By Betsy Rothstein - 10/31/07 07:20 PM EDT
Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) may have had it with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) these days, or else he’s really having back issues.
Last week the congressman, known for his firebrand politics against Pelosi, was spotted walking stiffly through the Speaker’s Lobby with a slight hunch in his neck. To say he looked like he was in wrenching pain is an understatement.
“I’ll pray for you,” a female security guard called after him.
“Thank you,” he replied, turning his head barely to the right, telling her he was going to the doctor that afternoon.
McHenry Spokesman Wes Climer joked, “It’s a reoccurring injury from saving a group of Boy Scouts and nuns from a bear.”
More seriously, he said, McHenry is recovering, but slowly: “I think it’s pretty painful,” he said. “But on the plus side, the Congressman’s injury has no bearing on his backbone.”
Sen. McConnell’s security umbrella
There are perks to being a member of Senate leadership. One is that when rain is pouring, someone with an umbrella escorts you from your front door to the car.
Last Thursday morning, when it was raining, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) four-person security detail showed up at his house and was spotted leading him to his SUV with an umbrella. McConnell lives half a block from the Hart Senate Office Building.
His personal office is in the Russell Building. He also has, of course, a plush office in the Capitol.
Reporter places interview request with late Rep. Davis
Last week a Congressional Quarterly reporter put in a ticket in the Speaker’s Lobby to interview Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-Va.).
But he was a little late.
The congresswoman died earlier this month after a long bout of breast cancer. The reporter, who will remain unnamed, handled his embarrassment well. When told that Davis was in fact deceased, his face turned red as he replied sheepishly, “Is that a no?”
Rep. Blumenauer defends his bowtie-wearing ways
Does the tie make the man?
A new national survey by HCD Research recently examined wearers of bowties and found that men who wear them are perceived as older, fidgety, dull, more scientific and “a little weird.”
Not so, says Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a House member known for wearing bowties more often than any other member.
“I can’t imagine anyone suggesting I am quirky,” Blumenauer told ITK last week, although we suspect there was an intonation of sarcasm. “Hard to imagine! My staff would be stunned!”
Study participants were divided into three groups. Members of each group were asked to view one of three photos of a faceless male figure sporting a bowtie, a necktie and no tie at all. Then, they were asked questions about that man’s personal and demographic characteristics.
Those questioned on the bowtie photo described him as older, a Republican, a store clerk, smart, brainy, dull and rigid. Fewer people thought the bowtie wearer was strong, smooth or a leader.
Blumenauer charged that the results of the study are an effort by the “long tie people” to corner the market.
Would people want this bowtie man around? Not as much as other men, the study reveals. Few participants wanted the bowtie wearer in the neighborhood, as a friend or in the family.
The congressman, also well-known for riding his bike to work and wearing a bike pin, said he put deep thought into the bowtie before he began wearing it.
“It’s like transitioning into a new high school at the end of the semester,” he said. “It was a modest way to have a sense of identity.”
What’s more, he said, “I like them. I don’t have to wear my member’s pin. I have a bowtie and a bicycle and they wave me in.”
Blumenauer’s fashion forecast: “It’s coming back!”
Others who have worn the bowtie: former Sens. Paul Simon (D-Ill.) and Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.); the late historian Arthur Schlesinger; President Harry Truman; and the Rev. Louis Farrakhan. MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson used to wear bowties, but has switched to wearing only long ties.
Indiana Jones to grace halls of Union Station
Harrison Ford is expected to show up to Union Station on Thursday night for Conservation International’s environmental gala. But don’t expect him to fly solo. On his arm will be longtime girlfriend Calista Flockhart, event organizers insist.
“He’s a little bit of a recluse,” an organizer remarked, explaining there would be only a few seconds of pre-event face time. “He’s coming with Calista just to hang out. He brings her to all the events. That’s good eye candy, alone.”
’Tis the season to get shingles
Rep. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), spotted last week with red patches running up the right side of his face, disclosed that he is recovering from shingles. “They’ve started to dry up,” he said.
Shingles, typically associated with the elderly, is a sometimes-painful rash caused by the Varicella zoster virus (Herpes varicellae), the virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles is a reactivation of the dormant virus among those who had it as children.
Meanwhile, Ed McDonald, spokesman to Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.) came down with shingles this summer “in a very inappropriate place.” Put it this way, McDonald said: “It made it difficult to sit down for a few days.”
McDonald’s doctor asked whether he was stressed at work. “I said, ‘Doc, I work for the least stressful member of Congress. My stress comes from watching the Baltimore Orioles blow a 5-0 lead in the ninth inning.’ They have done that on numerous occasions this year.”
Death of a BlackBerry
Last week, ITK invited members of the Capitol Hill community to send in stories of how their BlackBerrys met their demise.
A male House aide submitted the following:
“In April, while attending the Great Georgia Turkey Shoot at the Townsend Bombing Range … I had an occasion to use a portable toilet. After locking the door and as I was turning to use the facilities, my hand hit my BlackBerry at just the right spot to dislodge the belt clip and send the BlackBerry flying. As luck would have it, it landed directly in the toilet and sunk. While I did not try to rescue said BlackBerry, I do have to admit I spent a good 5 to 10 seconds trying to figure out if I could save the device from a port-a-potty death. Needless to say, trying to explain what happened to my office manager was not the most fun I have ever had at work.”
If anyone has a “Death of a BlackBerry” story to share, please send to ITK at Betsyr@thehill.com.
Cantor’s chief of staff and wife say hello to newborn son
Rob Collins, chief of staff to Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and wife Susan proudly announce the recent birth of their first child, Patrick John Collins. He weighed pounds, 2 ounces and is 20.5 inches long.
“Mom and Patrick are a little tired but doing really well,” Collins wrote in a mass e-mail. “All three of us are feeling very blessed.”
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Mike Soraghan contributed to this report.