Political Hay

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.

Political Hay

Why Wouldn’t Warren Run for the White House?

By 12.15.14

Once the dust has settled with the $1.1 trillion Crominbus spending bill it will be clear that Elizabeth Warren is running for President in 2016.

Let’s face it. If you’re a Democrat, especially if you’re a liberal Democrat, a so-called progressive or a plain dyed-in-the-wool socialist, 2014 has been a terrible year. The thrill is gone with President Obama. Obamacare has proven to be such an albatross that no self-respecting Democrat wants to acknowledge they ever voted for the man. 

But with Warren’s performance during the Crominbus debate, 2014 ends with light at the end of the tunnel. The Left has found its faith again and with it its new Anointed One. With her anti-Wall Street rhetoric, Warren managed the extraordinary feat of simultaneously distancing herself from both President Obama and Hillary Clinton. Why wouldn’t Warren run for the White House?

Of course, Hillary is the elephant in the room. Or should I say donkey?

Political Hay

It’s the Branding, Stupid

By 12.12.14

Kathleen Sebelius sees Obamacare as “working.” It just suffers from “a very bad brand.”

The former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services told Politico, “Obamacare, no question, has a very bad brand that has been driven intentionally by a lot of misinformation and a lot of paid advertising.”

The translation into Gruberese reads: “The American people are too stupid.” The 58 percent that favor repealing the law have been manipulated into their opinions—and not, alas, by PajamaBoy or Magic Johnson public-service announcements.

“I think we may need to call it something in the future different,” Kathleen Sebelius-Gruber concludes, “but it is working.”

The proponents of change recalcitrantly clinging to discredited ideas remains a universal political paradox. Miserable people want to bring change to everything but the one thing that would bring happiness: themselves. Transform one-seventh of the economy? Do it yesterday. Change my mind? Never.

Political Hay

Does the Democratic Party Have a Future?

By 12.11.14

In a rather wistful, even elegiac piece in the December 2, 2014 edition of National Journal, political analyst Charles Cook describes how leading to last month’s election, the Democratic Party “paved the way for their own defeat.” Describing as “noble” such priorities as “health care, the environment, and civil rights,” Cook notes that “an argument can be made that it is because Democrats have subordinated their traditional focus on helping lower- and working-class Americans move up the economic ladder” that there has been a “decline in support for Democrats among certain groups.”