Three lawmakers to celebrate Sept. 11 birthdays — or not

The day is generally deemed the darkest day of the year, but three members of Congress — Reps. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.) and Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) — will celebrate birthdays on Thursday, Sept. 11.

Murphy, who turns 56, has had a change of heart about his birthday.

“I no longer hold big celebrations on my birthday out of respect for the thousands of Americans that lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001,” said Murphy in a statement released Wednesday.

“On that day, Flight 93 flew over my district and I cannot help but be touched each year since that day by the heroism of the passengers who decided not to immediately rush the cockpit while the plane flew over our homes and our schools. Rather, they waited until they were flying over less populated land to minimize the loss of life. Sept. 11 is a day to remember these patriots and to reflect and to celebrate all the heroes of 9/11.”

Ellsworth, whose press office did not return calls on the matter, turns 50 on Thursday.

Jon Yoshimura, spokesman for Akaka, says it’s a phenomenon that can’t be changed. “In my mother’s case, [it’s] April 4, 1968, when Martin Luther King was assassinated. She was born in 1931.” Akaka turns 84 on Thursday.

Yoshimura said Akaka’s staff does not ignore the boss’s birthday. “We celebrate his birthday with some cake and ice cream, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that it is the date of the most horrible attack on American soil in our history,” he said. “While we do celebrate his birthday, we are reminded of the events of that day and what kind of world we now live in.”


Corcoran debuts bipartisan exhibit from late fashion photographer

If you think the daily images of the presidential candidates are getting stale, you can see other portraits of politicians at a new Corcoran Gallery of Art exhibit.

Starting Saturday, the gallery will feature portraits of Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and a slew of other past and present politicos in its new exhibition, “Richard Avedon: Portraits of Power.”

Avedon, a now-deceased fashion photographer who worked for Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and The New Yorker, didn’t use only Democrats for subjects. The exhibition also features portraits of former Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Washingtonians, regardless of their political affiliations, will enjoy the show, curator Paul Roth said.

“[Avedon] was really interested in how people interacted with the world,” he said. “He was always actually very concerned about the issue of partisan imbalance. He tried really hard to have a balanced representation. It was really important to him.”

The show runs through Jan. 25, 2009.


Rep. Miller has used ‘I am a congressman’ line before

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) appears to have a history with using his title to grant him perks.

Last spring, at an Appropriations Committee hearing, according to two sources, a committee aide had placed some of his  belongings on an unreserved seat and was talking with a lawmaker when Miller walked in.

The sources said that Miller, who does not sit on the Appropriations Committee, asked the person sitting in an adjacent seat about who was sitting in the aforementioned seat.

The person named the aide — to which Mr. Miller said, “Well, is he a member of Congress?”

He then took the aide’s seat, the sources added.

When the aide returned to find the congressman in his seat, Miller said, “I’m a congressman.”

“How rude!” an aide who witnessed the incident wrote in an e-mail.

Miller strongly denies this account of Seatgate. He denied using his member status to take the staffer’s seat. On the contrary, Miller said, he was directed to the seat by a Democratic aide.

Later, he added, another Democratic aide told him he could not sit there, at which point Miller recalled saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Congressman Miller.”

Miller said the aide turned and walked away and Miller sat down. Miller said he tried to reserve a seat days in advance, but was told there would be no reserved seats but that he would be accommodated.

“I did what I was instructed to do,” Miller told ITK.

Earlier this week, ITK reported that Miller used his title as a congressman to get through an exit blocked by security at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.


Gov. Palin wants her hairdo back

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) was spotted Tuesday on the House floor wearing a hairstyle similar to that of Alaska GOP Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.)  vice presidential running mate.

The Palin hairdo involves sweeping the hair upward into a messy beehive, while leaving full bangs and hair atop the front of the head smooth.

Claude Chafin, Blackburn’s spokesman, said Blackburn was not imitating Palin and has worn her hair like that for years. “She’s not wearing it up because of anything to do with Sarah Palin,” he said. “If she’s rushing in early and wants to put it up quick, she often does that. As much as she appreciates Gov. Palin, she is not copying her hairstyle. Her hairstyle today is a consequence of humidity and time, not the popularity of the GOP ticket.”

How long does it take Blackburn to put her hair in this Palin beehive? “Longer than it takes to blow-dry her hair,” Chafin said, noting that his boss told him she had been running late, washed her hair and it hadn’t dried fast enough and “she just threw it up.”

Said a female House aide who noticed the hairdo: “I think Blackburn pulled the hairstyle off well. It’s an Audrey Hepburn-meets-Washington ’do and I love it!”

Fred Hawck, a stylist at D.C.’s One80 Salon, said the Palin hairdo is easy to recreate. First, he says, you tease the hair underneath to make it fuller, leaving it bigger at the top in the crown. The bottom is brought up into a twist. “The basic one you could put up in 10 minutes or less,” he says.

But Hawck isn’t such a fan. “It kind of reminded me of that character in ‘Absolutely Fabulous,’ a British show in the ’90s,” he said, explaining that one female character wore her hair in a really big twist.

Like a true Washingtonian, Hawck spoke of Palin’s hairdo as if a team of campaign aides were managing it. “I expect it’s going to change at some point,” he said. “You just don’t see a lot of political women with hair past their shoulders. I don’t think they know what to do with it. I think they kind of want it up so it’s not so long.”

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