This week it was once again time for what has become a family tradition – lunch every month or two with my sister Rose, wherein she and I catch up on the news of our personal lives. It’s always her choice, and today she selected Muze, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Maryland Avenue Southwest, over by the Jefferson Memorial and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. For her cocktail, Rose ordered a Thai coconut martini, a not-so-subtle allusion to our family name and our dear father, an engineer turned bartender, who re-invented the martini at a luxury hotel in New York City not unlike the Mandarin, although much more venerable. Her appetizer was complementary in the culinary sense – [...]

 

Starting early Friday morning and continuing well after lunch, a certain Millicent Gesaesshower de Bouvier Jones called the office and bugged Gretchen for a telephone consultation about every fifteen minutes. Finally, Gretchen managed to fit her in between a Taiwanese economist and a Bulgarian cultural envoy. Jones: Hello, hello? Is this Tom Collins? Tom: Yes, ma’am, it is. Jones: How y’all today? Tom: We are fine, ma’am. Jones: Good to hear it. God bless you. Tom: Thank you, ma’am. How may I help you? Jones: You know Mary Landrieu? Tom: Why of course I do. Everybody in Washington knows her. She’s the senior senator from Louisiana. You aren’t, by any chance, also from Louisiana yourself, are you, Miss Jones? Jones: [...]

 

Yesterday morning at nine, I was visited by Harold Scheisskopf, Political Strategy Coordinator with the National Republican Congressional Committee. He projected his usual veneer of smug, supercilious Skull and Bones pretension, but beneath it, I readily detected a current of distinct unease. “Nice [expletive]-kicking we gave the Democrats, huh?” Scheisskopf opened as he assumed the seat directly to the right of my desk and leaned in. “By now, I bet your left-wing buddies have been crying in their beer for three solid weeks.” “Not only that,” I chuckled, “they have been expecting me to buy the next round after they are done.” “Typical cheapskate liberals,” he snorted. “Get any good dirt on them while they [expletive] and moaned about us [...]

 

The calls started late on Tuesday, November 4. I received five of them before midnight. They have continued unabated since. It’s an assured ritual that occurs like clockwork every two years – new members of Congress calling me for the sort of advice and information not found in the traditional freshman briefings offered on Capitol Hill. And again, as I have every two years for quite some time now, I cry “enough!” Stop calling my home! Stop trying to shoehorn yourselves or your top banana into the appointment schedule at my office! You all ask the same questions, anyway, so here’s my biannual Advice to Congressional Newbies post. What you want to know about those “confidential issues,” the answers to [...]

 

My imported sports car has hands-free cell phone service, but just to be safe, I always pull off and park at the first opportunity after taking a call. And that’s exactly what I did, driving along the George Washington Memorial Parkway to my home in Great Falls, Virginia on Friday night after work. Caller ID was blocked, so I had no idea who it was as I drove into the scenic overlook at the top of the hill after the turnoff to Spout Run. Not that I ever let something like that keep me from picking up on a phone call. Tom: Hello, who’s this? Voice: Tom Collins? Tom: This is he. Voice: I need some advice about a problem [...]

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