Back in 1974, an upstart magazine called New Times published a cover story identifying the 10 dumbest members of Congress. The scathing story, written by the magazine’s Washington correspondent, Nina Totenberg, bestowed upon Sen. William Scott (R-Va.) the dubious distinction of being the very dumbest.
Totenberg’s story was blistering.
And how did the esteemed gentleman from Virginia respond? Why, he decided to address the Fourth Estate, of course, holding a small news conference in his office to deny the report. “Obviously not true,” he told the journalists (you can see an image of the full story as it ran in the Washington Post at wapo.st/dumbpressconference).
Scott also said he planned to sue the magazine for libel, but he later had second thoughts because he feared he would lose, thus proving that he was, in fact, Congress’s dimmest bulb. The event was made all the funnier by the fact that the news conference seemed only to elevate the original magazine story to national attention — and to provide a punch line for the decades.
A hat tip to the Loop fans with excellent memories who wrote to us recollecting the vintage Scott spectacle.
And an even bigger thanks to Cohen. When we’re tempted to trot out the old lament that “they don’t make ’em like they used to,” he reminds us that they, in fact, do.
Room at the top
Seems fitting that the head of the Commerce Department is an acting secretary whose last name is Blank.
Turns out, there are a lot of senior leadership positions going empty at Commerce. And while they’re at it, perhaps the folks there could order a few extra “Help Wanted” signs for their friends over at the State Department, where there’s also a slew of vacant top spots.
First, at Commerce, Rebecca Blank has been “acting” since John Bryson
resigned as secretary in June. She’s planning to leave in May, and it’s expected that President Obama will name hotel scion Penny Pritzker to the job, though extensive vetting of her far-flung financial portfolio may be holding up the announcement.
And now other vacancies are drawing criticism. Rep. Frank Wolf
(R-Va.), wrote to Blank urging her to press the White House to fill empty posts, including census director, the heads of the Patent and Trademark Office and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — all of which fall under the Commerce Department — as well as the department’s chief financial officer. “While I have confidence in the staff temporarily filling these positions, I urge you to prompt the White House to expeditiously appoint persons to these important positions,” Frank wrote.
Frank says he’s worried that the vacant spots will hamper the agencies’ mission. “You ever see the movie ‘Home Alone’?” Frank asked us. “That’s what it’s like over there.”