Friday, December 21, 2012

Last Call

John Kerry is officially President Obama's choice for SecState, but the real fight would be on for Kerry's seat, and whether or not Scott Brown could take another swing at it.  Nate Silver runs the numbers:

If voters saw something extraordinary in Ms. Warren, then Mr. Brown might be expected to prevail against a mediocre opponent, as he did in 2010 against the Democratic state attorney general, Martha Coakley. If instead it was something intrinsic to the problem that any Republican faces in Massachusetts, then even a lesser-known Democrat could win. 

Ms. Warren’s favorability rating — 56 percent among Election Day voters — was perfectly adequate but not extraordinary. And 37 percent of voters said they thought Ms. Warren was too liberal, even in Massachusetts. 

But such is the intrinsic advantage that Democrats hold in Massachusetts that Ms. Warren won the election anyway. A “generic” Democrat who avoided the mistakes that Ms. Coakley made (like insulting the former Boston Red Sox star pitcher Curt Schilling) would thus seem to stand a reasonably good chance. 

And I agree with Nate:  Martha Coakley was an unusually terrible candidate.  But Brown still has a shot:

There are other circumstances, however, that could work in Mr. Brown’s favor. Most important is the abbreviated schedule for a special election. 

In a special election campaign that lasts only a few months, the Democratic candidate would not have the luxury of overcoming early errors, as Ms. Warren did. That is especially true because the Democrat would probably face a competitive primary, while Mr. Brown would probably not. 

The overall political environment is not likely to be as favorable to Democrats in a special election as it was in November (although it also will probably not be as unfavorable to them as in 2010). And there could be an element of sympathy for Mr. Brown among some swing voters. 

So what's the bottom line, Nate?

Despite all that, it is difficult to view Mr. Brown as much better than even money: he is a Republican in Massachusetts who lost an election by a reasonably clear margin just last month. And if Mr. Brown won, he could well face another competitive election in November 2014, when Democrats will have more of a chance to gear up — and when Deval Patrick will have finished his second term as governor and might be more likely to run for the Senate.

A lot depends on who Democrats decide to run against Brown, too.  Ben Affleck has been mentioned as an unlikely choice, while better political money has Barney Frank in the seat (he's not saying no, should he be appointed by Gov. Patrick.)  We'll see who runs, after all, Scott Brown hasn't announced much of anything, and running for Senate is expensive, folks.

Bunker Mentaility

A full week after the Newtown, Connecticut massacre, the Nantional Rifle Association finally got around to a response.  And by "response", I mean NRA Executive VP Wayne LaPierre's spectacular self-immolation on national television at a "press conference" where the NRA refused to take any questions.  LaPierre's partial statement:

Now, I can imagine the headlines, the shocking headlines you’ll print tomorrow. “More guns,” you’ll claim, “are the NRA’s answer to everything.” Your implication will be that guns are evil and have no place in society, much less in our schools.

But since when did “gun” automatically become a bad word? A gun in the hands of a Secret Service agent protecting our president isn’t a bad word. A gun in the hands of a soldier protecting the United States of America isn’t a bad word. And when you hear your glass breaking at three a.m. and you call 9/11, you won’t be able to pray hard enough for a gun in the hands of a good guy to get there fast enough to protect you.

So, why is the idea of a gun good when it’s used to protect the president of our country or our police, but bad when it’s used to protect our children in our schools? They’re our kids. They’re our responsibility. And it’s not just our duty to protect them, it’s our right to protect them.

You know, five years ago after the Virginia Tech tragedy, when I said we should put armed security in every school, the media called me crazy. But what if -- what if when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, he’d been confronted by qualified armed security? Will you at least admit it’s possible that 26 little kids, that 26 innocent lives might have been spared that day? Is it so important to you (inaudible) would rather continue to risk the alternative? Is the press and the political class here in Washington D.C. so consumed by fear and hatred of the NRA and American gun owners, that you’re willing to accept the world, where real resistance to evil monsters is alone, unarmed school principal left to surrender her life, her life, to shield those children in her care.

No one. No one, regardless of personal, political prejudice has the right to impose that sacrifice

And for a good 25 minutes or so (when he wasn't being protested by Code Pink in the middle of his gobsmackingly stupid tirade) LaPierre went on to blame video games, the media, the President, movies, television, liberals, parents, teachers, and everyone who wasn't a card-carrying member of the NRA for the deaths of 26 people last Friday.

On top of advocating for an armed militia of American volunteers to indoctrinate guard America's schools, LaPierre called for a national database registry of "the mentally ill", and demanded that students and teachers in schools be taught in firearm safety along with other educational courses.

Now, the National Rifle Association knows there are millions of qualified and active retired police, active, Reserve, and retired military, security professionals, certified firefighters, security professionals, rescue personnel, an extraordinary corps of patriotic, trained, qualified citizens to join with local school officials and police in devising a protection plan for every single school.

We could deploy them to protect our kids now. We can immediately make America’s schools safer, relying on the brave men and women in America’s police forces. The budgets -- and you all know this, everyone in the country knows this -- of our local police departments are strained, and the resources are severely limited, but their dedication and courage is second to none. And, they can be deployed right now.

I call on Congress today, to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation. And, to do it now to make sure that blanket safety is in place when our kids return to school in January.

In other words, the guy wants us to put an army of cops in schools in the next two weeks.   All carrying guns, of course.  I'm sure Xe or Triple Canopy would love to get that contract.

Your freedom, of course, means turning America into a series of armed camps with a bunch of people ready to do violence at a moment's notice.  Don't you want that for your kids in your school?

Yeah, what could possibly go wrong with this plan, right?

Will Orange Julius Leave By The Door Or The Window?

As I predicted yesterday, the GOP has indeed left House Speaker John Boehner out to dry as his last shreds of political clout have been stripped from him in the embarrassing collapse of his own Plan B fiscal cliff slope bill last night in the House.

In a stunning defeat, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) called off a vote Thursday night on his Plan B to avert the fiscal cliff, citing a lack of support from his own party. Boehner issued the following statement as an emergency meeting of the House Republican Conference was ending:
The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass.  Now it is up to the president to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff.  The House has already passed legislation to stop all of the January 1 tax rate increases and replace the sequester with responsible spending cuts that will begin to address our nation's crippling debt.  The Senate must now act.

Eric Cantor then adjourned the House for Christmas break.   As BooMan points out, Boehner's days as Speaker are now most likely numbered as a result:

The president has no incentive to bargain with Boehner anymore. Why make concessions to someone who can't deliver on his promises? The administration has now been through this process twice with Boehner. If they are going to cut a deal now, it is going to have to be on Nancy Pelosi's terms and designed to win with only a sliver of Republican votes. That would cost Boehner his speakership

I agree.  Boehner has shown that his own party will never sign off on a large bipartisan deal that will get 350 or 400 votes in the House.  I could have told you that on November 7th.

So now, President Obama looks like a genius.  He's broken John Boehner's back on this, and most likely Republicans will have a new Speaker in January.  It also means that the Democrats will put a deal that heavily favors them on the table, and it will most likely squeak through the Senate and House sometime late next week, and the President will sign it on the 31st.

The Republicans will eat their crap sandwich, and then they will take John Boehner out back and ask him if he wants to leave the Speaker's chair by the door or the window...unless you think the GOP can keep more than a handful of defectors from taking the deal.  That kind of leadership power is gone now, broken.  Cantor, most likely, will replace him.  But maybe Cantor will like being the majority leader too much and let the rabble appoint a winger nutjob as Speaker.  That'll be the person who takes the fall in 2014.

But if somehow that doesn't happen and the Republicans decide they'll go over the cliff, they'll get an even worse deal and then they'll take it anyway.  Another door or window choice, again only a handful of defectors needed.  Again, no unity.

And if they somehow don't take that deal, then they'll get every ounce of scorn and blame from the American people, and the GOP will get the door or window choice from the voters.  The choice will be taken from them by that point, it will be the window.

No matter what happens now, President Obama wins.  Republicans have the opportunity to limit further damage here.  They've not been intelligent enough to take it so far.

The door or the window, boys?  Your choice.  But you're leaving.


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