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Briefs (right)

Conservatives Are Wary
Of President’s Pick

By David D. Kirkpatrick

The White House scrambled Monday to prevent conservative backlash over the president’s choice of White House counsel Harriet E. Miers as his next Supreme Court nominee.

Karl Rove, the president’s top political adviser, started calling influential social conservatives to reassure them about the pick even before it was announced. He called James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, over the weekend, and Richard Land, a top public policy official of the Southern Baptist Convention on Monday morning, said several people briefed on the calls. Paul Weyrich, the veteran conservative organizer, said Ed Gillespie, the former Republican Party chairman lobbying for confirmation, called at 7:10 a.m. to tell him the news.

In each call and in a series of teleconferences throughout the day, representatives of the White House promised their conservative supporters that as White House counsel, Miers had played a central role in picking the many exemplars of conservatism among Bush’s previous nominees.

Some of the efforts evidently bore fruit. By day’s end, Dobson, one of the most influential evangelical conservatives, welcomed the nomination. “Some of what I know I am not at liberty to talk about,” he said in an interview, explaining his decision to speak out in support of the nominee. Dobson declined to discuss his conversations with the White House.

Men More Likely to Play
Hooky on Job

By Nathan Hurst

Men are twice as likely as women to play hooky by calling in sick, according to a recent poll.

The 11th annual Attitudes in the American Workplace poll, reported by the Marlin Co., a workplace consulting firm, showed that in the past year, 14 percent of women reported calling in sick when they weren’t, while 29 percent of men admitted to doing so.

Overall, 22 percent of American workers faked a sick day within the last year, the survey reported. Older workers were less likely to lie to take some personal time off, with only 15 percent of workers age 50 or older faking illness. Workers with children under the age of 18 were only slightly more likely to lie about illness, with 19 percent of those working parents surveyed reporting calling in sick.

The poll also looked at workers’ access to health insurance, and found some inequities in how America’s labor force is covered.

Overall, 89 percent of workers surveyed were covered by health insurance of some kind, but only 69 percent of those making less than $20,000 a year had coverage. Younger workers are less likely to have insurance than older workers, the survey found.