Richard Gephardt

The debate over funding government and avoiding default has officially reached the chaos stage. By my count, no less than four separate conversations are taking place right now: The White House is talking to House Republicans and, separately, it to Senate Republicans. In the Senate, moderate Republicans are talking to the Democratic leadership. In the House, Republicans from the party’s extreme wing are talking to Republicans from the not-so-extreme wing, all under the watchful eye of the caucus leaders. And that’s just the official dialogue.

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Paul Ryan has said he does not plan to run for the open Senate seat in Wisconsin. Former governor and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson does plan to run. Thompson is popular and would give Republicans a strong chance to pick up the Senate seat. on the other hand, he repeatedly endorsed the Affordable Care Act: Washington, D.C.

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Aaron Blake argues today that present-day circumstances make it more likely that Members of the House can win presidential nominations, something that as he notes hasn’t happened for some time. He points to former Speaker Newt Gingrich and current Members Mike Pence and Michele Bachmann as potentially viable national candidates this time around. I continue to disagree. Let’s see what we have here. First, I think Blake undercounts past House candidacies during recent (post-reform) history.

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The Boss

Robert Shrum, John Kerry's chief strategist and speechwriter, is considered the poet laureate of populism--the man who injected the phrase "the people versus the powerful" into Democratic vernacular. Over his 35-year career, Shrum has been responsible for many of the memorable lines to leave the mouths of such Democratic eminences as Ted Kennedy, George McGovern, and Al Gore. But one of his most telling speeches won't ever be collected in an anthology of great oratory. For many years, Shrum plied his trade on behalf of Richard Gephardt.

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Mo’ Better

Ryan Lizza's 2004 campaign journal.

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Tax Evasion

Everybody knew Howard Dean's proposal to repeal the Bush tax cuts would prove controversial in the general election. But during the Democratic nomination fight, too? Over the last few weeks, rivals have attacked Dean for saying that, as president, he would rescind even those parts of the Bush tax cut that are not directed at the very rich. "Some in my party want to balance the budget on the backs of the middle class," John Kerry declared recently, in a typical broadside.

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Beyond Belief

Talk to sensible Howard Dean supporters these days, and they’ll tell you that the former governor’s campaign to date has been a grand sleight of hand. Sure, it has harnessed Bush hatred and antiwar fervor. But the real Dean isn’t a frothing lefty like his supporters; he’s a closet centrist. Once he finishes exploiting the left’s anger to seal the nomination, he will reveal his true self, elegantly pivoting to the middle.

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Drug Use

The prescription-drug debate has returned to Capitol Hill, and, depressingly, things have picked up pretty much where they left off before the last election. Last week, after House Republicans advanced an unrealistically thin $350 billion plan to subsidize drug costs for the elderly, Democrats pounced. House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt doubted that "anyone can take Republican claims seriously" and flayed the GOP's "sham bill." In the party's weekly radio address, Michigan Democrat John Dingell mocked the Republicans' "phantom benefit" and compared GOP leaders to shady car dealers.

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Home Alone

Back in the peaceful days of late summer, Democrats were finally getting around to something they'd neglected since Bill Clinton left office: foreign policy. In August, Tom Daschle and Richard Gephardt each delivered addresses criticizing the Bush administration for its aversion to multilateralism and its obsession with missile defense. A few weeks later, Senator Joe Biden did the same at the National Press Club. Previewing Biden's speech that morning, the Los Angeles Times explained that congressional Democrats had begun a prolonged "assault on the Bush administration's defense and foreign po

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Loyal Opposition

As America prepares for war, an unusual peace has settled upon Washington. After President Bush addressed Congress last week, his erstwhile nemesis, Tom Daschle, embraced him on the House floor. Two days later, Richard Gephardt--last seen savaging Bush over his plan to privatize Social Security--happily obliged a White House request to echo administration sentiments in his own radio address. And Democrats have backed up these bipartisan gestures with legislative action.

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