COLUMNS

Gang of 14: Whazzup?

  • The Washington Examiner
  • |
  • November 02, 2005

by Karen Feld

buzz
The seven Democratic and seven Republican centrist senators who call themselves “the Gang of 14” and have promised to vote as a bloc will likely have a pivotal role in determining Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito’s fate. “Who wants to be a gang?” said one of them, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. “How ’bout G-14?” (That little nickname alludes to the Red Chinese group – Gang of Four – who pushed the Cultural Revolution too far. All four were arrested after Mao Zedong’s death.)Gang worried about process

Whatever name they give themselves, the group that saved the filibuster plans to meet tomorrow morning to determine what role they’ll play in Alito’s confirmation process. “The issue is not his credentials but his judicial philosophy,” Collins said. “Both the far left and the far right want activist judges. I don’t want activist judges who will overturn long-established precedents. That’s a jolt to the judicial system.” It was a topic Collins said she discussed with then-Judge John Roberts. This time, moderate senators feel it’s going to be a divisive and nasty fight. But Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., another Gang of 14 member, said he will oppose a filibuster.

Collins worries about a long-term effect of the confirmation process: “I think we’re creating a situation where no one will want to be a judge. That could result in the decline of the quality of our judicial system.”

Wilson’s ‘diplomatic’ code

On Halloween, former Ambassador Joe Wilson arrived at the National Press Club at 12:30 p.m. for his luncheon address in the grand ballroom. On schedule, at 1 p.m., Wilson began to speak. After his talk, NPC President Rick Dunham presented Wilson with the traditional NPC “leak-proof” coffee mug. At the conclusion of the program, about 2 p.m., Dunham asked the guests to remain seated to allow Wilson to leave the room. Beads of sweat were noticeable on Wilson’s brow when he took the microphone again to announce he was leaving without doing post-luncheon interviews so that he could attend children’s Halloween events – noting that he was keeping his priorities in order. The guests remained in their seats as he left the Press Club. But at 2:50 p.m., news junkies were surprised to see Wilson live on Wolf Blitzer’s “Situation Room” on CNN. Analysis: “Children’s Halloween event” must

be code for misleading the public.

Lewd lips sink dips

One theory why relations with foreign countries are so dismal may be the possibility there is a new diplomatic dictionary making the rounds. Last week, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said, “This sucks.” Now, Wilson says Republicans “pissed” him off. Whatever happened to the good old days of politically correct expressions like “this is terrible” or “I am displeased”?

Sills snubs Bush

It’s rare that someone turns down an invitation to the White House, but that is exactly what great opera star Beverly Sills has done. She isn’t hiding her disappointment that the Bush White House hasn’t done much for the arts. She told pals that she turned down a presidential invitation to honor the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. After all, it was Sills who said: “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”

Don’t call him, Karl

Washingtonian magazine owner Phil Merrill, who has left government a half-dozen times for the private sector, said that this is the only time that people have congratulated him. “I escaped unindicted,” he joked.

Charles & Camilla: Be charitable

There’s talk about whether Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall’s first official U.S. visit together is turning into a plea to benefit their pet charities. The official intent is to improve diplomatic relations, promote British trade and convince Americans of the merits of Islam. Camilla needs a boost for her image since she’s frequently contrasted with Princess Diana. It doesn’t hurt in that area that included on their schedule is a drop-by for Camilla’s favorite cause – including attending a seminar on osteoporosis at the National Institutes of Health; the duchess is president of Britain’s National Osteoporosis Society. The prince will receive the Vincent Scully Prize for architecture at the National Building Museum, and he has an architectural charity. The royal couple will certainly be popular with supporters of those groups, but we can’t say the same for PETA: The animal rights organization is protesting the visit because Buckingham Palace uses bearskins to make hats for the Palace Guard.

Schmoozer-in-chief

U.S. News & World Report bestowed a fitting title – “networker-in-chief” – on tennis coach Kathy Kemper, calling her “the most important Washingtonian you’ve never heard of.” Kemper, who has coached high-level politicians, journalists and diplomats on their backhands, has had much networking success with her INFO public policy breakfast roundtables, which she began 15 years ago. This year, she’s hosted speakers, including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams.

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