No rest in the restroom

Al Kamen
Columnist June 17, 2013

When the Loop wrote last week about the expanding women’s restroom off the Senate chamber, we had no idea just how important a venue we were talking about.

Forget stuffy conference rooms or even the Senate floor. It turns out that ladies’ rooms are where plenty of important conversations happen (and they have nothing to do with primping).

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright tells us that she has a framed photograph in her office of herself and then-first lady Hillary Clinton. It was snapped during a visit to Prague in — you guessed it! — a women’s bathroom. “It was the only time we could talk,” Albright recalls.

And we were reminded of a tweet from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) at the beginning of the congressional session about her first “power” confab with a few of her newly elected colleagues, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.).

“Too funny,” McCaskill wrote. “First power meeting with E Warren and D Fischer? In the Senators Only Women’s bathroom. Gonna need a bigger bathroom.”

Hmm. Maybe if official Washington wants to get more done, the answer could be more bathroom breaks.

Cruel summers

For presidents, the Grim Reaper wears sandals and sunglasses.

According to a morbid yet fascinating analysis, more than a third of the nation’s 38 deceased presidents died in June or July. So while the rest of us are enjoying the season’s barbecues, boat rides and picnics, presidents may do well to be extra cautious during these perilous months.

According to Eric Ostermeier of Smart Politics, a blog of the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, six presidents have kicked the proverbial bucket in June and seven in July — including Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who famously died only hours apart on Independence Day in 1826, followed by James Monroe exactly five years later.

That’s another way that, to mangle an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote, presidents are different from you and me: for the general populace, January is the most popular month in which to meet one’s maker. (Researchers hypothesize that cold weather, seasonal overindulging and hanging on for the holidays might play roles.)

The safest month, though, for former White House occupants is May, Ostermeier writes. Not one single president has died in that month.

Greatest hits

Members of Congress have a few age-appropriate musical fundraisers on the books.

Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) might be giving her donors a little “Satisfaction” this week at a Rolling Stones concert. And on July 22, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) probably won’t have to go all “Desperado” to get folks to write checks at his Eagles concert/
fundraiser.

Classic rock seems about right for their likely donor demographics (unlike, say, Rep. John Shimkus, who we’ve noted planned to raise money at the New Kids on the Block show last week and a Beyoncéconcert later this summer).

The Stones and Eagles performances are at Verizon Center, a popular venue for lawmakers looking to make a few bucks to a live-music soundtrack.

Bring your earplugs, perhaps a cigarette lighter for holding aloft, and, the hosts would say, your checkbook.

That’s Hollywood

Scripts aren’t just for actors. We’re less than shocked to hear that government spokespeople also find that a few canned lines can come in handy.

Those questioning the access the Defense Department gave to the makers of the film “Zero Dark Thirty,” which chronicled the successful hunt for Osama bin Laden, have sometimes pointed, among other things, to a friendly 2011 e-mail from a Pentagon spokesman to the film’s producer. In the missive, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs George Little tells producer Mark Boal that it had been a pleasure to “facilitate things,” presumably talking about helping the Hollywood types navigate the Pentagon’s rather complicated innards.

“I want you to note how good I’ve been about not mentioning the premiere tickets,” Little wrote the filmmakers.

“Payola!” the critics cried.

But, according to an inspector general’s report released Friday about the Defense Department’s role in the film in response to a query by House Homeland Security Committee member Peter King, Little contends that the line was a harmless — and often used — one.

“Mr. Little testified that this reference was ‘a joke that [he has] made with plenty of entertainment producers’ and that he never received anything from Mr. Boal or Ms. Bigelow,” the IG report says, referring to Kathryn Bigelow, the flick’s director.

In other words, Little claims that he was just sticking to the script.

— With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop
. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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