RE M.K.A., FYI: At NATO, diplomats talk almost exclusively in initials. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who once vowed to make diplomacy understandable to the person in the street, now converses in fluent NATO-speak. In Luxembourg last week for, among other things, a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, or NUC (pronounced like slang for an atomic bomb), Albright said that in light of violence in the Serbian province of Kosovo, the Atlantic Alliance will “upgrade a planned exercise in the FYROM” and “study how NATO could support the OSCE monitoring mission now deployed along Albania’s border with the FRY.” To the uninitiated, the FYROM is the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a mouthful adopted by NATO to account for Greece’s objection that calling the country Macedonia, as the Macedonians do, might imply that the birthplace of Alexander the Great was someplace other than Greece. The FRY, pronounced like something you eat with a hamburger, is the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. OSCE? Oh, that’s the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
STRESS TEST: Monday is a day that will no doubt rivet the attention of President Clinton’s biographers: His ever-present platoon of lawyers was readying a deadline filing to the Supreme Court, trying to persuade the high court not to intervene in a key aspect of the Monica S. Lewinsky investigation. Indeed, the president himself had helped fashion a tactical shift. He would drop his claim of executive privilege, thereby eluding further parallels to the Watergate-obsessed Nixon White House. Then, 30 minutes before the legal papers were due, an urgent message blared in the White House press room: Line up at once, if you’re in the pool for a presidential outing. And that would be? Yes, Mr. Twain, the good walk spoiled. On this afternoon, Clinton once again subordinated his stress and headed for the golf course.
$100,000 DOWN: House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) has ponied up another big chunk of change to atone for his violations of House rules. After the House last year levied a $300,000 penalty against him to help cover its investigative costs, Gingrich worked out an installment plan for forking over the cash. On Monday, a personal check for $50,000 made out to the U.S. Treasury was delivered on time to the House Ethics Committee. Gingrich paid the first $50,000 a year ago and another $50,000 is due in November. He has the option of paying the final $150,000, due Jan. 2, with a loan from former Sen. Bob Dole. Spokesman Andrew Weinstein said Gingrich has not decided whether to take advantage of Dole’s offer.
THE FORDSTERS: Once a year, former President Ford hosts a Washington dinner for the loyalists who served his accidental administration, delighting that many of his top aides--Carla Anderson Hills, William Coleman, William E. Simon, Dick Cheney--went on to become leading Republican lights. All were on hand Monday night to celebrate Ford’s 85th birthday, Betty Ford’s 80th, the jubilee year of their wedding and his election to Congress, and the 25th anniversary of his swearing in as Nixon’s vice president. “A lot of you people have gotten older. But you’re as old as you feel. And if any of you doubt that, I know a great drug I can recommend,” said Viagra-trialster Dole, Ford’s 1976 running mate.