The person who may have made the biggest splash at Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) star-studded book party Tuesday night was none other than Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who raised eyebrows by wading through a sea of Clinton White House alumni to greet the guest of honor.
“I was not the only Republican Senator, I was the only Republican — period,” Inhofe told HOH on Wednesday. “There were about 500 liberal Democrats. I also saw a lot of lobbyists hiding from me. But I enjoy going into enemy territory.”
The juiciest moment may have come when Clinton introduced Inhofe, who is about as conservative as you can get, to her mother, Dorothy Rodham.
“She was a very nice woman — I love moms to begin with,” Inhofe said. “And she said, ‘Oh, Senator Inhofe, I have seen you on C-SPAN and Fox.’ She stopped and couldn’t get the rest out because she realized who I was.”
Waiting for autographed copies of “Living History” was a long line of media types, Clinton alumni such as former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Lee Witt and lawmakers like Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) who snaked through the spacious Bethesda, Md., home of Washington Post reporter Bradley Graham and former Clinton aide Lissa Muscatine.
But Inhofe did not plunk down his credit card, so this friendship only goes so far.
“No, I’m not going to pay money for it,” he parried. “I was kind of waiting to see if she sent me a copy today for showing up last night.”
At the party, Clinton finally did seal the door on any speculation that she might seek a certain higher position. HOH asked if she would ever run for Senate Majority Leader if Democrats took back the chamber and the position opened up.
“No way,” she said, laughing as she finally got a chance to answer a non-presidential-themed question. “I’m closing the door.”
HOH also took a run at getting the Senator to give up some embarrassing stories about her press secretary, Philippe Reines, who has been traveling with her and will be jetting around on her book tour.
With Reines looming a few feet away, Clinton whispered that she does indeed have the goods. “But if I’m going to dish to you, what am I going to get out of it?” she asked.
We’ll be in touch.
Rewriting History. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) has found an interesting way to get publicity: co-sponsor an amendment after it has already passed through the chamber and then claim some credit for its passage.
At 4:03 p.m. last Thursday, the Senate passed by voice vote an amendment that would provide subsidies to rural airports for operating costs.
At 4:51 p.m., according to the Congressional Record, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was recognized on the Senate floor and decided to help out one of his pals.
“I ask unanimous consent [that] Senator Hagel be added as a co-sponsor of amendment number 906,” McCain said.
Later that day, Hagel’s office put out a press release suggesting that the Senator’s heroic efforts will now ensure that two small Nebraska airports — in Grand Island and Norfolk — get relief.
“The Senate’s action today provides critical leverage as this bill moves into a conference with the House,” Hagel said of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill.
A Hagel aide produced an e-mail showing that the Senator’s office had contacted Inhofe’s office Tuesday in an effort to be added as a co-sponsor. But the amendment came together quicker than expected on Thursday, so Hagel’s staff did not get down to the Senate floor in time to get the boss officially on board.
That context didn’t stop Steve Achelpohl, chairman of the Nebraska Democratic Party, from cracking that “Hagel taking credit for the [regional airport] protection amendment is reminiscent of the rooster taking credit for the rising sun.”
Hagel spokesman Mike Buttry told HOH, “Anyone who knows anything about this knows this is silly.”
Lamar’s Lumber Crew. There were all kinds of political subplots playing out when Sen. Lamar Alexander’s (R-Tenn.) softball team beat up on the folks from the office of Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) in a 24-15 rout.
“The A Team” — aka “The Mad Plaid” because of Alexander’s infamous attire on the presidential campaign trail — had fallen behind by a score of 8-2 after the first inning.
But the comeback was sealed after a grand slam clobbered by Drew Bryant, a staffer in the Secretary of the Senate’s office who happens to be the son of the man beaten by Alexander in a 2002 GOP Senate primary — ex-Rep. Ed Bryant.
But it was left to Alexander, the two-time losing presidential candidate, to figure out the most interesting part of beating up on his colleague from the Northeast.
“I finally won one in New Hampshire,” he joked.
Hatch on the High Court? First Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) suggested that Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) be nominated to the Supreme Court. And now Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch’s (R-Utah) name is coming up.
Appearing Tuesday on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” program, Hatch was told by a caller, “I would like to see you nominated to the Supreme Court. And my question to you is, would you accept and is this going through your mind at all?”
“It’s not going through my mind because I think I have a pretty good idea of who the president might consider — there’s a range of about 10 or 12 people who are very competent and very good,” Hatch responded, but nonetheless said it would be an “honor” to be picked.
Host Connie Doebele pressed Hatch, who was considered for the black robes during the Reagan administration, on what he would like about being a Supreme Court justice.
“I think it would be tough,” said Hatch. “Every time I see Justice [Anthony] Kennedy over there it’s like he says, ‘Oh, another human being!’ Because they are so cloistered. That would be difficult for me.”
“Are you an isolated man?” Doebele asked.
“I enjoy being alone,” said Hatch. “I enjoy studying and so forth. I enjoy reading and so forth. But I also enjoy the interchange that being a United States Senator gives you.”
A later caller asked Hatch a sticky question: “Do you get lied to by the Democratic leadership of the Senate? Do you get specifically lied to right to your face?”
“The answer is yes, but in most cases no,” said Hatch. “Almost all our colleagues are honest and do try to live up to their word. But yes, there are a couple who have lied to me. There’s no question about it.”
Book Bombshell. Former Hill staffer Michele Mitchell, who’s a now a New York-based novelist, will be returning to Washington tonight to read portions of her new political thriller “The Latest Bombshell.”
Stuart Roy, spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), will be reading excerpts from the novel as well. He’s an old friend from Mitchell’s days as a staffer for then-Rep. Pete Geren (D-Texas).
The first novel from Mitchell, a onetime political correspondent for CNN’s “Headline News,” focuses on a muckraking reporter who winds up being accused of selling military secrets to China. He turns to his ex-girlfriend for help and, based on the provocative cover of the tome, this may be where the book gets interesting.
Roy will be reading a section about a character who’s a former pol and becomes a Sunday morning talk-show host. Sounds a bit like Tim Russert, but Mitchell insists it is just fiction.
“People think it’s a roman á clef, but it’s really not,” said Mitchell, who will be appearing at 7 p.m. at the Metro Center Olsson’s Books.
As a former press secretary, Mitchell knows her way around the corridors of powers. Still, she recalls that her job interview with Geren didn’t start out so good.
“He was yawning,” she said. But then the Congressman found out that she’s a runner with a good mile time.
“You’d be a really good addition to our team for the Capitol Hill Challenge,” he said. And the rest was history.