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The Live Fix with Chris Cillizza: Health-care reform passes, tea party protests, Artur Davis, CSPAN rules, Rand Paul, has John McCain lost his way?

Mar 26, 2010

Every Friday, The Fix goes live, as Chris Cillizza discusses the latest news about Congress, the Obama administration, upcoming elections and all the latest political news.

I am taking a break from the never-ending Fix nanny search to bring you our chat this morning.

Health care has passed (finally), primaries across the country are starting to get engaged and baseball season starts in just days.

Let's do this thing

If the Tea Partiers keep up their nasty rhetoric and violence continues w/o the Repubs tamping it down, do you see this hurting the Repubs in November?

The last week has been the best week in recent memory for Democrats on the issue of health care.

Passing the bill finally allowed Obama and congressional Democrats to cast off the narrative that they simply coudn't get anything big done in Washington.

The protests and violence that have followed the vote haven't been particularly helpful to Republicans but I'm not sure they will ultimately be held accountable for it.

I think health care remains a real jump ball politically. Polls that came out just before the bill passed showed a majority of American opposed to it but data since passage has been more optimistic for Democrats.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that health care will define the 2010 elections. EVERY poll suggests that the economy and jobs will matter far more. Health care will be a part of the conversation but, at least today, it won't be the most important issue for most voters.

Unemployment is at 9% It's not likely to fall very much by Election Day There's nothing Obama can do about it Democrats are screwed. Anything to disagree with here?

Most people within the Administration -- including Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner -- have acknowledged that unemployment is not likely to drop significantly between now and November.

Given that, I think the best Democrats can hope for is that it begins to drop heading into the fall -- even if that decline is marginal.

Democrats need to be able to go to voters and make the case that the policies they are putting in place are working for them to avoid the typical first term, midterm doldrums.

Polls showed consistently that 10-15% of voters thought the Obama plan was "not liberal enough" or "didn't go far enough." They seem to make the difference between a clear majority opposing the plan, and a 50-50 split. What do we know about these people? What's likely to happen to them?

A good point.

My guess is that most of these people would identify themselves as members of the Democratic base and, if so, it's hard to imagine that they will walk away from the party because the bill didn't do enough.

I think the biggest difference for Democrats over the last month of the health care debate was a renewed energy and support for the bill among its base.

If Democrats can keep that excitement up then the healh care bill could well be a political winner regardless of what it does on the policy front. Midterm elections tend to be base turnout affairs and up until the health care bill passed Democrats were struggling to excite their base at anywhere near the levels of the GOP base.

Chris, It seems like the Republicans have really painted themselves in a corner here. Firstly, painting the bill as "socialist" and a "government takeover" made it impossible to negotiate a compromise with the Democrats. It seemed to me that they believed that they could stop the bill from passing by painting it such. Then, when they realized that the Dems were going to go ahead, they tried pushing back on process issues (reconciliation, back room deals, etc.), thinking that this might stop the Dems. Now that the bill has actually passed and is the law, I don't see any possibility of repeal (see Dana Milbank's column last weekend). How do the Republicans move forward here? If they keep screaming and using terms like armageddon, they'll appeal to the +/- 40% who agree with them - but they'll never attract the big middle. I keep waiting for a grown up to stand up and say something like "The bill was a bad bill, but it is the law. Let's now work with our Democratic colleagues to implement the law in the most effective way, and be prepared to make changes as needed." However, the folks I would think most likely to say this (McCain, Romney), and who could pull the party back from the brink are doing the opposite, because that's what they have to do to win primaries. Your thoughts?

Republicans believe -- and pre-passage polls bear this out -- that independents are more likely to be skeptical than supportive of the bill.

The question is whether now that the bill has become a law (and, yes, i always hum the Schoolhouse Rock jingle when I write those words) whether independents will support Republican calls to repeal and reform the bill or whether they will pull back from that skepticism.

Republicans are placing a BIG bet that independents stay opposed to the bill all the way through the fall election.

So, had any good cupcakes lately? (this is not a metaphor)

Thanks for the question.

Me, Charlie Fix and the Fix mother in law made a trek out to Fairfax last week to go to Cupcakes Actually.

The results were disappointing. The dipped cupcakes with ganache rocked but the rest were only so so.

I stand by my previous rankings:

1. Magnolia Bakery in NYC

2. Hello Cupcake

3. Baked and Wired

4. Lavender Moon

5. Gtown Cupcake

U.S Congressman from the Alabama 7th voted against health care reform. Who is also a member of the CBC. He represents a district which has 18% of it's residents uninsured and portion of the district is the poorest in the state. Sen. Hank Sanders of the state senate wrote Artur to call him out on his vote. Mr. Davis over the past few days has issued statements explaining his vote. There was even an article in the Post concerning Artur's actions. Davis must win in the June primary to advance to the general election for governor. Do you see a backlash from his base because of his vote? Without a heavy turnout from his base Davis he goes down to defeat. There are those who are saying " Vote Anyone but Davis".

That was a general election vote by Davis. While you're right that he does have a primary, he clearly believes he will win it and isn't worried about any potential base backlash because of his vote.

I think he made the calculation that supporting the bill at any stage would have made him totally unelectable this fall and, as a result, came out early (and stridently so) against it.

I was down in Falls Church last week and happened to hear you on the Diane Rehm show (I love her show, grew up listening to her, but my NPR station up here doesn't carry it). She is such an excellent interviewer. Good to hear your voice!

Oh yeah! Gratuitous Diane Rehm reference!

And, thanks. Diane rocks.

When I turned to CSPAN at midnight and found the Senate still in session I was so happy! I don't know what's wrong with me, but I think I've watched over 50 hours of that channel over the last few weeks, heck I even DVR'ed 6 hours so I could also watch March Madness! So my question is, do I have a problem and what's the cure?

If that's wrong, then I don't want to be right.

Look, Congress can be boring as hell. But at big moments with the political heat turned WAY up and the outcome of a vote uncertain, it is absolutely riveting stuff. Just basic human drama.

And, where else could I have seen Alan Grayson's American flag tie? USA! USA!

Few predicted the surplus at the turn of the century. Economic history is full of unexpected events. I am not sure the economy will be active or an major issue. If the President looks to be in command, he can do wonders for his party. Nothing? He is POTUS. Lots of stuff that he can do.

I do agree with this.

I don't think Obama can "turn" the economy -- the world economy is too big to even contemplate that -- but he does have the bully pulpit and, therefore, the ability to frame any and all events in the way he wants.

As Obama showed with his road show on health care over the past week, he is still a very effective messenger for the party when he wants to be.

If anyone can bend the political curve before November, it's the president.

I'm dead. How does health care affect me?

You may be dead but, according to Rick Perry, Sam Houston would have made a better president than you.

So, take that Abe.

My congressman Fred Upton is a pretty rational guy, no Tea Partier, and would go along if there was any chance for agreement. Why, and he is not the only rational Republican, do they seem to present such a negative front. Is that just the press's doing?

I don't this phenomenon is new to politics or life.

The people who yell the loudest and do the most outlandish things are the ones who get the attention. Squeaky wheel gets the grease, good news doesn't make the news and all those other cliches.

Republicans have to be careful that a few loud voices that are only tangentially tied to their party don't wind up being seen by the electorate broadly as the faces of the GOP.

John McCain seems to have lost his way. He appears to have wandered from his "Country First" persona of the 2008 election back to the cranky, petty politico we know well in Arizona. From your point of view, is he in real jeopardy from J.D. Hayworth in the Arizona GOP primary? And if Hayworth wins the primary, will Gabrielle Giffords leave the House to run against him? Some polls show her at risk in her district. But then Spanish-speaking citizens don't receive many polling calls. They do, however, vote.

McCain is much in the news today because the Sarah Palin is out on the campaign trail with him.

I still think McCain will be ok in the primary against Hayworth but would caution that primaries are almost always low turnout affairs and, therefore, very hard to predict.

McCain is paying LOTS of attention to Hayworth, which would suggest that he and his team think the threat is serious.

As for Giffords, I think she has her eye squarely on Sen. Jon Kyl in 2012 -- assuming she wins this fall in her southern Arizona swing district.

Heya Chris, So, I know the general explanation for Rand Paul's lead in KY is his support from the Tea Party crowd (he's up by roughly 10 points, right?) but his views on a few topics are closer to libertarian than republican (I'll let others decide which is more conservative). If he does win, does this mean the Republicans are shifting towards a big tent focused solely on fiscal discipline/smaller gov't? Thoughts?

Good question.

I do think Rand Paul is ahead at the moment and he is clearly  closer to the world of Libertarianism that he is to the center of the Republican establishment.

But, I think a Paul victory on may 18 would be more about the dislike for the establishment in the electorate at the moment than anything about a strain of libertarianism creeping into a dominant role within the GOP.

What do you make of Rep. Tom Perriello of Virginia? Does he fall to the conservative bent of his district, or do voters give him credit for having the guts to make unpopular votes? Agree or disagree with his votes, his blunt honesty is both rare and refreshing, and he seems uncommonly unafraid of losing an election.

I am actually going to be doing a profile of that race in the very near future so I don't want to give away all the goodies yet.

That said, what's fascinating about Perriello is that he has made a conscious decision to make "principled" rather than "political" votes.

Given the demographics of the district he represents, he could have made a very good case to the White House for why he needed to vote against cap and trade and health care. But, he didn't.

I am not sure the electoral math will add up for Perriello in 2010 given that turnout will be lower -- particularly in the Democratic hotbed of Charlottesville.

Okay, so former Governor Ehrlich (or as Marc Fisher calls him, Bobby Haircut) hasn't officially announced yet, but are there are polls or insight you can tell us as to if he has a real chance to beat Governor O'Malley in their rematch this fall? If an anti incumbent feeling among voters continues from spring through the summer, I think we could be in for a competitive race in MD (which is unfortunately rare.) But I wanted to ask the expert (you). Thanks, and go CUA!

Cheering for Catholic will get you everywhere in this chat.

Ehrlich is running. Can he win?

O'Malley's numbers aren't great and Ehrlich, even though he lost the seat in 2006, remains a well liked figure by voters in the state.

He is running in what looks to be a far better political climate for Republicans and will be able to tap into his fundraising and grassroots networks to quickly put together a solid campaign.

That said, Maryland is VERY Democratic and so O'Malley has to be considered the favorite. (O'Malley's campaign put out a poll about a month ago showing him ahead of Ehrlich by 10 points.)

As Scott Brown prove, however, just because a state is Democratic doesn't mean that a Republican can't win. Ehrlich's candidacy makes this a real race and one to watch.

The mustache says it all - Chick's dig em' Although there's a solid initial poll for Lazio, Levy has 4.1 million too Lazio's 600K. The State Party Chair and their Mutual Hometown Chair is backing Levy. I say he creams Lazio in the primary. And I also predict that while Cuomo is the clear favorite, Levy gives him a hell of a race. What say you Chris? And before you right off the new Raj Goyle, remember another popular Northeast LG taken on by a scrappy underdog - "Senator Coakley"

While I am in favor of all candidates with mustaches, I am not sure I agree with your analysis.

Levy, a former Democrat, has gotten off to a pretty rough start so far. And, party switchers always struggle because the party they have joined don't trust them entirely and the party they left hate them with the white hot passion of 1,000 suns.

I tend to think Lazio might eventually wind up as the nominee although I think whoever is the GOP nominee will almost certainly be a sacrificial lamb for Andrew Cuomo in the fall.

Any idea who will be challenged Rep. Kratovil in MD's 1st District? I'd have to think that he's in for a tough reelection, is Andy Harris the favorite to be the Republican nominee?

Andy Harris, who beat thn Rep. Wayne Gilchrest in the 2008 primary but lost to Kratovil, is the likely nominee.

Republicans see this as one of their top five (or so) pickup opportunities in the country.

With Opening Day around the corner, what event are you most looking forward to that day, Tiger's Q and A, baseball, or the NCAA title game even with your Hoyas out of it?

I take no joy from the Tiger Woods thing.

College Basketball died for me last Thursday night right about the time Ohio hit its 15th consecutive, contested three pointer.

So, baseball it is!  Let's go Nats! A full summer of the ex-presidents racing around the I can't wait.

Oh pleeze! How about pull the party up by his bootstraps.

Um, ok. Choose your own metaphor.

Even if Gabrielle Gifford lost this November, I don't think that would both her ambition and prospects to run against Sen. Kyl in November 2012. Especially considering Barack Obama was doing well in polls in Arizona in 2008 and his campaign might invest into turning that state blue (he might not need Arizona's electoral votes to win, but more red to blue states in 2012, more political capital for Barack Obama's second term).

Maybe not but it is hard to justify to the party why you should be the Senate nominee soon after you lose a House race.

Just ask Jon Porter in Nevada.

Tommy Thompson seems like an odd fit for the Senate. He's 69 years old, doing well in the business world. and has had a full life. His stint as HHS Secretary and run for the GOP presidential nomination didn't turn out so well. He's spent his life as an executive, and seems ill-suited for the hyperpartisan, gridlocked Senate. Plus his last serious race in Wisconsin was in 1986. So is he going to run?

I would be VERY surprised if he did.

That's a hunch as it's very hard to get any solid, reported information out of the close-knit Thompson advisers.

I have been told by very credible people that he is seriously thinking about it and is likely to make  a decision before the state party convention in late May.

My hunch that he won't run is based on all of the reasons you outlined above AND the fact that he has considered running for office again for much of the past decade and always decided against it. Not sure why that would change now.

Zilla- Just finished rereading Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72. How parallel is Palin to Eagleton? A VP choice to placate the regulars but one that ultimately undermined the credibility of the main candidate. They're all better than Admiral Stockdale.


That book is AMAZING. A prominent member of the Fix's best political books of all time.

I hear good comments about the passionate speech that President Obama gave on health care last weekend. Should President Obama consider becoming more outspokenly passionate, and might voters better respond to him in this manner, than the more cautious speeches given prior?

I think many of his advisers (and Democrats in Congress) would like to see him be more passionate and more populist.

The problem? Obama isn't like that by nature. He is more of an intellectual -- examining the problem clinically from all sides before making a decision.

Obama was at his most effective on health care when he was out on the stump for it over the past week -- and in his appearance in Iowa City yesterday.

The question is whether he can keep that sort of passion and rhetoric up for the next seven months. And, even if he can, does he want to?

Yo, Abe Lincoln, you may be elgible for health care due to your preexisting death condition, but you can still vote in Philadelphia.


Dude, you just started an Internet meme to rival "Chuck Norris is so ..."

Rick Perry says coffee is actually tea.

And I believe him.

Are you not entering your coffee shop location this morning because of the rash of broken windows at cogressional district offices. Do you need plate glass insurance to continue The Fix ?

I employ a full time retinue of security guards to protect me from those who would do me harm.

Actually, I am in the Fix home bunker this morning due to the aforementioned nanny search. (If you know of any mary Poppins-types, send them my way.)

Jammin Java remains my goal in the near future. I am like a nomad with the chat at the moment...roaming here and there, never finding a place to lay my weary head.

Hopefully Jammin Java is that home.

I noticed you stop with the YouTube videos of "What to watch out for today in politics" When I saw you yesterday on MSNBC with Steve Kornacki, it made it wish you did some chats with other political reporters. Would you consider it? Who would you do a chat with? I have suggestions, but usually better if you know the person.

I did stop but we are going to be doing LOTS more web video in the near future.

As for Bloggingheads, I could do it with Ben Smith maybe. He's smart as hell and (I think) he likes the ole Fixeroo ok.

Wasn't his office vandalized by someone opposing the healthcare bill?

it's nice to know there are people out there constantly scheming ways to get Raj mentions into the chat.

It brings a smile to my face.

Steve Levy is the new Raj Goyle? No way. Raj Goyle somehow (not exactly sure how) got himself into being a regular feature in this chat despite never really coming up at all in the actual "The Fix" blog. Congrats State Sen. Goyle. I don't know what it means, but it's something.

"I don't know what it means but it's something."

I am adopting this as my new mantra in life. Everyone needs a mantra. Sometimes I forget mine.

Also, is there a better movie, ever, than "Annie Hall"?

So, wasn't yesterday a great day to be a Hoya? Syracuse loses, and a great shot-blocker (Moses Abraham) chooses the Hoyas over, among others, Indiana. Blah, blah, Health Care, Tea Party, Economic Stimulus, blah, blah - college basketball season starts in a few more months!

I tke no joy in the Cuse loss but I take MUCH joy in Abraham committing to the Hoyas.

We now have three top 100 prospects in the fold (Abraham, Markel Starks and Nate Lubick) with a really strong class returning.

Returning, right Greg Monroe?

Don't they give you a desk at The Post...?

Sure....but this chat can't be confined within an office.

I am, like Scott Brown or Huey Long, a man of the people. So, ideally I want to find a spot where people know I am going to be every Friday and can come by and say "hi" or "I hate you Cillizza" or whatever else comes to mind.

My goal is to have a little coffee klatch after the chat finishes up on Fridays where we can talk politics, music and field hockey.

A boy can dream...

Did you hear there is a new cupcake place in Alexandria? It's called... Alexandria Cupcake. As far as I can tell, no relation to G'town cupcake. It's on King Street. Haven't been but definitely want to try!

WHAT? My weekend plans just changed.

Will report back.

Also, in the "bad idea jeans" category: Deciding to give up sweets for Lent. I am barely surviving.

Got another commitment last night. 6'9", 237 pound banger Moses Abraham. Do you think he, along with Markel Starks, Nate Lubick and the 6'5" winger that committed earlier this week can help provide some hoya redemption?

See above.

And, yes, I am not above public lobbying to try and keep Greg at G'town for one more year. You can't get those Wisemiller's sandwiches in the NBA!!!

Can Georgetown Alumnus Ted Leonsis turn around a floundering Wizards organization in the same way he did the Caps?

Georgetown alumni can do anything.

Thanks for letting me take an hour long break from "The Fix Nanny Search, 2010 edition". (It's much less fun than it sounds.)

Have a great weekend. And, when you meet up with friends, try to casually drop the following into the conversation: "Hey, do you read that guy Chris 'The Fix' Cillizza's chat? You should. It rocks."

I don't ask for much ;)


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Chris Cillizza
Chris Cillizza writes "The Fix", a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House for the newspaper and website. Chris has appeared as a guest on NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and CNN to talk politics. He lives in Virginia with his wife and son.
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