Dana Milbank on Rand Paul, Arlen Specter, Mark Souder and more

May 21, 2010

The Post's Dana Milbank discusses his recent columns about and all the latest political news.

Good afternoon, Sketchreaders.  Once again, the Post's indefatigable politics producer, Matt DeLong, has been busy perusing the Internets this week to bring you this week's political News of the Weird.   I don't know how he has the energy; he must be smoking Dutch cleanser.

Dutch cleanser?   I hadn't heard of it either.  But it's what Arlen Specter, in an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on the eve of his defeat in Pennsylvania, accused Mrs. Alan Greenspan of inhaling.  She suggested that Specter's opponent had been more energetic, to which he replied: "When you talk about Sestak being more vigorous, you must be smoking Dutch cleanser."


Further perusal of the Internets reveals that Old Dutch Cleanser was, along with Comet and Bon Ami, was a brand of "pumice based kitchen cleaners."  In the first half of the 20th century – when Specter was alive but not most of us.  No doubt this explains why Sestak cleaned up on Tuesday.

Also smoking Dutch cleanser this week was Michael Steele, who as chairman of the Republican National Committee is the very embodiment of the GOP establishment – which he denied, in an interview with Fox's Neil Cavuto. "I don't even know who that is," Steele said, adding that "the last thing you can say about me is that I'm part of the establishment here."


In other Dutch cleanser news, the great Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Far Out), on a recent visit to California, met with Orly Taitz, lawyer to the "birther" movement.


Taitz is on record saying President Obama "represents radical communism and radical Islam."   She and her birther brethren got an unexpected boost from commentator Jonah Goldberg, who wrote that "the basic allegation isn't that crazy, at least in the abstract."


Others have no need for Dutch cleanser, Bon Ami or even Comet.  I'm thinking, of course, of Eme Zuru Ayortor, a Nigerian politician, who was arrested at the airport in Lagos with an impressive 4.5 pounds of cocaine – hidden in his stomach in 100 individually wrapped packages.


  Closer to home, the House of Representatives found a new way to deal with the nation's problems.  It passed a resolution in support of beer. "It does seem like a no brainer," sponsor Betsy Markey (D-Col) told Politico. Depends on how many you have.


Here's a man who could probably use a cold one:  Dale Peterson, candidate for Alabama agriculture commissioner. In his TV ad, he rides a horse and spits out angry phrases such as "Listen up!" and "Thugs and criminals!" and "They don't give a rip about Alabama!" and "Stealing yard signs in the dark of night!"  He then hoists a gun and says, "I'll name names and take no prisoners."   http://hotair.com/archives/2010/05/16/video-the-greatest-political-ad-ever/

It sounded like a Funny or Die parody – so Funny or Die put together a parody: "Give me the Republican nomination for Alabama ag commissioner or I'll shoot you in the goddamn head!"


That's just nuts. But this one is Bananas. Woody Allen, in an interview published in Spanish then translated to English, said it would be a good thing if Obama "could be a dictator for a few years because he could do a lot of good things quickly."  


Just what Orly Taitz is afraid of.

What else is on your mind this week?

When is your book on Glen Beck coming out? I enjoyed Homo Politicus, and could use another political laugh.

As it happens, when I finish this chat I am pointing my car south to Norfolk for tonight's Glenn Beck/Bill O'Reilly "Bold and Fresh" tour appearance.  Please advise me on what you think I should wear.

Book should be done in another month or so, then out in the fall.

Nothing gets me hotter than talkin' abstinence.

Then I can only imagine your reaction, Congressman Souder, to the news in today's paper that D.C. schools will now be supplying students with Trojan "Magnum" condoms.

Just curious, have you ever meet Orly Taitz in person?

What I do with birthers in my personal time is mybusiness.   (Now that should give birth to some speculation. . .)

It's powerful stuff. I've tried it. Not like Ajax or Comet. The Dutch know their cleaning products.

It's probably Pennsylvania Dutch, if it's in Arlen's lexicon.  Haven't seen the exit polls so I don't know if the Pennsylvania Dutch came out for him.  And now come to think of it I once heard Pennsylvania Dutch is a bastardization of Pennsylvania Deutsch, so the stuff is probably German.

I smoked Dutch cleanser, but I didn't inhale.

Then what's that white powdery substance around your nostrils?

Wow the advertisements between chat questions seem like enough, do we really need product placements in your comments too?

Dutch Cleanser is indeed still on the market ( at least here where the Amish shop ) and it features a small girl in wooden shoes scrubbing floors which is likely a violation of child labor laws.

But Rand Paul is probably opposed to those child labor laws because he does not want to see the government interfering in private enterprise.

People seem to think that Rand Paul's opposition to the Civil Rights Act is going hurt him politically. But we're talking about Kentucky here. Thoughts?

Happily, even the South seems accept by now, two generations later, that the Civil Rights Act was a good thing.    Though I should say I was impressed by Rand Paul's stand, until his big climbdown yesterday.  It's an abhorrent view, but you have to give him credit for taking his libertarianism seriously -- to the point of political suicide.   

"Please advise me on what you think I should wear." How about the smoking jacket... and nothing else?

If only I had one with the "Don't Tread on Me" pattern.

The far right in Israel is planning on protesting Rahm's sons and nephews Bar Mitzvahs in Israel. Might be sketch worthy.

This was another item the great DeLong found, but it was left on the cutting room floor.

Here it is.  I particularly like the tasteless pledge to "blow up" the event.


Much has been made of ol' Ben Nelson never having used an ATM. But isn't that just because lobbyists pay all of his expenses so he has no need for cash?

Do you think he has to enter a PIN when he presses the lobbyists' buttons?

to actually debate real issues on TV? Rachel Madow gets Rand Paul to go on "enemy TV" and they spend 20 minutes discussing whether or not he is "Racist?" I would rather hear intelligent discussions on how to solve problems (pick any problem- energy, two wars, falling econmy, health care, wall street and have a real debate...instead we get dumbed down and...it's like high school sometimes...jr. high, actually).

I feel just the opposite.  When the interviews are about the usual topics in the news, you get the canned responses.  In this case Maddow (actually Robert Seigel started it on NPR) took him to a place where he gave a candid answer.  It tells us a great deal more about him than his boilerplate policy positions on issues of the day.

A Sombrero, a woven Poncho, and a cartoonishly large mustache. Also, don't bring any identification.

Now we're talking.

See this space next week for my "Letter from a Norfolk Jail."

Michael Gerson seems to think that use of anti-government rhetoric and the presence of radical libertarians in the Republican Party is a strange new phenomenon. Seems to me like he's been sleeping for last couple decades. What do you think?

Well, Michael is hardly an objectivist observer.


Apparently Rand Paul told the press he would pay for Barack Obama's plane ticket to come campaign in Kentucky for Rand Paul's Democratic opponent.

What Rand Paul didn't mention was that Barack Obama would have to sit at the back of the plane.

Only if Obama flew commercial.   Paul thinks it's ok to prohibit segregation of government facilities (like Air Force One), just not private ones.    Besides, we press hacks get the back of Air Force One, and nobody would call that sort of discrimination unfair.

Was that Rand Paul or Souder who scurried in front of the podium before the press conference? And I noticed that Mitch McConnell changed his coloring faster than a cuttlefish, which is also spineless. So, in summation, are the Republicans looking especially feral this year?

Fur sure.

The orly taitz link links to a page that tries to install a virus. Please remove link.

Another birther conspiracy!

Poor Mr. Obama. First Arizona sets up a law that would probably get him deported, now Kentucky is not going to let him use the restroom.

But I'll bet Haley Barbour will invite him to go swimming off the Mississippi coast.

Jonah Goldberg better get a cold compress ready. Rand Paul has made a number of appearances on the radio show of Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist who not only says that the Bush administration was complicit in 9/11 but that a Satanic international cabal has been "steering planetary affairs for hundreds of years." This is much, much better than opposition to the Civil Rights Act or ADA--I demand to hear those audio clips.

This is getting me in the perfect frame of mind for Bold and Fresh tonight.

Has Scott Brown turned into Ben Nelson of the Republican party by constantly voting with the other party? And we all know how beloved Ben Nelson is by the Democratic base.

But surely the Tea Party folks in Massachusetts will be reassured that Brown changed his vote to yes on the financial bill after he was reassured by. . . Barney Frank!

Did Dennis Blair jump or get pushed? Any chance they renominate Chas Freeman?

Not pushed so much as steamrolled.    The Washington Sketch wishes to nominate Alex Jones for the position.

What about the idea that criticizing BP is unamerican? Does he have a thing for the empire? Is he a monarchist? Perhaps you could inquire with Mr. Beck this evening?

You think there's a Q&A?   But I think I'm in the nosebleed seats -- will have to yell it very loud. 

Has there been something added to the D.C. schools' lunch program that we should know about?

The first lady has them on a diet of nothing but organic kale.  I'm going to get me some on the way down to Norfolk.

Hey Dana, why is the media so passive about Supreme Court nominations? The media seems to completely concede that it has no right to ask a nominee any questions at all. This is for a lifetime appointment on the highest in the land and we have to rely on the senate hearings. I understand why a White House would want a process with little scrutiny but why do the media and public docilely accept that?

I agree-- and Kagan herself said so, before she was a contender herself.  Although in this case I think it would be perfectly appropriate to ask some softball questions.

Take a blackboard and chalk with you.

The ticket says no recording devices, but nothing about chalk.

Your column about the class of 1994 with Republicans who have had affairs, cash exchanges with Abramof, etc. Wasn't this the terms limit class who ran on Contract with America that included a pledge to pass term limit legislation? Why are some of these people still around?

And thank goodness they didn't make good on that.  Where would the Washington Sketch be without these guys?

There are only really true choices: the orange hat and crossing guard jacket or drag. Just do a Google image search for Dana Milbank if you want to see.

The photos in drag are actually Rudy Giuliani.

Did the House Resolution make any specific mention of Hillary's favorite beer?

Old Speckled Hen.

(What did you think I was going to say?)

Ok folks, I'm off to the Tidewater region.  It's going to be a bold and fresh night -- I can feel it already.

Thanks for chatting.

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Dana Milbank
Dana Milbank writes the Washington Sketch column about political theater in the capital. He joined The Post as a political reporter in 2000, after two years as a senior editor of The New Republic and eight years with the Wall Street Journal. He is also author of two political books, Homo Politicus (Doubleday, 2008) and Smashmouth (Basic Books, 2001). He lives in Washington with his wife and daughter. • Dana Milbank Bio & Archive
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