- The Washington Times - Friday, July 20, 2001

Dead, done, finished

"Democrats have the dream candidate to run if Rep. Gary Condit decides to call it quits over the Chandra Levy mystery," the New York Post's Deborah Orin writes.

"The only problem is he won't run — for fear Congress will destroy his family life," Miss Orin said.

"And in case popular California Assemblyman Dennis Cardoza wonders if he's right to be scared that his family life would get hurt, he need only look at Exhibit A Gary Condit.

"But the fact that Democrats and Republicans so easily tick off possible Condit replacements by name — and debate why they will or won't run — is the best proof that most political analysts now think Condit's career is dead, done, finished and they're looking beyond him."

Calm before the storm?

Rep. Martin T. Meehan confronted fellow Massachusetts Democratic Rep. John Tierney on the House floor last week, complaining about what Mr. Tierney referred to as "courtesy calls" to a portion of Mr. Meehan's congressional district that may be joined with Mr. Tierney's district under reapportionment.

"Hey, let's not get ahead of ourselves here," the Boston Herald quoted Mr. Meehan as saying. "Let's stay calm."

"I'm calm," Mr. Tierney replied with what the Herald called a "glare." "I'm calm."

Mr. Tierney added: "I'm running. You can't expect me to sit and wait for you to make a decision."

Mr. Meehan is considering a run for governor.

However, Roll Call reporter Rachel Van Dongen reports that the two men had calmed down considerably this week, and were even seen "laughing as they sat together on the House floor during votes Tuesday."

Letter to follow

An Italian group averse to cliches about its ethnic heritage has upbraided Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy for what the group thought sounded like a slur.

The letter, unofficially leaked to The Washington Times, has tomorrow's date and has not yet been delivered.

Along with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Justice Kennedy joined last month in a fund-raiser for the Shakespeare Theater at a lighthearted mock court examining King Lear's actions that led to Cordelia's storied death.

Replying at the event to what a lawyer termed in television jargon "the Soprano defense," Justice Kennedy was reminded of colleague Antonin Scalia and is quoted as saying, "If Justice Scalia were here, he could explain all that."

"The Soprano defense" is an oblique reference to HBO's mob drama, "The Sopranos."

William D. Fugazy Sr. (whose own 1990 defeat at a real trial involving civil claims against him and his corporation under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act was upheld by the Supreme Court's 1993 refusal to hear his appeal) fired off a letter to Justice Kennedy calling his joke "outrageous and far beneath the dignity and responsibility of the office you hold."

Mr. Fugazy is president of the Coalition of Italo-American Associations Inc. and used its letterhead for his complaint at the urging of former New York Judge Vincent A. DeIorio, a Fugazy representative said yesterday in confirming the letter's authenticity.

There was no response from the chambers of Justice Kennedy, who apparently abided by Shakespeare's line from "Much Ado About Nothing": "Silence is the perfectest herald of joy."

Cue the banjos

Sen. Zell Miller is defending his North Georgia mountain heritage by taking issue with a comment attributed to Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.

In a letter to the secretary Wednesday, the Georgia Democrat noted news reports suggesting Mr. Rumsfeld or his aides had used the term "hillbilly" to refer to members of Congress and staff.

"The mountaineer is the only person left in the ethnic shooting gallery that it is still all right to shoot at," Mr. Miller wrote. "We condemn anyone immediately when they used the 'N' word, and well we should. Well, the 'H' word is just as bigoted."

Mr. Rumsfeld responded with a note yesterday calling the reports untrue. Mr. Miller said he appreciated the quick reply "and I will take him at his word."

Mr. Miller said mountaineers "are a proud people who don't like handouts or people who look down their elitist noses at us. For too many years, we have been ridiculed and laughed at as the 'Snuffy Smith,' 'Lil' Abner' stereotype."

Only in St. Louis

St. Louis City Hall is in a furor after a member of the Board of Aldermen apparently urinated in a wastebasket rather than yield the floor during a filibuster.

During a meeting Tuesday, Alderman Irene Smith and three other members were trying to hold up debate over a redistricting plan they said would hurt blacks, the Associated Press reports.

Acting Aldermanic President James Shrewsbury ruled Miss Smith must yield if she left for a restroom break. So about 40 minutes later, her aides surrounded her with a sheet, tablecloth and quilt while she appeared to use a trash can to relieve herself.

"What I did behind that tablecloth is my business," Miss Smith said after the board quit without voting on the issue.

"No one was stopping her. She chose not to go to hold control of the floor," said Alderman Kenneth Ortmann. And Alderman Kenneth Jones said Mr. Shrewsbury's ruling was proper because filibusters are "a test to see which side can last the longest."

Miss Smith's allies argued that Mr. Shrewsbury disregarded common courtesy.

"This is about sensitivity to people's needs," Alderman Gregory Carter said. "We're talking about a basic bodily function."

Mayor Francis Slay said Miss Smith's conduct was unacceptable and could hurt the city's image. His chief of staff, Jeff Rainford, put it this way: "The people in Butler, Missouri, must think we're a bunch of morons."

A man of restraint

"The CBS Evening News With Dan Rather" on Wednesday became the last national news outlet to do a story on the Chandra Levy disappearance, reporting that some FBI investigators feel the D.C. police have focused too much on Rep. Gary A. Condit, the California Democrat and married man who is said to have admitted to an affair with the 24-year-old former intern.

Mr. Rather, as a guest yesterday on the "Imus in the Morning" radio program, defended his "restraint," the Media Research Center's Rich Noyes reports.

"If the congressman were accused, much less charged, he'd be entitled to presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt in a court of law," Mr. Rather said. "I still think there is the real danger that an innocent person could be convicted in the court of public opinion on the basis of rumor, gossip and speculation."

However, the "CBS Evening News," as has usually been the case with ABC, NBC and CNN, did not mention that Mr. Condit is a Democrat.

Riordan ready

Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan is calling California Republicans on Capitol Hill saying he definitely plans to run for governor next year, CNN's "Inside Politics" reports.

A revealing remark

"He's a committed conservative, no question about it, but he's not a hater," pundit Mark Shields said of Paul Gigot, his partner in political punditry on PBS' "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer."

The remark, which appeared yesterday in The Washington Post, appeared to reveal more about Mr. Shields than Mr. Gigot.

Mr. Gigot has been named editorial-page editor of the Wall Street Journal and said he probably will give up his PBS gig, as well as his weekly political column in the Journal.

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