Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sensenbrenner goes to the dogs

The Journal Sentinel gives him the benefit of the doubt, and makes it sound like F. Jim is just having fun. But it sounds like there's an edge to his humor, and that he may not have found it all that amusing to be described as a pit bill or to have a Judiciary Committee member say he treated members like dogs.

In any event, here's the story:

Sensenbrenner lets the dogs out
House Judiciary 'pit bull' responds to article with stunt


Washington - In the House Judiciary Committee, there can be only one top dog.

And the man with the gavel, Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner, clearly is it.

However, the Menomonee Falls Republican was a bit taken aback recently when some members of his committee made references to man's best friend while describing him in a profile in The New York Times.

When describing Sensenbrenner's leadership style, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) used a famous quote from former Green Bay Packer player Jerry Kramer about coach Vince Lombardi. "He treats us all equally," Lungren said. "He treats us all like dogs."

In the same article, Rep. Rick Keller (R-Fla.) called Sensenbrenner a "pit bull." Keller said "the Senate negotiators he's up against (on the issue of immigration) are wearing Milk-Bone underwear."

On July 12, the day after the story ran, Sensenbrenner responded in kind at a committee meeting, passing out copies of the Times story and replacing the usual doughnuts with a plate of Milk-Bone dog treats.

According to the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, Sensenbrenner was "clearly relishing the characterization, even wielding a dog bone instead of a gavel."

As lawmakers filed out of the meeting, Sensenbrenner had an aide blast the Baha Men's hit song "Who Let the Dogs Out" on the audio system. He presented Lungren with a collar and a leash.

But did Sensenbrenner go too far?

"The congressman didn't take offense; it was all in lighthearted fun," said an aide in Lungren's office. "His bark is worse than his bite," Lungren told Roll Call.

"Chairman Sensenbrenner deals with a lot of serious issues," said Jeff Lungren, spokesman for the Judiciary Committee and the California congressman's son. "Sometimes it's important to have a little fun."

Jeff Lungren said all of the committee members took the canine stunts in stride, adding that he saw one member of the committee actually eating his Milk-Bone.

Apparently, Sensenbrenner, a longtime dog owner, has taken to his new role. One Capitol Hill aide said he has heard the chairman barking up and down the halls of Congress to announce his presence.

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