Feb 11, 2011

Get your Friday Live Fix as Chris Cillizza discusses the Friday Line, the Worst Week in Washington, Congress, the Obama administration and all the latest political news.

Hello everyone! It's been as busy week as I can remember i politics -- two Senators stepping aside, CPAC and, of course, the unfolding situation in Egypt.

Lots of questions in the queue so let's get to it.

In CPAC yesterday, a few speakers made jokes or veiled references to birther controversies. How is the press going to handle such things if a 2012 presidential candidate makes a comment on the issue?

The only person I saw/heard make a reference to President Obama's birth certificate was Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador. (There may have been others but I didn't see/hear it.

I cannot imagine any serious candidate for president on the GOP side would go ANYWHERE near the issues and, if they did, it would show colossally bad judgment.

The 2012 election will turn on the economy, health care and maybe even foreign policy. It won't turn on the proven fact that President Obama is an American citizen.

Umm, yeah, so Christopher Lee. Discuss.

Worst Week in Washington Winner! In a landslide.  

LINK: http://wapo.st/dN0JqH

Also, Chris Lee set back the cause of shirtless pictures for decades.

Does being forced to resign your seat in Congress because of a sex scandal automatically bump you to the top of the list for "Worst Week in Washington"?

Yes. It. Does.

See above.

I think the best part of the whole thing is the woman broke off contact when she found out he wasn't a lobbyist like he claimed, but was instead a congressman.

Should have said he was a journalist and the flirtation would have never even started!

Do Democrats have any shot at picking up Chris Lee's district in a special election? I know the district has a decently strong GOP tilt, but stranger things have happened in specials.

A shot? Sure.

I think the bigger question is whether Democrats, who are deeply in debt at the moment, want to spend precious time and energy on a special election in a seat that could well be eliminated in redistricting.

New York has to shrink by 2 seats before 2012 and at least one of them is coming from Upstate. With Lee bowing out, his 26th district is now at the front of the line.

Be honest. Isn't Trump in full publicity mode because he has a new edition of his TV reality show about to go on air?

Yes.  And, even he DOES run for president is there ANY reason to think he would be even a semi-serious contender?

Anything from the CPAC Convention surprise you yet?

*Romney not mentioning health care

* Newt delivering a LONG speech about energy

* Santorum speaking to a room that was at least one-third empty

What else?

Gingrich callling anyone else clumsy in diplomacy. Spitzer commenting on Rep. Lee's sex scandal.(Sadly this didn't happen, but one can dream). The Donald being taken seriously at CPAC. Looking for other definitions. Please advise.

A fly in your chardonnay?

Death row pardon a minute too late?

I am just spitballing here.

Can you comment on the entertainment potential from the obvious animosity between Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum as the 2012 election cycle approaches?

On a scale of 1 to 10, it's an 11. (It's like 10 but one louder.)

I actually think it's smart of Santorum because he is punching up in picking a fight with Palin.

I guarantee you more people know his name after that skirmish than did so before.

Why Palin responded is beyond me. She is punching down, which does her absolutely no good politically and could even hurt her by making her look small and petty.

Rick Santorum hasn't received rave reviews at CPAC, but Bachmann and Trump have. So how much influence does CPAC really have. I mean, John McCain ended up the nominee and he wasn't a CPAC favorite.

An important point.

Know who won the CPAC straw poll in 2007 AND 2008? Mitt Romney.

And he still didn't beat McCain for the presidential nomination.

While it's easy to get caught up in the idea that CPAC represents what conservatives across the country think, it doesn't.

It's a sliver of the GOP electorate and while a strong speech at CPAC can help a candidate at the margins, it's not even close to a make or break moment.

Except for a certain ex-Representative, would CIA Director Leon Panetta be a lock for worst week all based on one day's repeated mis-statements? (Which his staff kept walking back until he said it again and again) The best info our CIA has is watching CNN? WTF!

It was actually closer than you might think between Panetta and Lee.

Panetta's testimony yesterday was really a bad PR move -- particularly when Mubarak decided not to step down.

But, in the end, I just kept coming back to that photo. And how could I not give it to a Member of Congress who sent a shirtless picture of him flexing to a stranger?

Too short to really enjoy all the aspects of the scandal... no Jon Stewart or Colbert to comment, no SNL sketch---no denfense by his collegues.

Agree. It was a scandal made for Twitter.

Even though Arizona is Republican-leaning, I would imagine that Democrats would seriously contest this race. If Gaby Giffords doesn't run, who are some other likely contenders?

The Democratic bench in Arizona is surprisingly thin.

Giffords and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano are the first tier.

People like former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, former state Attorney General Terry Goddard and U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke are the second tier.

Could a second tier Democrat win? Sure. But, Arizona -- particularly in the wake of the national immigration fight last year -- leans toward Republicans.

So she doesn't look small and petty already with all the cheap shots she has taken at anyone that has dared to disagree with her?

I do think her policy of engaging almost anyone who criticizes her is a mistake.

People want their presidents to be big/magnanimous. Palin's willingness to get in the weeds to fight back against alleged slights paints her as the opposite of that.

Normally, it would lead me to conclude that she is not running for president. But, Palin, more so than any other politician I have ever covered, doesn't play be the normal rules.

I feel that political pundits can't win with mentioning U.S. Rep. Giffords among potential candidates for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Arizona in 2012. Either you look like goul and uncaring to her still rough medical situation and looking more interested in horseracing of politics. If you don't mention Giffords, you look like you are acting like she isn't on the road to great recovery as well as ignoring a real factor in politics since Giffords herself was considering a run and even her husband and best friends think she will stay in politics.

I wrote about it yesterday and, you're right, it's tough.

The fact is that Giffords would have absolutely run for the Senate opening if she hadn't been shot.

Now, my sense is that her allies want to carve out some time for her to recover and be able to make a decision about whether to run or not.

I don't know if other Democrats will wait around to see if she is up to it and wants to do it though.

Publicity, man, publicity. But why CPAC? No one thinks of him as a conservative.

Why not -- to your point.

Publicity is publicity is publicity.

Trump figures that he goes into a semi-hostile environment, fights a little bit and comes out with a YTON of press clippings.

Which is exactly what he did.

What about Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon?

Absolutely. I have heard him mentioned too.

So, I must repeat the question: Santorum, really?

I was a little surprised by the lack of energy for Santorum.

If there ever was a crowd tailor-made to his unapologetic social conservatism, it's CPAC.

But, he isn't the sort of big name that draws people into the room for curiosity's sake.

By contrast, every single seat was full when Newt spoke. That's Santorum's problem: he is a low profile guy running in a field with lots of high profile guys and women.

Worst Week? I get we are impatient society, but Pres. Mubarak resigned today so it isn't exactly like Leon Panetta is dead wrong.

Missed it by one day!

If Giffords does run, she's unbeatable in the Democratic primary, and maybe in the general election. I'm guessing she won't, because recoveries from brain injuries are slow and difficult. But who knows?

I think all of that analysis is probably right. But, since I know less about medicine than I know about math -- which is almost nothing -- I am staying away from speculation about whether Giffords could recover in time for a Senate race.

If Santorum missed his chance, as you suggest, who do you think can get the biggest boost coming out of the weekend? And when are these people going to announce they're running, already?!?

Well, the speeches are still going so I think we have to wait and see. No one wowed yesterday, which leaves an opening for someone to do well today.

Early reviews out of Romney is that his speech was well-received in the room but he is drawing criticism for not mentioning health care at all.

Is there any scenario under which Rick Santorum wins the Republican nomination? Gets elected as president? If not, why is he running?

I think because he genuinely believes that the process needs his voice.

As to whether he can win I highly doubt it. But, as you point out, stranger things have happened.

At what point will people learn that the naked or half-naked pictures taken in a mirror using a camera phone are a really bad idea and no good can ever come from it? I understand that teenagers are that stupid, but if congressmen can't see why they should think twice, is there any hope at all?

Answer: probably never.

Ah, human nature!

Why did Chris Lee quit so quickly? People accused of far worse have hung on for far longer: Craig, Ensign, Vitter, Pres. Clinton. Was there something else out there on Lee?

Two theories:

1. He was trying to save his family from further embarassment.

2. There is more stuff like this out there and he figured to leave before people hunted it down.

Is Arizona as Republican as New Jersey is Democrat? In other words, does a Democrat (other than Giffords) have a real shot at capturing this seat in a presidential year? Arizona hasn't had a Democratic senator since '95.

As I said above, it's a tough state.

But either Napolitano or Giffords would have a real chance.

The Tea Party is saying that they will target Snowe in 2012. Can she survive a primary challenge from the right?

It depends.

Snowe is a moderate, and proud of it. And Maine's tea party faction flexed its muscle last year when they pushed Paul LePage to the governor's mansion.

The question is whether a credible, conservative alternative to Snowe will emerge and whether that person can win the support -- and funding -- of national tea party groups.


Congressman, I served with John Ensign, I knew John Ensign, John Ensign was a friend of mine. Congressman, you're no John Ensign

So. Good.

You replied, "Why Palin responded is beyond me." Fix, that's what Palin does! She lacks the ability to pick her fights judiciously. I predict that will ultimately be her politcal downfall.

I think you may be right.

Does he want to be a one-term congressman? Otherwise why invite Mark Foley to a public event? If you're representing a Democratic-leaning district, why speak at CPAC? That's not going to win over little old Jewish ladies. Maybe he wants a career in talk radio.

I think Rep. West figures he is going to do things on his pown terms and see how it works out.

I agree, however, that he is more conservative than his district and by flaunting that he is making it harder on himself.

He resigned? In the middle of the chat? Why - didn't you answer his questions? Trying to be the late spoiler for worst week?

He did resign!

Here's the WaPo story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/11/AR2011021102386.html?hpid=topnews

Let's not forget that Arizona Republican Party might nominate a Russell Pearce, Joe Arpaio or J.D. Hayworth who have little to not appeal to moderate voters as well as get the blood boiling of liberal voters.

Absolutely. Always possible that the primary process for Republicans or Democrats produces a candidate who cannot win a general election.

Don't forget LePage will help blunt some Tea Party opposition because he's come out in support of Snowe.

Good point.

How likely? And if he loses, could Democrats win the seat?

I think he is in real trouble -- particularly because state Treasurer Richard Mourdock is going to get into the race later this month and will likely be a credible alternative for conservatives who no longer want Lugar.

Lugar's insistence on dismissing the tea party or challenging them does not seem to me to be a smart strategy.

Enough with congressmen resigning and budget battles! Enough with Egypt & Mubarak! Enough with CPAC! Please, what did you think about the FNL final episode?

I am an NBC FNL watcher not a Direct Tv one. So the final season has yet to begin for me.

I have heard it is wonderful. I plan to relish it like a fine wine...a box of Franzia maybe.

Was the CPAC darling last year? Is he making any noise this year?

Not speaking. Which is smart.

To get reelected in Massachusetts, Brown needs to win independents and even some Democrats. That's not the kind of crowd who would be particularly excited to hear that Brown gave a speech at CPAC.

Has Newt lost his mind? Or does he really think that everyone has forgotten what a hyporcrite, and just how plain disgusting he is?

So, you are not planning to vote for him for president?

Or should I put you down as a "definite maybe"?

I live in Maine and our political bench for both parties is shockingly thin. It's so thin that Paul LePage was elected governor. There is no one remotely credible in the face of Olympia Snowe. If she loses in the primary, it will likely be to some loony toon. She's a lock to win as an independent, because again, no bench over here! Do you think a state with credible bench strength would elect Susan Collins to anything?

Man. This questions attacks everybody. Bipartisan attacking.

But, the point on the shallow Maine bench is worth noting, I think.

Any "dark horse" candidates at CPAC? People who have surprisingly strong followings? What do non-Paulites think of Ron Paul?

Keep an eye on Herman Cain today at 4:30. My best is he will wow. Not sure it makes him anything other than an extreme long shot but it could be entertaining.

When I went onto IMDb this morning, it had a headline about Arnold Schwartzenegger seriously considering a return to film now that he's stepped down as governor of California. Perhaps I missed a memo recently, but when did he step down???

Term limited out in 2010.  Jerry Brown is now governor.

Mental note: Don't rely on IMDB for your up to date political news.

Didn't Donald Trump too sort of weave into the birther question by mentioning we had no idea "where Obama was from", "nobody knew him" etc.?

Any analysis of what the Donald said is too much analysis.

We need an "environmental solutions" agency. What's that?

An agency that provides environmental solutions, of course!

You have a prediction, goggles?

Um, i have no idea what this question means.

If it's about the coming Senate Majority Whip race, I think it's too soon to know.  If Thune is in, it's a different race.

Could a Democrat beat him? Joe Donnelly probably is going to be redistricted out -- why not run?

Could? Sure. But Mourdock is not Christine O'Donnell -- obligatory chat reference to her now out of the way -- and Indiana isn't Delaware.

Republicans note that Mourdock won more than 1 million votes the last time he was on the ballot and believe him to be more than capable of holding the seat if he beats Lugar.

Do you want your Fix nation to tell you what happened?


Repeat: Do not do this.

Am I the only person who has a sense of cognitive dissonance that a nobody like Lee resigned over a silly photo while Charlie Rangel is still hanging around? Whose sins are actually worse? Or does the presense of the "D" after Rangel cure all ills?

Resigning is an individual choice. Some people choose to try to gut it out -- Mubarak-style -- while others go gracefully into that good night.

You can argue the political smarts of both approaches. But, I think these decisions tend to be emotional not political ones.

Before drinking, swirl the wine and hold it up to the light to savor the color through your Dixie cup.

That sentence encapsulated much of my college career. I was a refined drinker.

I like the job I currently have, why in the world would I want to get involved in the petty politics of the Senate?

Thanks for joining the chat, governor.

And, I think you are right about all of that. So, when you decide to announce you aren't running, can you shoot me an email before you send it to any other reporters?



if you want angels, then you don't want the best leaders. Big leaders, big flaws. it's the way of the world. You want an angel, you might get another carter. great, is that what we *really* want? really?

So, go big or go home?

How great would that be as a campaign slogan for someone?

Also, I am still waiting for the candidate who picks DJ Khaled's "All I do is win" as their entrance music.

It would bring the house down.

maybe i should move there and run...hmmm...

Congressman Ford, you live in New York now.


Why doesn't Lugar just run as an independent? Why risk the wrath of Republican primary voters?

Because he believes he can run and win as a Republican as he has done since he was elected in 1976.

One side note: Indiana has a sore loser law so Lugar couldn't run as a write in or independent if he loses the R primary.

He's been quiet. Did he go to CPAC or is he laying low at this point? I know he is distancing himself from the Tea Party.

Unless I missed it, Rubio is not going to CPAC.

Sorry, no comment here. Just a caption.


That was a Family Guy reference. Of course it was about the Senate. You're better than that.

I am not a "Family Guy" guy. Mrs Fix=not a fan.


...is that Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton win long-overdue Emmys.

At the 2009 WH Correspondents Dinner I stalked the two of them all night.

When I finally found them and introduced myself I was like Chris Farley interviewing Paul McCartney.

When I started to go into a riff about how much the show meant to me, I shut it down, thanked them for their time and walked away.

I gave myself a C- for the entire performance

He hears there's an opening.


Isn't that Bill Clinton's theme song whether it would be played or not?


And I bet Bubba would LOVE to enter to that tune.

"Hit my music!"

That's all for me today!

(Fun Live Fix chat fact: I did half of this chat sitting outside a coffee shop in the freezing cold! Dedication!)

I am off to CPAC for Day Two. Don't forget to follow the Fix live blog for all tyhe latest and greatest from the conference.

LINK: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/eye-on-2012/cpac-2011-the-conservative-pol-1.html

See everyone next week. Same Fix time, same Fix channel!

In This Chat
Chris Cillizza
Chris Cillizza is the managing editor of PostPolitics and he 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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