The Washington Post

Lawmakers’ quick D-Day trip to France includes a few square (as in boxed) meals

Most folks would imagine it’s always preferable to be in the Senate. After all, there’s only 100 senators — vs. 435 House members — so you have more clout. More important, you’ve got a six-year term, so you don’t have to constantly raise money on a two-year cycle. Best of all, you get to ratify treaties and torment President Obama over nominations.

The only thing you don’t get is a decent meal.

In fact, we’re told, the nine senators and six spouses heading over Thursday afternoon to France for the ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day are going to arrive at the crack of dawn Friday in Caen and enjoy a scrumptious box breakfast on the bus to Omaha Beach.

After a ceremony there, they head to Sword Beach for an international ceremony and, while en route, they get to have, yes, a box lunch on the bus.

But wait, how about a nice dinner? No, after Sword Beach they take the four-hour bus ride to Paris, during which they get to enjoy — you guessed it — a box dinner. (Seriously, how much ham and cheese can these guys eat?)

They get to Paris late in the evening, stay but one night at a luxury hotel and take off the next day for home.

In contrast, the 25 House members (and, we’re told, as many as 20 spouses, though another source says there aren’t that many) are traveling at a saner pace. They left Washington late Wednesday afternoon and flew to Paris, where they checked into that same hotel (where the cheapo rooms go for $600 a night, though there must be a decent government rate) Thursday.

We understand they had several hours Thursday to rest up. At night, they enjoyed a hotel buffet dinner.

Alas, given the four-hour trip, even the House delegation will have to get on the bus pre-dawn Friday and eat box lunches in Normandy and box dinners en route back to Paris.

However, the House members had the good sense to plan to spend Saturday in Paris before heading back to Washington on Sunday. On the itinerary is a brief wreath-laying ceremony, and we’re told, there are other D-Day activities planned.

We’ve determined that the House has the better travel companions.

Our man in Dublin

Obama on Thursday nominated trial lawyer Kevin O’Malley to become U.S. ambassador to Ireland, a post vacant for more than 18 months. And he’s not a bundler!

O’Malley is a longtime supporter of Obama, going back to 2007 before his first presidential primary run. Perhaps not coincidentally, O’Malley is from St. Louis, which means he shares a home state with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who was also an early supporter of Obama.

O’Malley gave the maximum individual contribution of $2,300 to Obama in 2007 and again in 2008, according to FEC filings. It does not appear he gave to Obama in the 2012 cycle. A political appointment, sure, but not a mega-donor.

Irish news outlets first reported the news of the O’Malley pick Wednesday evening. The Irish government had been upset that it was taking the White House so long to fill the spot left open after Ambassador Dan Rooney left the job in fall 2012. More recently, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) made headlines questioning the administration for the lengthy delay. Frustration was mounting.

“Obama insiders say O’Malley is a respected leader in the Irish American and religious community in St. Louis, where he has been a leading supporter of the Catholic Student Center at Washington University in St. Louis,” reported the Irish Central.

The White House made it official Thursday afternoon.

“The biggest issue for the ambassador to Ireland is going to be the economy and helping the country dig out of a fiscal mess,” said Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and former special envoy for Northern Ireland.

In terms of the peace process in Northern Ireland, Haass said, “Vice President Joe Biden and [his national security adviser] Jake Sullivan are the real point people in this administration.”

O’Malley already has a friend awaiting him on the other side of the Atlantic. Matthew Barzun, U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, tweeted, “Welcome to my world.”

A friend in need

Earlier this week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) threw her political weight behind Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) in a glowing fundraising e-mail, as the 22-term incumbent battles it out in a tight primary.

“Charlie’s judgment and wisdom have earned him the respect of his colleagues,” Pelosi wrote in her solicitation. “His belief in possibility, his commitment to his constituents and his knowledge of the House have made him an extraordinary resource. His institutional memory is second-to-none.”

Such campaign-season warm-and-fuzzy is par for the course. But it wasn’t so long ago that an awkward tension hung between Rangel and the colleagues who, according to Pelosi, respect his judgment.

In late 2010, in one of her last acts as House speaker, Pelosi called a disgraced Rangel to step forward on the chamber floor as she publicly reprimanded him, a ritual when a lawmaker is censured by his colleagues. She was measured in her tone as she read Rangel’s various violations of ethics rules. Most of her Democratic caucus voted for the public shaming despite Rangel’s plea that his charge be lessened.

The wounds healed well before this year. Pelosi and other Democratic heavy hitters held a D.C. fundraiser at see-and-be-seen Bistro Bis restaurant a year after the censure vote. Still, the juxtaposition of Pelosi’s fundraising plea now to her admonishing him then is a perfect illustration of how this town gives the scandal-plagued second (and third, and fourth, and fifth) chances.

— With Colby Itkowitz

The blog:
intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.


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