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Good Money After Bad at the NRCC?

Senatorial daughter -- and real live diva -- Sarah Coburn.
Senatorial daughter -- and real live diva -- Sarah Coburn. (Photo By Stacy Boge - Photo By Stacy Boge)
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Fossella is giving no hints about what he'll do with the money. "No decisions have been made," says Susan Del Percio, Fossella's crisis communications consultant.

Ears and Earmarks

It's a good thing Sen. Tom Coburn's staunch opposition to federal funding for the arts hasn't meant the death knell for the Kennedy Center, or the Oklahoma Republican might not have had the pleasure of seeing his daughter, Sarah Coburn, star opposite Placido Domingo this month.

Coburn, the Senate's most famous crusader against funding for home-state projects known as "earmarks," has watched two of his daughter's performances in "Tamerlano" at the Washington National Opera house. Performances end tonight.

The 30-year-old diva has quickly risen to national prominence. Peter Gelb, the general manager of the New York Metropolitan Opera, made a special trip to Washington to see her perform May 4. He sat with Domingo's wife, Marta, next to the president's box.

The Financial Times described Sarah Coburn as a "luminous soprano" who is "superbly expressive," and Opera News called her "blissfully sublime."

Though father Tom has certainly been described as expressive, he concedes that Sarah's talent and looks come from her mother, a former Miss Oklahoma.

Coburn supports elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts but said he contributes a "great deal privately." His daughter makes him CDs of operas, which Coburn says he listens to in the mornings "when nobody's around."

"I've fallen in love with opera," he said. Does he cry at the opera? "I have before," he admitted. "I also laugh a lot -- all the plots are the same: Either it's a jealous husband or an upset father."

Coburn is not playing the role of upset father in his daughter's love story. She met a nice Northern guy online and is set to marry him in New York on Sept. 1. "We're gonna have the first Yankee in our family," Coburn said.

Today's "Waxman of the Week," which honors the zealous pursuit of congressional oversight, goes to the award's namesake, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.).

Waxman showed this week that it's not just how many subpoenas you issue or how toughly you word letters to administration figures. Sometimes, it's all about how you wield the gavel.

Republicans were still steaming mad yesterday at what they called Waxman's threats to throw one of their own out of a committee hearing. The committee was questioning Stephen Johnson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, about new smog standards.

When his time was up for questioning, Waxman kept after Johnson -- to the chagrin of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who demanded that Waxman stop. "On whose time does the chairman speak and ask these questions?" he asked, accusing Waxman of breaking the rules.

The diminutive Waxman banged the gavel six times in Issa's face, effectively quieting him.

"I will have you physically removed from this meeting if you don't stop," he said, before turning back to Johnson. "I want to know an answer to the question."

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) yesterday called Waxman's actions "outrageous threats and intimidation" and demanded an apology.

Waxman never got an answer from Johnson about White House involvement in EPA decisions, which Waxman considered the real issue. He laughed at Boehner's suggestion that he was a threatening force. "Just look at me," he said. "How can you not quake in my presence?"


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