By Betsy Rothstein - 02/07/07 12:00 AM EST
Reporter dresses down DeMint on knowledge of resolution
In a move that raised eyebrows last week, David Rogers, a political reporter for The Wall Street Journal, publicly questioned Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-S.C.) knowledge of a bipartisan Iraq war resolution introduced by some of his colleagues.
The resolution, introduced by ranking Armed Services Committee member Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), and cosponsored by Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), disagrees with President Bush’s troop surge but supports vigorous operations against al Qaeda in Anbar province.
In a press briefing of GOP senators who disagreed with the resolution — they included DeMint, John Cornyn (R-Texas) and David Vitter (R-La.) — Rogers pointedly asked DeMint, “Did you read the resolution?”
DeMint, who looked embarrassed, replied that he read the summary of the resolution. Other reporters began to snicker. But Rogers didn’t let up. In a classroom moment, he lectured DeMint on the contents of the resolution.
And as it happens, there is no summary of the three-page resolution. What Rogers may not know is that DeMint was referring to an inner-office summary of all the competing resolutions that his aides had prepared for him.
DeMint’s aides expressed to bystanders that they considered Rogers’s questioning a cheap shot but would not say anything on the record. “We decline to comment,” said DeMint’s spokesman, Wesley Denton.
A Senate Republican aide who attended the press conference remarked, “It’s a reporter’s job to ask tough questions, but continuously interrupting a senator’s response is rude and inappropriate regardless of how long you’ve been covering Capitol Hill. His behavior definitely raised a lot of eyebrows among those who were there that morning.”
Rogers, however, had little to say about his nervy behavior: “Mr. DeMint has not complained to me about my question,” the longtime Capitol Hill reporter said.
Pelosi aide to Rep. Foxx: Where’s the congressman?
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) was a little taken aback some weeks ago when she went to the Rayburn Room of the Capitol to have her photograph taken with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the first female Speaker in the nation’s history.
A historic moment it wasn’t for Foxx. According to an ITK spy, as Foxx waited to get her picture taken, a Pelosi aide asked, “Where’s the member?” During the episode a witness said it was made clear to the lawmaker that Pelosi’s aide was looking for a male lawmaker named Foxx. After Foxx explained that she was, in fact, the member, she did have her picture taken with Pelosi.
Foxx, a second-term lawmaker who won her recent race with 57 percent of the vote, was surprised and found it ironic, in an era boasting of a record number of female representatives, that anyone would be surprised by her gender.
Michael Frohlich, Foxx’s spokesman, declined to speak on the matter.
Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s spokesman, remarked, “We had 219 members through the Rayburn room in three hours. We changed the setup and had two [photo] positions available in order to expedite things. We have gotten good feedback on how smooth the process went. This is obviously a huge day for members and their families and we made every effort to accommodate these members. The Speaker felt it was a priority to make the process as smooth as possible.”
According to a Democratic aide who was there, “All of Pelosi’s staff that ran that event were female. I don’t see that [it] can possibly be a sexist thing.” The aide noted that a female aide to former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) who had handled this event before was there to help Pelosi’s staff.
The same Democratic aide expressed disbelief that Foxx went unrecognized, noting that she is well known among Capitol Hill staff for her propensity to wear colorful, festive sweaters and her efforts to commemorate the Christmas tree on the House floor.
Moran, a new puppy owner, introduces fur legislation
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) is concerned about faux fur these days. Not the kind made of the synthetic stuff — the kind really made of dog and cat.
Moran is scheduled to convene a press conference today to announce legislation demanding that all fur garments or products be accurately labeled. As it stands, products costing under $150 do not have to be.
Jay-Z, the rapper, has a line of clothing called Rocawear, a “faux”-fur line that actually contains raccoon dog fur. Raccoon dog is a species of dog in China. To extract the fur, the animal is skinned and the fur is sent to the United States.
“You’ve got a situation where the consumers don’t know what kind of fur is being used,” explained Moran spokesman Austin Durrer. Singer Beyonce, who is romantically linked to Jay-Z, also had a line of clothing containing dog fur; once she discovered it, however, she canceled the shipment from China.
Moran’s legislation would also ban uses of raccoon dog fur. The congressman has been working on the cause with the Humane Society, which has also condemned the use of raccoon dog fur.
Moran also points the finger at JCPenney, which he claims has not been accommodating public concerns. “He believes that Americans don’t agree with using cats and dogs for making fur garments,” said Durrer. “They should be accurately labeled.”
On a side note, Moran recently acquired a portuguese water dog puppy named Porty. Surely the congressman wouldn’t want his dog skinned for the sake of a “faux” fur jacket. Asked if the congressman had any faux fur in his wardrobe, Durrer said he thought not.
Creative coalition hosts screening of “Gray Matters”
Star offers pointed advice to Sen. Clinton
Last Thursday night, actors, fashion professionals, and members of the media came to the Swedish Embassy for the Washington, D.C., movie premiere of “Gray Matters,” co-hosted by Swedish Ambassador Gunnar Lund and Joe Pantoliano of the Creative Coalition.
The premiere was the first screening held at the newly completed embassy, called the House of Sweden, which has open windows on all sides “meant to convey Swedish values of openness and transparency,” according Lund. Actors Heather Graham, Alan Cummings, Joe Pantoliano and Rachel Shelley walked in together for a photo-op, which was followed by a brief introduction by Lund and Sue Kramer, the director of “Gray Matters.”
The Hill spoke with the stars about what they think of the nation’s capital and what they would like to say to people on Capitol Hill.
Graham remarked, “I like D.C. a lot because I lived here when I was a kid.” A message for lawmakers: “I think we should be doing more to help with Darfur. And global warming as well.”
Cummings was more pointed in his remarks. “D.C. is very nice. I always like coming here. It’s like a power theme park.”
He did have some advice for presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.): “I would like to speak to Hillary Clinton and say, ‘Don’t you feel that you still polarize people too much? As much as I admire you, you shouldn’t polarize people.’”
Pantoliano added of D.C.: “I love it. When I was a kid, I went around 60 days in a Greyhound bus, wound up in D.C., saw the monuments and everything else. I also met my first love here. In 1976 she was hired as part of a troubadour group and performed at the monuments.”
And to lawmakers? “I can talk to anyone on the Hill,” Pantoliano said. “I say whatever is on my mind.”
Rep. Clay: a teeth update
ITK reported last week that Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) had the braces on his top teeth removed and that he lost his retainer in the House gym. Thankfully he replaced the retainer last week — the new piece set the lawmaker back $78. “The key is don’t lose them,” he said, putting the contraption into his mouth.
Rep. Alexander’s mother dies
Condolences to Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.), whose mother, Evelyn, died early Friday morning. The funeral was held Sunday.
Evelyn Alexander, of Jonesboro, La., was 82. She was an ordained Church of God minister and a bus driver for 56 years. Her health had been declining for a long time, and she suffered a stroke last week.
“Our office was deeply saddened by news of Mrs. Evelyn Alexander’s passing,” said Jenni Terry, Alexander’s spokeswoman. “We are continuing to keep the Alexander family in our thoughts and prayers.”
Donations to honor Evelyn Alexander can be made to the Jackson Parish Library, 614 South Polk Ave., Jonesboro, La. 71251, to the attention of Minnie Pate.
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Alexander Harrison contributed to this report.