One recent weekend, Michigan Senator Carl Levin traveled to AnnArbor to give a talk to a crowd of students. The brainy Levin isknown for his unabashed liberalism--he led the opposition in theSenate to authorizing the Iraq war in 2002--and, as CollegeDemocrats and antiwar protesters filed into the sunny room, itwould have been fair to assume he was only among friends.
Is there anything sorrier than the modern party boss? Once, bossespresided over Congress like emperors. They sealed who would live andwho would die, picking the incumbents who could face reelection andinstructing a few doomed souls to spend more time with theirfamilies. But that era is gone. Gunning to take the bosses' placeare blogger NZ Bear, talk-radio host Hugh Hewitt, and WashingtonTimes columnist Frank Gaffney. This trio helped start the newlyminted Victory Caucus--dedicated, in part, to defeating Republicanincumbents who have criticized George W. Bush's Baghdad surge.
Maybe Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing would have gone better if he and the senators had worked out one major misunderstanding beforehand. In Gonzales's trial to keep his job today, the senators--seated in a giant hearing room filled with hot-pink-clad protesters waving pocket constitutions--clearly understood Gonzales to be the defendant.
'I could go on all day about what I'm proud of," Tom DeLay exults into his microphone at a recent Oxonian Society-sponsored luncheon in New York to hawk his new memoir, No Retreat, No Surrender. A year after his downfall, DeLay's leathery skin and the loose,papery bags under his eyes make him look old. But the message he delivers to the crowd is energetic and unrepentant: "I'm ... proud of the K Street Strategy. I was proud of the Terri Schiavo incident," he says.
Before yesterday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for D. Kyle Sampson, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's former chief of staff, veterans of the Libby trial press corps took a minute to wave around to each other: "It's like a reunion!", NPR's Nina Totenberg chuckled. The press' trial veterans were there because the hearings were Justice-related, but their presence illuminated the hearing's dark, criminal atmosphere.
It's 40 minutes into yesterday morning's Senate Judiciary hearing on the recent FBI privacy-abuse scandal, and Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy is grousing about Iraq.
"Are you a judge?" Vicki Miller, wife to Republican Representative Jeff Miller, asked me, holding out a tiny, oily crab cake. I shook my head, and her face fell a little. "Are you a food critic, at least?" She was trying to keep me from drifting to some other legislator's treat at the March of Dimes congressional charity cook-off on Tuesday night--where, under the vast, celestial dome of the National Building Museum, nearly 30 congressmen parked themselves behind booths and proffered favorite recipes for chef judges and thousand-dollar-a-head guests.
On January 10, freshman Republican Bill Sali got up to speak at theHouse debate on the minimum-wage increase. The measure was sure topass, and the debate was so stultifying that even Alcee Hastings,languorously draped in the speaker's chair, looked bored. Grippingthe podium, the burly Sali began with the customary boilerplate.Then he paused and, as a smile spread across his silver-goateedface, continued: "Mr.
LAST SATURDAY, DEMOCRATIC Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York mounted the stage at the antiwar rally on the Mall. Though he doesn’t sit on the relevant committees, he’d just introduced a gutsy bill in the House to cut off funds for Bush’s “surge” and begin withdrawal from Iraq, and he was hoping to present it to the crowd. But, sadly, the rally’s organizers had chosen Representatives Dennis Kucinich, Lynn Woolsey, and Maxine Waters,who also have Iraq bills, to speak instead.
On December 8, the last working day of the twelve-year Republicanmajority, the legendarily tough and doughy-faced Ways and MeansCommittee chairman, Bill Thomas, used the time allotted him on theHouse floor for defending his huge tax-extension bill to saygoodbye. Thomas, who is retiring after nearly three decades inCongress, was not having a great week.