- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 20, 2005

Who’s hiding?

So where were all the Democrats hiding in the hours leading up to the presidential inaugural?

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California told Inside the Beltway yesterday that no fewer than 160 Democrats crowded into her Georgetown home for a celebratory dinner on Wednesday night, toasting not only the new 109th Congress, but welcoming former Clinton aide and Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois as the new chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

And at similar pre-inaugural venues throughout the city, Democrats (excluding Sen. Barbara Boxer of California) were partying right alongside the Republicans.

Among those chatting with this column at Cafe Milano in Georgetown were Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, who said he is “proud of our accomplishments” in 2004, despite his party’s disappointing finishes in the White House, Senate and House races.

Mr. McAuliffe was mum, meanwhile, on his personal favorite to succeed him in the DNC’s top post — a seat former Vermont governor and Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean has every intention of filling.

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, another of the party’s 2004 presidential candidates, said at the same gathering that he is “completely happy with my [postelection] role in the U.S. Senate and [looks] forward to helping set a course for this nation.”

“I’ve come to the realization that this is where I am supposed to be at this time,” is how the senator phrased it.

On Wednesday night, Vernon Jordan, close friend and adviser to Bill Clinton, who was called upon to help steer Mr. Clinton through the Monica Lewinsky affair, co-hosted a late-evening “supper” of crab cakes and asparagus at the new Mandarin hotel overlooking the Jefferson Memorial. He told us he’s keeping more than busy as “a banker four days a week and a lawyer one day a week.”

Mr. Jordan holds a management position with Lazard Freres & Co., a prestigious New York investment banking firm, and during the Clinton years was a senior law partner with Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld here in Washington.

Graves leaps

Perhaps it’s no surprise that Lisa Graves, chief judicial nominations counsel to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is joining the American Civil Liberties Union.

In fact, the Washington office of the ACLU says she will help lead efforts to preserve civil liberties suddenly “threatened” by the USA Patriot Act, which was passed in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks that killed almost 3,000 people.

Miss Graves, who will start work in the Washington office next month, comes to the “civil liberties struggle at a crucial moment when sections of the Patriot Act are scheduled to expire by the end of the year if Congress does not vote to renew them,” the ACLU notes.

During the Clinton administration, the 1994 law school graduate became one of the youngest people ever appointed to the position of deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department.

Slippery slope

Self-described “fiscally conservative” lawmakers on the Senate Appropriations Committee tend to drift away from spending restraint, or so reveals a study by the nonpartisan National Taxpayers Union (NTU).

“It is clear that once a senator earns this plum committee assignment, his or her record on fiscal restraint can suffer significantly,” says NTU policy associate Sam Batkins. “As members of both parties in Congress settle into their committee assignments for 2005, these findings are not encouraging for taxpayers seeking a change in Washington’s tax-and-spend mentality.”

It turns out that only one Republican committee member, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, improved from his initial NTU rank, while 10 Republicans “slid backward.” The ranking for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas Republican, did not change.

The ranking for Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi slipped the most — from 21 to 44 — among Republicans, while the ranking for Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio eroded the least at just two places.

Despite some initial slippage, Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire is the only member of the committee to receive an A grade in a recent NTU rating, and has done so on more occasions than any other senator on the panel, with a total of eight A’s during his 11 years of service.

Quote of the week

“I’ve never forgotten where I came from. I’ve never forgotten the values of our great state of Texas. And after I’ve given it my all for four more years, I’m coming home.”

— President Bush, addressing the Texas State Society prior to his inauguration yesterday

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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