Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Loop looks at fat-cat congressional spouses (of both sexes), and Al Kamen announces the Loop's 2012 "Pick the President" contest


It's time (or possibly past time) for putative prognosticators to get their predictions down for this year's presidential election.

by Ken

Our pal Al Kamen, of the Washington Post "In the Loop" franchise, has been studying Roll Call's annual list, published Thursday, of the 50 richest members of Congress, and is intrigued to find ("The lawmakers' richer halves") that a fair number "got their money the old-fashioned way -- by marrying into it." (Al prefaces his reporting of the Roll Call numbers, by the way, with the caution that "most of the lawmakers in question are far wealthier even than listed, since disclosure forms may not reveal the extent of their holdings and since Roll Call uses the minimums of the ranges they report.) Links onsite.
Take the very flushest, Rep. Mike McCaul. Most of the Texas Republican's vast fortune -- a minimum of $305.96 million -- comes from his wife, Linda McCaul, whose family's business is a little establishment called Clear Channel Communications. In fact, according to number-crunching Roll Call reporter Amanda Becker, the congressman's net worth "jumped from at least $73.75 million in 2009 to at least $294 million in 2010" thanks to a generous "gift" from his in-laws.

Or Sen. John F. Kerry , the second most affluent, who has ketchup and a spouse to thank for his wealth, estimated to be at least $231.23 million. His wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, is the "widow of the late Sen. H. John Heinz III of the Heinz ketchup fortune," Roll Call notes. Sen. Richard Blumenthal 's wife is the source of most of his $79.61 million, which puts him at No. 6 on the list. Cynthia Blumenthal is the daughter of a New York real estate mogul.

Some women on the list, too, enjoy the financial perks of marriage. Two prominent California Democrats, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (No. 9) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (No. 13), have wealthy husbands. And a newcomer to the top 50, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), gained admittance into the elite club (she's No. 12) with her marriage to financier Donald Sussman.

Seems there might be something to that retro-sounding advice about it being just as easy to marry rich as it is to marry poor. Pass the chardonnay.


Our pal Al has also been waxing nostalgic over election crises past, citing the comparison made by his paper's Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, between the Incorporated Willard's mangling of the violence in Libya and "statements from a past Republican presidential ticket -- Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush -- after President Jimmy Carter's disastrous effort to free the hostages being held in Iran during the 1980 campaign."
"This is a difficult day for all of us Americans," Reagan said. "It is time for us . . . to stand united. It is a day for quiet reflection . . . when words should be few and confined essentially to our prayers."

Bush said: "I unequivocally support the president -- no ifs, ands or buts. . . . He made a difficult, courageous decision."

But that's so very, very old-school, back in a time before winning the daily news cycle became the only important thing.

Which brings Al to his important announcement: It's time for the Loop's "Pick the President" contest.
Simply predict:

* The winning candidate.
* The number of electoral votes he'll receive.
* His percentage of the popular vote.

Up to 20 entries choosing the correct candidate will win -- the 10 closest to the electoral-vote total and the 10 closest to the popular-vote percentage (specify to the tenth of a point). Ties go to entries received first.

As usual with Loop contests, each winner will get a "highly coveted" Loop T-shirts. (I've made no secret of the fact that I for one covet one.) Now we come to a bit of a speed bump:
Send entries -- only one set of predictions per person -- to Be sure to provide your name, profession, mailing address and T-shirt size (M, L or XL), in case you're a winner.

(Congressional and Obama administration aides may enter "on background.")

You must include a phone number -- home, work or cell -- to be eligible. Deadline for entries is midnight Friday.

Since this column only went up online Thursday, and I'm guessing in the paper yesterday, I can't help feeling that a date has been left off after "midnight Friday," which would thus not mean that the deadline was midnight Friday as in last night.

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