Aug 27, 2010

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

Good morning everyone. Washington has been rocked bythe news this morning that phenom Nats pitcher Stephen Strasburg could well miss a full year with a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament.


It's also been a very busy week in politics with Lisa Murkowski staring down a likely primary defeat, John McCain triumphant and Rick Scott as Florida's Republican nominee.

Lots to talk about. So let's do it.

What are Lisa M's options if she ultimately comes up short after absentee's are counted, endorse Miller, stay neutral, endorse McAdams, etc?

It's not entirely clear.

What we know is that she can't run as an independent because the filing deadline to do so was way back in June.

There is some talk that she could run as a write-in candidate or as a Libertarian.

My guess is that she loses, she is talked out of taking either one of those options because it could imperil the party's chances of winning what should be a slam dunk race.

Even Democrats acknowledge that McAdams in a one v one race with Miller would struggle. And, with former Gov. Tony Knowles taking himself out of the running for the seat, it seems unlikely Democrats have a chance for a surprise pickup.

Can you have Dana Milbank go to the Glenn Beck thing this weekend dressed as a Founding Father, videotape it, and then let the magic happen?

Ooh. That could be (web) television magic.

Has Hayworth endorsed McCain? If not, do you expect him to? I gather McCain isn't worried about Hayworlth's supporters sitting out the general election. What about Alaska? If Miller win the primary, can he win the general election without Murkowski's support?

I haven't seen any reporting that Hayworth has endorsed McCain and I am absolutely certain it doesn't matter at all in the general election.

Democrats nominated Rodney Glassman, a young guy with a bright future who most party officials believe has absolutely no chance of even making a serious run at McCain.

OK, so maybe there is a gypsy curse on Strasburg after all, making him as the Washingtonian with the Worst Week. Yet, if this helps, Tommy John won more games after his surgery than before it. By the way, isn't it a bizarre conincidence that Tommy John would need the exact same surgery they named after him?

I am hoping that this isn't Strasburg turning into Mark Pryor. Baseball generally -- and D.C. baseball specifically -- needs Strasburg. 

Hard throwing, young, great story etc.

At least we still have Bryce Harper...

Check out this morning's video chat with Chris on Who had the Worst Week in Washington?

It kind of makes sense for Bill McCollum to decline to endorse Rick Scott--endorsing the man you called a crook would look like a lack of integrity. Plus, if Scott loses, McCollum can run next time against Sink. It's gonna get ugly: a couple of days ago, the evening news had a wire story about Sink pledging the standard "issues" campaign...and the next break led off with a Sink spot about Scott's corruption. Sigh.

Oh it is going to get VERY ugly.  

I bet McCollum is ultimately brought around to offer some sort of tepid endorsement for Scott. The bigger question though is whether the party apparatus, which was wholly behind McCollum, will rally behind Scott.

Scott is already doing outreach to some of the most influential party insiders to try and make amends for the primary. But, the danger of having such a late (and nasty) primary is that the hard feelings don't have time to go away between now and November.

Alex Sink is banking on it.

Considering 1) huge Rep primary turnout, 2) a Rasmussen poll showing Scott up and nearly twice the number of Democrats saying they would cross over and vote for Scott than Republicans willing to vote for Sink, and 3) Obama's terrible approval numbers esp in FL: isn't Sink the one in the hole with unity problems?

One poll -- good or bad for either side -- doesn't make a race.

I think the idea that Scott can't win is entirely overblown. But, I also think that he needs to find a way to rehab his image with voters in the state between now and Nov. 2.

While he did beat McCollum on Tuesday, his unfavorable numbers far outstrip his favorable ones.

And, unless he can mitigate that, it could be tough for him to be a credible messenger against Sink.

Of course, Scott open checkbook can solve a lot of problems too.

Forget Lisa Murkowski. The co-winners are Steven Strasburg, the Lerners, and all Nats fans. What a disaster.

Agreed. It happened too late to make the Nats organization the winner of "Worst Week" but man oh man is this bad news.

That thud you heard was ticket sales falling through the floor.

Chris - Are you going to the Glenn Beck concert tomorrow? If not, who's the Post sending?

I am not (Catholic field hockey scrimmage!). But, we have a cavalcade of reporters who will be on the ground reporting on the rally. Stay tuned to the Post all day for the latest and greatest from Beckapalooza.

Mark Prior, not that Mark Pryor, Chris.

Thanks. Still, his arm did fall off.

Mark Prior = shoulder injury = career over Stephen Strasburg = elbow injury = 90-95% chance of recovery Only downside is that in addition to missing 2011 and possible the start of 2012 is that he probably won't be able to really rack up inning until 2013.

Good point. Elbow injury is more easy to recover from....(he says grasping for any piece of good news out of all this...)

News out of Alaska indicates they've received just over 11,000 absentee ballots, and that combined with some questioned ballots means they may have as many as 20,000 ballots left to count. Also, the Libertarian Party up there is considering letting their candidate step aside so Murkowski can take the slot. This won't be over for a while.

No, it won't.

The more absentees the better for Murkowski since it lowers the percentage of them she needs to win to get ahead of Miller.

But, remember too that some of those absentees are votes in the Democratic primary. And, Murkowski will still need to win the remaining votes by a convincing margin to make up the 1,600 (or so) votes by which she trails Miller.

Ric Flair vs John Boeher...who do you got?

Oh man.  That is a clash of the titans.

I am taking Flair. His blonde locks really highlight the tan.

Chris thanks for the chat. I heard someone say on one of the morning talk shows that candidates who don't go negative in ads is just throwing money away in this election cycle. Do you agree?

I think that for incumbents -- particularly Democrats -- that seems right.

The simple fact -- if polling is to be believed -- is that voters are not happy with what the Obama Administration (and the Democratic-led House) has done on things like health care and the economy over the past 20 months.

So, trying to run on those accomplishment could well be playing into Republican hands.

The only way to make the election a choice rather than a referendum is to make clear to people what they would be getting if they elected the Republican candidate.

And, that education process is best done via negative ads.

in 2012 or more likely, 2013... he won't be up before then.


2011 could be a Nats wasteland.

Well, we'll always have Roger Bernadina.

Hey Chris, I couldn't help but feel like the emphasis on McCain's primary spending was a bit overblown. Obviously, 24 million is a ton of money for a primary, but what does McCain spend overall this election cycle (30 million)? I agree it's outrageous spending for a primary, but McCain's ultimate spending is going to be nowhere near the amount spent by a Rick Scott or Meg Whitman.

Well, I think it's apples and oranges to compare what self funders spend versus what non-self spenders do.

McCain's spending -- $21 million by last count -- is pretty remarkable when you consider his opponent spent $2 million. And, that he was coming off of an election cycle where he was the Republican nominee for president.

I am not saying McCain wasted money -- he won convincingly and that is, after all, what campaigns are about. But, I still find his spending absolutely eye-popping.

The best thing we Floridians have going economically right now is the combination of great weather and freedom from a state income tax. No matter what Sink says during the campaign--if she wins she'll put the wheels in motion to launch one, which will tax us even further away from recovery.


My parents are retiring to Florida. I'm pretty sure everyone's parents who retire out of state and don't retire to Arizona retire to Florida. That in mind, does Alex Sink have some room to play with Scott's alleged Medicare fraud? If it's one thing the old people hate, it's people messing with their Medicare.

And the other side...I do think Scott has to come up with a better explanation for the MASSIVE penalty Columbia/HCA paid for defrauding Medicare.


At least we still have Brian Matusz and Matt Wieters! Now back to my Strasburg voodoo doll...

Oh, well played.

Is Brady Anderson still roaming center field for you guys?

Geez, that's like finding out your loved one died from an interviewing reporter.

Thanks for the metaphor.

Does John Boehner's year long tan put Ric Flair's tan to shame?

Is it possible two different people asked this same question? No, right....?

In 1994, the House changed parties for the first time in forty years. That almost makes up for all the awful Pauly Shore movies of that same era. In 2006, the House changed hands after 12 years of Republican rule. That kind of makes up for the U.S.'s disappointing run at the World Cup that same year. Now, in 2010, the House may change hands again, which could make up for the Jonas Brothers and Katy Perry. Looking long-term, do you think the House will be in play much more frequently? Kind of looks that way.

Wow. This is an amazing question.

Putting aside the pop culture comparisons, I do think the fact that the last midterm and the coming midterm are both likely to switch a large number of seats between the two parties is suggestive that the public is not only fickle but impatient when it comes to their politicians.

Party loyalty seems to be fading -- at least temporarily -- as voters put whoever in office who they think can change the status quo.

It's a fascinating time to be a political reporter.

Is the next U.S. Senate going to be more moderate (Castle, Fiorina etc.) or more polarising (Angle, Buck, Miller)?

A little of both.

If Castle, Kelly Ayotte and Mark Kirk win, they will be squarely in the moderate Republican mold.

But, people like Rand Paul, Joe Miller and even Sharron Angle would move the Senate Republican conference to the ideological right if elected.

There will clearly be more Republicans in the next Senate than there are currently. But, it looks likely to be a more unruly bunch too.

Good morning Chris. With three recent polls showing Toomey leading Sestak by at least eight or nine points each (an Sestak's own polling showing him trailing Toomey), is it time to move this race from Toss-Up to at least Leans R? Love the chats

Thanks for the kind words on the chats. Love doing them.

As for PA, I do think it tilts to Toomey right now due, in some large part, to Obama's declining numbers in the Keystone State.

In the most recent poll where Toomey is up nine, just 37 percent of people say Obama is doing an "excellent" or "good" job. If that keeps up, it's hard for Sestak (or any Democrat) to beat Toomey.

You would think the Rick Scott fraud issue would really resonate with an electorate that is elderly. I am surprised that he wasn't disqualified in the primary( not as surprised as McCollum, obviously). To what do you attribute his win? Was it just plain and simple more money spent?

As I said before, $50 million can solve a lot of problems.

Trust me, I know. 

(I am kidding, of course. I only make $40 million a year.)

How did this poster not find out anywhere else before this? This isn't like finding out a loved one died from a reporter, this is like going to the wake and thinking it was a weird goth-themed party, then heading to the burial and thinking it was a cool magic trick.

Um, ok.

Like when Michael Scott's girlfriend shows up at a party in costume because he told her it was a costume party. (It wasn't.)

It seems that voters say they want change, but people fear change in general, so when change occurs, they become fearful. Paradox or Irony?



Scott made his money defrauding (or whatever the Feds.) Sink made her money laying off neighborhood bankers for the discredited Bank of America. Kind of a lose-lose, although Sink might be better at cutting unnecessary state employees if we give her a nice compensation package like B of A did.

Ah, politics.


How can John McCain return to the legislator before this primary campaign? He has turned his back to the dealmaker that made him

This is a FASCINATING question to me.

McCain spent the last 18 months as one of the fiercest -- and most public -- critics of Obama and Senate Democrats.

But, he is, by nature, a deal maker.

Will Democrats let bygones be bygones and find ways to work with McCain? Or will they cut him out of any bipartisan deal making -- to the extent there will be any in the two years before the next presidential -- to punish him for his ideological rightward swing?

to please get up a chat today so we can cry and lament about Strassmass being canceled for more than a year. Otherwise we're going to bombard you and Hax with our sadness today. We need an outlet please!

Thanks! We're working on it!

The candidate mattered too. McCain of McCain-Feingold spending that much money fit the narrative of the ultimate flip-flopper.

Right. And McCain's running away from the "maverick" label....

I guess the fans in Atlanta and Philadelphia can breathe a lot easier now huh?

For now. But, the Nats will start getting good. They are already much improved over last year. Obviously, the Strasburg thing hurts. Bad.

Is this a discussion @ politics or baseball?

Little of both.

And, usually some coffee talk and my overly obvious attempts to get a guest appearance on "Friday Night Lights".

Luckily for you (and unluckily for me), they have yet to make this chat mandatory for all Post readers despite my protestations.

Don't forget about the obligatory Raj Goyle references too!

What do you think of the strategies of candidates like Tom Perriello and Alan Grayson who are in GOP-leaning districts but unabashedly support the Democratic agenda? Instead of trying to run from their records or party identity, they are doing something old-fashioned and unheard-of: Attempting to convince voters that they're right. Whether you agree or disagree with their views, you've got to agree that it's a gutsy strategy. Right or wrong, there's something refreshing about a politician whose attitude is "Do what I think is right no matter the consequences" instead of "Do whatever I have to do to stay in office." The question is, will it work? Do you think Paul Wellstone-style "conviction politics" is the path to victory or obliteration for Democrats this year?

I think Grayson could win but am more pessimistic about Perriello.

That said, I think Joe Miller's likely victory should serve as a reminder to everyone -- especially me -- that politics is an unpredictable game and you never know for sure what voters are thinking.

Having spoken with Perriello several times this cycle, I think he is well aware that his votes were going to imperil him in the district. And, while I think he would rather win than loss, I think he is only willing to win on his own terms. Which, of course, may well mean he loses.

This chat also has wrestling talk sprinkled in it as well

Indeed it does...using the thinly veiled excuse of Linda McMahon's Senate candidacy to discuss the best wrestlers of all time or the best finishing moves. (I omitted Iron Sheik's "Camel Clutch" last week.)

But sadly no obligatory Bruce Springsteen references like in Paul Kane's chats...

Straburg's injury has created a darkness on the edge of town.

But, I am hoping he ultimately ends up in Lucky Town thanks to a human touch.

You could be Riggins cellmate-- pick a crime...


I like the "long lost uncle" storyline better. Bringing some order to the chaotic life of Tim and Billy Riggins.

Alternatively, I could be a guidance counselor over at East Dillon where Tammy Taylor -- new head guidance counselor -- could inspire me.

I found a deleted chapter in Bissnger's book "Friday Night Lights" where a Post reporters goes to write about Texas politics and attends an East Dillon football game. I think they should include that next season. Now, who could they get to play the Post reporter?

HOLY cow. I always suspected something like that was missing.

How about this "national reporter looks into alleged improprieties at West Dillon with Mr. McCoy as the main suspect".

My "deep throat"? Buddy Garrity of course.

Chris Cillizza writes: "This is a FASCINATING question to me. McCain spent the last 18 months as one of the fiercest -- and most public -- critics of Obama and Senate Democrats. But, he is, by nature, a deal maker. Will Democrats let bygones be bygones and find ways to work with McCain? Or will they cut him out of any bipartisan deal making -- to the extent there will be any in the two years before the next presidential -- to punish him for his ideological rightward swing?"

Isn't the answer that McCain will be treated in the same way that Joe Lieberman was? If they need McCain, they'll forgive and forget, and my sense is that they'll need him sooner rather than later.

Yup -- that's probably right. Senate politics are all about the art of the possible. You are the other side's worst enemy until they need you for something.

I've heard talk of third party candidates in a few races dividing the vote, but I'm never sure who is officially on the ballot. Can the Fix, or your two wonderful deputies put something together about that?

Do you think Saviour Saint Sarah will start stumping for Joe Miller? And how would she do it????

Well, I am not sure he needs her if he winds up as the Republican nominee.

And, whatever you think of Palin, it's hard not to give her credit for Miller's showing. There's no way he even comes close to the Murkowski without Palin's involvement.

He's not going to be playing for almost 18 months. Maybe he should run for public office - for no other reason than to make him pertinent to this chat.

DC Mayoral primary isn't until Sept. 14....

Our population, jokes aside, isn't as elderly as it used to be about ten years ago. As one generation dies, another would normally take its place--but people aren't able to sell their houses up north and cash out as much, so most of the people coming here are younger, and coming to find economic opportunity. That's one of the reasons there are so many empty condos too.

Interesting point.

I can report that my elderly parents (and several aunts and uncles) who live in Florida aren't too concerned with the Columbia/HCA issue. They basically assume that there's mucho Medicare fraud, and nothing's going to change about that. I think that that issue will be (like Blumenthal's lying about his military issue) of more concern for the media than for actual voters.

Thanks for the on the ground reporting.

If that sentiment is more broadly true, then Scott is in better shape than many people think he is.

Could you please explain the concept of hyperbole to the person who thought I was serious about this? It sucks, but no it's not the same. And I'm on vacation so I left my Strasburg pager at home.

Right. Good point.

You could be stuck in a mine until Christmas and not get to hear "how bad our government is..." Hmmm. on the other hand...

CRAZIEST undereported story of the year.

Those guys have been trapped in a Chilean mine since Aug. 5, right? And they might not get out for several more months?

Weird, scary and oddly captivating all at once.

Do you think this is likely to be McCain's last term?

I would guess yes...he would be in 80 in 2016. But, it's hard to project this far out...he does have a lot of energy for someone his age...more than the old Fix at 34...

The Daily Show did a nice picture by picture of Joe Miller and the Brawny Paper Towel guy.......

I MUST watch that.

What do you think of the rumors spreading about mischief in the absentee ballot counting in Alaska? Are both candidates 'prepping the room' for challenges?

Sure.  Murkowski can certainly afford to finance a recount -- she had $1.9 billion in the bank at the beginning of the month -- if she so chooses.

If she is behind after the absentee count, my guess is she comes under some considerable pressure not to seek a recount but that is a decision almost entirely up to her.

But my sources say Scott McAdams should not be discounted in Alaska. His 49th-state, frontiersman goatee is a lot sexier than Joe Millers'.

Just a tremendous reference.

His media approach was (is?) well-conceived too: he used "career politician" to describe the other guy (which is true, and a source of resentment among oppressed taxpayers) along with a TV tagline of "Let's get to work." Very effective, right here, right now.

Right. A very good message in this sort of year. And, McCollum had a long political resume -- Congressman, two time losing Senate candidate etc.

Expect Scott to keep running as the outsider against Sink.

Do you think McMahon's latest ad on Blumenthal's taking of PAC money further erodes his numbers? His response was pretty weak. Just wondering?

I think Blumenthal is still a frontrunner in that race. But, I also think McMahon's personal money makes it one worth keeping one eye on it.

I think Blumenthal probably is so well known (and generally well liked) by the state's voters that McMahon's money won't be able to erode him as much as it might be able to do to a lesser known candidate.

Still, this is a real race.

That's the size of the efficiency I rented back in 1997. I never had more than 2 people in there for more than one hour. 33 people stuck for potentially months in my efficiency is absolutely mind blowing. David Blaine's got nothing on these guys.


That's it for me this week, folks.

I'll be going to see the Strasburg-less Nats tonight so if you see me say hi!

And, remember that I now chat three times a week. 30 minutes on Monday and Wednesday and the full hour on Fridays!

All chats start at 11 am.

And, one other thing: If you haven't signed up for our "Afternoon Fix" newsletter -- all the political news you need in the p.m. -- you can do it with a single click of the mouse right here.

Have a GREAT weekend!


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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