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Political opposites come together for one night

Chicago Tribune

WASHINGTON — They come from worlds apart: Sen. Edward Kennedy, iconic liberal and a millionaire’s son from Massachusetts, and Rep. John Boehner, crusty conservative and a tavern-owner’s son from Ohio.

But they managed to come together for one glamorous night of mockery at a ritual level playing field for politicians and press alike: the annual congressional dinner of the Washington Press Club Foundation dedicated to the support of women pursuing journalism in a town once dominated by men.

Boehner, leader of the House’s Republican minority, had all of the Democrats who hope to become president in his cross hairs: "Most of Ted’s colleagues are running for the presidency. ... If there is ever a live quorum call, they’re going to have to either adjourn or convene in Des Moines."

The stage for this slap-down: A black-tie-optional soiree sponsored each year by a foundation that serves as a reminder of an era in Washington when boys would be boys, but no girls were allowed. The foundation is traceable to the Women’s National Press Club, founded soon after World War I, when women were not admitted to the National Press Club or the Gridiron Club.

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Bob Schieffer, a seasoned CBS newsman whose career spans both eras, pulled no punches for this mixed political crowd Tuesday night. With his introduction of Boehner, Schieffer said: "They used to call Ohio the mother of presidents. ... If that’s true, she must have had her tubes tied."

And it was Boehner who summed up the midterm elections that handed control of Congress to Kennedy’s party: "We got our butts kicked around last November. It kind of reminds me of being on that show, ‘Survivor,’ and being kicked off naked."

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