Political Hay

Political Hay

Pistols At Dawn

By 4.2.15

Have you seen it?

The outgoing Senate minority leader Harry Reid, whose pitiful lie about being severely beaten in a vicious attack by an elastic exercise band continues largely unchallenged by our lugubrious mainstream media, said in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash that he had no regrets about another pitiful lie he told back in 2012.

Asked whether he felt any regret for defaming then-Republican nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 by accusing him of tax evasion, in no less a venue than the floor of the U.S. Senate where he would be immune from suit, Reid’s answer was haughty and dismissive.

In the interview, Bash asked Reid if it bothered him that his tactics in telling that lie (disproven as it was when Romney later released his tax returns) were reminiscent to some of McCarthyism, Reid said, “They can call it whatever they want. Romney didn’t win, did he?”

Political Hay

Two Rematches for 2016

By 3.26.15

Statewide ballots in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin next year will look awfully familiar.

First-term Republican Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin are likely to face off in 2016 against the same Democratic opponents they defeated in the 2010 tea party-fueled GOP wave. That would be former Rep. Joe Sestak and ex-Sen. Russ Feingold, respectively.

Of the rematch pair, Feingold stands the better chance of getting his old job back. The three-term senator, a Rhodes Scholar and Harvard Law School grad, was among the most prominent casualties of the 2010 GOP electoral romp.

In his Senate days Feingold was an iconoclast. Though generally a reliable liberal vote for the Democratic leadership, he tended to annoy his party colleagues at inopportune times. Feingold was the only Democratic senator voting to extend the early 1999 Senate impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. Two-and-a-half years later Feingold cast the sole lone vote against the Patriot Act, defying post-9/11 concerns about national security. And Feingold was always somewhat of a deficit hawk, zeroing in on colleagues pork projects with zeal.

Political Hay

The Texas Reagan Announces for President

By 3.23.15

You could call him the Texas Reagan.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz is announcing today that he is a candidate for president.

The announcement will come in a speech at Liberty University, the famous Virginia school founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. There will be no “exploratory committee,” with Cruz moving straight to an announcement of candidacy. This will make the Texas son of a Cuban immigrant and one-time star of Harvard Law School the first officially declared candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Political Hay

Jeb Claims His Baggage

By 3.18.15

Jeb Bush spent a good deal of time campaigning in New Hampshire last week. Among his other messages he assured the famously unpredictable Republicans there that he won’t tailor his positions to please conservatives. This has a nice symmetry to it, because conservative Republicans in New Hampshire, and elsewhere, won’t tailor their primary votes to accommodate Bush.

“You don’t abandon your core beliefs,” Bush said, a statement most conservative Republicans can get behind. Misfortunately for Bush, his core beliefs on immigration and Common Core — he’s big with both — are crosswise with the conservative portion of the Republican base, a group it will be difficult to secure the Republican nomination in 2016 without.

Political Hay

Medical Marijuana Bill Lost in Smoke

By 3.17.15

Last year, Congress passed an amendment that barred the Department of Justice from using federal dollars to prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries in states that have legalized them. Last week, three senators proposed a measure to clean up the federal-state medical marijuana mess once and for all.

Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced their Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act, which should draw support from the right and left. Why? First, it would reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II, granting recognition that marijuana has legitimate medical uses, a sop to the left. Second, it would direct the federal government to stop prosecuting dispensers in states that have legalized marijuana for medical use — a states’ rights emphasis that should draw GOP votes. The measure also would allow cannabidiol imports to help patients with epilepsy and seizure disorders — the folks who need medical marijuana the most — and allow Veterans Affairs doctors to prescribe medical marijuana. Booker sees his legislation as a matter of “common sense, fiscal prudence and compassion.”

Political Hay

Return to Sender

By 3.12.15

The recent “Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” that was signed by 47 Republican senators led by Arkansas freshman Sen. Tom Cotton reminds us why the GOP can’t seem to get away from its reputation as having an uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of political victory.

The letter explains to the Islamofascist apocalyptic ayatollahs how “our constitutional system” regarding the ratification of international treaties works, essentially saying “We senators will be here long after President Obama is gone and therefore you should not expect any deal you make now to be respected by the United States for longer than the 22 months remaining in Obama’s term.”

Political Hay

Jindal… for President?

By 3.10.15

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal isn’t particularly burning up the pre-campaign polls for 2016, in large measure because he’s a relatively little-known governor of a relatively small state with a poor tradition of successful political leadership, and most of what voters know about Jindal is his nationally televised fizzle of a speech responding to Barack Obama’s first congressional address.

Jindal has a nice story, of course — the young wunderkind policy wonk, born of Indian immigrants and educated at Brown, with a good track record as a reformist bureaucrat at an astonishingly young age, and two terms as the governor of Louisiana who ushered in greatly expanded school choice, privatization, and a reduction in the size of government. Jindal gives a better speech now than he did in 2009, often regaling audiences with his father’s poor-immigrant story including the fact that the governor was actually a “baby born on layaway.”

There’s a lot to like where Jindal is concerned, and he’s still quite young with a potential for a good political future.

Political Hay

Bibi’s Speech Is the Dems’ Box Canyon

By 3.4.15

Nancy Pelosi was near tears. After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress on Tuesday, the House minority leader sent out a press release informing the media, “I was near tears throughout the Prime Minister’s speech — saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States” and “saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran.”

Wags lampoon House Speaker John Boehner for getting teary-eyed too readily — and rightly so. So why would the San Francisco Democrat outdo the GOP leader by announcing that she was getting all blubbery because she didn’t like Netanyahu’s tone? What next? Will Pelosi issue statements that tell us Russian President Vladimir Putin is getting on her nerves?

Bibi’s speech gave a strong reason not to trust the deal being negotiated with Tehran. Not a single nuclear facility would be destroyed. Inspectors document violations; they cannot stop them.

Political Hay

Here Are Two Leading GOP Presidential Contenders — In 2020

By 3.3.15

Ambitious politicians never openly root for their party’s presidential nominee to lose. Even if that’s what they probably secretly want.

When Republican standard-bearer Bob Dole (predictably) came up short against President Bill Clinton in 1996, Texas Gov. George W. Bush had the most to gain. While publicly behind the Bobster, Bush — son of the most recent Republican president — benefited from Dole’s loss because it opened up the 2000 GOP field.

Twenty years later Republicans may face a similar scenario. Two Republican senators, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Cory Gardner from Colorado, will be finishing up their first-terms as the 2020 election cycle rolls around. Should Democratic-nominee-in-waiting Hillary Clinton win the presidency in 2016, young-ish, dynamic GOP senators like Sasse and Gardner would both be well positioned to challenge her.

Granted, there are a lot of ifs in that scenario. But their political chops to this point suggest each is potential White House candidate material.

Political Hay

Mitch McConnell Caves

By 2.26.15

You can almost see Ronald Reagan rolling his eyes and saying, “There they go again.” Republicans in the Senate are ready to cave. Yes, they promised something different when they were running a few months ago. If voters just put them in charge, boy would things be different! But hey: now they’re going to fund the Department of Homeland Security and pretend they’re actually living up to their campaign promises to oppose the president on amnesty. Call them the “tacticals.” It’s all about the tactics, you see? 

Over at Breitbart was this quoted from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: