members of Dominican immigrants killed in the crash of an American Airlines flight in Queens last November 12. A Schumer staffer scoffs at that report: "Maybe she did go to that one, but you know all those memorial services for the victims of 9/11 that took place? The only one she went to was for that Catholic chaplain who died, and that was because of all the media coverage. She didn't go to another one. My boss went to many of them and never asked for a reporter to go along. It's just part of his job."

But Hillary Senate staffers say she did attend memorial services in New York in the aftermath of 9/11. "She just didn't send out press releases or mug for the camera like some other senators we know," says one Clinton legislative aide, with a very straight face.

THE GENTLELADY FROM HOUSTON
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) loves to travel in style. So the world learned this week thanks to an intrepid reporter for the Weekly Standard and follow-up coverage by Fox News. A concern now is how these exposés will affect her evolving relationship with President Bush. Will he still want to kiss her next time he visits Congress? (Last time he did she appeared to be wearing the same bright red dress she wore to Bill Clinton's impeachment trial.) Will she let Bush kiss her again? Or will she demand he first help her recoup her lost Enron donations?

Among colleagues Jackson Lee's theatrics are old hat, particularly her perpetual grandstanding on the House floor, to which they've responded accordingly. When Congress is in session, for instance, several House offices keep what they term a "Sheila Pot," a jar that circulates daily to a different staffer's desk. Every time Jackson Lee rises to address the C-Span cameras, the aide whose desk it's on for the day deposits a quarter. Pretty soon the amounts go beyond mere chump change. "Sometimes it got up to two or three dollars," says one former staffer for a Texas GOPer. "That's 12 quarters." According to the staff of a Texas Democrat, its office's Sheila Pot once climbed to $45.

On the rare days that Jackson Lee doesn't speak, the staffer with the jar is allowed to pocket the booty. Does the House Ethics Committee know about this?

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