The Fix Live

May 17, 2013

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

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Sorry for the late start....I was on THE DIANE REHM SHOW.
What a week. Let's make it happen.

Hi, Chris, Just wanted to say thank you for the great job you do. You are a treasure trove of political insight and information. In fact, every time you are on MSNBC my husband says, "There's your boyfriend!" Good thing he loves politics too and is an understanding man! :)

There is a 50-50 chance this is a fictional person my mom made up to make me feel good. Regardless, it worked.

Easy: all your colleagues on the left who lost their messiah. When Jon Stewart and Chris Matthews turn on Obama, it's over.

Ah, the "media is liberal" thing.

I hadn't heard that one.

A number of things happened this week that flew by under the news radar - Senate approved several new Cabinet members as well as Sri Srinivasan to the DC court, federal budget deficit is falling like a rock, stock market at all time high, health care cost growth (which is biggest driver of future deficits) is leveling off. Maybe it's just me, but things are looking pretty darn good, scandals notwithstanding. Is the national media too focused on the shiny objects? Yes, I think they are.

Yes, it is true that some good things -- the declining debt being the most important -- happened for Obama this week.

It is also true that none of these three stories -- IRS, Benghazi and IRS --  are "shiny objects" unworthy of the attention they are getting.

All are serious stories in their own rights with potentially sweeping implications going forward.

I think reasonable people would agree that the discussion begins and ends with Levon Helm. No disrespect to Phil Collins....


Though he may have been one already due to a strong Republican desire to see his administration fail, do the two scandals this week ensure that President Obama is a lame duck president only four months into his second term?


I would say that after the 2014 midterms it is going to be hard for President Obama to get anything big done without some sort of major external event driving congressional action.

That said, it's still just may 2013. While the IRS, AP and Benghazi investigations are going to take up a fair amount of COngress' time, I still think comprehensive immigration reform is a real possibility. And, some sort of deal needs be struck on the debt ceiling -- likely in the fall.

here's my outside the box scenario. what do you think?? At the end of the Supreme Court term in June 2016, Scalia steps down. Then OBAMA, the constitutional professor resigns, and the new President Biden appoints ex-president Obama to the Court. Or if not Scalia, then Justice Ginsburg!!!!

Um, ok.

Here's my latest rankings of the 2016 field or, as I call it, Hillary and the 9 dwarves.

How much longer will this lovers quarrel between the press and Obama continue? My guess is by next week they will have kissed, made up and forgot this week even occurred. It will make the relationship that much stronger.

Lovers quarrel!

I see what you are doing there.

For the billionth time, the VAST majority of reporters I have worked with or near over my time in journalism are abundantly fair people just trying to do their job to the best of their abilities.

That's it. That's all.

Given Hillary Clinton's domination of the Democratic presidential field, I decided it would be more fun to put together a list of potential VPs for her. Here's my list, what's yours: 1. John Hickenlooper 2. Brian Schweitzer 3. Tim Kaine 4. Mark Warner 5. Kay Hagan (should she win) 6. Jay Nixon 7 Clare McCaskill 8-9. Mark or Tom Udall (tie) 10. Martin Heinrich

Good one!

I would put Warner higher.  Schweitzer doesn't strike me as VP type. Definitely Kaine.

I'm having a hard time figuring out why making people fill out a bit of extra paperwork is really that big of a deal. It's not like any of the organizations were denied tax-exempt status.

Because those filling out extra paper work were all on the conservative side.  That's not fair or right.

Could one assume that Johnson and Herseth will not challenge John Thune in 2016, since they didn't even bother to contend for an open seat in a non presidential year?


More likely to matter in next year's elections: These "scandals" (Are people starting to use scare quotes?) OR The economy apparently picking up steam

It depends how these things play out but I would say the 2014 election is very likely to be strongly affected by the state of the economy and which party is seen as doing more to make it better/worse.

Thinking, thinking, thinking.....


What are some of the better team names you remember?

None are repeatable in a family chat -- which this is.

Think about it.

I endorse any extended comparison between Game of Thrones and presidential politics.

Who is Biden?

The races that will decide the Senate: Mark Begich (AK) Mary Landrieu (LA) Kay Hagan (NC) Am I missing anything? I'm assuming that Republicans take the open seats in West Virginia and South Dakota, and beat Mark Pryor in Arkansas. I don't see them with much of a chance in other Democratic seats, including the open seats in Michigan, Iowa, New Jersey, and Montana. Only way the Democrats win a GOP seat is if Paul Broun is nominated in Georgia.

A solid breakdown. Although I think Pryor stands a chance of winning.

From 1 to 10: How likely Obama loses the Senate in 2014.

1 being not going to happen and 10 being Candace won American Idol, I say 7.

If worst week in Washington were like the Kentucky Derby, President Obama would be leading the field by 35 lengths?

A Secretariat-like showing.

Give me a sense of where he stands. My vague understanding is that he is personally popular, but in a basically Republican state.

Both are true.

Republicans may have a very contentious primary between establishment and tea party -- and that would bettert Begich's chances of winning.

Pet Sounds and Blonde on Blonde both came out on yesterday's date in 1966. which one do you think is better

I say Blonde on Blonde because I worship Dylan.

Does anyone in Fix Central keep a tally of how many times someone's "won"? I'm interested to know how many times POTUS has won since you started the "award".

Tabulating that for an afternoon post on The Fix today!

Which of this week's scandals will we still be talking about in a year?


Kudos for sharing the email exchanges between The Fix and Paul Kane. I hope that is a feature that continues.

It will. I love doing it.  Glad you like it too.

If Jon Stewart justified in criticizing the media for fixating on 2016 this early?

Sure.  But, my attitude is if the political class is already thinking about it and acting on it, then I am writing on it.

I would be happy to debate Jon about this on his show. Hint hint...

Imagine Rand Paul supporting libertarian ideas like drugs legalization and gay marriage: Would he lose or win more votes with that thinking?

In a primary? Lose.

In a general election? Win.

"I wish there was a way to know that you're in the good old days before you've actually left them" Perfectly said Andy.

If I could quote "Kicking and Screaming" (the Noah Baumbach one): "I'm nostalgic about things that haven't even happened yet."

do you think maybe there aren't enough mayors smoking crack out there?

I mean, AMAZING.

If you haven't seen it, read this (warning: some strong language):

Who are some of your favorite reporters, WaPo and MSNBC excluded?

Literally off the top of my head...

John Harris

Peter Baker

Mark Leibovich

Jonathan Martin

Maggie Haberman

Ben Smith

Reid Wilson

I really like the stuff Kate Nocera is doing at BuzzFeed.

I've gotta go with Don Henley, although Levon Helm and Ginger Baker deserve high props.


Karen Carpenter. What a voice!

Adam Oates

Oatsie is lucky the President had such a bad week.

5-0 loss at home in a Game 7? Gut punch.  That's like being a #2 seed and losing in the opening round of the NCAA tournament to a Florida school no one even knew existed before the game. Wait...

I'm not a lawyer, either; I don't even play one on radio. And, I don't get free cab-rides.

I don't get any free cab rides! That was Susan Page!

You know there were only seven right?

I do.  Literary license and all that.

My personal dream ticket would be Clinton/Cuomo, though I guess Hillary would have to move.

My personal dream ticket would be Ron Swanson. He's man enough to be president AND vice president.

And I don't know your mom! I just wanted to let you know that I'm a 40 year old woman who thinks you are smart and hot which is an awesome combination!!


I'm going to go out on a limb here and say you have voted in an election before. If so you chose one party over another. You may not be able to admit it publicly, but its impossible to separate your personal believes 100% from your work. People who work in reporting often associate themselves with liberals just like in college academics. Seeing people flip flopping from the media to the Obama administration, and vice-versa also helps reinforce this belief.

1. I have not voted in an election before. I think I voted for Georgetown council one time when a friend from school was running.

2. People can believe what they like. I am simply telling you what I see day in and day out. And it's not reporters rooting for one side.

Jay Carney. No contest.

Eh. I mean, he was taking the hit for the Administration. Not sure he deserves the blame for doing what is quite clearly his job.

The conventional wisdom was that NOTHING could happen and the dem. nomination was Hillary's. My how we forget.

True. I don't forget. But right now the field is her and everyone else. That doesn't mean it might not change.

Would be an awesome mashup, don't you think?

Oh my gosh yes.

One thing that has been lost in the IRS scandal is what is wrong with the law in the first place - the motivation to apply for the status isn't necessarily taxes, its about keeping who's funding them out of public scrutiny.

We wrote this!

Where are you chatting? Who are you iPoding? What are you drinking?

1. Starbucks in Tenleytown DC

2. I am sitting in stony silence. But, if you buy two alsbums this week make it "The Beast In Its Tracks" by Josh Ritter and the new Vampire Weekend. Both amazing.

3. Iced grande mocha. Natch.

You've done a good job grooming your replacement. Thanks! BTW - When are you leaving? How can we miss you if you won't go away?

Um, do you know something I don't?

And, yes, Aaron rules.

If report said IRS targeted More Liberal groups, would we be being seeing a hearing on TV today? (I think not)

I do -- if the IRS was targeting only (or primarily) liberal groups.

Fair is fair. This was not fair. N

This guy is making a strong case for worst week in Washington today. When the best defense you can muster is "we provided horrible customer service" you have to be in the mix.

Agree.  But, if Obama is the buck stopper....

His only route to the Oval Office is as Vice President. Doesn't fit Democratic primary voters well. And moving left to satisfy them would hurt him in Montana.

A very good point. I have been surprised by the national liberal groups who have been callin on him to run for the Senate in 2014.

Will you watch season 4 in one 7.5-hr. blast of comic absurdity? Or space it out over a few days? I plan to watch them all over Sunday and Monday of the holiday weekend, as I'm guessing many/most fans will.

Space it out.

I have two little kids I don't do any "7.5-hr blasts of comic absurdity."

See, the problem with that Chris, is that as soon as he was inaugurated, he would dismantle the government through executive privilege (then he would then promply resign). Not saying he's wrong, but still, that's probably going to be the outcome.

A good point.

You need to do a Springsteen like summer road tour of politics and pints for your non DC fans.

I would love to. Just need to get it funded...

Hillary Clinton is polling at *twice* the levels she drew in polls in 2005. Best comparison is VP Al Gore in late 1990s.

Thanks for that note.

Reading Joel Achenbach's recent post and being of the same age group, I agree that none of the three current scandals rise (sink?) to the level of Watergate. Having worked in a bureaucratic environment for a decade, all three seem to be emblematic of the problems inherent in large, unwieldy, ill-favored organizations. Lack of communication, poorly educated staffers, turf issues, over reaching without clearance--all there, but none of them are evidence of a constitutional crisis.

Right but just because these may not be Watergate -- the most famous political scandal in US history -- doesn't mean they aren't worthy of coverage and attention.

People forget that Karen Carpenter was a pretty respectable drummer. Don't get me wrong. Not a big Carpenters fan. I think a lot of their songs are pretty lame. But that voice was butter.

Yes, he did more singing when he stepped in front of the kit, but still. In the words of GOB: COME ON!

Ugh. I am not a big Grohl fan. Not sure why.

joe biden = tyrion lannister

That was what I was thinking.  Especially the tendency to be impolitic at times.

Um, Ringo Starr? Ever heard of him?

I have.  How did he do post-Beatles?

That's exactly how I feel about the impending departure from the "Post" of your TV reporting colleague, the Divine Ms. Lisa de Moraes.

Agree. Now I am going to have to take over the TV chat too!

I kid. But that would rock.

Keith Moon. No question.

My god.

Also, better drummer: Keith Moon or John Bonham?

That's a sure fire way to waste an entire Friday....

Why, Varys, of course. He has quite a bit of power behind the throne. And politically, he's been gelded by the Administration; he's a public joke, which is exactly where the White House wants him.


What are your three favorite sports 1) from the couch 2) on the field/court/track/course?

1. Field hockey

2. Field hockey

3. College basketball

That was hilarious thread yesterday with the 30 for 30 topic of Washington politics

It wasn't meant to be hilarious!

I REALLY think if we could get the funding we should make some short docs on great political topics.  Wouldn't someone want to run those?

One questioner suggested that 2016 could be like 2008, where Hillary was the clear favorite but lost the nomination. But she barely lost, and losing required the confluence of two things: an extraordinary opponent and a wedge issue (Iraq) that was important to primary voters and that clearly differentiated the candidates. I don't see either of those likely to be true in 2016, do you? As a free agent now, Hillary can take whatever position is politically expedient (or no position), unlike when she was a senator.

Agree. And, if anything, she has been even more elevated by what she's taken on since losing the primary.

when someone like a REPORTER says they don't vote. WHO IS MORE KNOWLEDGEABLE about what is going on? Really? And you don't vote? It's sad.

Sorry for making you sad.

Maybe this will make you happy:

Do we know where will be the GOP and Democratic conventions in 2016?

Not yet.  I am rooting for warm weather climes.

IRS Acting Commish Miller is getting absolutely hammered in this committee hearing right now, but based on opinion polls, Americans are way more unhappy with Congress than the IRS. I'm waiting for someone to go Kevin Spacey in Casino Jack in one of these hearings or channel a ticked off coach in a post-game news conference. How much would you pay to see Jim "Not a dime back!" Calhoun, Gregg Popovich, and Jim Boeheim sit for a congressional hearing?

Popovich's sideline interviews during the game are AWESOME. It's as though he has restricted himself to three word or less answers.

The Caps?

In any other week, yes. In this week, no.

Joe Biden is Kevan Lannister- the younger brother of Tywin. He's incredibly loyal and intelligent, but resigned to be in someone else's shadow. He is competent in what he does, but you know he'll never be the star. That seems like Biden to me... Biden is a long time politician (although Biden probably has more lapses of stupidity than Kevan does) and he works good as part of a team, but there will always be someone else's star who will shine brighter than his.

I will take your word for it.

If I was a character in "Game of Thrones", I like to think it would be Hodor. Either him or Melisandre. 

Isn't he actually falling on the sword, when it was in fact his predecessor as IRS head under whom the events in question occurred?

Yes, but he, at best, offered a misperception to Congress about whether or not he was aware that targeting was going on...

Is Ed Markey getting the coronation that Martha Coakley thought she would have?

I don't think he is getting coronated. Republicans think they have a shot, albeit it an outside shot to pull off the upset.

To Markey;s credit, he hasn't made the number of misccues that Coakley did. Of course, that would be next to impossible.

I've been impressed with John Miller of CBS, especially the week of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Cool. Thanks for flagging.


Ok, folks. I have to head out.  Don't forget we do this chat EVERY FRIDAY at 11 am. And if you need a midweek Fix, make sure to check out Aaron Blake's NEW chat at 2 pm every Tuesday!  Check it out here:

Until next week, I remain....


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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