Before he described the secret details of the deal he made with Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, Rep. Rahm Emanuel said, "God willing, there are no reporters in here.''
Emanuel's prayers were not answered.
I was there.
It was Sept. 20 at Politics and Prose, a bookstore in upper northwest Washington known for its book chats. Emanuel, the Chicago Democrat, and Bruce Reed, co-authors of a new book, The Plan, drew about 100 people to their event.
This is friendly Democratic territory but there is fighting in the family. There were people in the audience who were not pleased that Emanuel, boss of the House Democratic political committee, picked a fight with Dean. Emanuel and Dean called a public truce after Dean rebuffed Emanuel's bid to get the DNC to bankroll TV wars in targeted House races. Dean wanted to spend money on the ground campaign, not TV ad buys. Dean agreed to spend $12 million in get-out-the-vote campaigns, but until now, it was not known what that would entail.
After talking about their book, Emanuel and Reed took some questions. A woman wanted to know about the disagreement Emanuel had with Dean. "My staff has recommended that I take my beta-blockers,'' said Emanuel, a line he has been using lately.
The persistent woman was not to be so easily deflected, and who knows, she might have been buying a book, which is why they were there at the bookstore, after all. Emanuel was challenged about the "need to get our feet on the ground.'' He then talked about what he called the "joint agreement'' with Dean.
Key to the Dems' House strategy is picking up a hot political market segment -- drop-off voters. They are sought-after micro- targets for Democrats in 2006. They are the voters who turned out in the 2004 presidential year but may well stay home in November.
"And the entire focus of our effort, God willing there are no reporters in here to make sure the NRCC [National Republican Congressional Committee] hears about it, and that means that is to focus on those people who do vote presidential but don't vote in non-presidential years,'' Emanuel said.
"And our entire resources of mail, telephone, door knocking and person-to-person contact is to that universe. . . . That's what we are doing.''
Bush blog bash
It was quite a mixer.
The Bush White House recognized the political power of bloggers on Tuesday by inviting many of the key blogosphere players to the signing ceremony for the "Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act.''
"I don't want to exaggerate much, but it is a new kind of politics,'' said Glenn Reynolds, who oversees the influential www.instapundit.com.
The law creates a Web site that will have a searchable database of all federal government grants and contracts. One of the sponsors was Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), and he was at the signing. But the bill would be on a back burner if not for an effective coalition of bloggers -- from the left and right -- who working together outed two senators secretly blocking passage of the measure and forced them to back down. "Most of the people in this room have not met each other in the flesh before,'' Reynolds said. "It's amazing that all these people I've worked with on the 'porkbusters campaign' I've never met."
After the signing -- no, no pens for them -- the bloggers headed to the Office of Management and Budget to learn more about how the transparency law will be executed.
In all, a festive coming of age. Quipped Reynolds, the Bush White House served as the "party planner for the blogosphere.''
Rumsfeld fetes Hyde
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dug into his Illinois roots to host a retirement breakfast for Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) last Thursday at his Pentagon dining room. Rumsfeld gave Hyde a citation and the group talked Illinois politics some. At the table: Rep. John Shimkus (a West Point grad), Rep. Ray LaHood and former Minority Leader Bob Michel, all Illinois Republicans.
I goofed. I incorrectly paraphrased Joe Shoemaker, spokesman for Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), in Wednesday's column. Shoemaker was commenting on House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) going after Durbin to get provisions in a Defense bill that Sen. Armed Services Committee chair John Warner (R-Va.) did not want. Here it is the right way: Shoemaker said Hastert's problem is with House Republicans, not Durbin.