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Post Politics Hour: McCain & Feingold in a Different Light

Washington Post National Political Reporter Tom Edsall answered questions from readers during Tuesday's Post Politics Hour. Selected questions from the chat and a link to the full transcript are included below:

San Diego, Calif.: Today's paper exposes the soft underbelly of McCain, who is not known as being a LOYAL Republican. His poor showing in Memphis was at 66 votes, yet the media keeps calling him the "frontrunner", (ok, it was Chris Matthews on his live Hardball in Memphis). Does McCain finally have a base of support in Iowa? (which he lacked in 2000) or will he finally show his nose at the August 2007 straw poll in Ames Iowa?The media is not selecting the Republican nominee, it is the early voters in Iowa, N. Hamp. and S. Carolina. My state gets to support who is ever left standing by Super Tuesday in March, or else we get to winnow the race down to the top 3. Who do you think the top 3 will be in 2008 for the Republican nomination as president?

Tom Edsall: McCain is walking a very high tightrope. He is trying to appeal to the conservative base of the GOP that he alienated in 2000, especially the religious right. He spent an hour with Jerry Falwell, whom McCain denounced in 2000. At the same time, his defiance of conservative orthodoxy is what won him votes in 2000, when the states he carried were those where independents and Democrats were allowed to cast ballots in Republican primaries. Much of his appeal now within the party is that he could be competitive, in theory, at a time when Bush's numbers are collapsing. But every time he appears to be compromising past principles to advance his bid for the nomination, he undermines the basis for his claim to be a strong general election candidate.

Ontario, Calif.: Good morning, Tom.

Russ Feingold's characterization of other Democrats as "run and hiders" for not supporting his presidential censure efforts seemed surprisingly self serving. It probably furthers his own political aspirations by strengthening his position with much of the nominating base of the party, but does so at the expense of the party as a whole; which will end up seeing his "run and hide" comment again...in Republican campaign ads!

What's your take on his public response to the reluctance other Democrats to endorse his plan?

Tom Edsall: Your question goes to the heart of a major conflict within Democratic ranks over Feingold's censure proposal. Ryan Lizza of the New Republic has presented the sharpest critique of Feingold, arguing that he is willing to damage Democratic prospects in 2006 to further his fundraising and visibility among anti-war forces. Others contend that his proposal is furthering contemporary Democratic interests, and hurting President Bush and the GOP. I believe Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard may have expressed this view. I hate to admit it, but I don't know which side is right.

Austin, Tex.: In your opinion, did the president help or hurt his case for the war in Iraq at today's press conference?

Tom Edsall: From his point of view, he has to be out front pressing his argument for continued support of the war. During the press conference, there were times when he appeared rambling and unable to provide the kind of concise, direct answers that signal confidence. I don't think the hypothetical undecided viewer watching his performance would feel reassured.

Washington, D. C.: Do you see any serious prospects for lobbying reform in the current Congress? Does the wave of Republican retirements have anything to do with the prospect of lobbying reform?

Tom Edsall: If I had to bet, I would put my money on no bill, or, at most, a modest bill of little long-range consequence.

Read the full transcript of Tuesday's Politics Hour discussion.

Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET: Washington Post White House reporter Peter Baker hosts the Post Politics Hour. Submit a question or comment here.

By washingtonpost.com Editors  |  March 21, 2006; 7:07 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Comments

google is the good search engine.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2006 3:57 AM | Report abuse

As a democrat, I'm tired of squeaker elections-- can't we field a candidate who will win in a landslide?

Come back to us, texas-- we miss you.

Posted by: Jake | March 23, 2006 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Oh wait. Maybe that's just me.

Posted by: Gravy | March 22, 2006 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Like Cheetos

Posted by: Gravy | March 22, 2006 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Can we finally get a definition of what it means to be of the America that every politician seems to be out of touch with?

You have Democrats and Republicans and then you have everyone who is forced to be associated with one or the other. What about those of us who split the party lines. We used to be republicans until the republicans forgot this little thing called separation of church and state...

What happened to small government and fiscal conservatism. OK maybe I just miss the good ol' GOP.

But to imply (correctly IMHO) that McCain cannot win the nomination based solely on what used to be the values of the GOP.

Can we please cut off the Ultra left and Ultra right and have an election that reflects what the majority of Americans consider important.

Posted by: Dan | March 22, 2006 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Folks, think back 32 months. That takes us back to about August 2003. Now imagine how much has changed since that time. Imagine what the conventional wisdom was back then and how wrong it all was. Imagine all of the rosy pronouncements of the administration about the war and the economy and the deficit.

Imagine just little more than a year ago when George W. Bush had political capital to spend--he thought--and he was going to spend it on private social security accounts. Here we are little more than a year from all that and Bush's capital is gone and he is now in a hole.

All of this conventional wisdom about McCain and Rudy and Hillary--forget it. We are so far away from that event that it is like speculation on how things will be at the beginning of the next millenium. An omniverse of things can happen between now and then that could change the fortunes of everyone involved.

John McCain gets cancer. Bill has another widely published fling and out goes Hillary. New faces and new names appear and captivte the nation. A nuclear bomb is detonated somewhere in the world. The economy collapses under the weight of debt. Rush Limbaugh dies of throat cancer demoralizing the conservative base. Howard Dean is indicted on campaign finance fraud. Dick Cheney dies of a heart attack. Al Gore is drafted and becomes the frontrunner.

These are merely examples of events that might impact the mood of the electorate in 2008. It is too early to be showing polls.

Posted by: Jaxas | March 22, 2006 10:27 AM | Report abuse


AND THE WINNER OF THE 2006 ELECTIONS IS,,,,,

California Sued Over Diebold Voting Systems

Tue, 21 Mar 2006 21:13:50 -0800
Summary:

Diebold came under file in California after the state’s March 2004 primary election for glitches at polling places attributed to its voting systems. Some activists have questioned their vulnerability to hacking and manipulation.

“Glitches,” my ass.

What we need are hand-counts and paper-trails. What’s so freaking hard about that?!?
[Posted By ShiftShapers]
By Reuters
Republished from Reuters
The latest salvo in an ongoing dispute about the security of Diebold electronic voting machines.

San Francisco – Some California voters and activist groups sued the state’s top election official on Tuesday in an effort to reverse the certification of certain electronic voting machines made by Diebold Inc.


FOR THE REST GO TO:
http://www.guerrillanews.com/headlines/8228/California_Sued_Over_Diebold_Voting_Systems

WWW.ONLINEJOURNAL.COM
WWW.TAKINGAIM.INFO
WWW.WSWS.ORG
OTHERSIDE123.BLOGSPOT.COM

Posted by: CHE | March 22, 2006 3:35 AM | Report abuse

By the way, does being in touch with America mean that you have to put on a cowboy hat, clear brush and pretend like you're an average guy rather than the millionaire son of a president, grandson of a senator and great grandson of a wealthy New England banker?

Or does it mean that you have to wear your religion on your sleeve?

Ooh, ooh, I know, it means you have to either dumb yourself down enough to appeal to the lowest common denominator, or simply be dumb enough to begin with.

Yeah, you're right. Kerry is out of touch with America, and so are democrats generally. Republicans've got their finger on that pulse though.

Posted by: Gravy | March 22, 2006 3:06 AM | Report abuse

From the WP story on the Florida teacher pay program:

"Many schools now hold elaborate pep rallies for students before the tests, as North Twin Lakes Elementary did here recently. Dressed in T-shirts that said "We can do it!" the children sang to the tune of Lou Bega's hit "Mambo No. 5.":
------------------------------------------
Put a little FCAT in my life/A little bit of reading by my side/A little bit of writing is all I need . . .

I'm doing good on FCAT/Yes I am ."
-------------------------------------------

J.H. Christ!! Those kids are going to absorb stupidity being forced to sing such retarded songs.

I'm willing to say right now that I will vote for any candidate, republican or democrat, who's willing to outlaw ridiculously awkward adaptations of popular songs at school pep-rallies. I mean, this is our children's future for J.H.'s sake!

In fact, I'll support any candidate who's willing to ban pep-rallies altogether. Hell, let's just outlaw pep.

Once we've accomplished this we can move on to the important work facing this nation, such as putting a stop to BTQ abuse.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2006 2:49 AM | Report abuse

That's OK on the reposting - it happens to a lot of people.

But just remember - Kerry is doomed. What a creepy individual. Completely out of touch with America.

Posted by: Sandy | March 22, 2006 12:10 AM | Report abuse

sorry about the reposting, having some troubles with the wireless today, hit the submit button too many times.

Posted by: CollegeWoppy | March 21, 2006 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Agreed on Kerry.

scottmandubious - I disagree that a McCain candidacy is doomed to fail simply because the GOP rank-and-file know that they can't elect a Bush clone this year, which would knock out a good portion of the candidates. In addition, they'll be unlikely to vote for Guiliani, Allen or Romney, who all run left of McCain. That said, whether or not McCain can win the general depends on who the Dems put up. If it's someone polarizing (*coughHillarycough*), he has a shot. Same if it's someone like Kerry; a candidate with no substance. If the Dems put up a decent nominee who can appeal to moderates and the base, then they prolly have the general.

http://cosstandard.blogspot.com

Posted by: CollegeWoppy | March 21, 2006 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Agreed on Kerry.

scottmandubious - I disagree that a McCain candidacy is doomed to fail simply because the GOP rank-and-file know that they can't elect a Bush clone this year, which would knock out a good portion of the candidates. In addition, they'll be unlikely to vote for Guiliani, Allen or Romney, who all run left of McCain. That said, whether or not McCain can win the general depends on who the Dems put up. If it's someone polarizing (*coughHillarycough*), he has a shot. Same if it's someone like Kerry; a candidate with no substance. If the Dems put up a decent nominee who can appeal to moderates and the base, then they prolly have the general.

http://cosstandard.blogspot.com

Posted by: CollegeWoppy | March 21, 2006 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Agreed on Kerry.

scottmandubious - I disagree that a McCain candidacy is doomed to fail simply because the GOP rank-and-file know that they can't elect a Bush clone this year, which would knock out a good portion of the candidates. In addition, they'll be unlikely to vote for Guiliani, Allen or Romney, who all run left of McCain. That said, whether or not McCain can win the general depends on who the Dems put up. If it's someone polarizing (*coughHillarycough*), he has a shot. Same if it's someone like Kerry; a candidate with no substance. If the Dems put up a decent nominee who can appeal to moderates and the base, then they prolly have the general.

Posted by: CollegeWoppy | March 21, 2006 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Kerry is a buffoon

Posted by: Sandy | March 21, 2006 11:22 PM | Report abuse

The Democratic Party establishment may not appreciate Feingold's "run and hiders" comment but the rank and file party members are fed up and know's he right. Dean didn't win in '04 because the rank and file of the party determined that he couldn't win the general election not because we followed the party establishment. Well Feingold is Dean without the scream and we just might decide that he's the real deal.

http://www.intrepidliberaljournal.blogspot.com

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal Journal | March 21, 2006 10:12 PM | Report abuse

I can't see how any Democrat or Independent will support Sen. McCain based upon his capitulating to the extreme right of his party. Couple this with the fact that the extremist right will demand him to be in lockstep with their social issues and I think a McCain candidacy, at this point, is doomed to fail.

As for Sen. Feingold, any reading of the blogosphere, or even conversation with Democrats who are not necessarily seen representing the 'extreme' left of the party, shows a lot more support than one would think by the tepid Senate response.

I strongly suspect, that when Democratic Senators hear from their own constituents, there will be a gradual move to the Sen. Feingold bandwagon. Dems risk far more by being afraid to challenge Bush on the wiretap issue and letting him define it.

Additionally, poll results make very clear that censure is not an "extremist" position.

I think the real fear for the GOP is the loss of both the House and Senate which would, for the first time, lead to oversight. If that is the theme that Dems campaign on they will win in '06.

I am assuming, of course, that we keep tabs on voting machine issues. We need to ensure that our votes are counted properly. There is too much at stake.

Posted by: scootmandubious | March 21, 2006 7:44 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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