- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Tough year

For Democrats, the much-anticipated if not long-awaited 110th Congress convenes on Thursday, with California Rep. Nancy Pelosi rising to become the first-ever female speaker of the House.

Democrats this week will assume control of both chambers of Congress for the first time since the 103rd Congress came to power in 1993. And while the party enjoys only a slight advantage in the Senate — there they number 49, but with two independent senators in their camp — the House finds a more lopsided 233 Democrats in the majority, or 54 percent of the voting share, compared with 202 Republicans.

Obviously, 2006 was a disappointing election year for Republicans, who lost 22 incumbents and eight open seats in the House, the party’s worst November performance since Watergate ravaged the 1974 election cycle.

“I’ve seen the highs, and I’ve seen the lows,” Carl Forti, who stepped down yesterday as communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, told Inside the Beltway. “In the 2004 election cycle, we won the largest Republican majority since 1946. And then the pendulum turned.”

A native of Rochester, N.Y., Mr. Forti spent almost eight years with the NRCC, responsible for day-to-day operations and working with individual Republican campaigns on communications strategy. He was just relieved of his duties by three-term Rep. Tom Cole, Oklahoma Republican, who has now assumed the helm of the NRCC as it prepares to enter the 2007-08 election cycle.

“I’m not sure where I’m headed,” Mr. Forti tells this column, although he was a bit more blunt in his written farewell to political and congressional reporters: “I will be sure to pass along my new work contact information once someone decides to hire me!”

Not Lady Bird

“Why do you love to hate Hillary?”

That’s the blaring question posed on the January/February cover of Mother Jones magazine, which seeks to explain why the junior senator from New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton, “stokes our deepest fears and darkest hatreds.”

The answer, says writer Jack Hitt, might surprise readers.

First, obviously, Mrs. Clinton was atypical as White House first lady.

“The national trauma began when Hillary violated perceived roles of domesticity,” writes Mr. Hitt, who turns to University of Missouri professor Betty Winfield for further explanation:

“People had a very preconceived idea about how a first lady was supposed to act, the image of a supportive wife, but not too outspoken. Hillary had no noblesse oblige cause, nothing coming from the domestic sphere like highway beautification or illiteracy or anti-drug use among teens. No, no. She was going to change the entire health care system for the whole country.”

Still, the underlying reason for so openly fearing Mrs. Clinton is far deeper, according to Mr. Hitt.

“Hillary is an avatar of an existential dread that lurks in the hearts of every couple who’ve tried to put together a life since the feminist revolution,” he explains. “Hillary has come to embody a dark fear in the hearts of modern men: the wife who neglects the joys of the bedroom for her career.

“The middle years of marriage are hard enough (or so I have read), trying to keep the flame flickering amid the anxieties of bills, the call of career, the squall of little children. That’s the age-old stuff. Add to that a novel stress on the guy: a new destructive Oedipal force right at his side, his wife. She wants a career equal to, if not better than, her husband’s.”

No useful purpose?

Uncle Sam’s new 2007 abstinence-only education program isn’t just for teenagers, says the taxpayer-watchdog Citizens Against Government Waste.

“[T]he government’s official message of no sex prior to marriage will be directed at single individuals up to 29 years old,” observes CAGW’s Sean Kennedy, adding the new policy “may be a case of trying to lock the barn door after the horses have escaped.”

He cites National Center for Health Statistics showing that more than 90 percent of adults ages 20 to 29 are sexually active.

“Looking at a statistic like that, it is easy to question the purpose of teaching abstinence to an age group of which nine out of 10 individuals has already failed to abstain,” he notes.

Horse rides

Leah Taylor’s new book, “Horses of the Presidents,” reveals that George Washington always had his horse’s teeth brushed before he would go out for a ride.

The majority of America’s great leaders, the author writes, had a fondness for horses. Take Algonquin, the calico pony given to President Theodore Roosevelt’s children when they lived at the White House.

Roosevelt saw to it that Algonquin actually rode in the White House elevator in order to pay his bedside respects to presidential son Archie Roosevelt when the youngster was ill.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin @washingtontimes.com.

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