Lawmaker News

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.

Sitting, Standing, Watching, Waiting

Here are some observations of this strange day in politics.

Sitting: The Democrats sat when the president implored the Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to improve education in this country.

Standing: The Democrats stood when the president said we should do something about the Sudan.

Watching: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) looked like she had a terrible case of indigestion as she watched the president gives his final State of the Union.

Waiting: Democrats will probably wait out the clock on the president’s call to make his tax cuts permanent. Get ready for the largest tax increase in history.

Sitting: The Democrats kept sitting when the president called on the Congress to pass legislation to allow our spy agencies to keep listening in on calls from known terrorists.

Standing: The Democrats stood for our veterans, but didn’t stand when the president called for fully funding our troops.

2008 Congress Preview

Peter Fenn & Frank Donatelli go over the many issues that were left on the table this year and are likely to come up next year in Congress.


No pain, no gain

If you don't like preachiness, stop reading now.  I'm about to write about the connections between performance-enhancing drugs and politics.

Of course athletes have been using steroids and HGH.  They, make that we, have been pounded with the message that one can achieve success and avoid the hard work simply by taking some sort of drug.

Since Boomerdom we've been conditioned to believe we can smoke, swallow or inject our way to a quick fix.  So it was a no-brainer for the modern baseball player to be tempted by performance enhancers.  They are a much easier path to hit home runs than the tedious and painful regimens that had become so quaintly obsolete.

The Significance of Joe Lieberman

There was a time when Joe Lieberman Democrats dominated the Democratic Party. Presidents such as Harry Truman, labor leaders like George Meany and Lane Kirkland, intellectuals such as Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Irving Kristol and senators such as Stuart Symington and Henry “Scoop” Jackson combined economic populism with a hard-line foreign policy that focused on fighting America’s enemies wherever they could be found. That was before the party became a captive of feminists, public-sector unions, trial lawyers and ultra-leftist bloggers. As Ronald Reagan, a former Democrat, used to say, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the party left me.”

Thank God! Congress Saves Christmas!

Members of Congress are always threatening to ban frivolous lawsuits. Maybe they should begin by banning frivolous acts of Congress.

Case in point: a resolution actually voted on and approved by the House of Representatives this week declaring that Christmas is important.

It was a tough fight. Debate was fierce. Emotions ran high. But, in the end, advocates of Christmas managed to squeeze out a narrow victory, 372-9. The United States Congress is now officially on record as acknowledging “the international religious and historical importance of Christmas and the Christian faith.”

Henry Hyde

Most people will remember Henry Hyde for his commitment to the unborn or for his role in the impeachment of Bill Clinton (a role he assumed with no great pleasure).

I remember Henry Hyde as simply the greatest orator of his generation.

Watching Hyde speak on the House floor was like watching Larry Bird play basketball or Tiger Woods play golf or Ted Williams swing a baseball bat. It was mesmerizing.