By The Hill Staff - 06/28/06 12:00 AM EDT
Boehner’s obsession with appearance
House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has a fixation with people’s appearance.
Boehner is known for calling male colleagues on their bad ties and mismatched clothing, but he also admits he’s “obsessed” with hair.
Last week at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing he told a female reporter, “Your hair looks nice today.” To which she replied, “Thank you. So does yours.”
After a great deal of laughter in the room, Boehner said, “Ouch.” Again, more laughter. At long last they broke away from the topic of their respective locks and the reporter posed a question to the majority leader about the minimum wage.
This is not the first time Boehner has focused on the state of other people’s hair. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who has a healthy head of light-brown hair, told The Hill last year that Boehner regularly tracks the latest developments on the top of his cranium.
“I never have to worry about when to get a haircut because Boehner always reminds me,” he said.
In other Boehner makeover news, a lobbyist who wishes to remain anonymous because of all the work he does with the majority leader remarked that Boehner often gives him a hard time about wearing a belt. Boehner is, apparently, a big believer in the belt. If, for example, the lobbyist has a meeting with Boehner and doesn’t have a belt on, Boehner will inevitably make a wisecrack about it.
Faux reporter phones up Ohio congressman’s office
Press secretaries may want to be on the lookout these days for potential political enemies posing as reporters.
At least one lawmaker from the intense battleground state of Ohio has been the recipient of a reporter hoax. Someone phoned up calling himself a journalist from a local newspaper whose name a certain Hill press secretary did not recognize.
A quick phone call to the newspaper (which is too nervous to go on the record about the incident) revealed that things were awry.
Asked if he believes the mystery person was trying to conduct opposition research, the press secretary for the lawmaker replied, “I don’t know what it was. I don’t want to speculate.”
Because of the sensitivity of the issue (though not exactly national security), the press secretary did not want his boss’s name in this item. The aide did say that the question the “reporter” posed was not one the Ohio pol has publicly discussed but rather something brought up by the congressman’s opponent.
Rep. McHenry as ‘The Little Hammer’
At least one Republican office has come up with a nickname for Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.). It’s “The Little Hammer,” after his penchant for criticizing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and acting like former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas).
What does McHenry think about the nickname? McHenry spokesman Aaron Latham responded, “Well, he thinks it’s better than the nickname he previously held during his brief, but prolific, NBA career: Skyscraper McHenry.”
McHenry’s height is a trickier question. Bystanders have estimated his height to be somewhere in the range of 4-foot-11 to 5-foot-4. His office is more vague on the matter.
“If you asked Shaq, he’d tell you, ‘Once you pass 7 feet, you pretty much stop measuring your own height,’” Latham said. “I’ll just say Shaq and the congressman see eye to eye on this.”
McHenry doesn’t admit to having any other nicknames, so The Little Hammer may have to stand tall (so to speak). “He didn’t have any nicknames growing up, but a recent article in The Nation referred to him as “the ‘it’ boy of the GOP,” Latham said.
Rep. Mark Kennedy’s mysterious facial Band-Aids
Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-Minn.), who is in a tough race for the Senate, was spotted last week with two round Band-Aids on his face — one on the northwest corner just underneath his right eye, another on his lower left cheek.
A call to his press office turned up a benign response, if you will. Anne Mason, Kennedy’s spokeswoman, said her boss had two benign moles removed. Mason said that when she first asked her boss about the bandages, he joked, “You ought to see the other guy.”
Rep. Myrick discusses granddaughter’s bipolar disorder
Lawmakers hardly ever want to take their private lives public. But last week, Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.), in a crusade to “destigmatize mental-health misconceptions,” came out with a news release about her granddaughter’s bipolar disorder and linked drug addiction.
Her granddaughter has been to rehab on numerous occasions; right now she is doing well. The congresswoman hopes that this time her recovery will stick.
Myrick says that she has worked to get her granddaughter help but that it has been a daily battle for her and her family.
In her announcement last week, she called for an Energy and Commerce hearing on mental-health disorders, which is set for 10 a.m. in Rayburn 2123. At the hearing, the release states, “experts will testify about research advances that have improved the treatment options for brain disease like depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.”
Because of the stigma attached to brain disease, the release states, Myrick feels that many people struggling with brain diseases are not getting treatment that could help them lead a healthy, normal life.
The move comes soon after her colleague Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) admitted to a prescription-drug problem related to his own bipolar disorder.
Myrick equates the breast cancer she has recovered from to the stigma of having a “brain disease.” She says, “People who had cancer 20 years ago wouldn’t tell anyone because they were scared they would look weak, or might even lose their job. Today, people with brain disease face the same problems in society.
“My family has faced this stigma for the past decade, and … I hope it will also empower people who have these challenges to step out of the shadows and get treatment.”
She said it wasn’t hard to come forward on such a difficult matter because she has done so before when she had breast cancer.
“Her main concern this time was her concern for her granddaughter,” said Myrick spokesman Andy Polk. “She’s very proud of her granddaughter for allowing her to do these hearings and come forward with this information.”
The new hip gadget in Sen. Reed’s life
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) has a new flat-screen TV for his house and was overheard discussing it with Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) last week.
The new TV was given to Reed as a wedding present from four couples friendly with the Reeds who pitched in to buy it, according to the senator’s financial disclosure report. Reed said that as of a week ago he hadn’t yet hooked it up.
He said, “It’s great for watching athletics like baseball,” to which Craig replied, “Those flat screens are terrific. We just got a large-screen TV but decided not to go with the flat screen.”
Rep. Waters has new press secretary — but will he last?
Sometimes three’s a charm. And perhaps this will be the case in the office of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), where she has hired a Hill veteran and experienced communications person in Ed Jackson.
Jackson was most recently the national media director at Amnesty International USA. Before that, he spent four and a half years working as press secretary to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).
Waters’s two most recent press people didn’t last long, but Jackson is optimistic he’ll be around awhile.
“Three is actually my lucky number,” Jackson said. “I’m focused on working really hard and live up to Ms. Waters’s expectation.”
The Battle of the Beautiful
Memorable, disturbing and entertaining nominations for the 50 Most Beautiful People
Aide is wowed by female aide in bikini
“Dear The Hill peeps deciding who is hot on the Hill: Attached is a picture of ———, the scheduler for Congressman ———. I could be all cheesy and talk about her winning personality and true desire to serve the constituents of the fighting ———, but this is a hottness contest and I have had the privilege of seeing her in a bikini on numerous occasions and WOW. I would have included a picture of this, but wanted to keep it relatively classy so instead I included a recent picture from a Washington Nationals game. Good luck with the contest and let me know if you need anything else (including a picture in a bikini!).”