Cats and dogs on Capitol Hill. Literally, this time.
By Al Kamen,
Congress is no stranger to the visiting dignitary. Heads of state and military heroes are always dropping by — even President Obama graced the Capitol last month to deliver a speech.
On Thursday, lawmakers will greet another illustrious guest: Bodie, the French bulldog who starred in the bawdy buddy movie “Due Date,” is slated to appear at the Animal Health Institute’s “Celebrity Pet Night” on Capitol Hill, our colleague Emily Heil reports.
Moviegoers might remember Bodie’s adorable mug from the Zach Galifianakis - Robert Downey Jr. caper, in which he was one of the dogs who played Sonny the pooch. They might recall the plastic Elizabethan collar that Sonny sported. But the celebu-pup is most famous for the scenes in the flick in which he . . . er, pleasures himself. The dog gag becomes a running joke in the lowbrow comedy.
Lawmakers will have the chance to have their picture taken with Bodie in the ornate Cannon Caucus Room on Thursday night. Members of Congress often pop by the annual event, a favorite of Hill pet lovers, sometimes with their own four-legged friends.
The Animal Health Institute, which reps animal-drug makers, usually draws the hottest animal actors du jour. Last year’s VIC (Very Important Canine) was George, the Great Dane who starred in the movie “Marmaduke.” This year, Bodie will have family-friendly feline company: Also scheduled to attend is Cheeto, the cat who appeared in the animated movie “The Smurfs” as the nasty Azrael, sidekick to the evil wizard Gargamel.
Alex Mathews, the institute’s president, acknowledges that Bodie was an edgy choice.
“For us, that’s pushing it,” he says. “We’re right on the edge.” But he says Hill folks and administration types love mingling with four-legged stars. “It’s like touching a part of the movies,” he says.
Taking a ’stan?
The focus at the U.N. gathering in Manhattan this month is on the Palestinian move to join the organization — and attempts by Washington to maneuver around having to veto that application.
But there’s another vote that some folks are watching — the effort by tiny Kyrgyzstan to get a regional two-year seat on the Security Council. Kyrgyzstan, for background, is the only one of the five ’stans (not to be confused with the Five Satins) to have a parliamentary democracy, headed by a popular president (she’s barred from a second term). In contrast, other famous leaders in that region have included Turkmenistan’s former dictator Saparmurat Niyazov, who had the month of April changed in honor of his mother.
Kyrgyzstan has expressed interest for more than a decade in being one of the two countries from the Asia region to get one of these terms. These seats, while not including veto power, are considered a source of great pride. A while back, it appeared maybe this was going to happen. Kyrgyzstan had publicly asked permanent member France for support.
But then U.S. frenemy Pakistan, obviously a heavy hitter in the region, decided it wanted its seventh two-year seat. (India, after all, is on its seventh rotation.) The United States generally doesn’t get involved in these matters — except to block countries such as Libya (until Condi and Gaddafi got close) and Burma and Sudan.
Unclear whether the administration will put in a good word for a country that’s actually an ally and, much more important, home to a ginormous “transit area” — don’t call it a base — that is critical to moving troops and materiel to Afghanistan. The vote is next month.
Putting it mildly
House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) isn’t one for subtlety. The former car-alarm baron, who made his pre-Congress career barking “Step away from the car!” at would-be thieves, gets right to the point.
He’s holding a hearing Wednesday titled “How Obama’s Green Energy Agenda is Killing Jobs.” So the question is not whether Obama’s agenda is killing jobs, only how said homicide is happening.
But the House can also do subtle on occasion. Take another House hearing this week that was a study in understatement. A House Foreign Affairs subcommittee slapped a most diplomatic billing on its Tuesday session: “Human Rights in North Korea: Challenges and Opportunities.”
Now, in diplo-speak, the words “challenges” and “opportunities” are generally euphemisms for decidedly uglier things, much as “frank and candid discussions” is code for an all-out brawl.
Dubbing systematic human rights abuses by a lunatic dictator (think public executions for petty thefts and forced-labor camps for dissidents, to name but a few) mere “challenges” might be a bit overly delicate.
But perhaps it’s better to see the glass as half full.
Moving at the White House
Shawn Maher, a former Senate aide to Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) who has been working the Senate side for Obama’s legislative team, is off to the private sector — though it’s unclear where. The highly regarded and self-effacing Maher had been staff director of the Senate banking committee.
In a huge loss to the White House, Deputy Communications Director Jen Psaki, a member of the Obama operation since the campaign — and someone with an amazing ability to be calm in the heat of battle — is going to be senior vice president and managing director at Global Strategy Group, a Democratic polling operation, where she’ll head the D.C. office. She’ll be hard to replace.
Foggy Bottom lowdown
Word on the street is that longtime career civil servant Roberta Jacobson is the favorite to take over from Arturo Valenzuela as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Folks on the Hill are said to be very supportive.
Valenzuela, now ensconced in academia, appears to be making sure his former team fares well. Juan Gonzalez, his former executive assistant, is now director for Andean affairs at the National Security Council. His former deputy, for Central America and the Caribbean, Julissa Reynoso, is said to be on tap as the nominee for ambassador to Uruguay. Daniel P. Erikson, senior adviser for Western Hemisphere affairs, is in line to replace Reynoso.