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DeLay Finds Missing Link

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, April 13, 2005; Page A15

Members of Congress want to ensure that our nation's children understand basic American civics. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), for example, put a link to the Constitution on his Web site so young people can read the document and simple explanations of what it's about.

If the kids get interested, there's a link they can click on for "related topics," which takes them to a review of "Great Documents of Freedom."


Friday's Question:
It was not until the early 20th century that the Senate enacted rules allowing members to end filibusters and unlimited debate. How many votes were required to invoke cloture when the Senate first adopted the rule in 1917?
51
60
64
67


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Here they find, first, the Magna Carta in 1215, with a nice overview of its place in the road to democracy. Next, the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and, of course, the Bill of Rights in 1791.

But then there's a bit of a dry patch for a couple of hundred years until -- what else? -- the "Contract With America" in September 1994.

This ranks right up there with the Bill of Rights, DeLay's account says, because it "presented clearly defined positions on issues of concern" to people, not piddly stuff. Moreover, it "was a written commitment," so "the people could read The Contract with America and embrace the agenda presented in the document."

(In contrast to the Bill of Rights or the Declaration of Independence, the Contract is always to be italicized to show its importance -- though boldface, underlining or using all capitals probably would do.) "The resulting vote [in November 1994] re-established the people's control of Congress," our primer tells us, after "the people" lost control, apparently in 1954, to evildoers, taxers, Homo sapiens and such.

A Footnewt on Social Security

Speaking of the Contract With America, our colleague Glenn Kessler was going through old notes the other day and came across some quotes from its principal author, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).

Seems that on Dec. 8, 1994, just before he became speaker, Gingrich said there was no reason to deal with Social Security at that time. He was reacting to one proposal of the Bob Kerrey-John Danforth entitlement commission that would have allowed workers to divert payroll taxes to individual accounts:

"If there is a Social Security problem, it is somewhere around 25 to 30 years from now," Gingrich said. "The problem of children dying in Dumpsters is this evening. To ask me to go past every problem we could solve that is immediate in order to get at an abstraction that is 25 years from now is very bad management of problem-solving."

Tripped Up

Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking Democrat Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) caused some gasps and chuckles in the crowd at Monday's hearing on the nomination of Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations when he said:

"And many of us were -- the reason it [the hearing] was initially postponed was that many of us were in Rome at the president's funeral -- excuse me, Freudian slip, I beg your pardon -- at the pope's funeral that the president attended."

Freud?

Nuland to NATO?

Diplomatic superstar Victoria Nuland has been chief of staff to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott in the Clinton administration, then No. 2 in the U.S. delegation to NATO and now principal deputy national security adviser to Vice President Cheney -- how's that for a checkered past? She looks to be headed back to Brussels.

Nuland, 43, a career foreign service officer, is said to be the pick to be ambassador to NATO, the first woman to occupy the position. Given the nature of the assignment, both Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon needed to sign off. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, it turns out, was about Nuland's age when he had the NATO job in the Nixon administration.

Moving Up . . .

Word is Daniel Stanley, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs and former deputy assistant secretary of the Army, is the pick to be the Pentagon's top lobbyist. Stanley, a Navy veteran, also worked in Kansas as state director of administration before returning to Washington in 2001.

Not Moving

No one asked Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales at his recent confirmation hearings about his intentions with regard to "Lady Justice," the 12-foot semi-nude statue at the Justice Department that former attorney general John D. Ashcroft had covered with a large blue drape.

But Loop fans predicted overwhelmingly that Gonzales would keep "Minnie Lou," as she's called, behind the big blue burka. Appears they were right. A senior department official told us recently she'll stay covered. "I've not even heard any discussion about" dropping the drape, he said.

Moving Out . . .

Susan Neely, former assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, has become president of the American Beverage Association.

Mark M. Lowenthal, assistant director of central intelligence for analysis and production and vice chairman for evaluation on the National Intelligence Council, has left to head the Intelligence and Security Academy, a national security education and training company.

Bill Pierce, deputy assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services the last four years, is joining the public affairs firm Apco Worldwide as a vice president, focusing on health care issues.


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