Fair and Balanced Book?

Posted November 12, 2003 at 6:59pm

Fox News Channel correspondent Major Garrett has forged a deal to pen a book, due out in April 2005, that aims to provide a 10-year retrospective on the Republican revolution on Capitol Hill.

Garrett told HOH Wednesday that the book, which is titled “Radical Conservatives: How Republicans Changed America,” will be published by Crown Forum, a new division of Random House.

He described the project as “What has [the GOP Congress] wrought? Good

and bad,” and vowed to take a, well, fair and balanced look at the “economic, political and cultural” impact of the historic Republican takeover.

Garrett, now a general assignment reporter at Fox, covered the fast-moving 104th Congress for The Washington Times. He also covered Congress for U.S. News & World Report and later the White House for CNN before moving on to Fox.

Anticipating the inevitable Democratic carping about a Fox staffer rating the Republican stewardship of Congress, Garrett dismissed any potential criticism.

“No Democrat that I dealt with in ’95 thought I was a tool for the Republican Party, and I will do the same thing right now,” said Garrett, who will be writing the book whenever he finds a spare moment from his day job. “Judge me by what appears under the byline.”

Garrett, who joked about the fact that he happened to be in the office of Democratic consultant Peter Fenn while taking a cellphone call from HOH, pledged to aggressively seek out Democratic views on the GOP revolution. “I expect them to be enthusiastic about telling me how bad it has been,” he said.

The project grew out of Garrett’s experience covering Operation Iraqi Freedom from the Pentagon for Fox.

“I had a lot of friends say, ‘That must have been the most exciting story you’ve ever covered,’” recalled Garrett. “I said, ‘No, the most exciting story I’ve ever covered day-in, day-out was that Congress in ’95.”

The book will be released as close to the 10th anniversary of the end of the first 100 days of the 104th Congress as possible.

There Goes Tennessee. Amid the Senate’s marathon filibuster over judicial nominations, Democrats were chuckling Wednesday about the results of a poll Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) was conducting on his official Web site.

The insta-poll asked: “Should the President’s nominees to the federal bench be allowed an up or down vote on confirmation as specified in the Constitution?”

Sixty percent of respondents said “no,” while only 40 percent of the 9,207 voters had responded with a “yes” by late Wednesday.

After HOH called Frist’s office, and it was clear that Democrats were voting to boost the anti-GOP count, the judiciary poll was taken down and replaced with a question about President Bush’s Healthy Forests initiative, though that may have been due to the fact that the daily poll changes sometimes during the time. Democrats, however, couldn’t seem to let that one go either, and the margin had gone their way by press time.

Frist spokesman Bob Stevenson checked the records and found that only 24 people voted on the judicial poll on Tuesday, but then more than 9,000 voted on Wednesday, suggesting to him there was something fishy going on.

“I hope that these Democratic staffers will be as enthusiastic about voting up or down on our judicial nominees as they are in casting votes on the Web site, in coming days,” cracked Stevenson, who later brought the judicial poll back online to let Republicans have a chance to to turn the poll in their favor.

Nixing the Honor Guard. Frist explored the idea of opening the Veterans Day session of the Senate by bringing a military color guard onto the floor, but the proposal was knocked down by the Senate Parliamentarian’s office.

Stevenson said the idea came from one of the Majority Leader’s colleagues who felt it would be a good way to honor the nation’s military veterans — and undoubtedly rebut Democratic charges that the GOP was showing disrespect by dragging everyone in to work.

Stevens said the Parliamentarian’s office was concerned about “the precedent it would set because only Senate employees are supposed to have access to the floor.”

There was a lesser concern about allowing military personnel to bring weapons onto the Senate floor, but that was going to be addressed by having the soldiers leave their guns in a secure location. Given the precedent concerns, however, the idea was abandoned.

“We would have loved to have a color guard,” said Stevenson, noting that the GOP leadership moved ahead instead with existing plans to have a moment of silence and pass a resolution of commemoration.

Honeymoon Over for Blunt. With the possibility of Congress sticking around until Christmas a real possibility, House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) knew it would be difficult to get in a peaceful honeymoon with new wife Aibigail Pearlman.

So the couple quietly dashed over to Italy late last month to attend the wedding of a friend of Pearlman’s, and squeezed in a retreat of their own in Siena.

“They were glad to put five days together during a lightly scheduled month,” said Blunt spokeswoman Burson Taylor.

All Hail King McCain. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) decided to have some fun at Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) expense just before last Thursday’s panel hearing on lunar exploration.

As spectators were milling about and various lawmakers — like Sens. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) — chatted away, Lautenberg spied the chairman entering the room.

“All rise!” declared Lautenberg.

The astounding part was that various staffers and members of the audience actually did stand up to give McCain a rather regal entry, though the Senators in the room, of course, didn’t rise. “Just kidding,” Lautenberg finally cracked as everyone sat back down.

Lautenberg, meanwhile, is planning to stand for a long while on the Senate floor if Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) brings up the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization conference report.

Irate that his language specifically prohibiting the privatization of air traffic controllers was stripped in conference, Lautenberg is vowing to block it. “If they try to bring it to the floor, Lautenberg is going to filibuster,” said spokesman Alex Formuzis.

He’s gathered a foot-high stack of material to read from if he needs to follow through, including transcripts of air traffic control tower conversations on Sept. 11, 2001, to hammer the point that the critical jobs should not be turned over to contractors.

Just what the Senate needs: another filibuster.

Strange Bedfellows. Why were House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and conservative New York Times columnist William Safire doing yukking it up at the dinner preceding last week’s VIP screening of the new movie “In America”?

Safire’s op-ed columns run counter to most of Pelosi’s agenda. Given his status as a language maven, however, he was passing along some kind words about the Democratic leader’s frequent use of alliteration to make her political points — which was recently chronicled in a story by Roll Call’s Erin P. Billings.

The Minority Leader’s daughter Christine Pelosi, who joined the conversation to pitch the “On Language” writer on a piece about how the phrase “Queer Eye” is being used as a verb already, said her mom is hoping to convert Safire to the liberal cause.

“As Safire is conducting his annual alliteration awards, he might be swayed to embrace the Democrats’ economic agenda upon learning that Pelosi’s fair, fast-acting, fiscally responsible jobs plan was developed with clarity, consensus and credibility,” she joked.