Romance is in the air today across the land. But in Washington, the buzz continues about "The Kiss." No, not Gustav Klimt's famous painting. It's the big fat one an exuberant President Bush planted on Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman's right cheek as he waded through the Capitol crowd after the State of the Union a couple of weeks ago
The Connecticut Democrat said he didn't mind it and thought Bush was thanking him for his support of the administration's foreign policy. Or maybe it was for Lieberman's not dismissing outright Bush's Social Security proposal.
Or maybe it was something else. There's been K Street chatter, our colleague Jeffrey H. Birnbaum tells us, that Lieberman could be on an administration list to replace Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in the next year or so.
That would be convenient for Lieberman, whose term is up in 2006, and could give Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R) an opportunity to appoint a Republican to the seat for at least a few months before the election, inching the GOP closer to a filibuster-proof Senate.
Or maybe it's just love?
Slimeball vs. Secretary of State
The Loop Loathsome Slimeball of the Week Award goes to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. Seems Mugabe was upset when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently branded Zimbabwe -- along with Cuba, Iran, Burma, Belarus and North Korea -- as "outposts of tyranny."
"The white man is the slave master to her," he said in a speech Friday in Harare, according to Agence France-Presse. "She has got to echo her master's voice." Mugabe referred to Rice as "that girl born out of the slave ancestry, who should know from the history of slavery in America, from the present situation of blacks in America that the white man is not a friend."
Mugabe won the award by acclamation.
John Taylor Watch
Just before the Group of Seven meeting in London week before last, Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs John Taylor deflected speculation that he was imminently headed out the door.
"I'm the undersecretary now and continuing as the undersecretary and working at my job as hard as I can," he told reporters. "I think we've got a good meeting ahead of us and I've got some travel right after that to the Middle East, actually."
But the smart money last week continued moving to Tim Adams, former Bush campaign policy director and, before that, a senior Treasury Department staffer, to succeed Taylor.
Taylor, a premier academic and originator of the "Taylor rule," which the central banks worldwide and the Fed use to determine the need for interest rate changes, had been talked about as a possible successor to Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan. There's chatter about his going to the World Bank or back to teaching at Stanford.
Making Sense of Karl Rove
There was much head-scratching last week over the designation of Bush top adviser Karl Rove to be deputy chief of staff. It was not, even to some close to the administration, readily apparent why it was needed or how it could make sense on an organization chart.
On the other hand, one source deduced, if, as has been rumored, Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. is at some point headed to Treasury, then Rove's ascension to chief of staff would be only natural.
Another Shift in Card's World
Speaking of Card . . . his sister, Lisi Kaufman, who had been chief of staff to then-Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans, is moving to United Technologies Corp. to be senior vice president for government and international affairs. Kaufman, who will head UTC's office here, had been deputy assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs at Commerce during Bush I.
For Alan Keyes, Lots to Talk About
Keeping up with . . . Despite getting pulverized by a breathtaking 40 points by Illinois Sen. Barack Obama (D) in November's Senate race, Maryland talk show host and sometime Illinois resident Alan Keyes is still hot on the talk show circuit.
The Nashville Speakers Bureau says he'll speak to your organization -- in English, French, Spanish or "a little Russian and ancient Greek," according to his bio -- for $12,500 to $17,500. Unclear how the latest news -- kicking his 19-year-old daughter out of the house and refusing to pay her freshman tuition at Brown University after finding out she's a lesbian -- will affect his fee request. See Metro columnist Marc Fisher's column in yesterday's newspaper or online at www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/metro/columns/fishermarc.
Again a Mom, Cheney May Be Again at State
Elizabeth Cheney, who had been deputy assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs (NEA) before leaving in late 2003 to work on the Bush reelection campaign -- and then taking more time off to have her fourth child in July -- is probably rejoining the federal workforce, this time as principal deputy in NEA. A one-step promotion, one-kid addition.