Sound Bites and Joie de Vivre

  • The Washington Examiner
  • |
  • February 04, 2005

by Karen Feld

Spotting heroes in the gallery and the scary thought of designated absentees are part of the annual State of the Union buzz, but pressies and politicians follow their own mad ritual immediately following the president’s speech.

They wing it to Statuary Hall (the old House Chamber), where scribes fight to grab pols for reaction to the president’s speech. Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., didn’t mince words when he told me, “What a crock … Gay marriage will play out in the states for many years. I’ve never heard of someone introducing a constitutional amendment for a crisis that doesn’t exist.” Nadler continued, “If I allow Steve and Henry to get together, I don’t think my wife will divorce me.” He translated the president’s remarks, New York style: “It’s still socially acceptable to be bigoted against gays.”

Dean for DNC?

Dean for DNC? A thrilled Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., insisted that Howard Dean is the right man to lead the Democratic Party: “He’s not trying to be an imitationRepublican. After all, people who are going to vote Republican want the real thing.” The party chair will be announced Feb. 12.

Pol blogs

A half-dozen North Dakota state senators are scribbling details of their personal and political lives within the fish bowl are web logs becoming today’s version of Bob Packwood’s diaries? It’s cheaper than therapy, but won’t pols ever learn?

Chat noir

At the National Gallery, content is more important than celebrity but, in a burst of joie de vivre, the Gallery scored both in its upcoming and much-anticipated exhibit, Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre. Yes, that really will be Academy Award winner Joel Grey’s voice narrating the Acoustiguide, and who better to sing the praises of turn-of-the-century cabaret stars Aristide Bruant, Yvette Guilbert and Loie Fuller? … And the 1917 print of “Underwater Swimmer, Esztergom,” on loan from Sir Elton John, stands out in its elaborate gold frame at the Andre Kertesz retrospective of his vintage photographs which opens Sunday at the National Gallery. Sir Elton’s personal curator hand-delivered the image of the seemingly decapitated swimmer — a powerful image — mimicking the battlefield wounds witnessed by the Hungarian photog.

First kids

Guess which member of the first ladies “club” was overheard telling a friend about her daughter’s mini-facial tuck? She had “a little work done,” insisting it wasn’t “a face-lift,” just a “lift.” You say tomato … First Fan Barbara Bush (daughter, not mom) personally phoned 3 Doors Down lead vocalist, Brad Arnold, with a plea: “So I Need You” to come to D.C. to perform at the Inaugural Youth Ball. Barb didn’t have to knock too hard.

The stinger: Poetic justice

Could Michael Chertoff move a mountain? According to Congressional Quarterly’s Homeland Security newsletter, if Chertoff is confirmed to head up the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the agency won’t be twiddling thumbs and finger-painting color codes.

In the past, DHS suffered, in no small part, from budget battles with outgoing Attorney General John Ashcroft, a DHS naysayer.

But now the tables may be turning: Given Chertoff’s ties to his old co-workers at Justice and newly confirmed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ tortured relationship with Congress, Chertoff stands to advance DHS on the Hill at Gonzales’ expense.

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