Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Dean’s language

Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said Saturday that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay “ought to go back to Houston, where he can serve his jail sentence.”

Mr. Dean’s remark, in a speech to Massachusetts Democrats at their party convention, drew an immediate rebuke from Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat and one of Mr. DeLay’s harshest critics, the Boston Globe reports.

“That’s just wrong,” Mr. Frank said in an interview on the convention floor. “I think Howard Dean was out of line talking about DeLay. The man has not been indicted. I don’t like him, I disagree with some of what he does, but I don’t think you, in a political speech, talk about a man as a criminal or his jail sentence.”

Mr. DeLay faces accusations that he may have violated House rules by taking foreign trips paid for by lobbyists. In a separate case, a Texas grand jury indicted three fundraisers with ties to Mr. DeLay on accusations of campaign-finance irregularities.

A new offer

With a showdown looming, a small group of Senate Democrats floated a compromise yesterday on President Bush‘s stalled judicial nominees, offering to clear five for confirmation while scuttling three.

A previous offer by Democrats had included approval for four nominees.

Under the proposal, circulated in writing, Republicans would have to pledge no change through next year in the Senate’s rules that allow filibusters against judicial nominees. For their part, Democrats would commit not to block votes on Mr. Bush’s Supreme Court or appeals court nominees during that period, except in extreme circumstances.

Officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Democrats involved in the compromise would vote to end any filibuster blocking a final vote on Richard Griffin, David McKeague and Susan Neilson, all named to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Democrats also would clear the way for final votes on William H. Pryor Jr. for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and Janice Rogers Brown for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Three other nominations would continue to be blocked under the offer: those of Henry Saad to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Priscilla Owen to the 5th Circuit and William G. Myers III to the 9th Circuit.

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat, outlined the suggested compromise for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Sunday night at a dinner at the Tennessee Republican’s home, the Associated Press reports.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said yesterday that compromise efforts had produced little progress and accused Mr. Frist of “trying to satisfy the radical right.” A Frist spokeswoman said her boss “is going to satisfy the principle of the up-or-down vote, and it’s unfortunate that Senator Reid continues with bitter, partisan rhetoric as opposed to coming to the table to work this out.”

Glass houses

Sen. George V. Voinovich, the Ohio Republican who initially had held up John R. Bolton‘s nomination to be ambassador to the United Nations over accusations that he was a bully, apparently has his own history of bullying.

“In 1995, when he was governor of Ohio, he had a temper tantrum at an airport because his plane was kept on the ground while Air Force One was in the sky,” John Podhoretz wrote in the New York Post on Friday.

“He ordered his pilot to take off, screaming at air-traffic controllers all the while and daring them to ‘shoot us down.’ In an unprecedented act, Voinovich was actually fined by the Federal Aviation Administration for his behavior,” Mr. Podhoretz said.

An Associated Press report at the time quoted Mr. Voinovich from air-traffic transmissions using a profanity to describe the situation and saying, “They can put me in jail or whatever they want to do.”

Mr. Voinovich, who was governor at the time, later admitted he lost his temper and said he “could have been more diplomatic.”

Mr. Voinovich, also a former mayor of Cleveland, has always taken a keen interest in good management practices, and has said Mr. Bolton’s management style doesn’t work for a diplomat.

“Interpersonal skills are important. The way you treat other people — do you treat them with dignity and respect? Very important,” he said during the Foreign Relations Committee vote last week on Mr. Bolton.

Hollywood security

“According to recent news reports, the Department of Homeland Security has hired former actress Bobbie Faye Ferguson, as DHS’s ‘liaison to the entertainment industry,’” says a memo from the Republican Study Committee.

Salary for the GS-15 position “could top $136,000 plus benefits. Ferguson’s new role as Homeland’s connection to the stars began in October 2004,” reports the committee, which is the Republican conservative caucus on Capitol Hill.

The Hollywood liaison’s job description includes “reviewing movie scripts” and identifying “opportunities for proactive outreach to the entertainment industry,” according to the memo.

But the days of Homeland Security’s “proactive outreach” to Tinseltown may be numbered. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, Colorado Republican, plans to introduce an amendment to the DHS appropriations bill that would take away $100,000 in taxpayer money budgeted for department salaries and transfer it to “first-responder grants.”

“With $100,000, America’s first responders could purchase … 165 bulletproof vests or 40 Level A [hazardous material] protective suits,” according to Mrs. Musgrave’s office.

A Republican staffer had this to say about the DHS entertainment liaison idea: “You can’t make this stuff up.”

Florida candidate

Scott Maddox, former chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, has entered the race to succeed Republican Gov. Jeb Bush.

Mr. Maddox said he is intent on “reining in insurance companies, loosening the grip of powerful corporate lobbyists and keeping government from extending its reach into our homes and hospital rooms.”

Mr. Maddox served as Tallahassee mayor before taking over the party chairmanship two years ago. He stepped down earlier this month after a dismal election in November, when Florida’s Democrats failed to deliver the state for Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, and lost a Senate race.

Mr. Bush is barred by term limits from running for a third term.

The other Democrats in the race include U.S. Rep. Jim Davis. Among Republicans running or considering a run are state Attorney General Charlie Crist; Florida’s chief financial officer, Tom Gallagher; and Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings.

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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