Skip to content

Webb of Intrigue

Since taking office, Sen. Jim Webb has been one of the Bush administration’s most vocal Senate foes.

[IMGCAP(1)]That’s why HOH enjoyed the kismet on Monday, when the Virginia Democrat appeared at the National Press Club at the same exact time that political foe Vice President Cheney was down the hall giving a lunchtime speech. Webb was there to promote his book “A Time to Fight,” while Cheney helped honor recipients of the Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prize.

While we were enjoying the Webb-Cheney juxtaposition, Webb himself was getting a bigger chuckle out of the fact that Cheney — who has, at best, strained relations with the press — was giving out journalism awards. “The novelist in me, not the Senator in me, has a wild imagination as to how the ceremony might go,” Webb joked.

Cheney’s appearance affected Webb’s event, as a Secret Service sweep of

the building prevented some attendees from getting to the talk on time. But Webb took it all in stride, signing books before he spoke and telling the audience that “this has turned out to be a little of a backward Monday.” (The Senator also had to make an unscheduled trip to the dentist.)

And Webb — who’s penned eight books — also got in a shot at Members who use ghostwriters. “There are some of us who actually write our own,” he said. He wasn’t pointing fingers, though.

Even if Webb won’t name names, HOH is looking at you, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. (The Nevada Democrat co-authored his new book, “The Good Fight,” with Mark Warren.)

Graves: Closeted Congressman. The ads for Rep. Sam Graves’ re-election campaign have become instant Internet classics for their uber-cheesy soundtracks, bad dancing and worse hair. The Missouri Republican is trying to paint his opponent, Democrat Kay Barnes, with the dreaded label of “San Francisco values” by using imagery of lush liberals and gyrating dancers straight out of a 1980s music video.

The second of Graves’ two attack ads, which hit airwaves on Monday, is most notable, though, for what it doesn’t include: any mention that Sam Graves is a Member of Congress. The four-term Republican identifies himself in the 30-second spot as a “small-business man,” a “farmer” and, simply, “Sam Graves.” But Congressman? One who collects a six-figure salary to do the business of the people of Missouri’s 6th district? Nope, not him. At least according to his ads.

“The House that Nancy built isn’t popular anywhere other than Syria and San Francisco,” a Graves spokesman told HOH, by way of explaining his boss’s unwillingness to cop to being a Congressman. “Sam has always represented Missouri to Washington, not the other way around.”

Steve Smith, a political science professor at Washington University in St. Louis, says it’s nothing new for a candidate to conveniently omit his or her party label in advertising — particularly when one’s party label is unpopular. But he says neglecting to mention that one is an incumbent might be a new trend this year, when Congress’ approval rating is sinking to new lows. “We knew this is an anti-incumbent, anti-Washington year,” Smith says. “But this seems to be a new wrinkle.”

Hmm, looks like Rep. Graves needs to come out of the closet — the Congressional one, of course.

Clinton’s All In, Half Off. Plenty of political pundits have called for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) to drop her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, citing oh-so-astute factors like her opponent’s near-insurmountable lead in delegates and her failure to indisputably clinch the popular vote. Last week, at America!, that just-for-tourists politically themed tchotchke shop in Union Station, HOH spotted another ominous metric Clinton might want to consider as she ponders her future.

The shop has put Clinton garb on sale for 50 percent off, hoping to unload the stuff before Clinton fades into presidential-politics history. Donna Tsitsikaos, the retailer’s vice president, tells HOH that America! is likely to sell the remaining Clinton wares in about two weeks — and after that, there’ll be no more. “There’s no plans at this point to restock, unless something unforeseen happens,” Tsitsikaos said.

The ability to move T-shirts and coffee mugs is an important component of being president, HOH notes. But perhaps we shouldn’t give up on Clinton quite yet, since her memorabilia is still doing well at nearby retailer Political Americana, manager Mike Fisher tells HOH.

“We’re keeping her. She’s still in the race,” Fisher said, although he added that Sen. Barack Obama’s items are doing better. For her part, Tsitsikaos called the Illinois Democrat’s ability to sell merchandise “phenomenal.”

“I’ve never seen such an interest in political product as I’ve seen for the Obama product,” she said.

Conservatives’ Salon. Tonight, the American Enterprise Institute is going to feel a lot more like a high-school English class and less like the conservative think tank it is. It’s goodbye, Grover Norquist, and hello, symbolism, as the group takes a break from its usual agenda of panel discussions and speeches from free-market economists and lawmakers for something a little more literary: a reading of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” the 14th-century Middle English epic poem, with James Bowman of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Meghan Cox Gurdon of the Wall Street Journal and AEI scholar Michael Novak.

The off-topic subject is part of AEI’s six-year-old cultural series, Novak tells HOH, which attempts to give conservatives a break from their usual diet of economics and politics. “It’s a great rest to the spirit,” he says. And why “Sir Gawain”? It’s just a great story, says Novak, who adds that past readings have included works from Milton and Dante.

And, if HOH recollects from our own lit classes correctly, conservatives — who’ve taken a few political whacks of their own of late — just might pick up a trick or two from the wily Green Knight. Sir Gawain slices the guy’s head off with an ax, but the knight lives to tell the tale.

Briefly Quoted. “He’s the only member of Congress whose mother still cuts his hair.”

— The Nevada Appeal, on Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.). During a speech at a local high school, Heller confessed that he keeps his hairstyling … in the family, according to the newspaper.

Lauren Whittington contributed to this report.

Submit your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments here.

Recent Stories

Gaetz plans move to oust McCarthy, says GOP needs new leader

McCarthy promises ‘punishment’ over Bowman fire alarm before vote

Shutdown averted as Biden signs seven-week spending bill

Stopgap funding bills hung up in both chambers

Who are the House Republicans who opposed the stopgap budget bill?

Taking it to the limit — Congressional Hits and Misses