United States Senate

Welcome to TNR’s 2011 List Issue. In putting the issue together, we had one major priority: to avoid creating a power list featuring anyone who regularly dominates headlines. Instead, we had a different idea: What if we revealed something about D.C. by documenting who quietly wields power? From there, we began to hatch other ideas for lists, and we realized that—while they can certainly be cheap gimmicks—lists can also convey a lot about a city. Below is the first list from the issue: Washington’s most powerful, least famous people.

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From this week's TNR editorial: Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard law professor now running for U.S. Senate, is getting a lot of attention for the video of a speech she made recently. It wasn’t just because she was taking on Republican talking points more forcefully than most Democrats do these days.

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Last night there was a rule change in the U.S. Senate that Republicans wasted no time in branding a "nuclear option." The phrase "nuclear option" was coined by Sen. Trent Lott (R., Miss.) in 2003 to describe a parliamentary maneuver in which the Senate could eliminate or modify the filibuster by a simple majority vote. (Under the dread Rule 22, you need 67 votes to change existing filibuster rules.

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Don’t Mess With Taxes

Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard law professor now running for U.S. Senate, is getting a lot of attention for the video of a speech she made recently. It wasn’t just because she was taking on Republican talking points more forcefully than most Democrats do these days.

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Several weeks ago, a military chaplain came to brief my battalion, via PowerPoint presentation, on the Department of Defense’s official stance on "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell," the policy that for the past 18 years has barred soldiers from identifying as gay, and whose repeal will officially go into effect today, September 20, 2011. As the chaplain stood at the front of the auditorium, a fellow soldier leaned over to me and whispered, “There goes the fabric of the country.” I didn’t acknowledge his comment. He didn’t know I was gay, and I didn’t think this was the time or the place to tell him.

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Few things are more grating to the proud people of Massachusetts than claiming to understand their worldview on the basis of a few Good Will Hunting quotes. Still, even the most jaded Bay Staters should admit that sometimes a dose of Ben Affleck helps to clarify things.

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I am trying to figure out what sort of factual circumstances could make this argument by John Boehner true: “There are only three possible outcomes in this battle: President Obama gets his blank check; America defaults; or we call the president’s bluff by coming together and passing a bill that cuts spending and can pass in the United States Senate,” Boehner told the rank and file, according to aides to the speaker. “There is no other option." Somebody explain this to me. So the first two options are "default" or "blank check." Default means failing to lift the debt ceiling.

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The 2012 presidential campaign is gearing up, and that means it’s game-time for top political consultants—including veteran GOP ad man Fred Davis. Davis, who just came out with a slew of strange spots for Republican presidential candidate and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, is known for his idiosyncratic m.o. Here is a sampling of his past work. Sonny Perdue  In the 2002 gubernatorial election in Georgia, Davis conceived of this spot depicting opponent Roy Barnes as a rat thumping through Atlanta.

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Rick Perry is obviously very conservative, but I didn't realize that he'd be soliciting policy advice from a certifiable lunatic like Andrew McCarthy. I want to be clear about this. I use synonyms for "crazy" pretty often, which I find to be necessary in a world in which one of the two major parties holds to such beliefs as global warming is a hoax and tax cuts increase revenue.

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Elizabeth Warren won’t get a chance to run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but Richard Cordray may. And perhaps that's good news. Warren, the Harvard Law Professor and champion of consumer interests, may run for the U.S. Senate, seeking the seat Ted Kennedy once occupied and that Republican Scott Brown now does. Although a first-time candidate, she could be formidable. As for Cordray, the former Ohio attorney general, he was the first state official to sue a mortgage servicer over foreclosure fraud.

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