I’m continuing to think about what the 112th Congress will look like next year if Republicans do about as well as expected in November... I think everyone should keep in mind one key difference between 1995 and 2011: experience. Famously, not a single Republican Member of the House in 1995 had ever served in a GOP-majority House (a handful had been part of Democratic majorities before party-switching). No one knew what the Republican way to run a committee, or a subcommittee, or the House floor was.
I hesitate to do anything other than praise Ezra Klein’s terrific WaPo column over the weekend, in which he asked political scientists “what they wished politicians knew about politics” (disclosure: I was one of those he asked, and I was absolutely useless -- John Sides was the other person there with me at the time, and he nailed it). Each of the findings Klein used in the column was in fact worth knowing, and I’m very glad that terrific policy journalists such as Ezra Klein and Jonathan Cohn are listening to what academics are learning. Ah, but the caveat.
A couple months ago, I mused about the outbreak of tactical radicalism -- the belief that ideological extremism carries no political cost whatsoever -- among Republicans. Why, I asked, were Republicans standing aside and letting primary voters select nominees who had a much lower chance of winning? Where was the Republican establishment? Now the establishment is taking a stand in Delaware. The establishment choice is Mike Castle, a moderate-ish member of the House who is running for Senate, where he would be a prohibitive favorite in an overwhelmingly Democratic state.
The Sunday NYT carried an unusually useless op-ed yesterday, asking for a "Palin of Our Own" for the Democrats. Anna Holmes and Rebecca Traister note that Sarah Palin generates a lot of publicity, and conclude: The left should be outraged and exasperated by all this — but at their own failings as much as Ms. Palin’s ascension. Since the 2008 election, progressive leaders have done little to address the obvious national appetite for female leadership. And despite (or because of) their continuing obsession with Ms.
So let’s say you’re a Republican politician who’s been working the far right side of the political highway for years, getting little national attention other than the occasional shout-out in Human Events. Or let’s say you’re a sketchy business buccaneer with a few million smackers burning a hole in your pocket, and you’ve decided that you’d like to live in the governor’s mansion for a while, but you can’t get the local GOP to see you as anything more than a walking checkbook who funds other people's dreams. What do you do?
Not surprisingly, numerous Democratic Senators have come out against eliminating or scaling back the Senate's supermajority requirement: Five Senate Democrats have said they will not support a lowering of the 60-vote bar necessary to pass legislation. Another four lawmakers say they are wary about such a change and would be hesitant to support it. ... “It won’t happen,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who said she would “probably not” support an effort to lower the number of votes needed to cut off filibusters from 60 to 55 or lower. Sen.
Judith Shulevitz's article in the print magazine about salt is well worth reading on its own. But I was struck by this passage, about the difficulty of making consumers understand the drawbacks of excessive salt without putting them off salt altogether: Reeducation programs focused on a single ingredient almost always confuse people. No matter how careful education campaigns are to stress that salt is essential to life in small doses, some Americans will demonize the condiment, rather than its industrial overuse.
Shortly after nine on a Monday morning in late April, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Gary Gensler filed into a meeting room with nine senior aides. The aesthetic was what you might call “bureaucratic drab”—fluorescent lights, beige carpeting, American flag—and the mostly middle-aged men did not seem out of place. Their suits ranged from gray to charcoal and the complexions were varying degrees of pasty.
You may have heard or read about the ugly scenes on Capitol Hill yesterday, when a few conservative activists shouted racial and homophobic epithets at Democratic lawmakers. Today the conservative activists are back. And so is the ugliness--only this time, a few Republicans were actually encouraging them. That's an incendiary charge, I know. But let me describe what just transpired here inside the House of Representatives: Moments ago, while members were on the floor for a vote, a protester stood up in the visitor's gallery and began shouting "Kill the bill! Kill the bill!