The Republican two-step on ethics reform has proven an amusing spectacle this season. First come panicked promises of reform from GOP congressional leaders; then come rank-and-file pushback and a hasty public retreat. A typical case presented itself when Speaker Dennis Hastert and House Rules Committee baron David Dreier proposed a blanket ban on all privately funded congressional travel. Mere days later, newly elected House Majority Leader John Boehner took the occasion of a February Meet the Press appearance to tell Tim Russert, “I have my doubts about that.”
"What, is Katherine Harris counting the ballots in there?" Several journalists shot out the same joke after flak emerged from the closed-door House Republican conference meeting to announce that more ballots than actual voters had been tallied in the February 2 election for majority leader. The snafu resonated uncomfortably in the air of corruption and disarray that had initially set the context for this heated race to replace disgraced party leader Tom DeLay. So Republicans were relieved when they discovered that the counting disparity stemmed from an innocent clerical error and would not, in fact, produce a Florida-style donnybrook.
They may be a bit rusty at winning presidential elections, but Democrats haven't lost an ounce of their storied devotion to mucking with party procedures. On December 10, assorted party bigwigs assembled in a cavernous ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill for the fifth and final meeting of the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling.
A curious American cultural moment occurred immediately after Cassius Clay's upset TKO of heavyweight champion Sonny Liston in 1964, one that occasionally pops up in ESPN Classic rebroadcasts. Sports announcer Steve Ellis is conducting a post-match interview with Clay in the ring when the new champ starts calling over a friend to appear on camera with him. "Let Sam in!" Clay demands, as a handsome, beaming soul crooner is thrust onto the screen.