October, 2013

Nomination Wars are Back

Roll Call: “Just minutes after the swearing-in of the newest senator, New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker, the Senate dove headfirst back into a standoff over executive and judicial branch nominations.”

“Democrats failed to overcome, 56-42, a filibuster against the choice of Rep. Melvin Watt (D-NC) to become the top housing finance regulator, with Republicans also looking to block Patricia Ann Millett’s nomination to fill one of three vacant seats on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals.”

A Boring Election

Harry Enten: “This year, we may have a new election night record for earliest announcement of the winners in an off-year following a presidential election… Christie is up by nearly 30 points in New Jersey, De Blasio is ahead by over 40 points in New York City and McAuliffe is leading by about 8 points in Virginia.”

“I went back over the past 40 years of election results to get an idea of how rare the snoozefest of 2013 is for the after-presidential-off-year election troika… Only 1977, 1985, and 2013 were near or above double digits in their closest race.”

“What separates 1985 and 2013 from 1977 is the fact that two of the races were or are going to be landslides. Even though none of the 1977 races were nail biters, they were all modestly competitive. None had margins of greater than 14pt. 1985 had – and 2013 looks to ultimately have – two races in which the winning candidate won by more than 25pt.”

Obama Takes On Water

First Read: “For his entire presidency, he had been able to float above much of the dissatisfaction with Washington, as well as the unhappiness with the state of the economy. (Perhaps the public kept holding out hope that the candidate many fell in love with in 2008 would eventually change Washington.) But that’s no longer the case. The NBC/WSJ pollsters argue that no single reason explains Obama’s lower poll standing. Rather, they attribute it to the accumulation of setbacks since the summer — allegations of spying by the National Security Agency, the debate over Syria’s chemical weapons, the government shutdown and now intense scrutiny over the problems associated with the health-care law’s federal website and its overall implementation. At some point, a boat can’t keep accumulating water — or it starts to sink. And that’s what is happening with Obama right now.”

Is Obama Too Hands Off?

“Confronted with missteps in his own administration, President
Obama has frequently pleaded ignorance — suggesting he could not be at
fault about things he did not know,” AP reports .

“It’s an argument with clear benefits but also inherent risks
for the White House. Used too often, the tactic emboldens critics who
claim the president is incompetent, detached and not fully in control.”

Michael O’Brien:
“Obama’s seemingly hands-off management style is
raising fresh questions and concerns that could upend his second-term
legacy. Claims by the administration and other Democrats that Obama
didn’t know about sensitive matters in his own administration — such as
problems with the health care website and revelations of National
Security Agency surveillance on foreign leaders — have many in
Washington scratching their heads.”

Cruz Tells GOP Senators He Won’t Try to Defeat Them

Politico: “Extending an olive branch to GOP senators, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is privately making it clear he won’t engage in the Senate Conservatives Fund’s hardball tactics to defeat his colleagues in their primary races. At a closed-door lunch meeting of Senate Republicans Wednesday, the freshman conservative told his colleagues that he would not intervene in their 2014 primary fights or fundraise for the controversial outside group. Cruz added that the SCF’s decision to try to defeat sitting GOP senators in their primaries was its alone.”

Why the turnaround? Kyle Klondik notes that “in presidential nomination
contests, the elites — elected officials and party leaders — are
historically more important than the grassroots.”

Did Obama Lie About Obamacare?

Stuart Stevens: “When you repeat something of substance you know not to be true, you’re lying. And that’s the simple reality: one of ‘the most memorable’ promises of the Obama presidency was simply a lie.”

“Why did he do it? The obvious answer is probably the correct one: he didn’t tell the truth because he feared the consequences of telling the truth. If people knew they might lose their coverage, it would have made the Affordable Care Act more difficult to pass. And like a lot of falsehoods, once you start, it’s hard to stop.”

“What Obama did was far more deliberate than Nixon’s obfuscation on Vietnam. Nixon at least never claimed to have a ‘secret plan,’ though to the degree that he was seen as having a plan, he no doubt benefited. But Obama simply repeated a direct and clear lie in direct and clear terms over and over.”

Anger Over Shutdown Inspiring Democrats to Run

New York Times: “Here and nationally, the Democratic Party is enjoying something of a boomlet in newly declared candidacies for the House. Since Oct. 1, five candidates have lined up to contest Republican-held seats, with at least four more in the wings, Democratic officials say. Almost all say they are driven to run — ostensibly, at least — by disgust over the shutdown, first espoused by Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, and embraced by Tea Party Republicans in the House and, eventually, most others as well.”