Bring Him Hither

Posted May 12, 2008 at 6:38pm

We’re all anxiously awaiting Sen. Patrick Leahy’s big-screen performance in the blockbuster Batman movie this summer. But attendees at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting last week got a preview of Leahy’s theatrics when the Vermont Democrat, who is chairman of the panel, showed off his acting prowess by dramatically reciting a bit of Shakespeare.

[IMGCAP(1)]To also borrow an expression from the Bard, there was method to Leahy’s mini-performance madness: He was trying to summon straggling members of the committee into the committee room to form a quorum that would allow the panel to vote. As the appointed time for votes came and went despite several pleas to aides to go fetch their bosses, the seats remained stubbornly empty and Leahy was growing impatient.

The Senator — who’s a bit of a techno-geek in addition to being a theater nerd — pulled his BlackBerry from his pocket and proceeded to look up a favorite passage from Shakespeare’s “Henry IV.” Here’s the passage, in which two characters discuss their summoning abilities:

Glendower: “I can call spirits from the vasty deep.”
Hotspur: “Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?”
Glendower: “Why, I can teach you, cousin, to command the devil.”
Hotspur: “And I can teach thee, coz, to shame the devil
By telling truth: tell truth and shame the devil.
If thou have power to raise him, bring him hither,
And I’ll be sworn I have power to shame him hence.
O, while you live, tell truth and shame the devil!”

Leahy spokesman David Carle tells HOH that his boss used to recite the quotation to juries back when he was a prosecutor and still keeps it handy in his BlackBerry for reference.

“It worked back in the courtroom, and it seems to have worked this time because a quorum materialized moments later,” Carle said. Now, HOH is no Shakespearean scholar, but in our high-school-level reading of this passage, if Leahy’s doing the summoning, that makes members of the Judiciary Committee the devil.

Reid, on the Rocks. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid might be a former boxer, but it’s the drinks at the Nevada Democrat’s book party tonight that sound like they’ll be delivering all the knockout punches. Plenty of Members of Congress (including even California Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi, HOH hears) will gather at The Source, the chic Wolfgang Puck eatery in the Newseum, to fete Reid’s new book, “The Good Fight.”

And they’ll have some drinks to imbibe that are at least as powerful as the author himself. There’s “The Good Fight,” a lethal-sounding mix of pear vodka, sake and pear purée; or the “Searchlight,” a mix of tequila, watermelon liqueur and fresh-watermelon purée. And since Reid’s a tee-totaling Mormon, also expect to see a few folks ordering “The Majority Mocktail,” a clear-headed concoction of cranberry juice, tonic water and a splash of lime.

Flipping for a Token Candidate. Packs of political reporters in Washington, D.C., battle to be the first to report when a candidate will enter a Congressional race. So HOH imagines those folks were pretty surprised last week when CoinLink.com — not a publication usually known for breaking hot political news — was first with the news that the Republican Senate primary contest down in Louisiana is about to get a bit more interesting.

The Web site, which typically features articles on scintillating topics such as the value of rare coins, was the first media outlet to confirm that numismatist Paul Hollis will challenge Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy for the GOP nomination. No wonder the coin publication beat everybody to the big story: Hollis is big in coin-collecting circles, as the owner of a business that sells coins that often go for upward of $30,000.

While HOH might have gotten scooped on the big campaign news, we did get to chat with Hollis, who tells us that running for Congress isn’t the unusual career choice it might seem. “I always thought there were going to be two phases in my life, because I always had two passions — coin collecting and politics,” Hollis said, adding that he first got interested in coins after his grandmother gave him a peace dollar when he was 6 years old.

“It’s very strange, but I fell in love with it,” he said. “To me, coins have always been a connection to United States history.”

Hollis isn’t completely new to politics, since his father served as a state Senator. But he’ll need to pinch his pennies during the race, since he’s expected to self-finance most of his campaign.

Hollis’ campaign will hit Kennedy for playing two sides of the political coin, since the state treasurer switched to the Republican Party last year so that he could run against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D). But Kennedy doesn’t seem too concerned about the challenge.

“We welcome anyone into this race,” said Lenny Alcivar, Kennedy’s communications director. “But every campaign seems to have a token candidate, and most Louisianans wouldn’t give him a plug nickel for his chances.”

Briefly Quoted. “Your first six months in the Senate, you spend a lot of time wondering how the hell you got there. After that, you look at your colleagues and wonder how the hell any of them got there.”

— Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), in his new book, “A Time to Fight.” Webb was sharing a favorite in-joke among Senators.

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