On Wednesday, California Democratic Reps. Pete Stark, Barbara Lee, and Diane Watson, and Texas Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson all voted “present” on a resolution that extended birthday wishes to President Ronald Reagan on his 91st. Since no one votes “nay” on such nonbinding measures, a “present” is the moral equivalent of a “get lost.” Stark and Lee objected to language in the birthday greeting, which praised Reagan for “bettering the quality of life in the United States.”
“These are petty, bitter, mean-spirited people,” says a Republican congressman in the leadership. “I look forward to the day, which I hope will be soon, when I no longer have to call them colleagues.”
“What my Republican colleagues don’t understand is that these people have no shame,” says a Democratic House member. “Nothing embarrasses them, that’s why they can stomach being around people like Clinton. We understand that, and use it to our advantage. I’m sure a lot us under different circumstances wouldn’t want to vote on this Reagan resolution, but why bother, when we’ve got these radicals from California who can do our heavy lifting for us. Besides, they seem to enjoy it.”
This time around at least one California Democrat avoided trouble. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, whose district is in Marin County, voted “yea”” on this year’s resolution after voting “present” a year ago when Reagan turned 90. The constituent ire she provoked last year wasn’t something she wanted to face again.
RENO’S CHARM OFFENSIVE
Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno met with Florida attorney general Bob Butterworth and other party leaders earlier this week, in an attempt to assuage concerns about her health in the wake of her fainting spell last week. Rumors in the sunshine state have Butterworth considering a run should Reno’s campaign continue to founder. Butterworth, Florida’s most prominent Democrat, has refused to endorse Reno so far. Currently Republican incumbent Gov. Jeb Bush has a commanding lead in all polls.
Reno, whose Parkinson’s disease was diagnosed several years ago, and whose ailment was the occasional point of humor with several mean-spirited senior staffers in the Clinton White House, took the opportunity of her media appearance in Tallahassee to take an indirect swipe at President George W. Bush and his recent fainting spell. “At least I have a track record of proving that it doesn’t affect my work ability,” she said.
DON’T YOU DO WHAT YOUR BIG SISTER DONE
The California congressional delegation could sink further if Democrats have their way in Southern California. Linda Sanchez, younger sister of current House member Loretta Sanchez, is the favorite to win the Democratic primary for the new 39th Congressional District in the Long Beach/Lakewood area.
Loretta Sanchez’s congressional career has been beset with gaffes and embarrassments, such as the time she spoke glowingly of Egypt before a group of Israelis. While there is no indication that her sister is as geographically challenged, like Loretta back when she ousted the wondrous Bob Dornan, Linda is facing charges of carpetbagging into a congressional district. What’s more, the bulk of her more than $150,000 in campaign donations has come from outside the district. If the Sanchez’s pull it off, they would be the first sisters to serve together in Congress.