Among the GOP candidates, Romney leads the presidential cousin derby
By Al Kamen,
Mitt Romney doesn’t just have presidential hair; he’s got presidential genes. The former Massachusetts governor is trying to make the case to GOP voters that he’s more suited for the White House than his rivals for the nomination. And he might be right — at least if politics is in the blood.
Romney is related to six former presidents: George H.W. Bush (10th cousin, once removed); George W. Bush (10th cousin, twice removed); Franklin D. Roosevelt (eighth cousin, twice removed); Calvin Coolidge (10th cousin); Herbert Hoover (10th cousin); and Franklin Pierce (sixth cousin, four times removed), according to Ancestry.com.
Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman — himself a distant Romney cousin — boasts four former White House denizens among his relatives: Roosevelt, Coolidge and both Bushes.
Alas, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has only one ex-prez in the family. He’s a fifth cousin, four times removed, to Harry Truman. (He is, however, a first cousin, six times removed, to colorful Texas founding father Sam Houston).
The online family genealogy site looked at the family trees of some of the GOP hopefuls (though they’re still working on Newt Gingrich’s lineage) as a way to highlight the “surprising” things people can learn once they start tracing their roots, says Anastasia Harman, the company’s lead family historian.
All this familial blood in today’s politics doesn’t necessarily mean more civility — and that should be no surprise to anyone with a large family of opinionated relatives.
Parking the czars
Stick a fork in them — the czars are done.
A little-noticed provision in the omnibus spending bill that Congress passed last weekend ends funding for four of President Obama’s policy “czars.” It might have been a tad superfluous: Congress had already nixed funding for those czars in the budget bill passed in April.
And besides which, the White House had already eliminated or shifted those positions, which focused on health care, the environment, the auto industry, and urban affairs, moving their functions within the president’s Domestic Policy Council.
But for good measure, the new spending bill again withholds funding for the following positions: director of the White House’s Office of Health Reform; the assistant to the president for energy and climate change; senior adviser to the Treasury secretary assigned to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and senior counsel for manufacturing policy; and director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs.
Still, Obama has said it’s within his authority to appoint such advisers. He issued a signing statement to accompany the April spending bill stating that Congress’s attempts at cutting funding infringed on the separation of powers.
Aponte: Life after recess?
Is the Senate going to try again to confirm Mari Carmen Aponte to be ambassador to El Salvador? We’re told it’s possible — despite a bitter blame game these days between the Democratic leadership and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
Her nomination “is on life support,” one Senate aide says, but at least she doesn’t need to be renominated. Senate leaders could call another vote any time, though she still needs 60 votes. Leadership and members of the Foreign Relations Committee were said to be gauging support.
On Saturday, Aponte flew back to El Salvador, where she’s been ambassador since September 2010 after a recess appointment by Obama. (Because she wasn’t confirmed, she’s out of a job — and a house — in a couple of weeks.)
Republicans raised questions about her former boyfriend’s alleged ties to Cuban intelligence, apparently contained in the so-called Helms (as in the late senator Jesse Helms) memo, which we hear doesn’t and never did exist.
And then there’s the charge of bad judgment on her part for penning an op-ed in June in a Salvadoran paper, supporting gay rights.
Turns out that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sent out two “action requests” in June to ambassadors telling them to do something to commemorate LGBT pride month. Clinton suggested “brown bag lunches . . . joint meetings with LGBT activists” and marches in addition to press interviews and “Op-Eds.”
Clean coal in the stocking?
Washington may be a small town, but sometimes it feels downright tiny. Take, for instance, the new neighbors — on opposite ends of the political spectrum — who nevertheless found themselves in cozy quarters in the same building on 15th Street NW.
The Natural Resources Defense Council — the greeny environmental group — had been ensconced on the third floor of the building for a few months when the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity moved into a suite only a floor above.
Uh-oh. To put it mildly, the NRDC and Clean Coal don’t exactly see eye to eye on most issues. Since the move-in, we hear there have been some awkward elevator rides and plenty of joking about keeping one’s friends close and enemies closer.
Both organizations are maintaining a sense of humor about the strange-bedfellow situation.
“It gives a new meaning to the EPA’s good-neighbor air pollution rules,” says Ed Chen, the federal communications director for the NRDC. (Rules on which, natch, the groups disagree.)
The coal folks are hoping the proximity might breed comity.
“Our hope is we’ll be closer than a floor away from agreeing on clean coal as part of our energy future,” spokeswoman Lisa Miller tells us.
And you thought the family’s seating chart at Christmas dinner was a recipe for uncomfortable conversations. . . .