Political Hay

Political Hay

Can’t We Do Better?

By 1.16.15

I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist — and I certainly have nothing on Paul Craig Roberts whose most recent article, helpfully disseminated by the Ron Paul Institute, claims the Charlie Hebdo attacks to be a “false flag” operation — but I can’t help but wonder if the “mainstream media” is playing up the potential presidential candidacies of Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum simply to depress Republican voters.

Political Hay

Washington’s Next Two Years: More Fissures, More Fights

By 1.13.15

Congress needed just one month to preview Washington’s next two years. The federal spending bill completed in December showed how fractious Obama’s relations with Congress will be for the remainder of his presidency. This fractured nature goes beyond partisan politics, and into ideological divides as well.

The recent legislation to fund the government showed the fault lines now arcing through Washington following November’s midterm elections. Despite such legislation’s routine nature, and with the president and leaders of both parties supporting it, passage proved a struggle.

In the House, where partisan passions are more exposed, the bill narrowly passed 219-206. Despite their majority, Republicans could not manage it on their own, as 67 of their members voted against it. Despite their president’s support, Democrats could muster just over one third of their members for it.

Political Hay

Mulvaney Unwittingly Damns Conservative Colleagues As Unserious

By 1.8.15

Amid a great deal of publicity about a brewing conservative coup in the U.S. House of Representatives that would dispatch to a back bench the current Speaker John Boehner came Tuesday’s vote, in which the efforts of multiple would-be revolutionaries — Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas and Ted Yoho and Daniel Webster of Florida — produced no tangible results.

Boehner managed to win the Speakership again with 216 votes, needing just 201 since for various reasons only 401 of the 434 current House members (following New York Republican Michael Grimm’s resignation) were in the chamber for the vote. Some 24 Republicans voted for another candidate — 12 for Webster, three for Gohmert, two apiece for Yoho and Rep. Jim Jordan, and one apiece for Sens. Rand Paul and Jeff Sessions, Reps. Kevin McCarthy, Jeff Duncan, and Trey Gowdy. Another Republican, Rep. Brian Babin of Texas, voted present.

Political Hay

Cuomo’s Impact

By 1.7.15

It is strange to hear pundits like E.J. Dionne hail the departed Mario Cuomo as a monument to conscience, since his most lasting legacy is the popularizing of political expediency. Cuomo explicitly argued against adherence to conscience. He counseled the religious to lighten up and accept our morally relativistic times.

His famous Notre Dame speech was an argument for the suspension of conscience in the name of “pluralism.” If a moral evil is politically popular, don’t challenge it, he in effect said.

“In addition to all the weaknesses, dilemmas and temptations that impede every pilgrim’s progress, the Catholic who holds political office in a pluralistic democracy -- who is elected to serve Jews and Muslims, atheists and Protestants, as well as Catholics -- bears special responsibility,” he said. “He or she undertakes to help create conditions under which all can live with a maximum of dignity and with a reasonable degree of freedom; where everyone who chooses may hold beliefs different from specifically Catholic ones -- sometimes contradictory to them; where the laws protect people’s right to divorce, to use birth control and even to choose abortion.”

Political Hay

The Scalise Mess and the GOP Insider Culture

By 1.6.15

(Editor's note: This article has been corrected.)

Shocker. The GOP establishment has dropped the ball. Again. Steve Scalise, the House majority whip, has attracted to himself and his party the charge of racism. The charge is bogus. Yet the fact is that Mr. Scalise brought this on himself for hanging in the presence of Kenneth Knight, a top aide to the one-time Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Knight also contributing $1,000 to Scalise’s campaign.

Now making the news is a poll, featured over there at Heritage’s Daily Signal, that reveals a stunning lack of confidence by the GOP base in Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. That poll — and Scalise’s problem — are merely different sides of the same mess. Each man has illustrated vividly that he is, at the core, about wielding power and influence in Washington.

Political Hay

Hillary Is in Worse Shape Than in 2008

By 12.30.14

Every advantage Hillary has in 2016, she had in 2008… and she lost. To make things worse, her circumstances for a presidential run have grown worse since 2008. Rather than incredulously wondering how Hillary could lose in two years, the more credible question is why so many people now believe she can win.

In 2008, Hillary had everything. She had the résumé, name recognition, money, and party establishment support. As a result, she was the prohibitive favorite — to win not just the nomination, but the presidency itself. She won neither. 

Six years later, her run-up to 2016 looks remarkably similar. Yet, examined more closely, her current advantages ring hollow.

Hillary has had name recognition from the beginning of her electoral political career. However, much of it has been for dubious reasons. Certainly there is some power in publicity. However, there is also the real risk of overexposure. There is a reason why two-term presidents often leave office unpopular. In many ways — and to many people — Hillary already feels like a two-term president, even without being elected.

Political Hay

The Overrated Candidate: The Case Against Jeb Bush

By 12.29.14

Politically, Bushes are, like the value of the Ivy League degrees most of them have, vastly overrated. Jeb Bush, who recently, to the surprise of no one, all but announced he would run for president, is no exception.

Ever since Jeb established an “I’m Thinking About Running for President Committee” (translation to English: I’m running for president) a week or so back, the conventional wisdom, whooped up by the chatterati and the various great mentioners, is that this latest Bush is a lock for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. They also say he’s that party’s best hope for reclaiming 1600. He’s probably neither.

Political Hay

Should Jeb Bush Switch Parties?

By 12.18.14

Listening to all the stories about Jeb Bush and his angst over the conservative base of the Republican Party, the question occurred: Why doesn’t Jeb ease his conscience and his donors' wallets and just switch parties? Go now, become a Democrat — and then form an alliance with the wife of the man the Bushes affectionately call their “brother from another mother.” That being the woman George W. Bush has dubbed as being “like my sister-in-law” — Hillary Clinton.

After all, the Bush/Clinton alliance has already been on display, as I unknowingly noted in this column when Governor Bush presented former-Secretary Clinton with the Constitution Center’s “Liberty Medal” last year. As Breitbart reported at the time:

Political Hay

In Defense of the Senate Revolt

By 12.16.14

Never has the fundamental flaw of Ratchet Republicanism been more perfectly illustrated than in this Washington Examiner editorial that appeared after Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee led a revolt in the Senate over the weekend. The editorial, headlined, "Senate Republicans need to decide whether they're led by McConnell or Cruz," said:

Every army has disagreements among its leaders, but they must agree on tactics to effect their strategy. Every football team must agree on the next play if it is to work. In the Senate, caucus leaders are chosen precisely to make such decisions. The weekend's events demonstrate that some Republicans are not playing on the same team. This was not a simple, common occurrence of senatorial independence, but rather open defiance of caucus strategy — a decision by junior officers that their own tactical decisions take precedence over those of generals who were chosen for the job.

Political Hay

Cromnibus’s Winners and Losers

By 12.16.14

If you want to know how your tax dollars will get spent next year, the answers are in Cromnibus—the 1,695 page bill that Congress hurriedly passed last weekend to fund the federal government through September 2015. 

Republicans won big with Cromnibus, along with farmers, political parties, incandescent bulb users, Blue Cross insurers, kids who like salt, cops who hate body cameras, African profiteers salivating over Ebolacare aid, and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

Losers include the Obamas, the U.N., the IRS, insurance companies, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Green Climate Fund, and Hillary Clinton.

Cromnibus is a monster to read. Almost no one did (except me). They had no time. Speaker of the House John Boehner broke his promise to give members at least 72 hours notice before voting, instead of ramming it down their throats, as he criticized his predecessor Nancy Pelosi for doing.