He looks set to become Washington's best-known intern since a certain young woman in a blue dress.
Euan Blair, the dashing 21-year-old son of British Prime Minister Tony, will be reporting for photocopying and envelope-stuffing duty at the start of next year, when he begins a six-month stint working for two House members on Capitol Hill.
The recent graduate, who was 13 when his father entered Downing Street, gained notoriety in Britain when he was found drunk and semi-conscious by police in London's Leicester Square as a teenager. But he has since mended his ways, and he spent the past three years at Bristol University, securing a degree in ancient history. He also campaigned on behalf of his father in Britain's recent general election.
Now he is preparing to come to Washington -- perhaps the strongest indication yet that Blair Jr. might be keen to follow his father's footsteps into the political arena.
Mirroring his father's instincts to reach across the political divide, Blair Jr. has shown he is unwilling to nail his political colors to a party mast.
Choose an internship working for a Republican and he risks offending members of the British Labor Party, with its long-standing ties to the Democrats. Choose a Democrat and he might irritate his father's friends in the White House.
So, in an unusual move, the young Blair will work for representatives of both parties, both of them representing California. He will spend his first three months with Republican David Dreier on the House Rules Committee before crossing the aisle and working for three months in the office of a Democrat, Jane Harman.
How does a 21-year-old foreigner secure not one but two coveted placements with prominent lawmakers?
"He applied through the normal route," Jo Maney, press secretary for Dreier, said in a telephone interview, but she declined to give further details. According to a report in Britain's Sunday Telegraph, Blair was accepted after being interviewed by telephone. A spokesman for Harman confirmed Blair's internship but would not discuss the matter further.
The British Embassy denied helping Blair secure the slots, but would not say whether it played a role in picking which congressmen Blair approached. The embassy confirmed that it had been in touch with the offices of both Dreier and Harman to discuss the "security and media implications."
The normally sharp-tongued Sidney Blumenthal, who has worked with members of the Labor Party in the past, demurred from criticizing the prime minister's son for spending time with a Republican.
"Euan Blair will have an invaluable firsthand experience that enables him to understand the contrasting characters of the congressional Republican and Democratic parties today," he said in an e-mail Friday.
Roberts Isn't on Most Radars
As Washington gears up for its first Supreme Court nomination hearings in more than a decade, a new poll suggests what many politicos have already begun to suspect: With all that's in the news these days, much of the public isn't paying attention.
The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported last week that just 18 percent of the public said they were following John G. Roberts Jr.'s nomination to chief justice "very" closely. An additional 26 percent said they were following it "fairly" closely. More than half -- 54 percent -- said they were not paying much or any attention to the story.
That compared with the 71 percent who said they were following news stories on gasoline prices "very" closely. A similar share -- 70 percent -- said they were following Hurricane Katrina stories "very" closely. Those two stories were among the closest watched since 1986, the survey said, ranking alongside reports on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the 1992 Rodney King verdict and the ensuing riots in Los Angeles. Approximately a third of the respondents said they were paying most attention to stories on Iraq.
"I wouldn't expect there to be a great deal of public interest" in this week's hearings, said Carroll Doherty, an associate director at Pew. "If there's controversy, it'll break through some. But we're looking at the coverage competing with the coverage with maybe the greatest natural disaster in the nation's history. So it may well be overshadowed."
A plurality backed Roberts, with 35 percent saying they supported him and 19 percent opposed. But nearly half -- 46 percent -- did not offer an opinion on his nomination.
A Four-Way Race to the N.Y. Polls
Their primary is only two days away, but it's still hardly clear whom Democrats will put up this fall to challenge New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (R).
A new WNBC-Marist College poll found former Bronx borough president Fernando Ferrer, the longtime front-runner, barely ahead with 34 percent. But the most notable fact in the poll was the surge by Rep. Anthony D. Weiner, who started the race barely registering in polls but was commanding 27 percent in the latest. City Council Speaker Gifford Miller and Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields trailed with 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
The obvious fluidity of the race may produce more uncertainty: Unless someone wins 40 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff to determine the nominee on Sept. 27. The city is overwhelmingly Democratic, but the well-funded Republican mayor -- who is seeking a second term in November -- has trounced each of the possible challengers in other polls.