Almost three months after being found guilty of seven felony counts of making false statements, virtually assuring his subsequent failed bid for re-election in November, former Sen. Ted Stevens, Alaska Republican, is still lying low in Congress.
So to speak.
“Ted Stevens is currently residing in Congress, Arizona, at his mother-in-law’s ranch,” reveals our source on Capitol Hill. “He drove a U-Haul there from Washington with the contents of his office … which he is going to store there.
“Ted is also roping cattle … oh my,” says the source. “As I understand it, [the former senator] is pretty much just out there unpacking and roping cattle.”
The Yavapai County ranch, in the community of Congress (pop. 1,717), would belong to the mother of Catherine Stevens, who last October had taken the witness in defense of her husband — to no avail.
Our source joked that there was probably a lot of Hulk memorabilia in the Alaska senator’s boxes, because Mr. Stevens had made it a practice during his long reign on Capitol Hill of wearing an “Incredible Hulk” necktie whenever he went into battle on the Senate floor.
When Hulk’s publishing company, Marvel Enterprises, learned of the senator’s fondness for the fictional superhero, he was shipped boxes of Hulk paraphernalia, including giant green fists to be worn like boxing gloves.
LEADING THE ‘ORNERY’
“What Obama Should Read,” reads the headline in Washington Monthly, which asked well-known writers and thinkers to suggest which books President Obama should have by his bedside.
Our favorite recommendation is from Washington writer Joel Garreau, who encourages Mr. Obama to keep handy Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”
Explains Mr. Garreau: “It’s the greatest long-view provider — ever — of fresh reminders why you cared. Cared about these perverse, ornery, unpredictable, cussed people you chose to lead. It never lets you forget that in the face of unprecedented threats, the ragged human convoy of divergent perceptions, piqued honor, posturing, insecurity and humor will wend its way to glory.”
WHERE TO NOW?
As President Obama and the Democratic majority continue to furnish their respective houses, Republicans begin the difficult task of rebuilding their party from the ground up. First, they will need a construction foreman.
Endorsements continue daily for the six candidates vying to become chairman of the Republican National Committee, with the winner declared at the Republican Party’s winter meeting later this week. The hopefuls include:
Chip Saltsman, former head of the Tennessee Republican Party (he landed in hot water recently after distributing a Christmas CD containing the parody song, “David Ehrenstein’s Barack the Magic Negro”).
Saul Anuzis, head of the Michigan Republican Party (a hockey dad and owner of a telecommunications company, he told Inside the Beltway his party requires a “tech savvy” leader of his caliber).
Kenneth Blackwell (the former Ohio secretary of state is backed by an influential slate of Republican heavy-hitters, including two-time presidential candidate Steve Forbes, former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, former Reagan adviser T. Kenneth Cribb Jr., Eagle Forum president Phyllis Schlafly, and American Conservative Union chairman David Keene).
Katon Dawson, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party (well-known and well-respected, he is the fourth-longest serving state Republican Party chairman in the country and serves on the RNC’s Budget Committee).
Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele (his supporters are throwing a reception in his honor Monday evening at the Rookery on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest).
Incumbent RNC Chairman Mike Duncan (he says don’t count him or the Republican Party out in the coming four years, citing increased grassroots support and fundraising totaling more than $320 million in the last election cycle).
Best-selling author and former Bush special assistant David Frum says Republicans can win the next election, but only if “personally uncomfortable” changes are made.
Otherwise the party is “staring disaster in the face,” warns the Toronto-born resident fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, who has just re-released last year’s widely-acclaimed “Comeback” with a new chapter on lessons from the 2008 presidential campaign.
“I often joked during the writing of this book that it should be called, ‘Will You Listen?’ – with the idea that we would release a paperback edition after 2008 with the title, ‘OK – So Will You Listen Now?’ ”
Mr. Frum says don’t blame Sen. John McCain for the party’s dismal showing in November. Nor is it about Iraq. One might instead consider that the current cohort of civic-minded 20-somethings “is the most one-sidedly partisan in the history of polling,” and they reacted in force against the “frustrations and failures” of President Bush.
While the former president did accomplish “much more than he gets credit for,” Mr. Frum writes that Mr. Bush “deserves much of the blame”: appointing “consistently mediocre people” to important jobs, defying the nation and his own party by adopting immigration amnesty as a supreme priority, and spending “lavishly” without improving government.
As for the Republican Party, he says, its “policy ideas have barely changed at all from what they were in 1978. It’s like the punch line of a joke I quote in ‘Comeback’: ‘Son, your answers are so old that I’ve forgotten the questions.’ ”
“Several empty frames” are all that’s left.
A source within the White House reveals that several poster-size official photographs snapped during eight years of George W. Bush’s presidency are missing. Before his departure, the photos once adorned the walls of offices in the sprawling White House complex.
The mostly candid photographs of Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other White House officials were to be archived and preserved along with the additional artifacts of Mr. Bush’s presidency, the source says, until they disappeared in the days before the arrival of Barack Obama.
The Secret Service, the source notes, as with previous presidential transitions, was reminded to be on the lookout for any Bush staff members who might try to leave the White House grounds with concealed photographs, most likely rolled up and secured with rubber bands or in cardboard tubes.
Doing the math, Rep. Virginia Foxx, North Carolina Republican, figures the Democrats’ proposed economic stimulus package would spend $275,000 per job in creating or saving 3 million jobs.
Democratic Rep. Frank M. Kratovil is the freshman congressman from Maryland’s 1st District, having defeated Republican Andy Harris, who ousted incumbent Republican Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest in the primary.
Mr. Kratovil in recent days introduced himself as “a career prosecutor, someone whose job it has been to sort through facts in search of the truth. In my career, I have found that usually the truth lies somewhere in the middle.”
THREADS THEY WEAVE
Given the historic inauguration of Barack Obama, Political Base Managing Editor Mark Nickolas has us wondering whether it’s worth listening to the endless drivel of political pundits who appear round-the-clock on the cable TV news channels.
“Pundits Who Had Not A Clue Two Years Ago,” is headline of his posting, and while we don’t have space for all the pontifications certainly among the most controversial (given Mr. Obama is now firmly seated in the Oval Office) is compliments of CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield:
“Ask yourself, is there any other major public figure who dresses the way [Mr. Obama] does? Why, yes. It is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who, unlike most of his predecessors, seems to have skipped through enough copies of ‘GQ’ to find the jacket-and-no-tie look agreeable. And maybe that’s not the comparison a possible presidential contender really wants to evoke …
“Now, it is one thing to have a last name that sounds like Osama and a middle name, Hussein, that is probably less than helpful. But an outfit that reminds people of a charter member of the axis of evil, why, this could leave his presidential hopes hanging by a thread. Or is that threads?”