By Mary Ann Akers And Paul Kane
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) has the toughest job in Washington: manager of the lowly Democratic congressional baseball team.
Losers of seven straight to the dreaded Republicans since their come-from-behind win in 2000, the Democrats will march out onto the field tonight at Nationals Park in search of their first win of the Bush presidency.
Some Democrats don't even know what it feels like to hoist the coveted Roll Call trophy. (Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, is the main sponsor of the game.)
Doyle, who is winless as manager since taking the helm in 2006, volunteered to resign that position if he loses tonight's game, but Democratic leaders emphatically told him to stay put.
"Nobody wants the job," he said yesterday.
So Doyle is taking some unorthodox steps to pull out a win this year, including a historic move. Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) will start as the Democratic designated hitter. It is believed to be the first time a Democratic woman has ever started in the annual baseball game.
Sanchez wears the Roman numeral IX as her number, a reference to the Title IX laws that mandate equality in athletic scholarships for men and women at the high school and collegiate level. She got the DH assignment because she can flat-out hit, better than most of the guys, as demonstrated by her line-drive single late in the game during last year's 5-2 loss.
Her start reminds us of the time Coach Buttermaker turned to Amanda Whurlitzer to turn around the season for "The Bad News Bears."
According to David Meyers, managing editor of Roll Call and unofficial statistician of the annual Democratic-Republican battle, the GOP has won 32 of the 46 games since the early 1960s. In the last three contests, Republicans have outscored Democrats by a combined margin of 36-14.
Doyle is attempting to take advantage of the game's friendly rules, which allow for unlimited substitutions, so players can come in and out of the game repeatedly. This means that some lawmakers who can hit but can't field won't get anywhere near the field. This includes smooth-swinging Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.). Others should keep their gloves warm and leave their bats in their offices.
"I've got a runner's card, a hitter's card and a fielder's card," Doyle said, noting that pressure is building within the caucus. "I've got about 17 guys that aren't speaking to me, I've got two death threats -- and those are within my own delegation. Other than that, it's going fine."Another Ceiling Shattered
In another first, the Rev. Patricia Bryant Harris, a Methodist pastor in Wilmington, Del., this week became the first black woman to serve as a guest chaplain in the Senate. She opened the historic session of the chamber praying that the "result of all the works within this place free people, free nations from grief, hunger and pain."
Asked how she felt about being the first African American woman to deliver the opening prayer, a tradition that goes back more than a century, Harris, 61, told the Wilmington News Journal, "I would put it in the terms of the young people today: Awesome. I'm from the First State, I'm the first African American female to present the prayer. It was an awesome experience."
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a personal friend of Harris's, said he was honored to welcome her "help get [the Senate] started on the right foot and to do not just the Senate's business and not just the business of our country, but the Lord's business as well."
Not to be outdone, the House, led by speaker and uber-glass-ceiling buster Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), also is making history. Pelosi announced this week that Jaime Zapata has been tapped as the chamber's new reading clerk, the first Hispanic ever to serve in that role.
The clerk is the person who reads the bills and resolutions put forward for consideration in the House. (Lemon water, Jaime. Drink lots of lemon water!)
Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.), chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, calls the appointment a "historic moment for Hispanics across the country, as they will now have a sense of pride when they tune in to C-SPAN and see someone from our community playing an integral part in the proceedings of the United States Congress."
Zapata will leave his current job as communications director for the House Committee on Small Business and begin his new duties on July 28.A Friend Across the Aisle
Hard to imagine, but conservative Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) may play a role at the Democratic National Convention next month in Denver.
Hatch, a songwriter, has written a ballad for the Senate's liberal lion, his old friend and longtime legislative ally Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), that may be performed in the Mile High City as a tribute. Kennedy's treatment for brain cancer will keep him from attending.
"Headed Home" is a ballad that touches on Kennedy's life as a sailor and a senator, Hatch said. "Ted and Vicki are special people to my wife, Elaine, and I. So I wanted to do something to honor him as he is going through this difficult trial," Hatch told On the Hill. Hatch, 74, told the Boston Globe, which first reported on the ballad, that Kennedy, 76, is "like a brother to me."
The conservative Mormon and liberal Catholic developed a close friendship over more than three decades working together on issues such as health insurance for poor children, protections for the disabled and AIDS.
"We've counseled and consoled each other during hard times," Hatch told On the Hill. "I attended his mother's funeral in Massachusetts, for instance, and he and his wife, Vicki, flew out to Utah to attend my mother's funeral."
Hatch said the lyrics, which include the words "sailing home," refer to Kennedy's love of sailing off Cape Cod. "The words 'headed home' in the song mean he is headed home to the Senate, where we all are praying for his recovery and eagerly awaiting his return," Hatch said.
Kennedy made a dramatic return to the Senate last week to help pass a Medicare bill, but his office has said he is not expected back in the Senate until September.
According to the Globe, Hatch was approached by a prominent Democrat who asked him, "Why don't you write a song for the convention for Teddy?" So he did. Hatch said he has spoken to Democratic leaders about having the song performed in Denver with a montage of photos of Kennedy.Paying the Tab
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) has begun paying the $1 million-plus legal judgment against him. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) won a suit charging that McDermott violated his privacy by leaking a sensitive intercepted cellphone call in 1996. A judge ordered McDermott, who refused to apologize when Boehner was ready to settle the suit a few years ago, to pay Boehner's legal fees.
According to Ben Pershing, author of washingtonpost.com's Capitol Briefing, McDermott sent a whopping $628,000 check from his campaign fund in April to Jones Day, the Ohio-based law firm that represented Boehner. McDermott's legal defense fund also sent almost $500,000 to the law firm. That total of $1.1 million was then transferred to Boehner's campaign committee, which footed most of the legal bills during the decade-long dispute.