Correction to This Article
An April 7 item in the Washington Monday column incorrectly stated that William E. Todd, nominee to become the United States ambassador to Brunei, is a career Foreign Service member. Todd is a member of the Senior Executive Service.

The Week April 7-13

Monday, April 7, 2008

Channeling FDR

Having already done a fireside podcast, in honor of Franklin D. Roosevelt's fireside chats, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) will get a chance for further Roosevelt comparisons. He and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), will receive the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Distinguished Public Service Award at a gala dinner Wednesday honoring the 75th anniversary of the New Deal.

They are getting the award, according to the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, "because of the parallels to be drawn between their present leadership and the New Deal period, when so much important and progressive legislation was pioneered with the cooperation of Congress."

"It certainly seems like an opportune time to remind Democrats that they're the party of the New Deal . . . that did do things for ordinary people," said Eric Rauchway, a University of California at Davis professor and a New Deal historian, pointing to the current legislative wrangling over housing and economic assistance.

8.Voters in California's 12th Congressional District will vote Tuesday in a special election to replace Rep. Tom Lantos (D), who died Feb. 11.

Shortly after announcing in January that he was ill with esophageal cancer, Lantos endorsed former California state senator Jackie Speier. She is also running for the seat in the June primary. But first she will face one other Democratic candidate, two Republicans and a Green Party candidate in the special election. To avoid a runoff election to finish Lantos's term, the winner must get more than 50 percent of the five-way vote.

Voters in the 12th District -- which spans parts of San Francisco and south into San Mateo County -- are voting not just for their congressional representative but also for a Democratic superdelegate. Speier is, as Lantos was, a supporter of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). Michelle McMurry, Speier's Democratic opponent, supports Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

8-9Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker will return to Washington for a second round of Capitol Hill hearings on progress in Iraq. The schedule is slightly different than last September: This time, Crocker and Petraeus begin Tuesday with Senate hearings -- the Armed Services Committee, followed by the Foreign Relations Committee. The House committees are set for Wednesday. The Armed Services Committee will hear from the pair first, and then the Foreign Affairs Committee.

One added wrinkle: The four committees are scheduled to meet in four rooms. That makes for eight high-stakes audio engineering challenges. In September, just as Petraeus began to read his testimony to a joint gathering of House committee members, the highly anticipated hearing suddenly came to an awkward halt. There was no sound from the general's microphone. That technical failure was manna for late-night comedians, and The Post's Thomas E. Ricks noted in his live blog of the hearings: "We are all waiting for Petraeus's microphone to be fixed before it turns into a metaphor for the Iraq war."

8-9Even in the final months of President Bush's final term, the White House still has ambassadorial nominees it wants confirmed. As for the nominees, the chances of serving in their given posts for an extended period are relatively slim, but less than a year in Helsinki still conveys the title of "ambassador" for a lifetime.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hear from two groups of nominees this week, on Tuesday and again on Wednesday. The Tuesday group of career officers and presidential appointees includes Barbara Barrett, a former deputy FAA administrator under President Ronald Reagan and the wife of Craig R. Barrett, chairman of Intel. Barrett, if confirmed, would be the Bush administration's fourth ambassador to Helsinki.

On Wednesday, the committee will hear from a group that includes William E. Todd, who was nominated in January to be ambassador to Brunei. Todd has been serving as the acting State Department inspector general since Howard "Cookie" Krongard left in January amid accusations of blocking Iraq-related investigations and criticism from employees and members of Congress.

By Rachel Dry

© 2008 The Washington Post Company