If a new Gallup poll is to be trusted, tea party fatigue has firmly set in among the American public.
The survey, released Thursday, indicates that 22 percent of Americans support the tea party, which anchors the conservative wing of the GOP. The number marks a 10 percentage point drop from the movement’s peak in the wake of the Republican Party’s 2010 takeover of the House of Representatives.
Whether it is tea party loyalists’ relentless drive to upend President Obama’s health-care initiative, or, more generally, the near-constant intraparty bickering that has divided the Republican Party, the numbers reflect relatively high public dissatisfaction with the tea party's push for conflict over compromise.
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Of course, Congress is not scoring much better in polls these days, and its reviews provide a view of lawmakers’ performances across the political spectrum.
But it appears there’s something to this latest Gallup poll, conducted Sept. 5-8.
“The poll suggests that the partnership between the Tea Party and the Republican Party may be waning,” writes Lydia Saad, a senior editor at Gallup. “Although some of the Tea Party’s most visible representatives in politics today are associated with the Republican Party, and while rank-and-file Republicans are more likely to call themselves supporters than opponents of the Tea Party movement – a far greater number identify as neither.”
For so long, Washington has been plagued by gridlock, delay, and distraction. Liberals blame the tea party for its role. So, apparently, do many Republican Party stalwarts, including Arizona Sen. John McCain (R). Just this week Sen. Ted Cruz (R) of Texas, the tea party darling, occupied 21 hours of uninterrupted floor time in a faux filibuster of the president’s health-care plan, known as the Affordable Care Act. He did so even though his stand had no legislative ramifications and was against the wishes of his Republican colleagues. Senator McCain and others took him to task publicly for the display.
Score one, perhaps, for Senator Cruz as he raises his national profile and woos members of the conservative base – think of his "filibuster" as a grand gesture to caucus and primary voters in Iowa and New Hampshire in advance of a likely 2016 presidential run. But Cruz might gain personal points at the expense of his party’s public review, and with the latest survey, it appears the public, too, has begun to tire of this confrontational approach, a tea party hallmark.
“The discomfort he has created in the Republican caucus is merely emblematic of the ambivalence national Republicans feel toward the movement,” Ms. Saad writes.
Just 38 percent of Republicans polled said they back the tea party. That’s down from 65 percent in November 2010, according to Gallup.
Similarly, the poll notes that “just as Republicans are mixed in their views of the Tea Party, Tea Party supporters themselves have mixed views about the Republican Party.”
A slight majority of tea partyers polled, 55 percent, offered a favorable review of the GOP, compared with 43 percent who had an unfavorable view. Republicans, by contrast, rated the establishment party more favorably, with 80 percent supporting it and 19 percent giving it unfavorable marks. (It's worth noting that the poll was taken before Cruz's theatrical display this week, so it's hard to know if the media attention paid to him would change tea party sentiment toward the Republican Party or vice versa. Gallup, though, is asserting a connection between Cruz-like tactics common to many who share his beliefs and the public's growing dissatisfaction with the tea party generally.)
So who stands to benefit from all this strife? Some believe establishment Republicans are missing the mark if they think the tea party’s influence is on the wane or that liberals are getting a boost from the seeming disarray within the GOP – no matter what the poll numbers say. They see individuals such as Cruz as standing for principles advocated by the grass roots, rather than kowtowing to the rules of decorum in Washington.
“A little disruption of the status quo in Washington seems like the only reasonable thing to do, and We the People have been populating Congress with a growing group of principle [sic] leaders who are committed to fighting for us no matter how many feathers they ruffle in the process,” writes Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, on the Fox News website. “So now it’s Them versus Us, and the grassroots are proud to stand with the good guys, unpopular as they may be inside the Beltway.”
Others see dissent as a thin guise for boosting personal brands at the expense of party unity in a closely divided Washington, according to The New York Times.
“I love their vigor and their spirit,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma, referring to the tea party Republicans who are butting heads with party leaders. “But to be told we’re not listening by somebody who does not listen is disconcerting.”
The New York Times article notes that several senators see grass-roots enthusiasm as a big bust if the party can’t win elections come November.
So Gallup might be recording a tea party weariness, but Democrats, in particular, must be watching the friction on the other side of the aisle with rapt attention – and probably some measure of glee. That's because, whether the conventional wisdom dictates that the tea party is flailing or resurgent, the mere distraction of tea party members' fight serves to reinforce a perception that Republicans can’t find a point of consensus from which to govern.
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Ted Cruz’s 21-hour talkathon is now history. It didn’t stop the Senate from opening debate on a House-passed bill to keep the government open past Monday. Senators almost certainly will vote to strip out a provision in that bill that would defund Obamacare. That’s what Cruz said he wanted to prevent, so did he really accomplish anything with his sort-of-filibuster?
Yes. He accomplished a lot.
First, the obvious: the freshman Texas senator has made himself a folk hero for the Republican right. He went onto the Senate floor a contender for the crown of tea party favorite. He came back a star. As we wrote yesterday it’s now possible he’s bested Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and other contenders to become the leader of grassroots GOP conservatives, at least for the moment.
Second, he proved he’s no Sarah Palin. Though he was spelled by a few Senate allies, Cruz carried the bulk of the talkathon himself. Whatever you think of his politics, it’s hard to deny that he was articulate, dramatic, even entertaining at times as he discussed everything from his love for White Castle hamburgers to “Star Wars.” Palin and Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R) of Minnesota, another tea party favorite, are both much better at prepared remarks than extemporaneous speech. Can you imagine Palin speaking in pearly prose for almost a day?
“The freshman Republican senator’s 21-hour pseudo-filibuster was an immensely stylish endurance stunt – a feat made all the more impressive by the rhetorical fluency that did not flag,” writes right-leaning commentator John Podhoretz in the New York Post.
Third and last, Cruz burned his bridges with much of the Washington establishment Republican Party, then took the ashes and buried them and dumped more dirt on top.
As many commentators have noted, Cruz’s target in his Tuesday-to-Wednesday chin wag was as much the Republican Party as Democrats. He lambasted “symbolic” votes against Obamacare while hitting those in the GOP who accept the inevitability of Obamacare implementation as akin to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and others who tried to appease Hitler prior to World War II.
Republican Senate leaders have been exasperated with Cruz for weeks, considering him a publicity-hungry freelancer whose efforts to court the conservative grassroots could damage the party with the US electorate as a whole.
“Ted Cruz is testing the consequences of ticking off everyone in Washington all of the time,” writes Alexander Burns in Politico today.
What will Cruz do next? He’s thrilled the GOP base with his willingness to confront adversaries, as did Newt Gingrich in the 2012 primary campaign. But Gingrich lost, as did fellow insurgent candidates Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann, et al. Actually winning the nomination in 2016 may require reconstruction of some of those burned bridges – or a tea party takeover of the GOP.
“Win or lose, the battle is now joined: First the struggle for the GOP and then the battle for control of Congress and the presidency,” writes Michael Walsh in a pro-Cruz, anti-establishment National Review Online piece.
Nearly three and a half years after the passage of the nation’s sweeping health-care overhaul, Obamacare is set to go online next Tuesday with new, federally mandated health insurance exchanges – a key provision of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
Uninsured individuals nationwide must either find an affordable plan to purchase by the end of the year, or pay a tax penalty.
That's why the Obama administration's release, on Wednesday, of a comprehensive summary of the average health-care premiums that private insurance companies will offer next week on these exchanges, or state “health insurance marketplaces,” drew immediate scrutiny.
According to the summary released by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the average monthly premium for a mid-level health plan on these exchanges will be $328 – about 16 percent below projections.
But this average premium number can be very misleading, since it is a weighted average for the entire country, experts say, based on some of the cheaper plans offered by the exchanges. Indeed, the rates provided by the summary give a dizzying array of premiums, varying widely according to age, region, and family size – as well as the kind of plan purchased.
The federal government will support or fully run the private insurance marketplaces of 36 states, with 11 other states currently choosing to run their own. For those exchanges run by the federal government, there are an average of 53 plans and premiums per state to choose from, and an average of 8 carriers providing these plans, and competing for enrollees. Some areas, however, will have as few as six plans, and some will only have a single carrier to choose from – another significant regional variance.
In Minnesota, the average monthly cost for the cheapest plan is $144, while a similar plan in Alaska costs an average of $385, according to the HHS summary. A mid-level plan in Arizona, by contrast, costs an average of $252 a month, while a similar plan in Wyoming costs $516.
And Obamacare provides for four different levels of plans, organized into platinum, gold, silver, or bronze – with an additional, bottom-basement “catastrophic plan” added for young adults and some others. The more expensive “platinum” plans will cover 90 percent of health-care costs, while the least expensive “bronze” plans will cover 60 percent of costs, which means a consumer choosing these plans must pay out-of-pocket for the remaining 40 percent.
But according to the Affordable Care Act, these out-of-pocket costs would be capped at $6,350 for individual policies and $12,700 for families. These caps were delayed until 2015 by the Department of Labor in February, however, which could put a strain on those who purchase these plans and incur medical bills next year.
There is one more significant wrinkle to these numbers, however: The federal government will give tax credits for low income buyers who do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. Of the estimated 41.3 uninsured Americans who must purchase coverage by Jan. 1, 2014, 18.6 million of these will be eligible to receive TAX credits, and about half of them will see monthly premiums less than $100, according to HHS.
An average 27-year old making $25,000 a year in Texas, for example, could pay as little as $83 a month for the lowest cost plan. A family of four making $50,000 a year in Indiana would only have to pay $46 a month for the lowest cost plan, and a similar family in Alaska wouldn’t have to pay anything. Tax credits are available to individuals and families who make up to 4 times the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).
But some experts see potential problems with these numbers. The individual market for health insurance is notoriously difficult to price, because only those who become sick tended to pay for this insurance in the past. Obamacare makes it illegal for carriers to reject a customer who has pre-existing conditions.
“I think there’s a lot of confusion out there, and I think the problem is, these carriers don’t know what their pool is going to be, so it’s hard for them to really price it at this point,” says Mark Isenberg, a partner with Zotec Partners, a nation-wide medical billing company headquartered in Carmel, Ind. “Because if you have all these different levels, and I’m a healthy 30-year-old, and I know it’s a yearly plan, I’m going to opt for the cheapest plan.
“But if I’m really sick and I know I’m going to be really sick, I’m going to opt for the entire plan,” Mr. Isenberg continues. “So you’re going to have a lot of top-heavy risk pools associated with it, so I don’t think their actuaries have a firm handle on what their actual costs are going to be on these plans.”
Yet the Obama administration projects that 7 million Americans will join the health-care rolls in 2014 – including 2.7 million young and healthy consumers who are essential to the Obamacare logic: The young and healthy are needed to offset the high costs of sicker members.
Hence the tax penalties or “shared responsibility fee” for those who do not join. The health-care law will cost uninsured individuals who do not purchase insurance on the exchanges $95 per person per year in 2014, or 1 percent of personal income. This will jump to $325, or 2 percent of personal income in 2015, and $695 or 2.5 percent in 2016.
“My expectation is in 2015 and 2016, we’ll see a greater number of people moving to the exchanges,” says David Oscar, communications chair of the New Jersey Association of Health Underwriters. He doesn’t believe very many of the young and healthy will opt to buy insurance from these exchanges, especially now when paying the penalties is so much cheaper than buying insurance.
Yet the 11 million people eligible to receive subsidies, says Mr. Oscar, who manages the plans of about 2,000 small- and mid-sized businesses, as well as about 500 individuals, will probably visit the online marketplaces and purchase coverage.
“The small business owner, the mom and pop shop that only shows $50,000 of income – they’re going to go to the individual plans [on the exchanges] because, from what it looks like, the individual plans are, on the surface, better looking than the current individual plans,” he adds.
Ted Cruz and John McCain are both Republican senators, but they’re far from collegial. There is something about freshman Cruz’s aggressive style of politics that does not sit well with McCain, who’s been a member of the Senate club for some 26 years.
It was Senator McCain, angry at Senator Cruz’s battering of ex-Sen. Chuck Hagel during Hagel’s confirmation hearing to be secretary of Defense, who labeled Cruz and his allies “wacko birds.” A new GQ profile of Cruz quotes an anonymous McCain adviser as saying that the Arizona senator “hates” the Texas newcomer.
“He’s just offended by his style,” this aide tells GQ.
Now the angry veteran of GOP politics is after Cruz once again. This time, it’s about a reference to appeasement of Adolf Hitler that Cruz made during his epic 21-hour fili-talkathon against Obamacare on the Senate floor.
This came during a long section in which Cruz was talking about times in history when “pundits” said things could not be done, but then they were.
For instance, during the Civil War, there “were a lot of voices who said the Union cannot be saved,” Cruz said, but it was.
Then came the Nazi part.
“If we go to the 1940s, Nazi Germany – look, we saw it in Britain. Neville Chamberlain told the British people: Accept the Nazis. Yes, they will dominate the continent of Europe, but that is not our problem. Let’s appease them. Why? Because it can’t be done. We cannot possibly stand against them,” Cruz said.
At this, McCain took umbrage. Why? Well, for one thing, umbrage and McCain are well acquainted. For another, it’s because this seems like a reference to the GOP Senate establishment, which disdained Cruz’s talkathon against Obamacare as a waste of time. Democrats control the Senate, in this view, and President Obama will veto anything that defunds his signature health law achievement.
“I resoundingly reject that allegation. That allegation, in my view, does a great disservice. I do not agree with that comparison. I think it’s wrong,” McCain said on the Senate floor shortly after Cruz’s speech ended.
McCain went on to say that Cruz had told him he was speaking only about talking heads, but McCain wasn’t buying it. “I find that a difference without a distinction. I find that something that I think I have to respond to,” McCain said.
So he continued responding, saying in essence that to compare the two situations was pretty objectionable, considering. Left unsaid was the obvious point that as a war veteran and former POW, whose grandfather commanded US naval air forces at Guadalcanal and whose father captained a World War II sub in the Pacific, McCain does not think comparisons between the legislative process and Hitler should be made too easily.
He did say that the voters had the chance to consider Obamacare in 2012 – and the GOP nominee lost.
“The people spoke: They spoke much to my dismay. But they spoke, and they reelected the president of the United States,” McCain said.
Given that McCain took to the floor shortly after Cruz left it, his words were something of a purposeful slap in the face. Cruz’s conservative supporters replied in kind.
“Beltway barnacle McCain’s longevity is NOT admirable. It’s a bane,” tweeted right-leaning pundit Michelle Malkin.
Plus, McCain’s animosity is unlikely to weaken Cruz’s position in the GOP firmament, since McCain is the definition of Republican establishment and Cruz is a leader of the insurgent tea party wing of the GOP.
In fact, it’s possible McCain’s anger could actually strengthen Cruz, since it shows the Texas senator can get under the skin of someone whom the populist tea party wing considers a virtual Democrat.
“It’s fun for Dems when McCain lights into Cruz, but no Republican’s criticism does more to endear Cruz to the base,” tweeted Slate political analyst Dave Weigel.
Texas Senator Cruz, along with Sen. Mike Lee (R) of Utah and assorted allies, spoke for some 21 hours before ending at noon Wednesday. That constitutes one of the longest Senate speeches since record-keeping began in 1900, and it has thrilled those on the right who feel the Republican Party establishment consists of careerist sell-outs.
“Ted Cruz and Mike Lee will not get the forty-one votes they need to sustain their filibuster. They will be betrayed by Republican senators who are willing to fund Obamacare while claiming to vote against it. But in this filibuster and in their brilliant strategy, they have exposed Republicans who will not fight,” wrote influential conservative pundit Erick Erickson on RedState Wednesday.
Technically speaking, Cruz, Lee, et al were not filibustering. They were merely holding the floor in advance of a scheduled cloture vote Wednesday on a government spending bill that contains a provision defunding Obamacare. But that’ s a procedural distinction that’s probably lost on most voters. They see a tired lawmaker who has referenced Star Wars, Dr. Seuss, White Castle hamburgers, and his choice of footwear, and figure he’s doing the same thing that Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky did in March when he conducted an actual filibuster against Obama administration drone policies.
More on Senator Paul in a moment.
But first, Cruz’s targets: many of his words weren’t aimed at Obamacare, or even Democrats, but the notional leaders of his own party.
Cruz complained about “fake” votes – a veiled reference to House Speaker John Boehner’s attempts to fund the government while holding largely symbolic Obamacare votes. More pointedly, he kept saying that those who did not stand with him in opposing the cloture vote on the government spending bill now before the Senate were in essence supporting full funding of the president’s signature health-reform law. He wondered aloud why more Republicans weren’t standing with him.
“Cruz’s speech then is rightly understood as an indictment of his own party, a party unwilling – in the Texas senator’s mind – to stand on principle when the moment requires it,” write Washington Post political experts Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan on The Fix.
This may have implications for 2016 – Cruz needs a base of political support if he’s going to run for the presidential nomination. But that’s still a ways off. More immediate is the jockeying for the title of “political leader of American conservatism,” notes New York Times columnist Ross Douthat.
That’s a title – call it the “president of the right” – that has a long history in GOP politics, stretching back to Sens. Robert Taft of Ohio and Barry Goldwater of Arizona. Right now contenders include Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul, as well as Cruz.
But Senator Rubio has been damaged by his push for immigration reform, which many conservatives oppose. Paul won plaudits from libertarians and some liberals for his stand against drones, but hawkish Republicans support the administration’s armed drone strike policies.
Cruz, on the other hand, is champion of a position that unites the right. He’s the darling of conservative talk radio at the moment.
“That’s the case for betting on Cruz’s continued ascent,” writes Douthat.
But what happens next? Cruz has risen on the promise that he’ll fight for his positions. But one reason the establishment GOP has shrugged at his efforts to defund Obamacare is that they can count, and they see that there is virtually no chance of getting that through the Senate, and no chance, period, of convincing President Obama to sign a bill gutting his biggest domestic achievement.
Cruz is whipping the base into a frenzy for a battle they are foreordained to lose, writes David Freddoso at Conservative Intelligence Briefing.
“The illusory promise of an easy shortcut to beating Obamacare will leave a bitter aftertaste, resulting in anger, a loss of trust, and even withdrawal from the political process,” writes Freddoso.
Can Sen. Ted Cruz (R) of Texas win a personal victory even if he loses his fight to defund Obamacare? That’s a question pundits are discussing Tuesday as the firebrand Texas senator persists in irritating his party leadership while pushing legislative tactics that almost nobody thinks will work.
The theory runs like this: Senator Cruz’s real aim is the 2016 presidential nomination. By standing up for a doomed battle against implementation of President Obama’s signature domestic achievement he’ll win kudos from tea party activists and perhaps admiration from Republican voters overall.
“In the Senate, Cruz may look right now the very opposite of shrewd. But the view Cruz cares about is the view from Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina – and from there he looks like a hero to many of the Republicans who’ll choose the party’s nominee in 2016,” writes the right-leaning David Frum in The Daily Beast.
Well, we’re not sure we’d go that far. But it seems likely that Cruz is solidifying his hold on the most conservative factions of his party, at the least. That’s a necessary precondition for 2016 success, since Cruz could well be competing with Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky and/or Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Florida for the title of tea party favorite son.
Senator Paul electrified conservatives with his filibuster against Obama administration drone policy. Cruz and ally Sen. Mike Lee (R) of Utah probably hope that their stand against funding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have the same effect. It’s already winning plaudits from conservatives who consider establishment Washington Republicans to be careerist sell-outs.
“Like a light switch flipping on, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are casting light on the scurrying of the Republican roaches in and out of the Capitol,” writes conservative pundit Erick Erickson Tuesday on RedState.
Not that those “roaches” think much of Cruz’s approach. They’re almost contemptuous of what Sen. Bob Corker (R) of Tennessee has called “the defunding box canyon . . . a tactic that will fail and weaken our position.”
At Cruz’s urging, the GOP-controlled House has passed a government spending bill that defunds the ACA. But the Senate is controlled by Democrats, and because of Senate rules, the only point at which the GOP has any chance to filibuster the bill will be before Democrats inevitably vote to strip the defund-Obamacare provision.
That means Cruz is asking his party to filibuster a bill he urged the House to pass and which calls for the very thing he says he wants to accomplish. That’s a back flip many Republican senators won’t make, especially since Mr. Obama would veto any bill with a defund provision that made it to his desk.
The futility of Cruz’s position was made clear on Monday when Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky said he wouldn’t join Cruz in a filibuster.
“Senator McConnell supports the House Republicans’ bill and will not vote to block it, since it defunds Obamacare and funds the government without increasing spending by a penny,” said a McConnell aide in a statement on Monday.
And the GOP establishment might remember Cruz’s maneuvers when the 2016 campaign actually rolls around. To actually win the nomination, Cruz will have to broaden his support beyond tea party adherents, after all. For all the ups and downs of the 2012 primary race, it was establishment candidate Mitt Romney who emerged the victor.
“For those who would dismiss the importance of the inside game, remember that while your own party establishment probably can’t keep you from a presidential nomination, they can make it a heck of a lot harder to win one,” write Washington Post political experts Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan.
For regular smokers quitting isn’t easy, and the motivation to do so – health reasons or social mores – isn’t always strong enough.
But when a person can’t just head outside to light up and enjoy, when photos of him mid-cigarette could become a public health endorsement to all the globe’s children, well, then perhaps that habit gets rethought. Maybe.
But it really helps a person kick that dependence, if he is fearful of his spouse’s reaction to it. At least, that’s what it took for President Obama to beat his smoking routine.
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"I haven't had a cigarette in six years ... that's because I'm scared of my wife," Mr. Obama was overheard Monday telling a United Nations official.
That six years number might be a little fuzzy, points out USA Today. During a 2009 news conference, Obama indicated that he hadn’t quite given up his smokes.
“I’ve said before that as a former smoker I constantly struggle with it,” he said. “Have I fallen off the wagon sometimes. Yes. Am I a daily smoker, a constant smoker? No.”
Anyone who has ever loved a smoker knows that pushing that person to quit comes from a deep place of concern. So first lady Michelle Obama’s influence should be viewed as admirable, no? She cares. She wants him healthy, and she probably prefers her daughters not breathe in their father’s secondhand smoke.
Not to mention the fact that, ever image conscious, the first lady probably knows that the leader of the free world should not partake (at least publicly) of an unhealthy habit – perhaps, most especially, as he advocates for health-care reform.
(It might be worth noting peripherally that smokers were supposed to be penalized under the president's health-care law, a move that would have raised their premiums or even made them unaffordable, according to published reports. But a computer glitch in the system revealed this summer will limit the imposition of tobacco-use penalties for at least a year.)
But the coverage Tuesday of the president’s offhand remark also touches on a commonly explored thematic: That the first lady is a scold.
She wants Americans to eat more vegetables and her husband to pick up his socks.
News reports Tuesday emphasized the fear factor involved in Obama’s decision to quit. “No one is exempt from first lady Michelle Obama’s health initiatives – especially not her husband,” Politico wrote.
About being scared of his wife, Time magazine asks: “With arms like the first lady’s, who can blame him?
The web is dotted with photographs of Obama smoking throughout the years. As a young kid, with a dapper hat perched on his head, a bracelet on one wrist. Another of Obama as a young man, hair longer, wearing a leather jacket. And then there’s the suited Obama, smoking with what appears to be a foreign official.
There’s no denying that, in whatever role she played, the first lady has done her husband a favor. In a 2012 iVillage interview, she suggests that first daughters Sasha and Malia were the real reasons behind Obama’s new-found commitment.
"I know that his ability to ultimately kick the habit was because of the girls, because they're at the age now where you can't hide," Mrs. Obama said. "I think that he didn't want to look his girls in the eye and tell them that they shouldn't do something that he was still doing."
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Bill Clinton was on David Letterman’s “Late Show” Monday night and Letterman tried his darndest to get the ex-president to spill Hillary Rodham Clinton’s deepest secret: whether she’s planning to run for the White House in 2016.
“Of course you know,” scoffed Mr. Letterman at one point. Then he looked directly at Clinton and said, “If she is running, to your knowledge, blink twice."
Clinton laughed and stared back. His eyes appeared to water for a moment.
“I blinked once!” he insisted.
What does that mean? She’s not running? She’s running in 2020? Six more weeks of summer weather?
What it means is that he does not know what Hillary is going to do, Chelsea does not know what Hillary is going to do, and Hillary does not know what Hillary is going to do, according to Bill. Then, he got a bit more serious and said that politics has gone crazy, and that when he ran for president in 1992 he did not declare until 13 months ahead of time.
“I didn’t go out and do a bunch of stuff in advance, either,” he said.
Well, maybe not, but knowing Bill Clinton, he had his whole campaign mapped out years ahead of time in his head. If it were him thinking about 2016, he’d already be drawing up lists of potential Cabinet picks – for his second term.
Anyway, Clinton also pointed out that his wife is writing a book, they’re enjoying going to movies like regular people, and so forth. Letterman thought this over for a second and then said, “Well, you could finish her book."
“I could,” agreed Clinton.
The “Late Show” wasn’t Clinton’s only big media appearance this week, by the way. On PBS's "News Hour" Monday, he talked with anchor Judy Woodruff.
“We’re not nearly as political as everyone thinks we are,” Clinton told her.
The plethora of Bill appearances is because he’s promoting his big Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York, which gathers important figures from President Obama on down to talk big issues and good works.
Also, there appears to be networking at CGI. Earlier this week, The New Republic published a lengthy and tough piece about former Bill Clinton counselor Doug Band. It details how Mr. Band’s work for Clinton’s foundation coincided with Band’s development of clients for his own lucrative business consulting career.
While the story raises no red flags about Bill or Hillary Clinton per se, it’s still not necessarily a good thing in terms of Hillary’s political future, writes Maggie Haberman in Politico.
“It could open the door to focus on the many people in the extended Clinton orbit who, over many years, have staked their livelihoods on the political fortunes of the former first couple,” Ms. Haberman writes.
Meanwhile, Bill defended his former aide in an appearance on CBS's "This Morning" Tuesday.
"There's nothing wrong with him starting a business with people he met working for me," said Clinton.
Sarah Palin has penned an opinion article for the conservative Breitbart website supporting Sen. Ted Cruz (R) of Texas and his effort to defund Obamacare. It’s vintage Palin – she refers to “peanut gallery pundits,” and “Capitol Hill cowards” among other alliterations. But the part that’s perhaps getting the most attention is her advice to Republicans: “Woman up, stand your ground, and fight like a girl!”
OK, we’ll bite – what’s she saying here, and why?
First, Ms. Palin’s theme as a whole: Senator Cruz and his supporters are fighting the good fight against a health-care reform law Americans don’t support. But instead of supporting Cruz and his “liberty-loving posse” in their attempt to stop “Obama’s train wreck,” the Republican establishment in Washington is running the other way.
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“The permanent political class in DC is nothing if not gutless and rudderless,” writes Palin.
Anonymous sources are backstabbing Cruz in the press, says the former Alaska governor, while the permanent political class worries that the media will blame Republicans for a government shutdown if the fight over the president’s signature domestic achievement leads to that.
“Here’s a little newsflash, GOP establishment: Whenever anything bad happens, the media blames Republicans for it,” writes Palin. “That’s not an excuse to roll over and play dead. It’s a call to follow the advice I give my daughters: Woman up, stand your ground, and fight like a girl!”
So “woman up” is her rallying cry, one that seems T-shirt-ready if accompanied by a drawing of Palin brandishing a hockey stick. But we’ve got an addendum here: it’s possible the GOP wouldn’t actually take the brunt of blame for a shutdown, despite Palin’s prediction.
That’s what a new poll indicates, in any case. The just-released Pew survey indicates that 39 percent of respondents would blame GOP in a shutdown, and 36 would blame the Obama administration. That’s basically a tossup since the results are within the survey’s margin of error.
“If the federal government shuts down because Republicans and the Obama administration fail to agree on a budget, there will be plenty of blame to go around,” writes the Pew Center for People & the Press.
Now, this is just one poll. Others have produced different results: A CNN poll in early September put the possible blame burden at 51 percent on the Republicans, and 33 percent on Obama.
But if nothing else the Pew poll is a reminder that predicting blame for an event that hasn’t yet happened is not straightforward. If it comes to a shutdown, the public could well frame its opinion on the particular circumstances which led to the impasse, not on what happened during the President Clinton versus Speaker Newt Gingrich shutdown of 1995.
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Sen. Ted Cruz (R) of Texas is outlining a new “path to victory” – legislative tactics to pass a funding bill to keep the government open while defunding Obamacare. Does the Cruz plan stand any chance of success?
Well, anything can happen in US politics, so it’s possible Senator Cruz’s ideas could work. But the path he’s offering is twisty and difficult and involves Senate Republicans mounting a filibuster against the defund-Obamacare provision they actually support.
In other words, they have to be against it before they can be for it. That’s a tough sell for many in the GOP.
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“Senate rules – combined with the strategic context and GOP disagreement – give Democrats the upper hand,” judges Sarah Binder, a professor of political science at George Washington University, on The Monkey Cage political blog.
Cruz outlines his victory roadmap in an opinion piece Monday on RealClearPolitics. Its first step involves demanding that majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada subject any effort to remove the defund provision from the spending bill that passed the House on Friday to a 60-vote threshold.
If Senator Reid doesn’t agree to do that – and he won’t, because he doesn’t have to – then “a vote for cloture is a vote for Obamacare," writes Cruz. In other words, Cruz and his allies will try to filibuster the bill at their first opportunity, even if it’s word-for-word identical to the version passed by the Republican-controlled House.
There’s more, but we’ll stop for a moment to outline Reid’s likely moves in an attempt to make this clearer. Reid’s basic position will (probably) be this: He’ll open debate on the bill, file an amendment calling for the Obamacare provision to be struck, then call for cloture [a procedural move to end debate] before the amendment comes to a vote.
Once Reid gets 60 votes for cloture, further debate is capped at 30 hours, and pending amendments only need 50 votes to pass. Given that Democrats are a majority in the Senate and a number of Republican senators are wary of shutting down the government over defunding Obamacare, Reid should have an easy time striking the Obamacare language in this scenario.
“If GOP senators actually follow [Cruz's advice] they will, in effect, be voting against a bill that includes Obamacare defunding,” notes Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski.
Cruz has admitted in the past that Reid and the Democrats likely will win in the Senate and block any GOP bid to defund health reform, and this judgment may ultimately be proved correct, according to Mr. Lesniewski, a procedural expert who’s been examining the details of this issue for days.
But the Cruz plan also has a Part B: If the bill gets through the Senate, then the House should refuse to go along and pass a clean funding bill, he says. Instead, it should break up the big continuing resolution into sections, beginning with military spending, and pass each with defund-Obamacare language attached. And, eventually, Reid will be forced to back down, he says.
“Dare Reid to keep voting to shut down the government,” Cruz writes.
The Texas tea party favorite says pressure from US voters who oppose the Affordable Care Act will cause Reid to cave. Again, that’s possible. But it’s more likely that votes on mini-funding bills won’t differ much from the vote on a big one. And polls show Republicans will get at least as much of the blame as Democrats, and possibly more, if the government shuts down.
Of course, for Cruz himself there can be victory, even if the Senate passes a bill he doesn’t like. After urging on House Republicans to link defunding to a government shutdown, he now needs to make an impact in some way, note Washington Post political experts Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan.
This could involve hours of a talking filibuster, or convincing at least a few wavering Senate Republicans to his side.
“What Cruz must prove this week is that he’s more than just talk; that when he has the chance to act on principle, he does everything he can to do exactly that,” write Mr. Cillizza and Mr. Sullivan.
RECOMMENDED: 15 Republicans who might run in 2016