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Labeling Hastings, Hastily

HOH isn’t afraid to start a little intraparty fight, so we’re waiting for the fireworks to begin between Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Doc Hastings (R-Wash.). [IMGCAP(1)]

Issa last week placed a billboard-style sign outside his office calling out Democrats for voting with in the kerfuffle over the liberal group’s controversial ad questioning whether we should refer to our man in Baghdad, Gen. David Petraeus, as “General Petraeus” or “General Betray Us.” The only problem was that

among those Democrats, whom the sign suggests are the ones “really betraying our military in Iraq,” was his colleague Hastings’ name.

Hastings, who still is a Republican and actually voted for the resolution condemning the MoveOn ad, might beg to differ with that characterization. But Issa spokesman Frederick Hill said listing Hastings as a possible betrayer of troops was a mistake. The sign should have said “Alcee,” as in Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), not “Doc.” “We certainly did not intend to offend our Republican colleague by labeling him a Democrat,” Hill says. “The sign will be corrected.”

Disappointingly for those hoping for a duel at sunset, Hastings (the Republican one) isn’t taking umbrage. Chief of Staff Todd Young says his boss frequently gets mixed up with the Democrat Hastings, particularly since both Hastings sit on the Rules Committee. “Issa’s office called to say they were fixing the sign,” Young says. “So no offense taken.”

Step Right Up. Conventions are rowdy, unpredictable events, and the first annual “Defending the American Dream Summit” hosted by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation at the Mayflower Hotel on Friday was no exception. Billed as a policy conference, the righty gathering provided HOH with enough bizarro costumes, a GOP gong show and awkward mixing of gay rights supporters and Ronald Reagan worshippers that we’re dubbing it the Cirque de So-Laissez Faire.

Every circus has its flashy costumes: Some attendees sported stuffed pigs on their heads to symbolize wasteful Congressional pork; others wore Wisconsin cheeseheads, which seemed to have no discernible political message. Beneath their convention-like delegation sign, the Texans wore cowboy hats. Adding to the three-ring effect, the housewarming music before the speechifying included brass-band renditions of John Philip Sousa marches, including the “Liberty Bell,” better known (at least to HOH) as the theme music to “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”

While organizers let Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani speak for about half an hour, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) got an Oscar-style bum rush when after only about 10 minutes, the music swelled, signaling to the still-gabbing Paul that he was nixed.

And the Reagan imagery was everywhere: on video tributes, on posters for the event and on name tags. Through this Gipper-loving crowd scurried several lost-looking souls wearing nametags for a very different gathering that was taking place at the other end of the hotel. The Human Rights Campaign, the civil rights group for gays and lesbians, just happened to be having its board meeting there.

Rush Retaliation. By now, Democrats’ tussle with conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh over his comments on Sept. 26 describing Iraq War veterans who have spoken out against the war as “phony soldiers” has reached epic proportions. Sen. Tom Harkin, for one, cited Limbaugh’s known penchant for mind-altering substances as a possible explanation for the provocative wordplay. Last Monday, the Iowa Democrat called it a “despicable” move. “Well, I don’t know. Maybe he was just high on his drugs again,” Harkin said on the Senate floor. “I don’t know whether he was or not. If so, he ought to let us know. But that shouldn’t be an excuse.”

Throwing down with Rush on the Senate floor is one thing, but the results can lead to some weary telephone-answering staffers. Almost immediately after Harkin’s floor speech the office’s phones began ringing off the hook with Rush listeners defending the radio talker — and they stayed that way for days. “It’s been pretty crazy,” said Harkin spokeswoman Jennifer Mullin. “There’s been no rest for front office staff,” who have logged all of the in-state calls. Sounds like they might be ready for some mind-altering substances (the legal ones, of course) themselves.

Good Luck Charm. David DiMartino, communications director and deputy chief of staff to Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), and his wife Kitty Bartels DiMartino, managing director of a private equity fund, welcomed the arrival of Teresa “Tess” Serafina DiMartino on Oct. 3. DiMartino reports that Tess, who was born just hours before the Red Sox’s first playoff game last Wednesday, “watched” the entire game, switching between her parents’ chests (The Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels in a 4-0 shutout).

The DiMartinos, a family of die-hard Boston sports fans, have a history of bringing good luck to their hometown teams with additions to the roost. When his daughter, Mary, was born in 2002, the Patriots went on to win their first Super Bowl. When their second, Nora, came in 2004, the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years. “Hopefully Tess’ arrival signals a turnaround for the Celtics and Bruins. The real MVP is Kitty, who has done all the hard work and produced over three winning seasons,” said the proud papa. Paul Singer contributed to this report.

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