By Jeff Dufour - 10/12/05 12:00 AM EDT
During his remarks toward the end of last Thursday’s lavish 50th Anniversary party for National Review, founding editor William F. Buckley Jr. pointed down to the head table to single out … who? Rush Limbaugh? Tom DeLay? George Will?
No, although all were in attendance. The conservative icon pointed out Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.), a Democrat. In fact, Buckley said, Lieberman is his favorite Democrat.
Why? A Lieberman spokeswoman explains that both men were editors of the Yale Daily News and became acquainted through the paper. Also, Buckley famously crossed party lines to support Lieberman in his first Senate run in 1990 against Republican-in-name-only Lowell Weicker, the incumbent.
The Buckley-Lieberman friendship isn’t sitting well with some on the left, most notably bloggers. The Atrios blog dug up a National Review editorial from 1957 that suggests that whites are a more civilized race than “Negroes,” and the blog wonders what Lieberman’s “priorities” are in attending an event that honors the magazine’s history.
Blogger Steve Gilliard asks, “why is he sitting at the head table of racists like Buckley, who’s [sic] race baiting is legendary and archived, and Rush Limbaugh, who’s [sic] disdain for blacks is well known.”
But Marshall Wittman, who was an aide to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) before moving to the Democratic Leadership Council, defends Lieberman’s choice of company.
On his Bull Moose blog, Wittman writes: “The bloggers employ the most obscene guilt-by-association tactics by attempting to slander Senator Lieberman because the National Review was once opposed to federal desegregation efforts. What these bloggers do not realize, or else ignored, is that Joe Lieberman bravely stood up for civil rights long before they were born. In 1963, a young Joe Lieberman went to Mississippi to assist in the effort to register African-American voters.”
Members back to school for tailgate fundraiser
Penn State, whose football program has been in the doldrums of late, hasn’t had a big football game in a number of years.
So when the unbeaten Nittany Lions welcomed rival Ohio State to Happy Valley this weekend, a caravan of members and lobbyists made the trek to Pennsylvania.
After spending seven hours driving in the rain to State College, Pa., on Friday night, the group repaired to the Rathskeller at the behest of Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), who spent many a night at the local bar as an undergrad.
Saturday saw six hours of tailgating (and fundraising) for Feeney and Pennsylvania Republican Reps. Jim Gerlach and Tim Murphy. Joining them were about 50 of Feeney’s friends, college roommates and their families. The group was undeterred by the rain and at least initially, its lack of a grill — a situation remedied by Feeney Chief of Staff and procurement chief Jason Roe, who visited two Wal-Marts and a Target and assembled the machinery on site.
A source said Rep. Mike Oxley (R-Ohio) was supposed to attend but canceled Saturday morning “due to the rain.” But perhaps Oxley, who received his law degree from Ohio State, simply saw the writing on the wall, as Penn State won 17-10.
“I’m still in shock,” Feeney said. “I’m soaking in a big victory because it’s been so long.”
Feeney could be in trouble at home, however, because he skipped his in-laws’ 60th wedding anniversary, which happened to be taking place only three hours away in Pittsburgh. “Apparently, 60 years ago somebody didn’t plan very well,” an unrepentant Feeney said.
Ava Gardner makes post offices pleasant again
After last month’s defeat of a measure to name a Berkeley, Calif., post office after controversial local figure Maudelle Shirek, it’s good to see once again a post-office naming that everyone can get behind.
Rep. Bob Etheridge (D), who represents Ava Gardner’s hometown of Smithfield, N.C., last week won House passage of a bill to name the Smithfield post office after the illustrious late actress, once considered one of the most beautiful women in the world. She starred in 46 films, including “The Killers,” “Around the World in 80 Days” and “Night of the Iguana.”
“Ava Gardner represents the can-do attitude and patriotism embodied by the people of our county,” said Etheridge when he introduced the bill.
Gardner will no longer be outdone by her most famous paramour, Frank Sinatra, who had his own post office dedicated in Hoboken, N.J., in 2003. Gardner had been linked romantically with Artie Shaw, Mickey Rooney and Howard Hughes, but it is the Chairman of the Board, who was married to her from 1951 to ’57, to whom she is most closely linked in the public imagination.
Dr. J appears with Smith but misses Dr. Frist
Even doctors sometimes need an appointment.
On the Hill on Thursday to promote a bill dealing with umbilical-cord blood, basketball legend Julius “Dr. J” Erving held a press conference with Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the sponsor of the bill, as well as doctors, patients and medical experts.
After the morning presser, Erving tried to land a last-minute meeting with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). But it was no dice for the 11-time NBA all-star.
The senator would have loved to meet with Erving but “was already scheduled,” Frist spokesman Bob Stevenson said, noting that the two had met previously and spoken about the issue.
Erving did sign a basketball, “To Dr. Frist — Thanks for your support — Julius Erving,” which Smith later personally delivered to the senator’s office.
The press event was designed to push for Senate action on Smith’s Stem-Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005, which would boost federal support for storing and keeping data on cord blood and bone marrow. The bill passed the House 431-1 four months ago.
“Delay is denial, especially for the sick who will not benefit from cord-blood transplantation because the Senate inexplicably delayed,” said Smith.
Erving, who has fought for expansion of cord-blood therapy, especially among minorities, echoed Smith’s frustration. “I came today to join Congressman Smith in asking the Senate to finish the job and pass this legislation and provide doctors the resources they need to treat the thousands of courageous patients in desperate need of help,” he said.
Stevenson said Smith’s bill will be “part of the overall debate on stem cells” in the Senate this fall.
Fundraiser for former staffer tomorrow
A group of friends and colleagues is hosting a fundraiser tomorrow night for Karl Kaufmann, a former staffer for ex-Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fla.) who has been stricken with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Kaufmann, who currently lobbies for Sidley, Austin, Brown and Wood, is training to run in a marathon at Walt Disney World in January as a member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training. The team raises money for research into blood cancers.
“It is interesting (to me at least) that the marathon is on January 8, 2006, a year to the day [after] I underwent surgery which led to my diagnosis,” Kaufmann writes on his personal race Web page.
The event begins at 6 p.m. at Finn MacCool’s on 8th Street S.E.
So far, Kaufmann has raised $4,925 — 140 percent more than his goal.
Larson makes a mean Manhattan
Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) shook it last week for charity. And stirred it, poured it and garnished it.
As part of the restaurant industry’s Dine for America fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina relief, Larson stepped behind the bar at the tony Max Downtown restaurant in Hartford. Along with local radio personality Ray Dunaway, Larson, a novice behind the wood, alternately poured drinks and mingled with the crowd.
According to the Hartford Courant, which first reported on the event, Larson greeted one couple at the door, who cut him off: “We’re not here for you.”
“But I’m here for you,” came Larson’s quick reply. He then conceded, “It’s a humbling experience.”