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Who's who.

It took new Treasury Secretary John Snow little time to start complaining about the media. Why? Because his golfing prowess had been misreported. He used his Senate nomination hearing to "correct the record in a very major wax" refuting reports by The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman that he was a scratch golfer. It's not because Snow doesn't get to practice--he belongs to at least 18 country clubs. Before his confirmation, Snow did resign from one club--Augusta National, home of the Masters golf tournament and controversial chairman Hootie Johnson, who continues to fight activist Martha Burk's push to force the club to accept a female member.

Of course, most folks on the Hill were probably less interested in hearing about Snow's golf prowess and more concerned about how he managed to get sued for defaulting on his child support obligations. And the White House dumped Paul O'Neill because of his bad press?

In the newly minted Republican--controlled Senate, it took Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) little time to get moving on George W. Bush's judicial selections, infuriating Senate Democrats by packing three controversial nominees into a single day's hearing. Led by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Chuck Schumer (D-NE), the Democrats complained bitterly of having only one day to question U.S. Court of Appeals nominees Deborah Cook. John Roberts, and Jeffrey Sutton. Hatch insisted the nominees weren't controversial. Shot back Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.): "I don't think it's in the eyes of the chairman to determine whether they're controversial or not. That's sort of our job." Dems focused most of their questions on Sutton, who has infuriated many in the disabled community because in 2001, he argued (successfully) to the Supreme Court that the Americans With Disabilities Act didn't apply to state employers. Sutton and Cook are being nominated for the 6th Circuit--the very court Republicans stonewalled on during Bill Clinton's administration. Under Republican Senate rule from 1997 to 2001, none of Clinton's nominees for the current 6th Circuit vacancies received a hearing. Expect more fireworks soon. Said Kennedy of Hatch's packing tactic: "I resent it, and I find that it's not a particularly good way to expect that we are going to have wide cooperation." Given just a day with the nominees, Democrats dragged the heating well into the evening, questioning them for 12 hours.

Speaking of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) has a funny way of showing his appreciation for holding onto his coveted committee seat, which as a junior member, he'd been in danger of losing when the Democrats lost control of the Senate. Edwards was present for only five minutes of the aforementioned 12-hour heating, and, the next day when the committee voted on another controversial nominee, Miguel Estrada, Edwards sent his "no" vote in by proxy. Said ABC News' inside-the-Beltway newsletter, The Note: "Memo to the Edwards folks: your Judiciary Committee colleagues clearly are watching."

When Al Gore picked Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) as his `00 running mate, the punditariat wondered whether it would be a help or a hindrance on the campaign mail. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) seems to have answered the question. Last month, after fellow `04 candidate Wesley Clark told The Forward that his late father was Jewish and descended from "generations of rabbis," Kerry revealed that his grandparents were actually Czechoslovakian Jews named Kohn, who later changed their name to the more Bostonian-sounding--let's make that incredibly Bostonian-sounding--"Kerry' Now Kerry has been using this nugget while campaigning in the Sunshine State. Far from being exceptional, it seems, Jewishness is becoming de rigeur for Democratic presidential aspirants. What's next? The Gephardt family's shtetl days?

Over the hills and past the rainbow lies that El Dorado of Democrats' dream: the fabled "Heritage of the left" (HotL), the hoped-for think-tank, or really talk-tank, that would be a stable for progressive talking heads competing with right-wing gabbers on cable TV. Famed financier George Soros is interested in bankrolling such an enterprise. And he's said to have earmarked a cool $20 million to help get it off the ground. Of course, that's just chump change to billionaire Soros. But it's a king's ransom to sad-sack Democrats who seem likely to be hit very hard by the new campaign finance laws which go into effect during the next election cycle. Soros was working with Clinton White House insiders John Podesta and Harold Ickes to build the HotL. But it seems that pairing didn't come off. Now Soros is looking for some other clever operators to turn his $20 million into that HotL pot of gold. Any takers?
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Author:Threadgill, Susan
Publication:Washington Monthly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2003
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