Whatever happened to being true to your school?

Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn and James Madison High Class of '66, took off Thursday after another nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn and James Madison High Class of '67, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).

"The chairman of the Democratic Senate campaign committee" -- that would be Schumer -- is "sucking the oxygen out of that atmosphere of collegiality and constructive cooperation by trying to make a partisan issue of something that is being handled by a special counsel today," Coleman said in a news conference on the Wilson-Plame-Rove CIA leak imbroglio. "Stop the partisan attacks," Coleman said. "Let's get away from the gotcha politics of Washington today."

Schumer's Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fired back an hour later: "Norm Coleman is paying back his political patrons Karl Rove and George Bush today, picking up the hatchet for the White House and doing its dirty work."

Perhaps both men should be put in detention if they can't be chummier with old school chums?

DSCC spokesman Phil Singer said: "Yesterday's events underscore the need for Bernie Sanders to get elected to the U.S. Senate. We are clearly in need of an independent to act as a referee."

Rep. Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for the open seat in Vermont, is also a James Madison alumnus. And if he can't intervene, Schumer and Coleman might consider mediation with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of Madison High's favorite daughters.

Words Worth Repeating

Within minutes of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's surprise announcement that she was leaving the Supreme Court, several senators paid her tribute. Some, it seems, had special help in hastily assembling their remarks.

Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) joined Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) at a well-attended July 1 news conference in the Capitol. Akaka read an eight-sentence statement that turned out to be virtually identical to a statement released earlier that day by Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who was in Nevada.

Three of Akaka's sentences matched those in Reid's statement word for word. Three others differed only slightly. Reid's statement said, "Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has been an inspirational figure to all Americans"; Akaka made it "for all Americans." Reid said, "As the first woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court, she blazed a trail that many will follow." Akaka ended the sentence, "for many to follow." Reid said, "It is vital that she be replaced by someone like her, someone who embodies the fundamental American values of freedom, equality and fairness." Akaka dropped the word "American."

Akaka spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz explained that aides had hurriedly handed the boss a stack of "talking points," including the Reid statement, which had been e-mailed to Democratic offices. He read several lines, she said, not realizing they had been drafted for Reid, not him.

How Tough Is Tough Enough?

You go, girl.

A poll last week found that 86 percent of voters believe a woman is "tough enough to be president." But the poll, by Hotline and Westhill Partners, found that individual women did not do as well in perceived toughness.

Fifty-eight percent said they thought Hillary Rodham Clinton is tough enough, and 46 percent said Condoleezza Rice is tough enough. But while the secretary of state is not a likely presidential candidate in 2008, the senator from New York might wish to hire a personal trainer while there is still time.

Say That in Southie, Rick

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has fired back at Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) in a spat over Catholicism, liberalism and Boston that began three years ago.

"I don't think Ted Kennedy lecturing me on the teachings of the church and how the church should handle these problems is something I'm going to take particularly seriously," Santorum said in a conference call with Catholic media Thursday, the Patriot-News of Harrisburg reported.

A day earlier, Kennedy stood on the Senate floor and declared, "Boston-bashing might be in vogue with some Republicans, but Rick Santorum's statements are beyond the pale."

The fuss started in July 2002 when Santorum commented on the church's sex abuse scandal in an article for the Web site Catholic Online. "Priests, like all of us," he wrote, "are affected by culture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm."

Here's guessing this won't be the end of it.