Mother Day’s Mudslinging

Posted May 3, 2004 at 6:48pm

Life is tense these days in the “The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body,” aka the United States Senate. So much so that even a simple resolution to honor “Dear Old Mum” on Mother’s Day has gotten caught up in partisan politics.

The office of Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) began circulating a draft resolution celebrating mothers last week. The resolution, expected to be introduced as early as today, includes a number of stock phrases that moms everywhere would be pleased to hear: “Whereas mothers have a unique bond with their children,” or “Whereas the work of mothers is of paramount importance, but often undervalued and demeaned.” Pretty basic, boilerplate-type stuff on the miracle of motherhood.

[IMGCAP(1)] But some Senate Democrats were alarmed by one particular phrase and its potential political ramifications — “Whereas mothers have an indispensable role in building and transforming society to build a culture of life.”

The words “culture of life” read to these Democrats as code for “pro-life,” as in “anti-abortion,” and they began grumbling about it. Several have even decided to withhold their support for the Brownback resolution or are considering offering their own alternative resolution minus the offending language.

“It’s a sad day when people in this body are trying to politicize Mother’s Day,” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg. The New Jersey Democrat is refusing to sign onto the Brownback resolution, which so far has 14 co-sponsors, all Republicans except for Sens. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

“Using a day that celebrates millions of women across the country to advance their agenda designed to take away women’s rights is almost beyond comprehension,” added a Senate Democratic staffer familiar with the dispute. “I can’t wait to see what they have in store for Father’s Day.”

Brownback’s office did not return several calls seeking comment on the dispute.

They Bobble but They Don’t Fall Down. The distributors of a “bobblehead” doll depicting California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) are so far refusing to stop selling the dolls despite a lawsuit filed by Schwarzenegger’s attorneys, and they believe the controversy is actually helping them move more dolls.

Todd Bosley of bosleybobbers.com and John Edgell of bobbleheadelection.com, the two online distributors of the Arnold bobbleheads, said sales are growing since Schwarzenegger’s lawyers warned them last Thursday to stop selling the dolls or face legal action.

“No doubt about it,” said Edgell of the increased public interest in the Arnold bobblehead. Edgell is a Washington lobbyist and former aide to Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) who sells the political bobblehead dolls on the side to help raise money for charity.

Edgell came up with the idea for the Arnold doll, along with similar figures of President Bush, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D). Bosley is the one responsible for actually making (read importing from China) the dolls, and it is Bosley who received a warning letter from the Los Angeles law firm Lavely & Singer, which is representing Schwarzenegger. (Edgell said late yesterday that Schwarzenegger’s lawyers had actually filed suit against Bosely on Friday in Los Angeles.)

The dolls, which are available at the Trover Shop bookstore, cost $19.95 each, with $5 of that total going to the Kristen Ann Carr Fund. The fund helps pay for research into sarcoma cancer. Edgell said he had already given $6,000 to the charity, and hoped to send over another $8,000 in a day or so.

Coming soon — a bobblehead of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), with the proceeds going to aid foster children. “Bobbleheads are a pop culture phenomenon and a rite of passage,” said DeLay spokesman Jonathan Grella, who keeps a DeLay bobblehead doll in the office for “non-stop inspiration and nodding affirmation.”

“This is a much better idea than the ‘Tickle Me’ Tom DeLay doll,” Grella added.

Frist’s First. It’s not like Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) needs the money or anything, but he won his office pool on Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. The Majority Leader raked in $36 thanks to Smarty Jones, the “Pride of Philadelphia.”

William Hoagland, a senior policy adviser to Frist on budget issues and well known bon vivant, hosts a small Kentucky Derby get- together every year. This includes mint juleps made with mint from Bill’s own garden. While sampling the cocktails last week on the Dole Balcony, located next to the Majority Leader’s office, there was a drawing and Frist ended up with Smarty Jones. The rest is history.

“[Frist] is in Nashville today and has not collected his winnings,” Hoagland told HOH. “I’m sure that if he does not need the $36, he’ll return it to the Budget Committee to help reduce the deficit.”

So now all we need is for Frist to win another 1,472,222,222 horse races, donate the money to the federal government and there’s no more budget deficit. C’mon, Lucky Bill, the country needs a new pair of shoes!

The Newest Reporter in Town. While thousands of media types were meeting and greeting at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on Saturday night, Julie Asher of Fox News had already finished working on another big story that day — giving birth to her second daughter, Jamie Anne Morris.

Julie is married to Vincent Morris of the New York Post. Jamie Anne arrived at 6:41 a.m. Saturday, weighing in at a healthy 8 lbs, 12 oz. Julie and Jamie Anne are doing fine and came home from the hospital Monday.

So what did Vince do Saturday night? That’s right, he went to the big soiree at the Washington Hilton.

“What else was I going to do?” joked Morris. Now that’s a journalist.

Capital Dash. Tomorrow is the 23rd Annual ACLI Capital Challenge in the District’s Anacostia Park, and hopes are high for another great event benefiting the D.C. Special Olympics.

On hand to start the approximately 700 runners expected to take part this year will be Bill Rodgers, a former champion in the Boston and New York marathons and a competitor in the 1976 Olympics.

Jeff Darman, who helps put the race together, said the event has raised nearly $300,000 over its history, and is hoping to raise another $13,000 this year.

Some lawmakers have been longtime participants in the race, and more than 30 are expected to be on hand tomorrow. Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), a co-chairman of the Capital Challenge, has never missed a race, and Frist and Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) each have their own teams. Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), another co-chairman and holder of the title of “Fastest Man in Congress,” and Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), the fastest Senator, will look to repeat. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) is the longtime female Senate champion.

The American Council of Life Insurers is the lead sponsor of the race, and other sponsors include Fannie Mae, American Express Financial Services, Northwestern Mutual, Prudential Financial Inc., Swiss Re, shoe company Saucony, Chubb, Running Times magazine and everyone’s favorite Capitol Hill newspaper, Roll Call.

Emily Pierce contributed to this report.