Political Notebook

Kennedy cheered at summit; Limbaugh remarks sour to some

March 7, 2009
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Senator Edward M. Kennedy drew a standing ovation when he appeared at the White House healthcare summit on Thursday.

But radio show host Rush Limbaugh gave him another kind of greeting yesterday, suggesting that Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer, would die before a healthcare overhaul bill is passed.

Continuing his criticism of President Obama, Limbaugh said on his show that Obama is failing to fix the economy, "so he's moved on to healthcare. This is highly visible, it's news-leading, gets a great focus, plus it has the great liberal lion, Teddy Kennedy, pushing it."

"Before it's all over, it'll be called the Ted Kennedy Memorial Healthcare Bill," Limbaugh added.

Kennedy's office had no immediate comment. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee quickly launched a petition drive urging Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele to denounce Limbaugh.

The Democratic group's executive director, Brian Wolff, called the remarks "reprehensible" and "truly outrageous." Limbaugh "minimizes the struggle of hardworking Americans without access to affordable healthcare and demonizes a patriotic senator who has spent his life fighting so that every person has the opportunity to live the American dream," Wolff said.


Obama, Clinton announce global women's issues post
Hillary Rodham Clinton made one of her biggest splashes as first lady when she spoke out on women's rights in Beijing in 1995.

Yesterday, Clinton, as secretary of state, and her boss, President Obama, jointly announced a new post of ambassador at-large for global women's issues.

The "unprecedented" move "reflects the elevated importance of global women's issues to the president and his entire administration," the White House said in a statement announcing Obama's intent to nominate Melanne Verveer, CEO of an international nonprofit that grooms female leaders.


Kennedy aide says Senate acting on knighthood offer
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's announcement this week of an honorary knighthood for Senator Edward M. Kennedy prompted some questions about the constitutionality of a member of Congress accepting such an accolade. But according to the senator's office, the British government, and others, Kennedy appears to be taking steps to make it all above-board.

The Constitution says that no person "shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state."

But there's also a federal law that allows a member of Congress to accept such a "decoration tendered in recognition of active field service in time of combat operations or awarded for other outstanding or unusually meritorious performance, subject to the approval of the employing agency of such employee."

In Kennedy's case, the employing agency is the US Senate, and the body that approves gifts or decorations is the Senate Ethics Committee. It operates with strict rules of confidentiality, and committee officials don't comment on individual cases.

Anthony Coley, a spokesman for Kennedy, said the senator has indeed taken the necessary steps with the Ethics Committee to receive approval for the honorary knighthood.


White House sets meeting on implementing stimulus
Another week, another White House conference.

The Obama team announced yesterday that on Thursday, President Obama and Vice President Biden will hold an "implementation conference" on the $787 billion economic stimulus package.

The stated goal: "To ensure that dollars invested and spent as part of the recovery act are effective, transparent, and efficient."

The White House said that each state's governor is being invited to send their senior official working on the stimulus to share ideas and hear from Cabinet secretaries and administration officials, including Earl Devaney, the former Massachusetts police officer leading the stimulus accountability board.


Franken blocked from taking Senate seat for now
ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Supreme Court yesterday blocked Democrat Al Franken's bid to join the US Senate without waiting for a lawsuit filed by his Republican opponent to run its course.

The decision means the seat will remain empty until the lawsuit and possible appeals in state court are complete. GOP incumbent Norm Coleman's lawsuit challenging Franken's recount lead is at the end of its sixth week, and both sides expect it to last at least a few more weeks.


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