John McCaslin

Capitol Hill and Chapel Hill, N.C., are miles apart, but former Sen. John Edwards, a Democrat who almost became vice president in 2004, still manages to keep his nose in congressional proceedings.

Late last week, he called on Democrats by letter to ensure the reauthorization of the 1965 Voting Rights Act before the scheduled Aug. 4 recess. He warned that if the Senate delayed action, key provisions of the law would expire, including providing multilingual ballots to voters and special scrutiny for precincts with a history of voter discrimination.

Edwards went so far as to say, “Growing up in the South, I saw the ugly face of segregation and discrimination. I saw African-American kids being sent upstairs in movie theaters. I saw “white only” signs on restaurant doors and luncheon counters. I had hoped those days were over.”

The Senate voted 98-0 to reauthorize the act.


Several Beltway Beat readers are in agreement with White House spokesman Tony Snow that President Bush’s choice of a four-letter word to describe the strife in Lebanon did not warrant additional comment.

At the same time, however, many who weighed in commented that it would behoove Bush to practice proper etiquette when appearing in public (if indeed an old dog can learn new tricks).

Column reader Ed McKinney, for one, writes that Bush made a “fool” of himself when “mouthing off to British Prime Minister Tony Blair like some frat boy . . . meanwhile chewing away at whatever it was in his mouth like a cow chewing his cud.”

McKinney concluded, as did a dozen others, that if the president is not scolded by first lady Laura Bush, then perhaps it’s up to his mother, Barbara Bush, to impress good manners upon her son.


We observed last week that Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, New York Democrat and ranking member of the House Rules Committee, has complained about the Republican leadership passing “meaningless legislation” during a time of more pressing issues.

She cited, for example, the effort to ban homosexual “marriage” during a time of “rising gas prices” — a statement that caused one congressional Republican, who wishes to remain anonymous, to dash off this note to The Beltway Beat:

“In the past two months, the House of Representatives has passed legislation to open (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), increasing our U.S. oil supplies by 50 percent. It is always blocked by Democrats and a few squishy Republican ‘greens.’ Louise Slaughter votes against it. . . .

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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