Hyphengate: Wasserman Schultz calls CQ sexist

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is raising hell these days, and it concerns what she claims is Congressional Quarterly’s sexist policy of hyphenating names. For months, Wasserman Schultz has been angered over the fact that CQ repeatedly hyphenates her last name against her wishes.

When Wasserman Schultz first got married, she decided to use her maiden name, Wasserman, but added “Schultz,” unhyphenated, to share the same last name with her husband and, later on, their children.

“It’s my personal choice and personal name,” says Wasserman Schultz, who first had her spokesman address the matter with CQ reporters. “Look, this is not personal, but my name is spelled how I choose to spell it.”

When discussions with reporters didn’t work, the congresswoman’s spokeswoman went up the chain of command. Last week, the CQ executive board met and decided to drop the hyphen. But there is a catch. Since their stylebook doesn’t change until the year’s end, her name will not appear hyphen-less until January.

“Women need to be able to decide what they are called,” she said.

Wasserman Schultz stressed that the CQ reporters she dealt with were receptive to her. It’s the “nameless, faceless” higher-ups, she said, who were less accommodating. “I’m just glad they did the right thing,” she said. “It was a sexist policy.”

This isn’t the first time the lawmaker has experienced frustration over her name. When she was a state senator, her name would not fit on the voting screen; just “Schultz” appeared.

Editor and senior vice president of Congressional Quarterly Michael Riley said, “CQ is not sexist. We’re nonpartisan politically and we don’t want to be sexist either. I’m the new editor. I first learned of this issue last week and it caused me some concern. I did ask the right people to look into what the issues were and decided we should honor the congresswoman’s requests.”

Riley said the decision was likely made 10 to 15 years ago. “We’re not just a daily and weekly publication, but we have this massive set of 33 databases. So the reason for the delay is that we have a very complex set of databases that would have to change all [at] once rather than having it done piecemeal. It’s far more complex than I wish it was.”

Riley also said there were some editors who argued against Wasserman Schultz’s wishes. “Their initial concern was how [we would] handle the databases,” Riley said. “There were some practitioners of the old style.”

He added, “A given style should not get in the way of common sense.”

Beauty alert: Sen. Coleman changes his hairstyle

Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) now parts his hair on the side. Previously he combed it straight back, as seen in his 2007 facebook. Now his campaign website shows him in a whole new light — with a side part. ITK wanted to know whether it’s part of an image-control plan to make him look less slick and more nerdy for his 2008 reelection bid, but his office did not respond to the call by press time.

Line dancing in the Rayburn garage: ‘It’s electric!’

Rep. Dan Lungren’s (R-Calif.) spokesman, Brian Kaveney, had one of those “You know it’s an odd day when …”  experiences driving into G2 of the Rayburn House Office Building one morning last week. Instead of being greeted by the normally bleak surroundings of a gray garage, he ran into eight male dancers in dark blue shirts, all led by a woman named Loretta in white. (“Come on, Loretta,” the men said. “Teach us the moves.”) The music blared; the men, believed to be catering guys, made an attempt at the Electric Slide.

But dancing isn’t everyone’s strong suit. “They were horrible, they were all over the place,” said Kaveney.
The aide also marveled at their early-morning dancing efforts. “Probably the most bizarre thing I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” he said.

Up close and personal with The Capitolist

Until now, no one has seen The Capitolist, the incognito blogger whose day job is being a 20-something Senate aide on Capitol Hill.

Last week, ITK met up with the male aide in an undisclosed hallway in the Capitol on an undisclosed stone bench.

ITK will keep details vague to protect his anonymity. Let’s just say he’s six feet tall, with shaggy brown hair and a mischievous smile. He’s fair-skinned and doesn’t like the beach. He loves baby back ribs.

The whole concept behind his blog is that participants anonymously post their frustrations and thoughts about happenings on the Hill.

The Capitolist sees the site as a “release valve” for aides who take themselves too seriously.

The Capitolist knows he could get fired for the site, but he isn’t too nervous about getting caught — he doesn’t plan on working on the Hill “forever.”

So far, the site is not terribly substantive, unless you count hot interns, midday erections and rumors of liaisons between lawmakers and interns important policy.

 ITK also conducted an online interview with the Capitolist:

Q: Why did you start this?

A: I wanted to create a forum for Hill people to speak openly and honestly. It’s an experiment. I feel that the Hill culture is too secretive, too cautious, and I hope the site will open things up a bit.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish?

A: Ideally, I’d like for there to be substantive discussions about policy and politics and discussions about the less serious aspects of working on the Hill. I’d like for Hill staffers to report the news as they experience it.

Q: How can aides be assured anonymity?

A: I don’t keep track of IP addresses. And even if I did “out” someone, that would essentially destroy the site. People have to trust the site for it to work, and there’s no way I’m going to jeopardize that. People just have to be smart and not say something that identifies them.

Q: What happens if the site becomes raunchy?

A: If the site does succeed, there will be a raunchy side to it. For now, I just hope that people become comfortable using it.