A Two-Fer from the Washington Post (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?)
Here's the first: Contrary to what Laura Blumenfeld tells us:
Bill Frist: A Doctor at Heart: Frist, at heart, is a doctor. At 5:45 a.m., before a recent Senate workday, [Bill Frist] prepared for a quirky slice of surgery. During congressional breaks, Frist, 54, has been known to fly to Africa to operate. But in Washington, he has quietly cultivated another practice: gorillas at the National Zoo. "These gorillas seem to develop heart disease," said Frist (R-Tenn.). "It's totally unknown. I did a lit search -- nothing. The fact that we're working on the edge of the unknown is fun."... Frist, in a gray suit, picked up his file marked "ZOO" and said, "We've got to be on time to open the Senate." He climbed into the back of his black SUV; his driver steered toward the zoo. "I gravitate towards insurmountable problems," Frist said, his long legs spilling between the front seats. "I try to use creative solutions." One day, he hopes to cure AIDS or cancer.... At the zoo hospital, a team of four veterinarians, three technicians, an animal keeper and a veterinary dentist were wheeling a 350-pound gorilla into surgery as Frist arrived.... Frist joined the team, as he had on other mornings, tying on a mask. He unbuttoned his business shirt, revealing jungle-pattern surgical scrubs and a pair of hairy, toned biceps.
"A little bit like Superman," said the dentist, Chuck Williams. Frist snapped on rubber gloves. He leaned over the operating table, gripping the corners. An oxygen monitor beeped. The patient gagged. "This is home," Frist said through his mask. "Where I spent 12 hours a day for 20 years." Frist spent so much time in the hospital in Tennessee that when he came home to his wife and three sons he felt like an intruder. He pressed his stethoscope to the gorilla's chest and narrowed his eyes. Kuja, a silverback patriarch, was breathing isofluorine. He was the Senate majority leader of the gorillas, who negotiated disputes, back-slapped the ape boys and owned exclusive mating rights with the females. When Kuja started to stir, a veterinarian injected more anesthesia. One backhanded swipe could break Frist's neck.
Frist listened to the heart; the gorilla's lub-dub sounded human. "When you're this close, you feel this kind of oneness with them," Frist said. The stink of ape sweat and gorilla testosterone soaked his hair and clothes. "Gorillas, people, men. You look at the people here, a symphonic flow of people pitching in. It's the oneness of humanity."...
Republican Senator Bill Frist was not Kuja the gorilla's heart surgeon:
Gorilla dies during heart surgery: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A 23-year-old western lowland gorilla named Kuja died at Washington's National Zoo on Saturday while having surgery for heart disease, officials said. The animal was one of the zoo's two adult male western lowland gorillas, which are an endangered species native to the tropical rain forests of western and central Africa. Kuja died as veterinarians from the University of Alabama and Auburn University tried to implant an electronic cardiac device that zoo officials said would have helped his heart pump more effectively. On June 20, the gorilla was diagnosed with congestive heart failure resulting from a chronic disease of the heart muscle that reduces the organ's ability to pump blood...
Here's the second: Why oh why can't the Washington Post tell us that Mark Penn currently works for Senator Clinton? Outsourced to Greg Sargent:
The Horse's Mouth: AUTHOR OF WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE TOUTING HILLARY ISN'T IDENTIFIED AS HER POLLSTER. Mark Penn published an article in today's Washington Post touting Hillary Clinton's Presidential chances. The paper described Penn as follows:
Mark J. Penn was a key strategist in Clinton's 1996 bid for re-election and in Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign.
As Atrios notes, Penn has recently been identified in various places as Hillary's current strategist. And here's more: As late as March, Penn was actively talking up Hillary's numbers in a private powwow with top New York donors. You can read about it in this item about the session.
Two days ago -- on Monday, March 6 -- Hillary convened a closed-to-the-press meeting of dozens of her top financial supporters at a law firm in Manhattan, and a source of mine who was present in the room has shared some interesting news that is likely to stoke further speculation about her ambitions for 2008. Although the official Hillary position is that she's solely focused on winning re-election in New York, Hillary's top pollster, Mark Penn, spoke to the donors about her national numbers and talked about how those numbers compare to those of other nationally-known Dems, including possible 2008 presidential candidate John Kerry. The source also confides that Penn even cited numbers showing that Hillary is seen as the leader of the party by more national Democrats than... her husband, Bill Clinton.
Though Penn was talking about public polls, Hillary spokesperson Ann Lewis identified him to me as her top pollster in conversations we had when I reported out the item. I'm virtually certain their relationship hasn't changed since then.
What gives, WaPo?
It's worth pointing out that the Washington Post is the rule, not the exception, among the Washington press corps. For example--an example chosen at random--consider this story from Jeff Stein of Congressional Quarterly published last March:
CQ.com: Negroponte Makes the Most of His Post as Minister Without Portfolio: By Jeff Stein, CQ Staff: On many a workday lunchtime, the nominal boss of U.S. intelligence, John D. Negroponte, can be found at a private club in downtown Washington, getting a massage, taking a swim, and having lunch, followed by a good cigar and a perusal of the daily papers in the club's library. "He spends three hours there [every] Monday through Friday," gripes a senior counterterrorism official, noting that the former ambassador has a security detail sitting outside all that time in chase cars. Others say they've seen the Director of National Intelligence at the University Club, a 100-year-old mansion-like redoubt of dark oak panels and high ceilings a few blocks from the White House, only "several" times a week.... [T]here seems to be a new, relaxed John Negroponte. And some close observers think they know why. He's figured out the job. Which is to say, he really doesn't have much control over the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. So why not hang at the University Club?
This was--we all know now--just when Negroponte was about to succeed in persuading George W. Bush that the best option was to force the incompetent Porter Goss out of the CIA. Stein's sources were, we now know, allies of Goss in congress trying a last-ditch defense of some kind, hoping that if Negroponte could be somehow weakened and painted as out-of-touch that their friend Porter Goss would keep his job.