Heard on the Hill: Last-Minute Shoppers

Posted December 16, 2009 at 6:45pm

It’s a bad Christmas to be a Congressional spouse. The House was in session on Wednesday, with little more than a week before the big holiday — which of course meant that many Members hadn’t managed to hit the stores to pick up those all-important presents for their better halves.

[IMGCAP(1)]HOH surveyed a handful of Members, and several ’fessed up that they haven’t had the chance to put on their Santa hats. The biggest exception (and the runaway winner of our Best Spousal Gift Award) goes to Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), who tells HOH his lucky wife is getting a TV, a Snuggie, diamond earrings and a Kindle. “I’m looking for at least 37 good-husband points,— he tells us.

A reporter who overheard Cleaver’s answer had a sneakier thought. “What did you do?— he asked the Missourian with a mock-accusing look.

Perhaps taking a hint from his colleague, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) also scooped up jewelry to give to his new wife. “An Ann Hand pin,— the 77-year-old newlywed reveals to HOH.

Now, on to the naughty list: Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) hasn’t done his shopping yet. But he swears that’s intentional, since if he shops too early, he’s been known to “put the gifts in a secure and completely un-remember-able location.—

Not a bad excuse … but HOH isn’t buying it.

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) says he just needs a little more time — and the right venue. “I’ve got to get home to the Seattle Nordstrom’s,— he says.

Uh-huh.

And wish Rep. Raúl Grijalva luck. He hasn’t actually bought his wife a gift yet, but at least he’s got a battle plan. “I’m doing a very dangerous thing,— the Arizona Democrat revealed. “I’m buying her a purse.— Since he’s not entirely confident of his handbag-selection skills, he says he’s bringing a wing-woman. “My chief of staff is going to help me out on this,— he says.

Twice as Nice. It isn’t surprising Congress would seek to recognize Mark Ingram, the University of Alabama running back who won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday.

What is odd, however, is that Ingram theoretically could be honored twice, as two separate House resolutions were introduced Tuesday congratulating Ingram on winning college football’s highest honor.

Sure, Ingram is good. But he’s not get-recognized-twice good.

Making things even stranger is that Rep. Artur Davis is a sponsor of both pieces of legislation. The Alabama Democrat introduced his own measure recognizing Ingram while also signing on to the other bill, put forth by Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.).

Kildee spokeswoman Erin Donar told HOH that her boss introduced his measure because Ingram is from Flint, Mich., and it is just common practice for the hometown Member to put forth such congratulatory legislation. Kildee’s bill already has been cleared out of committee, Donar noted, and should be put on the suspension calendar shortly after Congress reconvenes in January.

As for the other bill, Davis spokeswoman Addie Whisenant said her boss isn’t trying to detract from Kildee’s measure.

Davis introduced the legislation, co-sponsored with fellow Alabamians, because he represents the University of Alabama and wanted to put forth a bipartisan bill honoring both the school and Ingram, the first Crimson Tide player to win the Heisman. “We would like to see one of the bills moved when we return in January,— Whisenant said.

And we thought the competition was stiff for winning the trophy …

General Confusion. A memo to Democratic staffers this week evoked stirring words by a revered general … only he never uttered them.

An e-mail describing Democrats’ weekly “message meeting— led off with a quote. “The purpose of war is not to die for your country,— it read. “It is to make the other SOB die for his.—

The feisty bon mot was attributed to Paul Begala, the Democrats’ guest for the meeting, “quoting General MacArthur.—

But an eagle-eyed reader notes that the famous war hero who uttered those words was Gen. George Patton, not Douglas MacArthur. Patton’s much-repeated quote is, “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.—

My bad, says Richard McGrath, the author of the e-mail and spokesman for Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the communications chairman for the House Democratic Policy Committee. McGrath says the mis-attribution was his, not Begala’s. “It’s such a good quote, a lot of soldiers like to use it,— he said, adding that he wanted to “give credit where credit is due.—

As you were.

Wishful Thinking. Children send their holiday gift wish lists to Santa Claus at the North Pole. Rep. Keith Ellison, meanwhile, sends his list to campaign supporters, via e-mail.

And instead of a new doll or video game, the Minnesota Democrat wants, um … paper clips?

Ellison recently sent an e-mail solicitation to supporters asking them to remember his campaign during the holiday season. If he gets the stuff on his list, he writes, he’ll be able to continue his work toward “a peaceful world, economic prosperity for all, environmental sustainability, and civil and human rights.—

Goals very much in the holiday spirit.

So what’s on Ellison’s wish list? He is asking contributors to give cash to keep specific parts of his campaign running, including $25 for office supplies, $44 for a roll of stamps, $75 for campaign literature and $128 to pay the phone bill.

Here’s hoping Ellison has been nice this year.

Overheard on the Hill. “One caller said I would go to hell if I voted yes. Another caller said I would go to hell if I voted no. Merry Christmas to all!!—

— Twittering Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), telling her Tweeps what happened when she spent a few hours on Wednesday afternoon answering her office phones and listening to constituents weighing in on the health care bill.

Anna Palmer contributed to this report.

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