United States Senate

A Few Good Dems

The Democrats’ recent electoral woes have been well-chronicled. Within the last six months, the party has been plagued by high-profile losses (Martha Coakley, Jon Corzine), high-profile retirements (Byron Dorgan, Marion Berry), and, yes, even high-profile deaths (Ted Kennedy, John Murtha). Stack those on top of a faltering economy, a stalled-out Congress, and a pissed-off populace (to name just three bits of bad news), and the first Tuesday in November is looking nasty.

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Former Dick Cheney aid Cesar Conda has a post at National Review announcing that he has switched his loyalties in the Florida Senate race from Charlie Crist, once seen as the prohibitive favorite, to Marco Rubio, conservative darling and now all-but-inevitable Republican nominee: Last May, I wrote about why I thought Florida governor Charlie Crist was an acceptable fiscal conservative (the Cato Institute had given him an "A" on its Fiscal Policy Report Card) and why I believed he gave Republicans the best chance to retain Florida's U.S. Senate seat.

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In any highly fluid political situation, you will always find some observers determined to argue that it's not fluid at all--that underneath the surface, the status quo prevails, and anyone thinking otherwise is naive or poorly informed. Tuesday night, you just knew that Mark Kirk's U.S. Senate primary victory in Illinois would be interpreted in some circles as proving that the much-discussed rightward trend in the Republican Party, sped along by pressure from the Tea Party Movement, was actually a mirage.

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Rubio Pulls Ahead

If Jon were here, I know he would post this: Former State House Speaker Marco Rubio has squeaked past Gov. Charlie Crist in the race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, leading 47 - 44 percent and topping Gov. Crist on trust, values and conservative credentials, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. It would be a cliche to say that Rubio has "slowly and steadily" risen in the polls. Fortunately, in this case it is not true: Rubio has skyrocketed since he began campaigning seriously, and he shows no signs of slowing down.

Comity of Errors

WASHINGTON--It turns out there were core contradictions in the promises Barack Obama made to the country in 2008. They caught up with his party on Tuesday in Massachusetts. Things will not get easier. Republicans in Congress will be empowered to hold to their course of obstruction by Sen.-elect Scott Brown's victory. Washington will remain the object of scorn as a dysfunctional capital, and absent a new Obama approach, the GOP can act with the confidence that only Democrats will pay a price for the failure of comity. This problem goes directly to the tensions in Obamaism.

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Dear Nervous and Frustrated House Democrat, It’s up to you. A few days ago, after a year of debate, you were on the verge of achieving a goal that’s eluded progressives for nearly a century: Creating a national health insurance program. But now the whole effort could fall apart. When Scott Brown takes his seat in the U.S. Senate, the Republicans will have 41 members in their caucus--enough to stop passage of any bill if they stay united.

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DeMint Condition

For all of Washington’s political polarization, the U.S. Senate remains a clubby place. Sure, lawmakers talk smack about the unparalleled malevolence of the opposition, but there is, in general, a high degree of respect for the institution, its members, and its time-honored Way of Doing Things. While the House is known for its ideological cowboys, demagogues, and revolutionaries, the Senate is where bright lines and rough edges tend to get smoothed out in the name of statesmanship and legislative compromise. Clearly, no one told this to Jim DeMint.

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Some 40-odd years ago, Chuck Schumer was my student. A few years after that, I became his student. No, not in a formal classroom sense, but in the political dimension. If you watch him, you learn a lot. He's a stand-up liberal, a New York liberal at that. But he is also an effective liberal, which means he sometimes compromises--a sin on the Upper West Side, where politics often means that you shouldn't compromise ... ever. At 23, Chuck ran for the New York State Assembly and won. Then he went to the House of Representatives and, in 1998, to the U.S.

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The Beck Supremacy

When Vince Flynn recently finished writing his eleventh novel, Pursuit of Honor, he sent an advance copy to Rush Limbaugh, along with some special reading instructions. Upon arriving at Chapter 50, he told the radio host in a note inscribed on the chapter’s first page, “open one of your bottles of Lafite and grab a cigar and savor these words.” Flynn self-published his first political thriller twelve years ago but, today, has a seven-figure contract with an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

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The U.S. Senate has voted to pass the most ambitious piece of domestic legislation in a generation--a bill that will extend insurance coverage to tens of million Americans, strengthen insurance for many more, and start refashioning American medicine so that it is more efficient. The vote took place a little after 7 a.m., after brief speeches by the two party leaders, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell.

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