WWJD?

Posted May 23, 2007 at 6:38pm

To avoid major partisan squabbles, Members might ask themselves, “What would Judith do?” That’s Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners. Etiquette experts agree that a well-timed, heartfelt apology note can save a lot of heartache, a lesson that Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) might have learned a little too late, when he sent a letter on Wednesday to Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) finally acknowledging the incident between the two men that resulted in a partisan spat. [IMGCAP(1)]

In a short, handwritten note apparently sent Wednesday afternoon, Murtha apologized for his “outburst” toward Rogers, an aide to the Michigan Republican said. But the Murtha-Rogers incident, in which the senior appropriator allegedly threatened to strip all of Rogers’ earmarks “now and forever,” already had caused a big stir: Rogers introduced a motion to reprimand Murtha, which the House voted to kill on Tuesday. The incident, which Rogers said was prompted by his own effort to kill a project in Murtha’s district, touched off a round of rather nasty partisan finger-pointing.

Murtha’s office had no comment on the note.

It isn’t clear yet whether Murtha’s “Dear Mike” will work enough magic to prevent Rogers from filing a formal complaint with the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, which the Michigan lawmaker has said he is considering.

For that, he might need to send flowers, too.

Flaking Out? MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson on Tuesday called out Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) for “flaking” on a scheduled appearance to debate Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) over the hot-button topic of immigration.

MSNBC had promo-ed the late-afternoon Royce-Flake face-off like Don King hyping a prizefight, but when it came time for the bell, Flake wasn’t there.

Flake spokesman Matthew Specht said once his boss arrived outside the building near the Capitol where the studios are located, he got word that a vote was on in the House on a Republican motion to recommit. Not wanting to miss a vote, he turned around and hauled back to the chamber. “He didn’t want to risk missing it,” Specht said.

That left Royce, who had arrived earlier than Flake — and who had turned off his cell phone and BlackBerry — alone in the studio to debate … himself. Specht said he notified the producers as the car carrying the Congressman headed back to the Capitol.

Carlson nevertheless looked a bit agitated that the fireworks he’d hoped for in pitting Flake, a moderate on immigration issues, against Royce, who takes a tougher line, had suddenly and unexpectedly fizzled.

And as it turned out, the vote was held open long enough that Royce completed the segment, sans Flake, and arrived in the chamber in time to cast his “aye.”

Specht says he’ll have to “wait and see” whether Carlson holds a grudge. And as for the TV tawker’s taunt that the Congressman flaked out on the scheduled appearance? “Yeah, it’s not the first time he’s heard that joke,” Specht said.

Train Trap. A routine Wednesday afternoon subway trip from the Capitol turned into an adventure for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who was briefly stuck, all alone, in the car of a train that stopped on the tracks.

The trapped McCaskill was late for a closed-door Senate Armed Services Committee meeting and had to watch as her colleagues who had opted to walk along the corridor between the buildings cheerfully (mockingly?) waved at their beleaguered fellow Senator.

A McCaskill spokeswoman said she understood that someone had tried to hold the door to another train’s car open, which caused a problem. To prevent any train collisions, the mechanics shut down all trains. The problem was cleared after about 10 minutes, and McCaskill was on her way again.

No word on whether McCaskill is interested in selling the movie rights to the story.

Future President Woodhouse? Americans United for Change spokesman Brad Woodhouse (who’s very much a Dem) said the political affiliation of his newborn son is in question — but the tot’s political destiny sure isn’t. That’s because Woodhouse and wife, Jessica Carter, chief of staff to Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), have agreed that little Brady Carter Woodhouse, born early Wednesday morning, will someday run for president. They just don’t know for which party. “So for the next 40 years we’ll be fighting over whether he runs as a Democrat or Republican,” the proud dad joked.

Woodhouse, a former flame-throwing spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, says the newest undecided not-yet voter is a healthy 8-pound 2-ouncer, and that mom and baby “are resting and doing well.”

Let the lobbying begin.

The Right Lunch Spot. The carbs aren’t the only thing that’s rich and powerful at downtown Italian eatery Sesto Senso — the lunch scene is, too. And on Wednesday the restaurant’s back room looked like an alumni club meeting of the Republican National Committee, with two of the group’s former heads lunching at separate tables. An HOH tipster spotted former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman (now at Akin Gump) dining with ubiquitous ABC newsguy George Stephanopoulos. Another former RNC chairman, Mark Racicot, who’s now the head of the American Insurance Association, was lunching nearby with Washington Post scribe Jeffrey Birnbaum.

What, did no one tell Ed Gillespie?

Susan Davis contributed to this report.

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