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Jewish World Review Jan. 10, 2003 / 7 Shevat, 5763

Tom Purcell

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Consumer Reports

Republican night life | The Washington, D.C. social life sure has tanked since the Bush people came to town. I read about the problem in the New York Times.

You see, the Washington power types tend to follow the lead of the president. And our Teetotaler in Chief is in bed by 10:00 p.m. and back at his desk before sun up. He keeps a precise schedule and is never late for a meeting. He runs the government like any successful CEO runs a corporation.

And that's a big departure from the Clinton era.

The Clinton folks had a whole different approach to government. Take the inauguration. Whereas the Bush inauguration was a modest affair that concluded early, the Clinton inauguration ran for days. It was kind of like Woodstock, except Woodstock was much better organized and had more Porto-Johns.

While Bush runs a tight ship, Clinton's ship was always sloshing about in splashy waters. Clinton was notoriously late for most every meeting. He loved nothing more than to stay up into the wee hours talking the night away over pizza. In fact the records show that Dominoes spent more time in the White House than Hillary.

Clinton loved Hollywood celebrities. Actor Dennis Quaid once visited Clinton at the White House on a weekday afternoon. The president showed him around the White House, then took him for a ride in the presidential limo. When they returned, Clinton took Quaid to the White House kitchen to have the chef whip up some tasty treats. Quaid said of the visit, "I kind of expected the president would have something more important to do."

While, the Clinton style put the Washington nightlife in overdrive. Whereas Bush hardly ever goes out or hosts big events, the Clintons were always partying. They hosted huge dinners that, to accommodate all their Arkansas friends, required large tents to be pitched on the South Lawn. At Clinton events, there was more big hair bobbing about than you'd find in the beauty salon behind the Kmart.

Now I know some argue the Bush style is the best approach to government and living. I know others will argue the Bush style is too rigid and that Clinton at least knew how to unwind, which is also important. I have to admit I see value in both arguments.

You see, during the workweek, I am a Republican. I believe in discipline and common sense and showing up on time for meetings. But when the weekend comes, I want to be among Democrats. I've found that Democrats are a lot more likely to join me in a beer-chugging contest.

That's not to say that I'm critical of my boring Republican friends. Oh, contraire. Republicans tend to get into the more "logical" fields, such as accounting and engineering, which is a good thing. I want my accountant to get to bed early and wake early, so she can defend me if the IRS ever audits my taxes. I'm glad a clear-headed Republican engineer designed the bridges along the Beltway, so they don't collapse when I drive over them every morning.

And I have to admit, there is something to be said for getting to bed at a reasonable hour and waking early. From January through St. Patrick's Day every year - I have designed my own Lenton period - I give up alcohol and bad food and live a clean Republican existence.

Well, last Monday morning, I was headed to an office building at 6:00 a.m. I was bristling with energy and clarity. I stopped at a convenience store for coffee. People were talking and laughing and greeting good morning to each other. Did you know that there is a whole community of people awake at that hour? Amazing.

But then I'm also glad that writers, artists and musicians live a more Democrat existence. Sure, they're out all night eating bad food, smoking cigarettes and sucking down spirits, but their resulting looseness tends to make for better books, movies and songs. In fact, some of my best ideas have come late at night, while I'm deep in thought beneath a barroom table.

In any event, with Republicans leading the show, the Washington nightlife just isn't what it used to be. I feel bad for all the Washington power people dressed up in their expensive suits and gowns, with nowhere to go and no party food to munch on.

They could always call Dominoes. That poor company has had to lay folks off since the Clintons left town.

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© 2002, Tom Purcell