Batter Out

Posted May 11, 2007 at 6:38pm

First, embattled Rep. William Jefferson got booted from his coveted seat on the Ways and Means Committee. Now, the Louisiana Democrat is off another elite squadron: the Democrats’ baseball team. [IMGCAP(1)]

When team manager Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) put together the roster of players who will try to end the Democrats’ losing streak against the GOP team in this year’s Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game, Jefferson’s name was notably absent. Jefferson, who is under federal investigation in a bribery scandal that led to his removal last year from the tax-writing panel, had been a stalwart of the Democrats’ team, playing for the better part of two decades in various positions.

Turns out, Jefferson’s departure from the team has nothing to do with his legal woes; the guy just turned 60 and figures his best playing days are behind him. A Jefferson spokeswoman says her boss had long planned to hang up his cleats once he passed the big 6-0 mark, which happened in March. “After last year’s game, his back was sore, and he figured it really was time to retire,” the spokeswoman said.

And we thought the Dems were afraid of the bad publicity they’d get if Jefferson got caught stealing second base.

Edwards for Edwards. Opponents love to make Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards out as a vain pretty-boy. And when the former North Carolina Senator touted a list of prominent Virginians who have endorsed his presidential bid, one name stood out that seemed to lend credence to the critics. “John Edwards” was endorsing John Edwards for the Democratic presidential nomination. Now that’s self-affirmation of the Stuart Smalley variety (the “Saturday Night Live” character played by now-aspiring politician Al Franken who repeated the mantra “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me” into a mirror).

But the John Edwards fan in question is John S. Edwards, the state Senator in the Virginia General Assembly. Edwards the Assemblyman tells HOH that he frequently gets mistaken for Edwards the national candidate. His office forwards mail clearly meant for the North Carolinian, he says, and people have called him on occasion expressing support and inquiring after his wife’s health (John Edwards the national candidate’s wife, Elizabeth, is battling cancer).

The two John Edwardses have met a few times, including once during the 2004 elections, when the then-vice presidential candidate dropped by the Assemblyman’s Roanoke district. “I told him ‘you got a pretty good reception’ out there, and being a politician, he came right back with ‘that’s because they thought I was you,’” the state Senator recalls.

They share more than a name: Both are Southern Democrats, both have sons named Jack, and both were trial attorneys. But the endorsement wasn’t just about solidarity among John Edwardses. “I like his policies on poverty and on health care, and I think he’s a real electable candidate,” the Virginian says.

An even funnier scenario: John Edwards endorsing Edwards’ presidential rival, frontrunning Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

ThemTube. Lawmakers alternately fear and embrace YouTube.com: It’s become a powerful tool for disseminating political messages, but it also exposes their foibles and opens them up to the not-so-tender mercies of the blogosphere.

One lawmaker last week, though, turned the tables on the site, whipping out a video camera to shoot what he called the first YouTube video of a Congressional hearing. And its subject couldn’t have been more apropos. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) caught a mock-nervous Chad Hurley, YouTube’s CEO and co-founder, on his film. Hurley and other digital video chieftains were testifying before the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet, which Markey chairs, and Hurley tacitly acknowledged his company’s power to embarrass. “Hopefully I won’t mess this up, because if I do, it could end up on YouTube,” Hurley quipped.

Markey shot about a minute of video, panning across subcommittee members , witnesses, aides, lobbyists and reporters.

War, Not Love. We thought only Democrats engaged in outright war on the GOP leadership. But House Republican leaders have a new and unlikely enemy in the firmly right-tilting blog Redstate. The blog is usually on the friendliest of terms with Congressional Republicans, and GOP leaders frequently court its favor.

But the BFF act came to a halt last Friday, when Redstate posted an incendiary call to arms against the House top brass for naming Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) to a plum spot on the Appropriations Committee.

“Today, I declare war on the Republican Leadership of the United States House of Representatives,” the hopping-mad post read. “We must scalp one member. That member’s name is Ken Calvert.”

Calvert is taking the committee seat vacated by Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.), who is under investigation along with his wife, Julie, for ties to jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Calvert has ethical baggage of his own that makes him an unsuitable pick, the blog claims, citing recent news reports questioning Calvert’s involvement in channeling earmarks to real estate in which he had an interest. The post urged readers to call members of leadership and complain.

The outrage and the resulting comments left by readers — some agreeing with the complaints, others insisting that Republicans shouldn’t turn on one another — mirrored the internal conflict among Republicans in the House over whether to name Calvert to the seat. During a Republican Conference meeting Thursday, Reps. Ray LaHood (Ill.) and Dave Camp (Mich.) — both members of the Republican Steering Committee — argued against giving Calvert the seat, but a vote by show of hands overwhelming approved the nomination. “It wasn’t even close,” said one senior Republican last week.

Calvert himself attempted to broker a peace treaty, posting a response in which he said he’s ethically clean as a whistle, thank you very much. And to boost his conservative cred, he bashed the Los Angeles Times, which published a story questioning his land and earmark dealings. He then not-too-subtly reminded his fellow righties that they should keep their eyes on the real enemies, the media and Democrats (in that order).

“We should not get distracted from the main challenges which are getting the mainstream media to cover real stories of real improprieties by Members on the other side of the aisle and, most importantly, restoring the Republican majority in Congress,” Calvert wrote.

Now can’t we all just get along?

Charlene Carter of CongressNow contributed to this report.

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