Can I get an “Oh Prunella!” ?
“Jacksonville, FL: When did Brit Hume go crazy? Tiger woods should embrace Christianity and we will forgive him?
You say this on the air?
Tucker Carlson: Crazy? No. John Wayne Gacy was crazy. Judy Garland and Ezra Pound were crazy. Recommending that someone in distress adopt a mainstream religious faith is pretty conventional advice.”
Brit has always been big on doling out unwanted advice, especially when it comes to sexuality.
“HUME: It is very serious misbehavior on the part of Congressman Foley, whether it stems from arrogance or just weakness of the human flesh is another question. It’s probably worth noting that there’s a difference between the two parties on these issues. Inappropriate behavior towards subordinates didn’t cost Gerry Studds his Democratic seat in Massachussetts, nor Barney Frank his. Nor did inappropriate behavior toward a subordinate even cost Bill Clinton his standing within the Democratic Party, even though indirectly he was impeached for it. Mark Foley found out about this, was found out to have done this, and he’s out of office and in total disgrace in his party.
WILLIAMS: It took him long enough, don’t you think?
HUME: What do you mean?
WILLIAMS: Well, gee, they knew about it way back. No action was taken. That’s the question.
HUME: What we don’t know —
LIASON: Barney Frank was not with a subordinate. We should correct that. We should correct that.
WALLACE: Yeah, I think we should point that out. I don’t think Barney Frank was involved with a page.
HUME: It is worth noting that we don’t yet know exactly what they knew and when they knew it. This — obviously, we’ll find out this week.
WILLIAMS: Well, it’s an argument among Republicans who have a very different time record here for what Hastert is saying.
WALLACE: Alright, guys. You can take it outside afterwards.”
A more decorous scribe might well have stifled himself in light of. . .
“Hume [Sandy] committed suicide in his apartment in Arlington, Virginia. In the months before his death, Hume, an alcoholic, had begun drinking again. The night before his suicide, Hume was jailed for drunk driving and tried to hang himself in the U.S. Park Police jail cell. He was evaluated at a psychiatric facility and released. He went home and took his life with a hunting rifle. He left a long note expressing shame at the previous night’s events.”
At the time even as sophisticated a soul as Arianna wondered. . .
“It won’t win any prizes for insight to say that it takes a lot to shock official Washington these days. Nonetheless, last week, something happened that should have shocked the political class, even in these post-Monica Lewinsky times. The unexpected departure from the House of Representatives of one of its rising stars would usually trigger a frenetic round of questions and navel gazing. But instead, the pols and pundits alike seemed determined to break with 200 years of history and accept a public figure’s dubious explanation at face value.
“So what is the real reason, if there is one, for Bill Paxon not running?” Mark Shields asked on CNN’s “Capital Gang” last Saturday. A numbing unanimity followed. Paxon, all the panelists agreed, had decided to commit political hari-kari because he wanted to devote more time to his 2-year-old daughter, Suzy Ruby. Bob Novak, Kate O’Beirne and Al Hunt chimed in about what a swell guy Paxon was and how much Washington would miss him. Having dealt summarily with the Malarkey of the Week, they moved on to the Outrage of the Week.
As Slate magazine put it, “O’Beirne and Hunt should be disbarred for their simple-mindedness.” Do they really believe that Paxon is leaving Congress “to spend more time with the family”? One has to wonder how the fact that being a congressman is a full-time job snuck up on a sharp guy like Paxon.
Here is the Paxon chronology and why it doesn’t add up: On Monday, Feb. 23, Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, came out with a front-page story titled “With Newt’s Help, Armey Fights to Save Job.” “Furious that Gingrich and Armey are working to undermine him,” the piece reported, “Paxon on Friday called dozens of members from home and said he is now ‘seriously considering’ jumping into the race soon.”
Then, on Wednesday morning, Paxon announced to the Republican Conference that on Saturday he had made up his mind not only to refrain from running against Armey for majority leader but to retire from politics altogether. Why the big rush? And why did Paxon write a letter to his colleagues in the House pledging that “I will never run for office again. Never. Not even for dog warden”?
I asked Paxon how he could rule out so vehemently any future elective office. “What about governor of New York?” I asked.
“I wouldn’t sell statewide in New York,” he argued.
“But why so suddenly?” I persisted.
“My press secretary also counseled me to drag it out over a month so as to not shock people,” he countered. “But I wanted to close that door. I don’t want to run for office, and I don’t want to be on TV.”
Paxon was patient, charming and eloquent, but I continued to find it implausible that the day after he spent hours drumming up support for a race he had been masterminding for months, he decided to put an end to his political life.
When the first news of Paxon’s retirement hit the wires, I was reading an advance copy of “Representative Mom” by his wife, former congresswoman Susan Molinari. It exposes in emotional terms the betrayal of her husband by two of the political world’s most vicious in-fighters. “How could I work,” Molinari asks, “‘for the good of the order’ with people who found it convenient to shove my husband out of the picture? How could I respect people who were so wrong?”
The speaker and the majority leader were responsible, as she puts it, for “Bill’s being transmogrified into a scapegoat for the seething discontent that racked our party caucus in the House.” Molinari chronicles the outpouring of support after Paxon’s ouster from the House leadership. Beyond the fruit baskets and the notes of gratitude, “40 incumbents and candidates invited him to their districts to campaign for them.”
The popular Buffalonian was the odds-on favorite with House moderates and conservative dissidents alike to succeed Gingrich if the speaker resigned his office in 1999 to run for president. Paxon’s election as majority leader would have formalized his position at the head of the pack.
So why, just as battle was about to be joined, did Paxon decide to end a 21-year political career at the age of 44?
“That career wasn’t just a job for him,” Molinari wrote in a passage she may wish to amend slightly before her book’s publication in May. “It was his entire life. When I was still trying to figure out what to study in college, he was ignoring his college homework to plan for his first run for Congress.” Giving up all he had worked for requires more of an explanation than “spending time with the family.” This is not to say that a child isn’t intrinsically more important than the speakership, but to reduce Paxon’s option to either politics or family — but not both — presents a false choice and thus a dubious excuse, especially since, as he told me, he intends to stay in the background of politics as a consultant.
In the absence of a plausible explanation, the vacuum is filled with rumors. But the most persistent question remains: Was Paxon’s decision the result of pressure, even a threat, and if so, by whom? In October, Sandy Hume, the talented “Hill” reporter who shot himself last week, wrote, perhaps prophetically, that according to one Republican member: “There is a concerted effort to take Bill Paxon out before he becomes a bigger threat to Gingrich than he is.” He also reported that “Paxon and Armey haven’t been on speaking terms since the coup.”
Bill Paxon can add a constructive footnote to his distinguished career in politics and perform a great public service by telling the whole story behind his early retirement. And if others played a hand in it, let him point a finger at them and let the consequences be damned.”
The answer was of course
apparent to everyone in the Beltway Know
“I want to explore my faith more vigorously,” he says, noting that when his son, Sandy Hume, died 10 years ago, he was devastated.
Hume’s son, also a television journalist, committed suicide at age 28 following an arrest on a charge of driving under the influence.
“If anyone had asked me if I was a Christian then, I would have said, ‘yes,’ but it was not something that was in the forefront of my life,” he says. “I found strength in my faith, and I decided that I did not want to be a part-time Christian.”
He says more Bible study is in his future.
As for Bowtie Boy’s “Crazy” list. He’s welcome to Gacy and Ezra. But as for me “We’ll sing ‘em all and stay all night!”