"Supporting No Fewer Than Eight Children"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 20 2013 2:41 PM

"Supporting No Fewer Than Eight Children"

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Former Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM)

Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Elspeth Reeve has the absolute best reported take on the Pete Domenici scandal. That scandal, in brief: Pete Domenici (New Mexico) and Paul Laxalt (Nevada) were U.S. senators. Thirty years ago, Domenici slept with Laxalt's daughter, Michelle, and the union produced a son, named Adam Paul Laxalt. The Nevada senator retired in 1986 (Harry Reid now has his seat), but Domenici stuck around through 2008, as Michelle Laxalt continued to lobby. Nobody's come up with a scandal related to that lobbying, but Reeve is the first person, ever, to spot the relevance in this 2007 Larry King exchange.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

LAXALT: When you're attacking the integrity of someone who has been in public service for his entire lifetime, at great sacrifice, supporting no fewer than eight children and with the many sacrifices and the many contributions Senator Domenici has made, not only to the country, but to New...
KING: But it...
LAXALT: ... the state of New Mexico, I don't think one political appointee who has a chip on his shoulder because he was asked to leave a position that he wasn't offered permanency in to begin with, should ever...
KING: All right...
LAXALT: ... take a crack at the integrity of Pete Domenici...
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"No fewer than eight!" That's inherently funny now. But what does it mean for Domenici? The scandal that sparked that CNN segment was the firing of a crop of U.S. Attorneys, who, yes, serve at the pleasure of the president, but who'd been let go around the same time that they refused to pursue flimsy "voter fraud" cases. Domenici skated on that, and became one of Washington's retired wise men, a fixture at Bipartisan Policy Center events, the co-chairman of the Domenici-Rivlin Commission and its deficit reduction plan. The sort of guy you should respect and take very seriously.

A big tip of the hat, obviously, to Laxalt and Domenici. She chose to have the baby; he chose, she says, to support him. I could care less what either of them do with their reproductive organs, and I recall that Domenici cited the law, not Bill Clinton's behavior, when he joined the Mau-Mauers on that sex scandal. But we might take him off the Wise Man totem poll until further notice.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.