Andrew Ferguson, Senior Editor
The Weekly Standard, vol. 4, no. 15, December 28, 1998, pages
Capitol, Friday, December 18
P.M. Out in the Speaker's Lobby, I'm talking
to Jerry Nadler, the rotund congressman from New York City, when
Bob Barr, Republican from Georgia, appears. Barr is immediately
besieged by reporters. He is second only to Mary Bono as
a favorite Republican among the press corps, most of whom see
in them the twin poles of today's Republican party - airheads
on one end, nutcases on the other. Barr recently admitted
he once spoke to a white-supremacist group, and this morning,
in his speech on the floor, he quoted John F. Kennedy with effusive
praise, perhaps trying to reposition himself as a moderate.
The smart money says it won't work.
Anyway, as Barr chats to reporters, Patrick
Kennedy, the boyish congressman from Rhode Island, suddenly appears.
His face is crimson. He moves as close to Barr as he can
through the scrum of reporters and begins shouting. "You're
disgraceful!" he bellows. "Anybody who went to
a racist organization has no business invoking my uncle's memory.
Racist! I'm outraged!"
"Young man," says Barr, "you
can say whatever you'd like."
"Young man?" Kennedy screams.
"Young man? I'm a duly elected member of my
state!" Veins are popping from his neck.
"And I'm duly impressed,"
With that, Kennedy turns on his heel and zips
out of the room as fast as his little legs will carry him, looking
as incensed as he might have been when Dad refused to buy him
Bermuda for his thirteenth birthday.
Poor Nadler is suddenly forgotten in all the
commotion. He slips up behind me. "What happened?"
"Pat called Bob a racist."
"Oh," Nadler shrugs. "Gee,
if I call Bob Barr a racist can I get all that attention too?"