Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- The Republican majority in Congress has regretfully concluded that there is no alternative to calling the lawmakers back into session for what everybody had hoped to avoid: a lame-duck post-election session.
The final blow to ending the life of the 108th Congress may be pressure to complete work on recommendations made by the independent 9/11 commission. Even if the pre-election adjournment time is delayed from Oct. 4 to Oct. 11 as is now contemplated, the legislators will have no more than 20 legislative days to conclude a mass of unfinished work.

 A lame-duck session could be embarrassing if Democrats win the presidency or either house of Congress on Nov. 2. That would probably guarantee trouble in passing anything, particularly the 9/11 commission reforms.


 Practical Republican politicians are not happy with the selection by the party leadership of the five-star, super-expensive Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan as headquarters for the Republican National Convention.

 Prices for rooms at the Waldorf normally range from $205 to $670 a night, with the expectation of a higher rate being imposed for the convention. Critics argue that this hotel selection exposes the GOP to charges of being the party of the rich and plays into the hands of leftist demonstrators in New York, likely to be camped outside the Waldorf's doors.

 At the last national political convention held at Madison Square Garden, the Democrats used the less pretentious Hilton New York as their headquarters hotel.


 Republican National Committee sources say operatives in Washington are not happy about "Unfit for Command," the book that attacks John Kerry's record as both a combatant in Vietnam and as an anti-war protester.

 These critics fear the attack on the Democratic presidential candidate will backfire and be regarded by voters as dirty politics. They also are apprehensive that the examination of Kerry's Vietnam record will renew charges that George W. Bush did not fulfill his obligations as an Air National Guardsman during the Vietnam War.

 Actually, the judgment among Republicans is mixed. Some grass-roots activists feel that criticism of the anti-Kerry book betrays faintness of heart within the Republican establishment. Some prominent Republicans, while keeping quiet in public, feel the book does pose serious problems for Sen. Kerry.


 Senior operatives in the Bush-Cheney campaign did not get any alert that President Bush last Tuesday would hoist a trial balloon for a national sales tax.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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