It’s the Book, Stupid

Posted February 21, 2003 at 6:20pm

In addition to working on a new political drama for HBO and snagging a cameo in the new movie “Old School” starring Will Farrell, James Carville has signed a deal with Simon & Schuster to pen a new book advising Democrats on how to find their way out of the political wilderness.

Jeff Nussbaum, a speechwriter for Senate

Minority Leader Thomas Daschle (D-S.D.), has taken a leave of absence to collaborate with Carville on the tome. The “Ragin’ Cajun” has had a string of bestsellers, from “We’re Right, They’re Wrong” to “Buck Up, Suck Up and Come Back When You Foul Up” (which was written with Paul Begala, his co-host on CNN’s “Crossfire”).

In addition to his writing duties, Nussbaum joked, he will “also be serving as a Cajun-English translator” for Carville, who has been known to work himself into a lather on occasion when discussing politics.

There’s no target publication date or working title just yet, but the book will play off former President Bill Clinton’s contention in December that Democrats got drummed in the midterm elections for not being sure-footed on national security issues. Clinton said the public prefers candidates who are “strong and wrong rather than somebody who is weak and right” when it comes to security matters.

“This is about showcasing the ways in which Democrats can be strong and right,” Nussbaum told HOH.

Nussbaum, who was a speechwriter for then-Vice President Al Gore, was wooed by some of the current Democratic presidential candidates before deciding to work with Carville. He’s planning to return to Daschle’s office in six to eight months, despite the pull of the presidential primaries.

“I have every intention of returning to Senator Daschle’s office after this is over because I believe in loyalty and James Carville wrote the book on it,” he said in reference to “Stickin’: The Case for Loyalty.”

Duct Tapegate. Now that Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has backpedaled a bit from his department’s recent suggestion that citizens stock up on duct tape to protect against a possible biochemical attack, at least one D.C. hardware store is bracing for a flood of people seeking refunds on the supplies.

Nick Kaplanis, manager at Frager’s Hardware on Capitol Hill, posted a sign in the store last week warning customers that he will not let customers return any duct tape, plastic sheets, batteries and other supplies hurriedly purchased after the original warning from the Homeland Security Department.

Kaplanis, who runs a store that’s been in business since 1920 and caters to many Members of Congress who live in the neighborhood, said some people have already tried to get their money back. He expressed frustration with government officials for scaring people and then backing off, saying that as a small businessman he cannot afford to refund money after racing around the local area to stock up on as much duct tape as possible to meet demand.

“I was running all over Washington and Baltimore buying other people out of duct tape,” he said. “I can’t justify in my mind why they were telling people to duct tape their windows.”

The manager likens the current dilemma to January 2000, when scores of customers who had stocked up on batteries and flashlights in anticipation of a Y2K disaster tried to get their dough back when nothing materialized.

“When you have a situation like this or Y2K, when panic sets in, I can’t give everyone their money back,” he said. “You’re buying this, it’s yours, so don’t come back. We’re not making you buy it.”

Hillary’s Statue. It’s not quite as prestigious as snagging an Oscar, but Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) is one of six Democrats who have been awarded a “Golden Gavel” for logging more than 100 hours in the presiding officer’s chair in the Senate last year.

The other winners were Democratic Sens. Tom Carper (Del.), Jon Corzine (N.J.), Mark Dayton (Minn.), Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.). “I never thought I would get an award for sitting in a chair,” quipped Nelson.

The majority party is responsible for supplying lawmakers to preside over the Senate, which is why Democrats won the awards for last year and will not be getting accolades at the end of this year with Republicans now in charge. It’s a task so mundane that some Members wind up autographing photos of themselves or doing The New York Times crossword puzzle.

“I am pleased to report I was never reprimanded for signing letters or filling out my Huskers fantasy bowl game sheets while in the chair,” Nelson said of the University of Nebraska’s football team. “It has been a great learning experience and I look forward to regaining the majority so I can compete for this award again.”

Bloomberg vs. Harman. Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) was none too pleased with Rep. Jane Harman’s (D-Calif.) recent comment that she’s advised her own daughter not to ride the New York City subway system because of terrorism concerns.

Harman’s advice to her daughter seemed to contradict the official insistence that people go about their everyday lives. Before last week’s recess, however, Harman’s office insisted to HOH that the boss based her warning on being a concerned mom, not on any secret information she’s received as vice chairwoman of the Permanent Select Intelligence Committee.

That wasn’t a good enough excuse for Bloomberg, who rode the No. 6 train during an appearance on the “Subway Series” that correspondent Jonathan Karl conducts on CNN’s “Inside Politics.”

“Look, I’m not going to go and attack anybody, but I ride the subway every day,” Bloomberg said of Harman. “Does that tell you what I think? My kids ride the subway. This is a safe city.”

Hizzoner added that it’s “preposterous to think that you shouldn’t be riding the subway, that you shouldn’t go to the theater, that you shouldn’t go to restaurants, that your children shouldn’t go to school. How can you say that?”