Democrats are coming

John McCaslin
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Posted: May 28, 2003 12:00 AM

About the only body in Washington that Democrats are in control of these days is the Democratic National Committee.

So rather than convening a summit on the South Lawn of the White House or in the majority wing of Congress to unveil what is being called the "New Democrat" agenda, pow-wow co-hosts Sen. Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico are summoning Florida Sen. Bob Graham and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman - both presidential candidates - and Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln and a number of other influential Democrats to the Capitol Hyatt Hotel on June 17.

We're told that the topics of discussion will include developing a "winning message" to retake a majority in Washington, terrorism and the role of U.S. leadership, the "stagnant" economy, and federal and state budget deficits.

'HATE-BAITING'

An irate Rev. Jesse Jackson says he is being attacked today much the same way Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was attacked in his day.

Playing the race card in defending his large - but questionable - business empire, Jackson says there's nothing illegal about him receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars each year from major organizations, including NASCAR.

In an interview with NASCAR Winston Cup Scene, Jackson responds angrily to requests by the National Legal and Policy Center of Washington that the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing end its support to his controversial organizations.

"These attacks by the policy center, these are unending attacks," Jackson says. "Dr. Martin Luther King was called a communist, he was called a nigger, he was hated, he was killed. This kind of hate baiting is really a perversion."

PUT DOWN YOUR FORK

Yes, it's come to this - a Washington conference on Obesity, Individual Responsibility and Public Policy (June 10).

And no better time, as the tort system in this country, some fear, is on its way to dampening individual responsibility and threatening the existence of companies whose products may be labeled as fattening.

"By some calculations, being overweight is as deadly as smoking," says the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, whose panel of experts will examine that claim and others and their implications for public policy.

They'll tell us whether controlling obesity is a matter of government regulation - through taxes and public-disclosure laws - or whether it's a matter of willpower and choice. The panel will also examine the epidemiology of obesity, real reasons Americans are overweight, and "difficulties" with legal and legislative remedies.

The Centers for Disease Control reported recently that obesity in the United States "has risen at an epidemic rate during the past 20 years."

FICTION WRITERS

Sidney Blumenthal, who wrote for The Washington Post and the New Yorker before becoming senior adviser to President Clinton from 1997 to 2001, is author of the new book The Clinton Wars.

While his publisher never sent us a copy to review, we have to laugh at a letter sent to the author last week by Craig Shirley, president of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs.

"Your latest love paean to Bill and Hillary Clinton is alas error-filled, as evidenced by the untruth you write about me on page 333," the Washington PR mogul writes. "For the record, I never said anything about (homosexual Washington writer) David Brock's lifestyle, as you falsely charge, nor did I ever hear any other conservatives take notice.

"Who was your source? Stephen Glass? Jayson Blair?"

OLD WARRIORS

What does a former White House national security adviser do to keep busy during this time of war and terror?

Richard Allen, President Reagan's former national security chief, is helping to rebuild Iraq. He is just one of the heavyweights on an Iraqi reconstruction task force, headed by former ambassador to Morocco Marc Ginsberg, now senior vice president of the global group APCO Worldwide.

Kevin McCauley, of O'Dwyer's PR Daily ( www.odwyerpr.com ), says the remainder of the Iraq team includes former Michigan Sen. Don Riegle, one-time chairman of the Senate Banking Committee; five-year Federal Aviation Administration head Jane Garvey; and ex-Rep. Steve Solarz, New York Democrat, formerly on the House International Affairs Committee.

CHANGE THE LOCKS

The year in which Detroit presented ousted Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein with a key to the city: 1980 -- Harper's Index, June 2003

BELIEVE IT OR NOT

  • Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-Minn.) has a culinary passion for Spam and persauded the Library of Congress to hold an exhibit on the lunchmeat.

  • When Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) was a child, one of his babysitters was Lynda Johnson, daughter of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

  • Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) can run 3 miles in about 17 minutes.

  • Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) was thousands of dollars in debt when he arrived in the House. He spent two winters without heat because he couldn't afford to fix his furnace.

  • An aunt of sibling Florida Republican Reps. Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart was once married to Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

  • When Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) was a schoolgirl in Connecticut, President Harry S Truman gave her a ride home from school.

  • Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) was an aide to a Democratic member of the House.

  • Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) was so unpopular as mayor of Cleveland that he wore a bullet-proof vest to throw out the first pitch at an Indians baseball game.

  • Sen. James M. Jefford (Republican-turned-independent-Vt.) holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

  • Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) fought with the Hungarian resistance against the Nazis. He escaped from a Nazi work camp.

  • Rep. Jessie L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) vacuums his office carpet for relaxation.

    All this and more we culled from the trivia section of "Politics in America 2004: The 108th Congress," just released by Congressional Quarterly and edited by David Hawkings and Brian Nutting.