Thin Skin

Posted September 20, 2005 at 6:55pm

To be a successful Member of Congress, two things you must have are a tough hide and a tight lip. But Rep. Scott Garrett’s (R-N.J.) skin appears to be somewhere between a newborn baby’s bottom and a puppy’s belly, and his lip is about as loose as the streets of Las Vegas, judging from his reaction to a recent letter to the editor published in New Jersey’s Express-Times newspaper. [IMGCAP(1)]

Granted, the letter was written by Erik Anderson, a campaign operative for Garrett’s 2004 Democratic campaign opponent, Anne Wolfe. Anderson blasted Garrett for voting against the Hurricane Katrina relief package. And Garrett was ticked off — so much so that he called Anderson, at home, to complain.

Anderson wrote about the phone call on the bizarrely named Web blog, Grotesquely Immobilized Corpse, on Sept. 11.

“I picked up the phone tonight and the man on the other end said his name was Congressman Scott Garrett. I almost didn’t believe it. I asked him twice if he was kidding. After he confirmed it twice, it dawned on me that he didn’t like the letter I wrote in today’s Express-Times blasting him for voting against Katrina hurricane relief. He was pissed,” Anderson wrote in his posting on the blog.

He went on at length to criticize Garrett and accuse the Congressman of being “one of those ‘nu-metal’, Reagan Baby, neo-conservative Republicans allied with Grover Norquist, the granddaddy of the tax-cutting circuit” and other unpleasantries.

Garrett’s press secretary, Eric Cullen, confirmed that his boss did call Anderson at home. But he wasn’t pissed, as Anderson suggested in his blog posting. “I have never heard Scott Garrett become exasperated,” Cullen said.

Wow! If so, the Congressman deserves the “Only Member of Congress Who Never Becomes Exasperated” award!

“I’ve never known him to be rude or exasperated in the least with his constituents. … I can’t imagine him being, quote, pissed off, unquote, with a constituent,” Cullen said. Well that pretty covers it: Garrett is neither rude, nor exasperated, nor pissed off.

But “he’ll pick up the phone and call somebody” if that somebody has written something he feels is worth challenging, Cullen said. In the case of Erik Anderson, Cullen said his boss “got the guy to agree with him” and “brought him onto common ground.”

That sure isn’t the way Anderson spins it. “The ball’s in Garrett’s court. He has to explain his vote to the people (his family included.) … All he has to do is come out as loud and clear as I did in my letter, making it clear what he means. Please don’t call up people who write letters to the editor.”

Or people who write gossip columns. (Uh-oh, the phone is ringing. …)

Sex and the City. Now that he’s chairman of the high-profile Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) has become a sex symbol to the stars. Well, at least according to a poll posted during the “Fox and Friends” morning show last Saturday.

King was a guest on the morning show when some interesting, if surprising, poll results flashed across the screen. “Celeb NY Women Most Want to Get It On With …”

Sure, you’re thinking any number of gorgeous movie stars, sexy athletes, hot musicians, brilliant authors, California governors and so on and so forth. But no, according to “Fox and Friends,” celebrity New York women most want to get it on with:

1. Derek Jeter (11 percent)

2. Jon Stewart (10 percent)

3. Angelina Jolie (9 percent)

4. Rep. Peter King (8 percent)

So, there you have it, folks: Arguably the best (and almost certainly the hottest) shortstop in Yankee history, the hilarious late-night liberal talk show host, the exquisitely beautiful actress and Brad Pitt thief, and, yes, the newly tapped chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee — all of them on the “to do” list of New Yorkers.

No one could be happier about the distinction than King himself. “I wish I was a committee chairman in high school!” he told HOH. He’s certain his newfound sex appeal is a direct result of his new lofty position. It’s “because being chairman highlights my incredible strength and charm,” he said, blinking shyly. (Not!)

King has been training for this honor. A little birdie tells HOH the Congressman has been boxing twice a week. Now, what better motivator than getting in tip-top shape for his adoring fans?

Guess Who’s Coming To Lunch? The Republican Communications Association’s “Life After the Hill” series this week featured … well, perhaps not the poster boy for an idyllic life after the Hill.

One of two speakers at the series on Tuesday was Tony Rudy, the former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) who’s been embroiled up to his ears in the Jack Abramoff scandal.

Rudy, who along with other DeLay pals now works at the Alexander Strategy Group, a lobbying firm, didn’t discuss the criminal investigation of former super-lobbyist Abramoff or give advice to the crowd of up-and-comers about how to stay away from such ugliness, aides said. Instead, said one aide involved in the RCA, Rudy just talked about the good old days.

“He told stories about working in Congressional offices before the era of BlackBerrys and cell phones … when there were no computers and only a typewriter to draft letters and mailers,” the aide said.

Ah, yes, in the good old days, when typewriters didn’t leave a trail of e-mails for investigators. But then, back then you couldn’t answer e-mails from your table at Signatures!

Please send your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments to hoh@rollcall.com.