Lawmaker News

2008 — Year of the Prostitute?

I thought that headline might get your attention. I’m just amazed at the number of high-profile political scandals that have arisen lately dealing with high-priced call-girls (and in some cases, not-so-high-priced ones).

Just when I thought it was safe to go back into the bathroom stall and settle into my wide stance, I hear that Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s (D-Mich.) husband was paying $150 for a hooker to turn tricks in a Michigan hotel. Heck, I think the room was more expensive than the call-girl … a Residence Inn? I can just see the look on Eliot Spitzer’s face based on the thousands he paid for the same “treatment.” What about the current New York governor, David Paterson? I think his first official declaration was that he had engaged in extramarital affairs “numerous times.” So much for a State of the State address.

A True Profile in Courage

“In whatever arena of life one may meet the challenge of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his conscience — the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men — each man must decide for himself the course he will follow.”
— John F. Kennedy

J. Dennis Hastert, the longest-serving Republican Speaker in the history of the House, followed his conscience when he rushed in to defend the House as an institution against an out-of-control Justice Department.

The man he was defending, Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), was not of his party. Most people assumed he was guilty, because he was found with $90,000 of cold cash in the freezer of his house. Jefferson’s own party leadership, fearing political retribution, did little to defend him.

My Friend Howard Metzenbaum

I know it's a cliché, but Howard Metzenbaum, Shirley, his four daughters and his son-in-law were almost like family to me during the formative years of my young adulthood in Cleveland, then Washington. Our closeness survived the sometimes tough confrontations between a reporter and a senator.

The public figure could be a royal pain, to be honest, at the same time the private man was being warm and supportive. So, of course, I will miss him and join the extended Metzenbaum clan in mourning his departure.

Pelosi Admits to Breaking House Rules — Sorta

Well, she didn't come right out and say it, but she came pretty darn close. But, in the spirit of March Madness, I will let you make the call.

During a news conference in the Capitol this morning, I had the opportunity to ask House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) about that little matter from the other night when the Democrats broke their own ethics rules on a procedural vote so they could clear the path and pass … er … another ethics bill. Got that? Can't make this stuff up, folks.

Maybe I should start at the beginning.
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The Great Abdication: The House Outsources Itself Via Creation of New Ethics Office

When Members of Congress depart for their spring vacation, they ought to grab whatever they think they might need for the rest of the year and just stay away — permanently.

With Tuesday night's passage of a bill that creates an outside Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), the House has not only abdicated its responsibilities, but has gone one step further and outsourced its own self-policing duties in violation of the Constitution.

Done in plain view for all to see, the irresponsible decision to create an outside panel kills two weeping eagles with one shotgun blast.

It allows Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to appear as if she has kept her campaign promise to "drain the swamp" and fix the "broken" ethics process, and it helps the Democrats further cozy up to most of the "good-government" groups that have been pushing the idea for years.

Organized Fakery

"It is 3 a.m. The phone rings in room 871 of the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. Something is happening. Who will answer that call? What will she be wearing?"

Mark that down as a political commercial you will never see, except maybe on “Saturday Night Live.”

And for that matter, you can take Eliot Spitzer off of everyone's short list for vice president. He is now about as likely for the Democrats as Larry Craig is for the Republicans.

Actually, both of them could help create that viable third party we have been waiting for for so long. It could finally offer that alternative to the S.O.P., the Same Old Parties.

The Double Standard and the Old Boys Network

A great-looking, young, smart, stylish lobbyist is in a K Street office sitting around a table with several other high-dollar lobbyist colleagues. The lobbyist boasts of having excellent connections with Sen. Maria Cantwell’s (D-Wash.) office and the senator in particular, but it could be Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) or Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings or even Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Would there be speculation that this hot-looking male was having an affair with powerful senators or Cabinet secretaries? Hmm …

This type of scenario happens every hour of every workday in our capital city. It is the business of the town. It happens at embassy dinners, or cocktail receptions, and yes, on the tennis court and golf course. This is the currency of D.C.

Hillary's Plan B

Leaving a historic political career to chance is not an option for Hillary Clinton. Although she got enough marks on the ballots this week to get her campaign out of the ditch for now, the probability of Clinton pulling through to the general election is waning. As a result, the Capitol Hill grist mill is now turning with rumors the New York senator is hatching a deal to replace the inept Harry Reid (D-Nev.) as Senate majority leader.

The thought of resorting to a back-bench player in the Senate a la John Kerry (D-Mass.) post-2004 is unacceptable in the eyes of a Clinton. If she loses this nomination, being a member of the most exclusive club in the world won’t be enough; instead she’s angling to fall back on another authoritative “first female” role.

Coming Up With a Winning Message

It hasn’t been an easy run for House Republicans. Once at the tip of the spear of the revolution, they are disillusioned, depressed and disgusted with themselves.

They know that they screwed up in the 2006 election, and they know that to get it back, they have to change.

But it is not easy to change.

Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy Pass the Torch

Robert Kennedy often quoted Dante that the hottest places in hell are for those who in times of crisis maintain their neutrality.

For Caroline Kennedy and for Ted Kennedy, the 2008 campaign was no time to maintain neutrality. They did not calculate the odds or hold out for the best offer or take the easy and convenient path.

Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) is the lion of the Senate and the lion of American progressivism, while Caroline Kennedy is America's first daughter who treats her father's legacy as a precious trust. They endorsed Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) with a passion and a conviction that was extraordinary, and their comparing Obama to John Kennedy was one of those special and unique moments, so rare in American politics.