- The Washington Times - Friday, June 20, 2008

‘Pere Frere’

That was no ordinary guest chaplain leading prayer in the U.S. Senate this week.

Indeed, “Father Pomerleau” is the brother-in-law of Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont.

“This is a proud moment for our family,” remarked the senior Democrat. “For years I have called him ‘pere frere,’ which is French for my father brother.”

The Holy Cross priest, a graduate of Notre Dame, is the brother of Mr. Leahy’s wife, Marcelle Pomerleau Leahy. Mr. Leahy recalled the couple traveling to Rome in 1965 for Father Pomerleau’s ordination to the Catholic priesthood. It was the senator’s first trip abroad.

Russert on Rice

The following recollection was sent to Inside the Beltway by Crystal Ducker, communications director of “Think Condi.”

She writes, in part: “Imagine being part of an independent political group, with the vision of … Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as the next president of the United States. Imagine your North Dakota cell phone ringing while on a trip to Florida, with a voice saying they represent the NBC’s news division; asking for your assistance in preparation for Tim Russert’s interview for the upcoming weekend …

“Now you can understand the excitement during the final segment of the show in seeing the historic pictures of Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, John Q. Adams, Van Buren and Buchanan on the screen as Russert asks Secretary Rice, ‘Do you know what they have in common?’

“As she claimed it was too early for this pop quiz, Russert explained that each of them held the post of secretary of state before becoming the president of the United States. Of course, her banter of denial to run might have frustrated us, but when asked by Russert if our website should be shut down, Secretary Rice said, ‘No, it is a matter of free speech.’ ”

Needless to say, Miss Rice chose not to run for president in 2008, but the group “Think Condi” is now pushing for her to be selected as the running mate of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain.

Settling for Lurch

We had to laugh at well-known Washington malpractice lawyer Jack H. Olender being likened to a monster (of sorts) in the July issue of Washingtonian magazine, specifically Kim Eisler’s’s intriguing article, “If Law Firms Were Sitcoms.”

“If you call me and I answer ‘you r-a-n-g’ it’s because of my portrayal as Lurch from the Addams Family and/or Herman Munster,” Mr. Olender warned Inside the Beltway when we caught up with him Thursday. “If I can’t be likened to Perry Mason or Matlock, I guess Lurch is okay.”

Pay now or later

The $21.5 million collected in a single night during the annual President’s Dinner exceeded the political fundraising goals of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).

“When we started this, it was clear Republicans were facing an uphill fight this November,” acknowledged NRSC dinner chairman Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah. “However, times have changed. The $13.5 million [portion] the NRSC raised for the dinner shows people understand that Democrats are going to do more than just increase the price of gas.”

Before Barack

Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, says while the entire world is watching Sen. Barack Obama as he’s about to become the nation’s first black presidential nominee, it also is necessary to recognize the “trailblazers” that came before him.

Among them, he said: “John Mercer Langston, America’s first African-American congressman from Virginia, a prominent abolitionist and founder of Howard University’s law school.”

Mr. Langston was born in Virginia in 1829 to a white plantation owner and an emancipated slave of Indian and black ancestry.

“Similar to Obama, Langston was a strong leader and organizer,” Mr. Rangel noted, including heading anti-slavery societies. He also recruited blacks to fight in the Union Army during the Civil War. He was elected to Congress in 1888.

John McCaslin can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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