Bush’s Secret to Relaxation

Posted April 15, 2005 at 6:22pm

Since President Bush is so keen on nicknames, we’ve got a new one for him: Box Score.

While some people practice yoga to relax, the president studies the fine print in the sports section. As a result, he’s learned an awful lot of baseball trivia, which impressed the dickens out of Washington Nationals President Tony Tavares

and Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig on Thursday night during the Nationals’ first home game.

The president and first lady Laura Bush sat with Tavares and his family and Selig and his wife, Sue, in what amounted to a presidential box at the game. Tavares told HOH he was in awe of Bush’s knowledge of current baseball events.

“He knows the players, their batting averages. He knows everybody’s starting rotation, the strength of the batting orders. I said, ‘How do you know all this stuff?’”

“I read box scores as a method of relaxation,” the president replied.

Then at one point, between innings as the president, Tavares and Selig sat chatting about baseball, Bush asked the other men, “Hey, who’s the catcher for Philadelphia?”

“Bud and I both drew blanks,” Tavares said. Then the president suddenly recalled, “Oh yeah, Mike Lieberthal.”

Looks like Tavares — who took his wife, Betty Ann, daughters, sons-in-law and grandson, Jack, to the game — found a new pal in Bush, the first president to throw an opening pitch in the nation’s capital since “Tricky Dick” Nixon in 1969.

Box Score seems a kinder, gentler nickname for a president, doesn’t it?

Martinez Campaign Staff Ticked Off. Despite calls by campaign advisers and supporters of Sen. Mel Martinez, the Florida Republican is not going to overhaul his staff in the aftermath of “memogate.”

Sources say the Senator does not plan to make any more staff changes beyond that of Martinez’s counsel, Brian Darling, who left the office. Darling belatedly admitted circulating a memo that urged Republicans to get involved in the Terri Schiavo case, in part because it could yield political benefits.

Martinez’s press secretary, Kerry Feehery, continues to insist that that Schiavo memo was written “unilaterally” by one aide.

However, a Republican source close to the situation said the claim is “preposterous.”

The source told HOH that he knows “for certain” that two other senior Martinez staffers helped Darling write the memo and circulate it to other Republican Senators. “Those three were really working it,” the source said.

But Feehery said, “That is not accurate.” She denied that anyone but Darling was involved in writing the memo. “As far as I’m aware,” she said, “there was one person unilaterally writing the memo.”

And the Senator continues to insist that he had not read the now-famous memo before he inadvertently handed it to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

Several campaign advisers to Martinez told The St. Petersburg Times last week that they are frustrated with the Senator’s handling of the Schiavo memo, and that he should shake up his staff and spend more time focusing on Florida instead of national GOP strategy.

Even the Senator’s biggest media defender, Orlando Sentinel columnist Myriam Marquez, wrote that Martinez needs to take responsibility for his staff’s actions. “If Martinez didn’t know what his lawyer was up to, then the question begs: Who’s really running things?” she wrote.

One former Martinez campaign worker contended to HOH that if Martinez had hired the people who worked tirelessly for him in Florida to join him in Washington — Martinez hired only two campaign staffers after winning his election — then perhaps the Schiavo memo never would have been written.

“The real problem is that there is no one in the office who has institutional knowledge,” the former campaign aide said.

The Senator’s spokeswoman said the Senator is looking at ways “to improve our office procedures and policy to make sure things like this don’t happen.”

DeLay Gets Spanked. Uncle Sam took House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) over his knee on Tax Day and spanked the Texas Republican hard. At least in effigy.

A truck and trailer carrying a 12-foot statue of Uncle Sam spanking DeLay drove laps around the Capitol on Friday. The trailer was stopped briefly by some incredulous, but smiling, Capitol Police officers and their canines, who sniffed the trailer.

“The K-9s checked it thoroughly and realized that Uncle Sam was taking care of the odor,” one person involved in the stunt said in an e-mail to HOH.

The traveling statue, sponsored by the Internet-based group TrueMajority.org, plans to rove (and we don’t mean Karl) through DeLay’s district for the next month. The group, founded by Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, plans to hold a news conference in Houston on Tuesday with Glen Smith, founder of the liberal grass-roots group DriveDemocracy.org, to launch the Houston area drive around.

Toby Chaudhuri, a spokesman for the Campaign for America’s Future, which is coordinating TrueMajority’s campaign, said they plan to pass out literature about DeLay’s ethics controversy to his constituents.

“Republican Members can’t duck DeLay much longer, especially now that Uncle Sam is watching closely,” Chaudhuri said.

Father Knows Best. Looks like the first lady is hitting all the big events in town. After the historic opening night at RFK, now comes the National Fatherhood Initiative’s annual awards gala at the Willard InterContinental Hotel on Tuesday night. Mrs. Bush is scheduled to be the keynote speaker, talking about the “importance fathers play in their children’s life.” (Could it have been President Bush who taught Jenna those wild dance moves?)

Fox News Channel’s Fred Barnes, Orlando Magic Vice President Pat Williams, country music singer Buddy Jewell and Atlanta Falcons cornerback Allen Rossum are winners of the 2005 fatherhood awards. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) also are expected to attend.

Please send your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments to hoh@rollcall.com.