The Fix Live

Mar 01, 2013

The Fix's Chris Cillizza discussed the latest in political news.

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Good morning everyone!  The sequester hits at midnight and no one seems to think a last minute fix is coming.

At least Z Burger is giving away free burgers...

Let's do it.

Bob Woodward "embellishes" the truth quite a lot, and that is a well-known fact in journalistic circles. I have no doubt that he wasn't threatened by anyone at the White House. I am sure the person said something along the lines of: "you will regret that you misinterpreted what the President said and wrote about it." But, Woodward likes to go on TV to play the victim. He took way too much credit for his part in uncovering the Watergate scandal (just ask the prosecutors and congressional people during that time). He should be ashamed of himself for what he's trying to do to the Administration now.

Let's get the Bob questions out of the way.

First of all, Bob is without question one of the best political reporters ever and, without him, the Washington Post wouldn't be the Washington Post.

The back and forth between he and Gene Sperling seems to me to be the sort of contentious relationship that reporters have occasionally with sources -- nothing more and nothing less.

Chris, Maybe you can explain the political gain of the republican party for the sequester for me? They bet that their general approach of cuts only and not compromsing and not raising taxes would win them 2012 as Ryan Lizza explain in his profile of Eric Cantor, it did not obviously and it seems as if the sequester will impact the economy and Republicans are in general getting blamed in public polls for the sequester. What are they gaining from this politically (firing up a base that is clearly not enough to get them win a presidential election) or am I missing something here, a policy victory (these cuts are seemingly dumb and will impact the economy it seems?) Where is the political upside for the Republicans in this fight??

I think you have to think of it this way: On fiscal cliff they agreed to raise taxes, which many in their base hated.  To do so again so soon would create the real risk of a full abandonment of the etablishment of the party of the base.  And, in order to win anything you need to build from your base outward.

Given that, I think Republicans may be ok with a strategic loss on sequester in hopes of winning broader battles down the line.

Chris, how are we to believe that the elected representatives in Congress actually care about this country? I understand that there are differences, and that both sides are right and the other side is wrong to their base. But that didn't stop advancement when the stake of the country was on the line for the first nearly 200 years of it's existence. It seems that the last 20 years has been the birth of politics aimed at winning for winning sake, not winning for good of the country. Any further proof we need that they don't care, Congress is taking a 3 day vacation. They left for 9 days for Presidents day, came back, tossed crumpled balls of paper in a trash can to see which ideas they'd put in a bill, and when those didn't work, they're bailing as times get tough?! really?!

This is a VERY common sentiment -- including from my sister-in-law!

I think politicians are walking a very fine political line at the moment...

Would you say that New York has the best chance of being the state that produces the next president, since Clinton, Cuomo, and Gillibrand -- all with a decent chance of making it to the White House -- all hail from there ... sort of? What other state has the best chance of producing the next POTUS? What state has the least chance?


The Delmarva area isn't bad either: Biden (Delaware), O'Malley (Maryland) and McDonnell (Virginia).

How can they POSSIBLY think that the American public will be on their side in this, especially after they start to feel the effects? I'm not being partisan, I am genuinely confused as to why they would make this gamble and why they think it will pay off for them. I genuinely do not see how this can possibly turn out well for them.

Again, you are thinking of the sequestration politics within the context of a national audience. I am not sure that's what is going on here for Republicans.

I think they, rightly, believe that to raise taxes again is simply not something they can do and hope to keep their base engaged.

No question, just want to highlight for the obnoxious Syracuse fan(s) on the chat last week exactly how much the Hoyas styled and profiled all over their house. WHOOOOOOOO!

Just an amazing win. And the UCONN win on Wednesday was almost as amazing.

As Milhouse Van Houten once said, "We are now through the looking glass"

Wait, did you do this unbidden? Did you not see my piece this morning in which I make the SAME reference! Great minds.

Here it is:

The Republicans seemed to have played the sequester perfectly - downplay the impact and sell the public on the cost savings while blaming any problems on Obama. Should they push Obama for large tax cuts and deep spending cuts with the threat of shutting down the government? I would think they could easily blame Obama for the shutdown and get everything they ask for and more (with the way Obama negotiates).

You're right to note that the March 27 deadline to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government is the Next Big Thing.

John Boehner just came out and said the House will pass a CR next week...

So what are the odds that both parties are crazy like foxes and actually wanted this sequester to go through?

I think that when the sequester was proposed last year neither side thought it was even a possibility.

But, as the deadline got closer, I think Republicans saw it as a chance to get cuts they wouldn't be able to secure otherwise and Democrats saw it as a place where they had the political upper hand. And so, here we are.

I wrote a piece a few weeks ago about the political inevitability of the sequester (and why):

My Best Friend's Wedding, Bring it On, AND Clueless references on the Fix all in one week? Does this mean I can look forward to headlines like "Obama to Tea Party: 'Stop trying to make 'fetch' happen'"?

Well, I do love me some pop culture. And, my favorite piece I wrote this week was that "My Best Friend's Wedding" is like the sequester piece.

It's here - read it (since no one did when I wrote it. Sad face):

Describe the rigors of reporting, writing and appearing on several MSNBC programs. When does one sleep?

From midnight to 6-ish am.  It's actually great. My issue is wedging in all the shows -- Americans, House of Cards, Nashville -- that Mrs Fix and I want to watch.

Prediction: Will Michelle Obama make an appearance at Wrestlemania?


I was REALLY disappointed CM Punk didn't beat Cena for the chance to take on The Rock.  Punk is my favorite wrestler since Rowdy Roddy Piper.

Some friends and I are looking for one more tenant to fill our underground sequestration bunker. We've got three years worth of canned goods, and a whole bucket of Jason Statham DVDs. You in?

Only if we lead off with "Snatch".  Brad Pitt's finest hour.

Chuck Todd writes "A conspiracy theorist might conclude that politicians want the cuts to go through while not getting blamed for them." So now I have to be disillusioned with both sides? Is the President to be blamed as much as the Speaker?

Chuck is right.

Remember that this is $1.2 trillion in cuts that no one -- Democrat or Republican -- has to vote for (or against).

Is Romney back?

Literally, yes. Figuratively, no.

It sounds like Woodward might have overreacted but in a broader sweep, other journalists have really been threatened. Do you think the press will push back hard enough to change this?

The relationship between politicians and the press is, inherently, adversarial -- at times. That has always been true and, I hope, will always be true.

Do you need an assistant/protégé? - @FigDrewton

We are always looking for good young people to help the cause.  Also, Fix Aaron likes his shirts pressed several times a day...

I'm having Tension Tamer tea--hope you have something much better.

Grande mocha. It's my default drink now. Also,  I am now paying for Starbucks via an iPhone app. I am relentlessly hip.

Of all days for Z-Burger to do that.

It really kills me. Cheese pizza here I come!

How good of a Virginia Governor's race will it be if Bolling runs as an independent?

I have been very skeptical of him doing it but if you listen to what he's been saying of late it sounds like he might be leaning toward it.

I continue to believe a third party bid is a spoiler not a potential winner. And if Bolling helps elect the Macker, his name is going to be mud with Republicans forever. He knows that...

Latham is out, so the "Anybody but Steve King" Republicans are turning to Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds who has never run a statewide race on her own. Should announced Democratic candidate Rep. Bruce Braley be breathing a bit easier?

And Reynolds said this week she won't run if King does. Here's the reality: No one left in the field can beat King in a primary.

So what happens when airplanes don't fall from the skies, teachers aren't fired in mass numbers and the world keeps spinning? Will the fear mongering stop and real discussions on reigning in the budget start?

I think sometime between March 4 (Monday) and March 27 (government shutdown) we will get some real negotiations. I really don't know if those negotiations turn into a deal though. The two parties are REALLY far apart on how best to fix our debt problem.

You wrote the GOP would have the "real risk of a full abandonment of the etablishment of the party of the base." Where would they go? To the Democrats? Really?

Just become totally unethusiastic. And that is a HUGE problem heading into a midterm election

When you wrote, "The back and forth between he and Gene Sperling," I am sure you meant "The back-and-forth between Gene Sperling and him" or "between him and Gene Sperling." Subject/object/verb, Chris...try to keep 'em straight, willya?

The grammar police!

Your piece on the uncertainty of where the sequester blame will lie is really intriguing and a top drawer use of a Van Houten quote. On the more ridiculous side of this affair, for an already embattled institution, can there be a worse image than Congress bolting as the sequester hits?

No, there can not be.

And to quote the sage again: "Everything is coming up Milhouse!"

Yes, but will it be something the Senate and the President can agree on?

Um, no.

The previous question about NY politicians reminded me of something from last week, when you mentioned the possibility of Cuomo as Hillary's running mate. Can't happen, constitutionally -- the president and VP can't be from the same state. Bush/Cheney had to scramble to "return" Cheney to his original home state of Wyoming (he had long lived in Texas). No way could Clinton/Cuomo get away with that. Hillary had to fight the carpetbagger image when she moved to NY and, by all appearances, she and Bill have embraced NY as their home state. I don't think she could plausibly skate around that. (And where would she go? Back to Arkansas, where she would lose her home state? Chicago, which she left at 18? DC, which no politician wants to claim as "home"?) And you can't possibly make Cuomo a non-New Yorker.

Ah! Helpful. Thanks.

Hi Chris, I know how you wore about the survival of Mike Eruzione, but you need not worry. I see he sold his Olympic jersey for $660,000.00.


This may be the first No. 1 ranking in their History. Oh, and congrats to UVA for beating Duke. Does Coach K have a problem with good engineering schools? - Signed, a Lehigh Alumnus

Georgetown could well be top 5 next week if we can beat Rutgers this weekend.

An amazing coaching job by JTIII and and an AMAZING season by Otto Porter Jr.

Is he now the front runner for the GOP primary in Iowa?


Good riddence to the former Big East.

Apparently we are keeping the name the Big East for the new conference. And we are adding Butler and Xavier which is AWESOME news.

I was hoping The Cilliza would make an appearance at Wrestlemania. Remember last year when you skipped watching Wrestlemania to attend The Boss show at Verizon Center

I am waiting for my invite...

I would LOVE a piece with the hed "stop trying to make fetch happen." Given the perennial obsession with trying to describe policies in blinkered, obfuscating ways, it would work in so many situations!


Does Christie look stronger to independents by being dissed by CPAC

I am not sure indies are paying all that close attention at the moment.

And, remember that to start appealing to independents Christie has to win over Republicans in the GOP primary.

Hi Chris, I noticed that you live in Falls Church, Va. Do you have a favorite lunch and dinner place?

Pietanza! The Fix fam eats there like 3 times a week.

What do you think are the chances of the GOP breaking apart into two separate parties by 2016 or 2022?

I think very unlikely. But I do think there is a HUGE divide -- tonally and on some issues -- between the base and the establishment wings of the party.

Please tell an intern from overseas that House of Cards does not correspond to reality! I am worried that I may be too much of an idealist for this kind of job.

I am going to start watching it this weekend...

Tsk tsk tsk. "From midnight to 6-ish am." - your response to a question about when you sleep. Recent research has show a large increase in risk of stroke for people routinely getting less than 7 hours of sleep!

Ok. I will add an hour.

After you get up, daily what do you read in the morning? NYTimes, Politico...

I watch: "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" an "Jake and the NeverLand Pirates". It really gets me ready for the day.

Florida, Texas, Kentucky, South Carolina, Michigan, in that order.

Florida is a good call with Jeb and Rubio.

I think it's time to stop treating the back and forth on these manufactured crises as news, and start treating them as a theater critic would. The outcome does indeed impact people's lives, but the "negotiations" themselves are purely for show.

Totally agree. I do tend to treat them like that when they deserve it. And this "negotiation" definitely deserves it.

How far are you now through the series? Have you met Gus yet?

Just got to "Better Call Saul!"

Just need Fix Aaron to appear more on MSNBC. Dozens of his fans request it

He rocks. That baby-faced handsomeness..

Chris, given the self-congratulatory tone of everything you write, I am guessing you are a member of the Millenial age demographic. (Me? I'm a Gen-Xer.)

Just wait until I start referring to myself in the third person only. Chris Cillizza thinks that's an idea whose time has come.

I believe I called that win for your boys, right here, last week. And you should be proud of that win in Storrs, too, although we almost got you. Good thing you won't have to play us again until next year's Final Four.

Is UCONN eligible to compete in anything for a few years?

I know you said you were done with the Woodward questions, but I was hoping you could answer one more. Why does the WH (not just this one, but Bush and Clinton before it) give him that kind of access? What's in it for them? Seems like a coin toss at best that his book will match up with their preferred messaging, so why bring him into those meetings at all?

Because he is Bob Woodward. He's like Ron Swanson, but for journalism.

Did you try this Starbucks offering last month? Or course, not nearly as good as PSL, but interesting.

Intriguing. Will order it up this pm.

Will there be an official The Fix March Madness tourney pool?

Should there be?

Do you think that gun ownership is going to be the 21st century version of smoking? I sense that the tide is turning in public attiudes

Not sure that it is. Yes, there does seem to be an increased desire for stricter gun laws post-Newtown but not sure that guns as part of the culture are going away anytime soon.

I know it's a lot of TV, but you should also really check out the BBC House of Cards and the other two series, To Play The King and The Final Cut.

Noted. I am making a list.

Oh, get over yourself. (The previous chatter, not Cilizza.) I'm pretty sure Chris is actually one of us -- and our generation practically invented the ironic self-reference (perhaps in reaction to the boomers' self-absorption). Sorry you seem to have been left out of the humor distribution.

Chris Cillizza endorses this.

CC: I watch: "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" an "Jake and the NeverLand Pirates". Is the White House the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and the House is Jake and the Neverland Pirates?

Look, I am still dealing with the fact that "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" was a Christian allegory. I thought it was a story about a big piece of furniture nd a talking lion for my entire life. In other news, I am obtuse.

Ok, folks.

That's all the time I have.

Tune it to MSNBC at 1 pm -- I am guest hosting Andrea Mitchell Reports! Should be fun!

And, I will be back here next Friday. Same time. See you then and spread the word.

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 sons.
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