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Chatting With The Fix

I chatted online yesterday for the daily "Post Politics Hour" on washingtonpost.com.  There were more questions submitted than my hunt-and-peck typing could get to,  so I plucked out a few of the best leftovers and answered them below.  Enjoy!

Boston: Isn't the GOP House shooting itself in the foot by putting up either Blunt or Boehner? As Shadegg himself said on FOX News, after the host detailed Blunt and Boehner's questionable dealings, (in an uncharacteristically honest moment for any politician) "I think my record, the level of taint is dramatically different than either of them."

The Fix: This question points to the interesting conundrum of House GOP leadership elections. In order to be considered truly viable, a lawmaker needs to have connections throughout Washington -- including on the K Street lobbying corridor.  Lobbyists donate and help raise the dollars that fund the leadership PACs run by many senior lawmakers; those dollars are then doled out to vulnerable incumbents and up and coming candidates. Members of Congress who don't play that game find it hard to drum up support from their colleagues when these leadership slots come open.  So Shadegg is right that he has less of a lobbyist "taint" than either Blunt or Boehner, but that also means he isn't likely to seriously challenge the two of them in next month's race.

Alexandria, Va.: Plenty of liberals think Hillary is a hack, a traitor to progressives for her "triangulation." Don't think liberals will get revved up for her the way so many will go all-out to stop her.

The Fix: There was a huge response to my "Parsing the Polls" post yesterday taking a look at whether Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) can win the presidency in 2008.  There's no question that there is unhappiness toward Clinton among the Democratic Party's most liberal activists over her seeming slide to the center.  Because of that there seems to be a slot to Clinton's left for an anti-Hillary candidate to emerge.  That candidate could be Al Gore, John Edwards, Russ Feingold or someone else yet to emerge.  Beating Clinton in a Democratic primary remains a difficult proposition given what is likely to be a massive fundraising edge and her status as the only woman in the field.

Indianapolis, Ind.: Wouldn't just a photo with Abramoff derail any chance of an incumbent being re-elected?

The Fix: I don't think so. The politicians who are in real trouble in connection with Abramoff are those that not just took money from him or had their picture taken with him but also had a former staffer closely aligned with the disgraced lobbyist or look to have performed a quid pro quo for the campaign cash.  We'll see how Abramoff plays out in November but for now I don't think simply standing next to him means an incumbent will lose.

Again, here's the transcript of yesterday's Web chat.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 26, 2006; 12:47 PM ET
Categories:  Fix Notes  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: R.I. Senate: Does Chafee's Future Hinge on Alito Vote?
Next: Bob Ney Not Afraid of a Fight

Comments

Often pollsters make the mistake of evaluating policy decisions in a vacuum. For example: I was against the war and I do resent the fact that Clinton has not come out more strongly in opposition to it. It seems a position she has chosen solely to preserve her "electability"; I don't for one second believe she thought the war was the right decision. But that does not mean I would support a candidate who only was to the left of Hillary. Hell, I would consider supporting John McCain, whose support of the war was obviously misguided (in my opinion) but probably more sincere.

In short - same policy, two different opinions about the candidates, for all those political intangibles (leadership, sincerity) pollsters also track, but also in a vacuum. It's the policy plus the intangibles! Ignoring that equation is the same mistake Dems have made in "testing" their policy decisions over the years.

So don't assume that because liberals also dislike her that there's only room for a candidate to the left of Sen. Clinton. I'm a moderate (despite how "anti-war" is generally and wrongly perceived), and I'm one of many I know who believe the Dems need a better candidate, and not necessarily one who's more liberal.

Posted by: Kate | January 27, 2006 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Please Dems do not support Hillary. She will lose the election and we will see once again the decline of the Democrats as a national party.

Posted by: Josh | January 27, 2006 12:08 PM | Report abuse

From my outsider perspective, Hilary Clinton has failed to show any leadership and thus is unworthy to lead the Democratic party via the Presidency. The job of an opposition leader is to expose the weaknesses in the policies and behaviour of the party in power. Attack, question, embarrass. God knows there are plenty of Republican policy disasters and questionable behaviours to pick on. Regardless of what the polls say, it is the opposition's job to move the electorate, not pander to it. In this, Hilary Clinton has been conspicuous by her absence.

Posted by: Eric Yendall | January 27, 2006 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm a democrat and would prefer that Hillary not be our candidate. No, she's NOT a Republican (I guess we have our share of wingnuts, too). I just would like to have a candidate that wouldn't cause Americans to roll their collective eyes and sigh, "Oh no, not again". But if the party chooses Hillary to be the candidate? I'll support her completely.

Posted by: marcia | January 26, 2006 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and Cilliza, I missed your chat, but I have a question for you:

Do you purposefully report perceived positive aspects of the GOP and negative aspects of the Dems as part of an agenda-driven bias, or is it a deeply-seeded pathological committment to fantasy over reality?

*** Jeopardy theme music playing ***

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | January 26, 2006 3:50 PM | Report abuse

jenniferm:

IMHO, you hit it right on the head with your last line.

At President Bush's Press Conference today he was asked about this issue a handful of times. The BAD journalists continued to ask about the photos with Bush (giving him an "out" that: 'HEY, I take pictures with thousands of people.' swagger swagger snicker snicker smirk smirk....).

The one GOOD journalist there asked about the MEETINGS that Bush "staffers" aka Rove, had with Abramoff... Bush's answer to that? 'HEY, I take pictures with thousands of people.'

At this point, I would put the chances of Abramoff affecting policy at the Executive Branch level at, oh, hovering near 100%.

Also, Im usually not so keen on sloganeering (sp?) but I have to admit, Im at a loss for a better way of describing the Abramoff - DeLay - Bush Admin - Reed/Norquist - K St Project as anything but a Culture of Corruption.

And speaking of... Im def a fan of Rep Pelosi, but if anybody from the Pelosi camp is watching this blog, she had BETTER get a 3-pronged bullet-set of responses to Bush/Rove's stated position of running on National Security. B/c in response to a question re: National Security at the Dems State of the Union today, she spoke for like 5 mins. She was 100% correct in everything she said, but I can just imagine the GOP, Independents, Non-voters and probably 1/2 of the Dems falling asleep to her response to THE single most important question of this election cycle.

Her response to national security questions should be:

1) N. Korea/Iran Nuclear WMD Development
2) Failing grades from the 9/11 committee on Homeland Protection
3) Iraq mismanagement and total failure to catch Osama Bin Laden

She, and everyone else, should be prepped for rapid response. It should take 5 seconds to answer that question in a hard-hitting fashion, and imho, long-winded bloviation like that does the Dem Party a disservice.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | January 26, 2006 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand the stonewalling by the WH of pictures of Bush and Abramoff. If they had just put it all out there (and, of course, created some news that might drown out the splash--like they usually do) it would have all blown over. But now the story is STONEWALLING. Not the pictures or any meetings. The perception now is that they are HIDING SOMETHING.

If as Bush says, he never met the man, then what is the big deal. Isn't the job of the WH staff to protect the PRESIDENT. Maybe they are trying to protect someone else--like maybe a high level staffer with other legal problems.

Posted by: jenniferm | January 26, 2006 2:59 PM | Report abuse

This unelectability thing is just hogwash to drive good people out. Sen. Kerry was the nominee because he was perceived to be the most electible and you know the result. Hey, here's a novel idea, let's vote for the person who would make the best President in these times. You think that might work?
I'm not saying Sen. Clinton is that person
yet, but she would still make a fine president and it's about time we have a female President. I personally would prefer either Sen. Feingold, former Vice President Gore, or General Wesley Clark but Sen. Clinton is fine with me, too.

Posted by: Jason | January 26, 2006 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm NOT a liberal Democrat - I'm a moderate. I HATE the idea of Hillary as a candidate for president. In fact - NONE of my Dem friends - even the liberals - want to see Hillary run.

WHY?

We don't want another republican president.

HILLARY CLINTON IS UNELECTABLE

Posted by: Mod. Dems Hate Hillary | January 26, 2006 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Chris, thank you very much for posting additional questions and answers. I, and am sure countless other political junkies, appreciate it!

Posted by: Jason | January 26, 2006 1:45 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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