I recently traveled back to Baltimore to watch my little cousin get married. In my downtime I took the MARC train to Washington, D.C., to catch up with Idaho Sen. Jim Risch. Because, I mean, what else was I going to do on my vacation? (Drink with my high school buddy, Kaveh? Walk around Camden Yards? Aquarium? Spend time with my mom?)
I wanted to write about Risch's appointment to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and luckily, the day I visited former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who always sounded like C3PO to me, was to testify on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
You can read the story here.
Risch is clearly enjoying being a U.S. senator. He has a large spacious office with its own john (he can go before leaving for the airport ...), he's on a first name basis with many of the security guards and elevator operators (U.S. senators get lots of perks), and he knows his way around Capitol Hill better than most staffers. Strangely, he has a door on display in the lobby of his office gilded with: "Governor James E. Risch and First Lady Vicki Risch." He says it's a replica; he did not steal the governor's door from Boise.
I observed Risch on both the Foreign Relations Committee and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which met at the same time on Thursday afternoon. The Select Committee on Inteligence also had a meeting scheduled, to which I was not invited, but it was canceled. Risch left the Blair talk for a bit to go vote and then returned to ask Blair—an envoy to the Middle East on behalf of the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations—some questions.
How do they get anything done if they schedule everything at the same time? Wait ... do they get anything done?
I wanted to think that some of his questioning was for my benefit, but Risch has been asking lots of questions on his committees and even getting some national press for it. At the end of the hearing I took my little point and shoot camera and rushed up to the tables, past the Secret Service (or MI6?) dudes, trying to catch the Risch-Blair handshake.
The picture sucked, but ... I got in the way and my shooting stance was aired on C-SPAN.
It was a perfect D.C. reporting afternoon. Except I never got to eat the yebeg alicha that I crave.
You can watch Risch in action below. Or just FF to the last 30 seconds and see me.