Passed Over by Pelosi, Harman Doesn't Get Even. She Gets Mad.

By Lois Romano
Thursday, January 4, 2007

Catfight aftermath: Rep. Jane Harman is still quite irked that House Speaker-designee Nancy Pelosi nixed her for chairman of the House intelligence committee -- and she's not exactly being stoic about it.

Friends and colleagues say Harman has openly complained that she was cut loose by her fellow California Democrat and one-time friend, Pelosi, who picked instead Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.), a former Border Patrol agent. A Harvard Law graduate with a gold-plated political résumé, Harman was the ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee and first in line for the chairmanship.

She has lamented that Congress has lost its luster for her and that she is hoping for a job in a Democratic administration, according to a friend. "She's obsessed," the source said. "It's been hard for her not to take it personally, but it's over."

In 2003, Pelosi handpicked Harman to become the ranking Democrat on the panel, a post that Pelosi had occupied. But Pelosi made it known last year that Harman was out if Democrats took back the House. Pelosi and other liberal Democrats believed that Harman, a moderate, failed to challenge the administration's alleged abuses of intelligence. Harman was stunned by the news and launched an overtly aggressive campaign to win the chairmanship, which only served to strengthen Pelosi's resolve. A former House member who knows both women well said Harman "really needs to grow up" and "she's not simply entitled to a chairmanship."

Harman's office issued a statement saying the flap is "something in the past tense" and that the congresswoman is "looking forward to continuing to have a strong voice on national security issues" through her other committees.

As for Pelosi . . . she has clearly moved on.

A Complex Greeting

Nothing is ever simple when it comes to John Kerry.

The senator from Massachusetts and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, sent out 75,000 Christmas cards with pictures of trees at each season. The Kerrys gushed over their "gratitude for the beauty of these trees and the life they represent."

But it didn't end there.

The card came in an odd-looking envelope, one of those with a return-mail flap and instructions to send it to . . . well, to a recycling company, so "it can be made into new carpet tile."

Carpet tile?

We want a "world without waste . . . where every product either returns safely to the soil or becomes a new product."

So the card instructs: "1. Remove this panel and insert it along with the card into the envelope. 2. Expose adhesive strip and fold the flap over to seal the envelope. 3. Drop this mailer into any U.S. mailbox."

Who else would send a Christmas card with a to-do list?

Food for Thought

Call it the McDonald's clause.

Underpaid Hill aides who have long relied on journalists' expense accounts for pricey meals and fine wines better start thinking fast food.

The proposed ethics package, crafted by Democrats and first up on the House calendar, bans legislators and staffers from receiving gifts and meals not only from lobbyists but also from the organizations that employ them.

So, to spell it out: Any news organization that employs a lobbyist -- and there are many, including The Washington Post -- no longer will be able to court congressional sources over an expensive steak, or even cheap fries.

The new ban and how to interpret it has caused much confusion on the Hill. There is a long list of "common sense" exemptions, which would suggest that Hill folks will need to carry a laminated copy of the bill with them at all times.

The Elephant in the Room

As the new Democratic Senate gets sworn in today, the big question is whether Sen. Tim Johnson's serious medical condition will affect the party's fragile majority.

His office made it clear yesterday that the South Dakota Democrat's recovery from a brain hemorrhage will be slow and that he will not be voting anytime soon. He spent his 60th birthday last week in the intensive-care unit of George Washington University Hospital, where he has been in critical condition since emergency brain surgery Dec. 13.

He has not spoken since the surgery, said a spokesman, and he remains on a ventilator at night. Johnson is up for reelection in two years, but until then no authority can remove him from office.

"One vote really shouldn't matter if senators keep their pledge and work in a bipartisan manner," said Jim Manley, spokesman for incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.).

Julianne Fisher, a spokesman for Johnson, said his staff has sought guidance from Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), who was out for seven months in 1988 after surgery for two brain aneurysms.

Biden's office offered this first piece of advice to Johnson's staff: Stop sending out mail in the senator's name.

November Surprise

George McGovern, the liberal 1972 Democratic presidential nominee, dropped a little bombshell to Larry King the other night: He voted Republican in 1976, for Gerald Ford.

McGovern said he finally told his wife, Eleanor, that Thanksgiving. Her reply: "So did I."

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