The Spectacle Blog

Shadegg for leader, Cantor for whip

By on 1.15.06 | 4:46PM

The current contest for GOP leader in the House of Representatives is the first time in the history of the Republican Party that party members, that is, all of us in the blogosphere, can directly influence the decision.

For the next three weeks, until the secret ballot vote on February 2, the back benchers will be eyes and ears open to e-mail and catcalling from us in the pachyderm herd. Establishment candidate Roy Blunt of Missouri -- who speaks in favor of grotesque earmarks and does not condemn DeLay for his lunatic 527 abuses -- has fallen short of pledged votes to lock it up for the first ballot. Challenger John Boehner of Ohio is a sincere and well-prepared reformer of the rotten practices that led to the present crisis. Boehner opposes earmarks and the egregious forms of lobbyist bribery such as travel tickets and accommodations, such as back-scratching, money-laundering 527s. And now there is John Shadegg of Arizona, who represents the Directory-fiery Republican Study Committee, which fancies itself the Spirit of '94, the clean it all up tyros, Cromwell rides again.

I am a fan of brooms.

Send to Kindle

Clinton and McCarthy

By on 1.15.06 | 2:33PM

Interesting that former President Bill Clinton eulogized former presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy earlier this week.

According to several people who used to see McCarthy regularly at The Palm restaurant in downtown Washington, D.C., McCarthy was no fan of Clinton as the years passed through his administration. By 2000, McCarthy was as disgusted by his party's leader as most other right-minded folk, and didn't hide it. To the end, he was a man who put integrity ahead of just about anything else.

Send to Kindle

Re: House Race

By on 1.15.06 | 12:02PM

John, Of course a campaign is necessary. These guys have to get their message out to the caucus and to the party. But changes still can and will come along in the next couple weeks of jockeying. The proclaimed vote totals ought to be taken for what they are: rough estimates by self-promoters. That's their job. But some pundits are occupied with these slight shifts as if it were election night and returns were pouring in from across the country. This race is "inside baseball" for now.

Send to Kindle

Re: House Race

By on 1.15.06 | 10:00AM

But Dave, if nothing matters until the secret ballot vote, then why have a campaign at all?

Frontrunners never say "the only poll that matters is the one on election day," or any variation thereof. Plainly, Boehner's losing.

UPDATE: Catching up, I now see that Boehner started with this talking point yesterday in response to a release claiming that Blunt has the race wrapped up, with 117+ commitments. Boehner's other objection to the Blunt announcement is stronger: If Blunt has it won, why not step down from the whip post? Shadegg, meanwhile, claimed yesterday that "We already have defections from the Blunt list and we expect more."

Send to Kindle

House Race

By on 1.15.06 | 8:41AM

The three House majority leader candidates are on Fox News Sunday. Rep. John Boehner on the ongoing tallies (approx. transcript): "We're polling our colleagues. Nothing matters until they vote by secret ballot." Those few words of common sense outweigh the week of hot air emitted by these candidates, their surrogates, and the punditocracy.

Send to Kindle

Glory Road forty years onward

By on 1.15.06 | 12:51AM

Most enjoyed Glory Road this evening, a recognizably friendly sports flick, recreating the back country El Paso underdogs rising with heroic sweat to win the big game of the NCAA championship in 1966. The heartfelt reason to see the movie is the music, a medley of Motown from the time that makes for sweet memory. It was fretful and puzzling to be seventeen years old in 1966, with LBJ, Vietnam, Cold War, civil rights, rock and roll, marijuana, and the perennial mystery of romance; but sitting in a suburban Philadelphia theater at Narbreth in a wet snow storm in 2006 while watching the turbulent sixties on the big screen with Smokey Robinson and the Temptations as accompaniement, I felt magical to have been there, even as a boy-man spectator. I think I remember watchng the actual victory on black and white tv, Texas Western defeating the imperial Kentucky, a black Cinderella ascending to the throne. Forty years passed like a Koufax fastball.

Send to Kindle

Zawahiri Alive?

By on 1.14.06 | 4:09PM

There are several interesting aspects of the apparent failure of the CIA to kill al-Qaeda #2 Ayman al-Zawahiri. First, for us to be mounting such an attack on Pakistani soil requires first intelligence sufficient to justify the mission and second, permission from the Pakistani government to do it. The latter, since 2001, has been regularly supplied though best concealed. For example, when mounting the attack on the Taliban, the Pakistanis allowed American landings on their soil, but only between dark and dawn. The lengths to which we went to help Pakistan conceal its assistance to us were considerable. That such a mission would be mounted openly now indicates that Musharraf believes his grip on power is greater than it was four years ago.

Second, though we did mount this operation on Pakistani soil, the failure of the mission gives rise to the question of whether the rules of engagement Pakistan has agreed to may have compromised it. Pakistani intelligence agency, ISI, was one of the creators of the Taliban. How much were we required to tell the ISI, and did they warn Zawahiri?

Send to Kindle

Re: Zawahiri Dead?

By on 1.14.06 | 12:24PM

Dave, Jed: In case you missed it, John Batchelor called it right late last night, in this note in response to "Zawahiri Dead?" which is posted under the "View Comments" to that item:

"See report, am not checking tonight, but am following orthodox response, which Jed follows as carefully, no confirm, no confirm. Wait on this. No confirm."

Send to Kindle