Tag Archives: Mitch McConnell

Hagel: Are we there yet? Or, can you teach a cat to ride a bicycle?

When I first blogged about the Hagel nomination weeks ago, I flagged it as upcoming drama. Now, some of you might be wondering if this movie is ever going to end. I have been working on my next book, Potomac Lights, and this nomination is very distracting. I asked one my characters, Bob Carson, what he thought of the nomination, and as is typical of Bob, mincing no words, he said it was a terrible idea because you “can’t teach a cat to ride a bicycle.” I think he is trying to say that apart from politics and feelings about Israel, Hagel doesn’t seem to have the managerial experience or the temperament to run a huge and complicated agency focused on our safety, with millions of lives at stake.

Bob is a minor character, so you don’t have to take him seriously. But if you like to read about Washington politics with no particular political leaning, you might check out my novel Spin Doctor.

This is not my cat.

This is not my cat.

I digress. Here are some developments since my last post:

Fifteen Senators have written Obama, asking him to withdraw Hagel’s nomination. Since they are all Republican Senators, this is as likely to impact the White  House as would the certain knowledge that it is snowing somewhere in Alaska.

Bob Woodward reported last Sunday that some Democratic Senators have called the White House to ask if they are going to withdraw Hagel. And the White House swears they won’t. Of course, that’s what they all say, right up until they withdraw it.

B’nai B’rith , a liberal leaning “global voice of the Jewish Community” published a statement voicing serious concerns about Hagel.

What we don’t know is whether any Democrat has called  the White House and told them they are not getting their vote. Unless some Democrats break rank, he’s going to be confirmed.

A few days ago,  Sen. Richard Shelby announced he would support the nomination, saying “  He’s probably as good as we’re going to get.” In other words, any choice by this administration is going to preside over the dismantling of Defense and gouging of the DOD Budget. Does it really matter whether it is done in an orderly way? Good question.

That’s bound to be the conclusion of a lot of Senators who might not be thrilled with the nomination. Reality is, there is only so much the minority can do. They have done a very good job of slowing it down and calling attention to it.

Now it is up to the Democrats. They will have to consider if they really want to win this one, whether they will be prepared to take responsibility, to pay the price of having a Hagel at the helm if we face a national defense crisis in the next four years.

They may have another cloture vote this week. It sounds like  they may get enough votes to confirm.

And if he is confirmed, we will soon find out if a cat can ride a bicycle.

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Filed under 2012 Election, Senate, White House

Harry’s Math Problem OR, Why Harry Reid might lose a little sleep this time around

Seems like every day we read breathless articles about angst and remorse in the Republican party, and how civil war may be about to break out. Will they lose the House in the next election? Will they kill each other over immigration? Is Boehner out?  Is Karl Rove a traitor? Is the Tea Party over/leaving the party/imploding? Is this what is really going on?

Here’s something else to think about. Something that might bother Harry Reid even more than deciding  how to vote on the assault rifle ban.

Harry Reid

Harry has a math problem.  Don’t worry. Keep reading. It’s just arithmetic.

There are 45 Republicans in the Senate. They need 6 more to control the world’s greatest deliberative body.  In  2014, there are 20 Democrats and 13 Republicans up for reelection.  In other words, the Democrats have a lot to lose. 

The Republican in the tightest race last time was Mitch McConnell, Republican leader of the Senate, and he won 53% of the vote. I’m sure it is possible some of the Republicans will have a tough time. 

But let’s look at the Democrats. Seven of the states  with Senate seats up in ’14 were won by Romney in 2012, most by a large margin:

Baucus, Max (D-MT)

Begich, Mark (D-AK)

Hagan, Kay R. (D-NC)

Johnson, Tim (D-SD)

Landrieu, Mary L. (D-LA)

Pryor, Mark L. (D-AR)

Rockefeller, John D., IV (D-WV-Retiring)

Granted some of these  individual senators may be very popular at home, but what if they are pushed to vote on major issues out of step with their states?

Here’s a word problem for Harry: What happens in Montana, where Obama got 41.8% when they are reminded  their Senator is a Democrat? Will they be happy if they find out he is the one  pushing the Obama tax agenda as Chairman of the Finance Committee, that he was instrumental in passing Obamacare?

If seven seats aren’t enough to get you thinking, consider retirements and toss-ups. The rest of the 2014 class of Democratic Senators:

Coons, Christopher A. (D-DE)

Durbin, Richard J. (D-IL)

Franken, Al (D-MN)

Harkin, Tom (D-IA- Retiring)

Kerry, John F. (D-MA)

Lautenberg, Frank R. (D-NJ)

Levin, Carl (D-MI)

Merkley, Jeff (D-OR)

Reed, Jack (D-RI)

Shaheen, Jeanne (D-NH)

Udall, Mark (D-CO)

Udall, Tom (D-NM)

Warner, Mark R. (D-VA)

Levin and Durbin haven’t announced for reelection. Harkin and Rockefeller are retiring. John Kerry’s seat is open. Al Franken won 42% of the vote last time. And Michigan has a Republican governor.

Shaheen won a tight race.  Both Udalls and Warner won easily, but their states were in the toss-up column in 2012 until election day.

And when did Delaware become solidly blue? (Since they haven’t had a strong candidate run for a Senate seat since Bill Roth). New  Jersey is usually a safe seat for Democrats, but what if there are two seats open?

Of course, the same thing could have been said of the 2012 election. The Republicans had a huge advantage going in, but managed to lose what should have been some easy seats. But in an off-year election,  in the second term of a President…anything can happen.

When you drill down on the details–do the math–things will need to go very, very smoothly in the next 18 months for Harry Reid to sleep well on election night.

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Convention Red White and Blues: Bob: “Get me out of here. I see Zombies.”

Jack found Bob at the Hub over on Franklin Street.  It was dark inside, but he could see him in his lime green polo shirt and jeans. His head was on the bar. Not leaning on his elbow, but actually on the edge of the bar.

Jack eased toward him quietly from behind and was surprised to see his eyes open, trained on the small tv set  hanging from the corner of the bar.  “Jeez Bob, I thought you were asleep. Are you okay?”

Bob sat up. No hello. “Of course.” He drew his drink close and looked at it fondly.

“Why aren’t you at the Forum?” Jack looked up at the tv. “They aren’t even showing the convention.”

“Duh.” Bob took a sip. “I couldn’t take it anymore. I know M. C. sent us down here to cover the convention, but. . . ” he shook his head, unable to go on.

“Are you crazy? Haven’t you heard the speeches? Even if you don’t agree with everything, I mean, I thought you were a professional.”

Bob squinted at Jack. “You just got here, right?” He took another gulp. “I went down there the first day, I was hanging around, you know, where they were doing those cable shows. I tried to watch. I was there an hour or two. I swear to God, Jack, they were interviewing corpses. Zombie politicals. And they all said the same thing. Over and over. I watched the producers. They came towards me. They started grabbing up people in the bar, making them talk on camera. I had to get out of there.”

The bartender came over and Jack got an iced tea.

“Bob, do you think maybe you got a hold of some bad fire water?”

“No way. But wait. It got worse. I went to the convention Tuesday night. I know a guy who got me some credentials. . .”

“Really—that’s great. Why didn’t you write something about it for the blog?”

“Maybe I will, when I recover.”

“What happened?  Did somebody hit you or something?

“Almost. There was a sea of red, white and blue.  And I couldn’t find the bar. Then, more zombies saying the same thing, more or less.  The great state of something or other casts most of their votes. Bla Bla . . . Some of them had on red cowboy hats.”

“Come on, is this your first convention? That’s what they always do.”

The bartender came back and asked if I wanted to order breakfast. Not sure what he meant by that, so I said no.

“No, it’s not my first convention. But you know how we block out certain things. Like you remember what it’s like to go over to Rehoboth and swim in the ocean. You remember the hot sun and the cool water lapping against you as you walk out to the surf. But you forget completely how the waves crash down on you, knock you over, spin cycle you with sand and grit and small shells and get up your nose. I went home and burned every red, white and blue article of clothing. This shirt is all I have left.”

“No you didn’t. You can’t burn things in a hotel room.”

“Okay, true, but I got rid of it.”

“So you didn’t watch any of the speeches? Seriously?”

“I thought you were going to write that part.”

“Great. I thought maybe, since you were here, that you were. What happened to your cell phone, anyway?”

“Good question. How did you find me, by the way?”

“Easy. Asked the concierge for a list of dives. This was the first one he mentioned.”

Bob waved at the bartender  and pointed to his glass. “By the way, I started a tab.”

The bartender slid his drink in front of him. “Here you go, Jack. Is that Abbott with one t or two?”

Obviously a complete waste of money to fly these characters to Tampa. Please help us by voting in the poll, so we have some kind of convention coverage.

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Filed under 2012 Election, campaign tactics