By Jeff Dufour - 02/16/06 12:00 AM EST
Talk about a house divided. The recent about-face by Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) on stem cells, an act of treachery to conservative activists, hit pretty close to home for the bill’s author, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), who happens to be Talent’s Capitol Hill roommate.
Talent plucked his name off Brownback’s list of co-sponsors last week, a move amplified to the conservative world by syndicated columnist Robert Novak on Monday.
“When I told Brownback on Wednesday that Talent might get off his bill, that was the first he had heard of it,” Novak reported.
In a brief interview with The Hill on Monday, Brownback declined to say where Talent would end up on the issue but indicated there may be some domestic lobbying.
“We’ll discuss it,” he said.
Talent’s office did not return a call for comment.
Members: Good at playing make-believe
It’s a good time to be a congressional thespian. The same week that a gaggle of members, lobbyist and pundits tried their hand at irreverent deconstructions of Shakespeare, we get word that several more members will star in a comedic whodunit next month for Arena Stage’s annual benefit production.
This year’s show, on March 6, is titled “The Pundit Whodunit: The Case of the Political Puzzle.”
Written by local playwright Harry Bagdasian, the crime-solving mystery stars Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii); Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) and John Spratt (D-S.C.); and a dozen media types.
Inouye will be honored for his support of arts and culture.
The production benefits Arena Stage’s education activities.
This comes after Monday’s performance of “Will on the Hill,” the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual benefit that has members taking a comedic turn on the works of the Bard.
The selection of short skits included Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) giving the entire plot of “Hamlet” in a five-line limerick, AOL’s Jim Kimsey announcing “You’ve got mail” as the Messenger in “Antony and Cleopatra” and Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) offering his best Richard III.
“As the hunchbacked King Richard III, I uttered one of Shakespeare’s immortal lines, ‘Now is the winter of our discontent,’” Leach said. “It didn’t take any acting to invest the phrase with meaning.”
That’s ‘Bayner,’ thank you
With all the joking about the mispronunciation of his last name getting out of hand, Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is getting in on the act himself.
At a meeting with constituents in Eaton, Ohio, on Monday, Boehner remembered his first run for Congress.
According to the Palladium-Item of Richmond, Ind., Boehner recalled “courting party leaders and handing out literature. One county ‘pol’ looked at his name and asked, ‘How can someone named ‘boner’ run for office?’”
Especially when his primary opponent was a former congressman named Tom Kindness.
“I didn’t have a chance,” he told The New Republic in 1995. “I was in seventh. I mean, when your name is Beener? Bonner? Boner? And your opponent is Kindness?”
Nevertheless, Boehner’s successful run ushered in an era of boners — er, mistakes — regarding his name.
Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) famously got it wrong on cable news, and former Rep. Jerry Kleczka (D-Wis.) did likewise in a committee hearing.
And after his election to leader, many a blog, including favorite guilty pleasure Wonkette, tried to have some fun with the name before realizing how it was actually pronounced.
But Boehner spokesman Kevin Madden assures us that at least the mainstream media appears to get it. “I haven’t heard that one about his name,” he said. “Most everyone has the pronunciation down.”
Of course, things could be worse for Boehner. Just ask Rep. Bill Boner, the Democrat from Tennessee who served in the House from 1979 to 1987.
Schmidt chafes at opponent cutting her cake throat
“As a public official you must have thick skin,” embattled Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) said in a release yesterday. Thick enough to repel a cake knife, even.
In an e-mail headed “Cutting Off Head in Effigy Way Too Far,” Schmidt called out her onetime opponent and longtime antagonist, state Rep. Tom Brinkman (R), for beheading her image on a cake Monday night.
Brinkman unsuccessfully ran against Schmidt in the GOP primary last year for the open 2nd District seat. This year, he’s bowed out of a rematch in deference to former Rep. Bob McEwen.
But at Monday’s fundraiser for the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes, Brinkman, McEwen and others all gathered around the cake, which read “Marie Antoinette ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ Award/Jean Schmidt.”
According to Schmidt, “All laughed as [Brinkman] placed the knife to my throat and cut. They had a great time pretending to cut off my head.”
“It was fairly gruesome,” said Schmidt’s campaign manager, Allen Freeman. “It’s just so immature, it’s unbelievable.”
In a statement e-mailed to The Hill, Brinkman said, “She is shameless and continues to embarrass. ... Nevertheless, she is on my prayer list.”
They’re fighters, not lovers
The respective parties’ congressional committees took no break from their election-year bitterness on Valentine’s Day, as they exchanged sarcasm-laden greetings Tuesday.
Referring to as-yet-unsuccessful efforts by Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) to get Iraq war vet Paul Hackett to run for the House after he bowed out of the Ohio Senate race, GOP spokesman Carl Forti quipped, “Perhaps Rahm Emanuel should redouble his efforts and send Paul Hackett cheesecake, flowers and a card asking him to ‘Be my candidate.’”
Not to be outdone, DCCC spokesman Bill Burton told ABC’s The Note that to help National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.) and the NRCC celebrate Valentine’s Day, the DCCC will be delivering “a gallon of bleach to help them clean out the House, a bucket of change to give them an idea of what’s coming, and an orange vest just in case Dick Cheney gets too close.”
We’re not holding our breath for them to kiss and make up, though Emanuel recently told The Hill that he and Reynolds are good friends.
Jonathan Allen contributed to this page.