Virginia Cavalier

By Eve Fairbanks, The New Republic, February 4, 2009

'I love chicken waste!" Terry McAuliffe shouts to a crowd of several hundred elegant northern Virginians at Alexandria's Torpedo Factory art gallery. McAuliffe--the former Democratic moneyman dubbed by Al Gore "the greatest fund-raiser in the history of the universe"--is running for governor of Virginia, and tonight is the official rollout of his primary campaign. As he rhapsodizes about Virginia's 1,000 poultry farms, his pale eyebrows hop around furiously on his sharp, ostrich-like brow ridge. McAuliffe's listeners--many of whom are decked out in the kind of pricey wearable art that's offered for sale in the gallery--seem nonplussed. But McAuliffe presses on. As governor, he explains, he would transform the nearly half-a-million tons of chicken poop the state produces every year into an alternative energy source. "Ew," murmurs one elderly man. But, if McAuliffe recognizes any shade of absurdity in all this, he never lets it show. "Fifty thousand tons of chicken waste equals forty megawatts of power, which could power forty thousand homes!"

This kind of irrepressibility is Terry McAuliffe's signature quality. It's what allowed him, in the 1990s, to seduce prudish Democrats into a love affair with big money. Read more ...

Tough Reid

Tough Reid image.jpg

By Eve Fairbanks, The New Republic, April 15, 2009

Some people keep talismans in their wallets to remind them of those they love: a romantic letter, a set of dog tags, a family picture. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has such a token--but it's to remind him of the people he hates.

When I interviewed the Nevadan in March in his mahogany-toned office off the Senate floor, we cycled through the standard exchanges. Then I asked whether he has a lucky charm. The usually grave Nevada senator smiled, raised his eyebrows, and, fumbling for his wallet in the pocket of a smoothly pressed blue suit, plucked out a ragged-edged, smudged scrap of paper, home-laminated with strips of Scotch tape. "Medicare has no place in a free world," he began to read off the scrap. "Social Security is a rotten trick!" Read more ...