The Live Fix with Chris Cillizza

May 21, 2010

Every Friday, The Fix goes live, as Chris Cillizza discusses the latest news about Congress, the Obama administration, upcoming elections and all the latest political news.

That's "thanks gosh it's fix" in my household ;)

I am still operating at a significant sleep deficit thanks to Tuesday's primaries so forgive any spelling errors or random tangents that this chat may head down.

I will do my best -- unlike Rand Paul -- to stay on message.

And away we go...

Like you I'm from CT, and all anyone is talking to me about this week is the Blumenthal bomb-shell that broke this week. A lot of people don't think he can recover from this. CT Dems have two strong candidates running for governor in Ned Lamont and Dan you think it's possible Dems dump Blumenthal and have either Lamont or Malloy switch races?

Always have to start in Connecticut.

Democrats insist that the national media is making too big a deal of this -- that Blumenthal is a very well known and well liked commodity in the state and people won't dismiss that long relationship in the face of allegations that he exaggerated portions of his service in Vietnam.

I am less certain since stories like this tend to have a life of their own and go in all sorts of interesting directions. The question for Blumenthal is whether more episodes of exaggeration surface -- either regarding Vietnam or other parts of his resume.

If that happens, he might struggle to survive. Barring that, my guess is this will be a real race in the fall but that BLumenthal will survive as the Democratic nominee.

I know you're on the hunt for the best place to drink fancy coffee drinks in NoVa... have you ventured across the river to Swing's, near the White House? Been there for almost a hundred years, and very popular with the locals.

Um, are u sure that is  a coffee shop ;)

And, my great "Live Fix" coffee house search continues. Jammin Java in Vienna had potential but when I went there were two benches to sit on -- not ideal.

The Starbucks on Broad is my default location but I would like to go non-chain if possible.

ALWAYS looking for  more suggestions

Chris, I had never heard Rand Paul speak until I saw him on Rachel Maddow the other night, and then I saw some video of his acceptance speech at the country club. Really weird on a couple of points. In his acceptance speech, I didn't see him smile and he didn't seem particulary excited. What's up with that? On the Civil Rights Act discussion, this is going to be like a piece of toilet paper stuck to his shoe and he is NEVER going to be able to get it off. The more he talks about this subject the more entangled he's going to become. He's a loser come November. What say you?

Not sure about Paul's prospects in the fall...I would note that Kentucky is a conservative state so things that don't play so well at the national level might well be viewed differently in state.

My question for Paul is "What the heck were you doing on the Rachel Maddow Show"? The show is GREAT but is it the right venue for a Republican from Kentucky to speak to his potential voters?

Rand Paul is probably going to have a pretty uncomfortable 7-10 days, then we'll have Memorial Day and that'll be the end of that aspect of the story. What to me will be interesting, and will determine whether or not he wins and how tea partiers do, is if some reporter asks him his position on farm subsidies. Or the federal highway system. Or Social Security. Or the proper size of the defense budget. My understanding is that Rand is pretty much a doctrinaire libertarian, and the libertarian positions on those issues is very unpopular with the broader electorate. Do you agree that the CRA issue will end in a week at the latest? Do you think Rand Paul will be forced to debate libertarianism, and what would the implications be?


This goes to what I wrote yesterday on the Fix (Super-producer Andrea -- can you link to it?) about why Paul could struggle.

He is someone who relishes philosophical arguments.  And, as anyone who watches politics know, philosophical arguments just don't play very well in the context of campaigns.

Paul made reference to the fact that he was answering a question about an "abstract, obscure" issue from more than four decades ago during his interview with Maddow. 

That phrase alone should have made him realize he should have stopped talking. Immediately.

Trey Grayson wasn't the incumbent in the Republican primary in Kentucky. I totally get the "establish" claim, but incumbent isn't an abstract concept but a real term used to be mean the person currently holding that position. The incumbent wasn't Mitch McConnell either. The incumbent is Jim Bunning and he endorsed Rand Paul. I'm just a bit tired of "feels like the incumbent" analysis used to fit pattern.


But, the incumbent in the race had been pushed aside by the KY political establishment to make way for Grayson who was Mitch McConnell's handpicked candidate.

So, Grayson might not have been the senator but he ran like an incumbent.  One of the last ads he ran in the campaign featured images of McConnell, Rep. Hal Rogers and others who had endorsed him.

Why didn't you tell Mr. Tony about your goal to be the homeless man's Bill Simmons? He could actually make that happen!

Chris, you are either seriously biased, or simply on crack, if you think that anyone other than Arlen Specter had the worst week in Washington. The guy lost his job after 30 years of dodging magic bullets, and this is a HUGE story. And anyway, how could McConnell have the worst week since the guy who beat his guy turns out to be a racist (at least, that's what the MSM wants everyone to believe).

Thanks for letting me plug "Worst Week in Washington"!

I thought choosing Specter was sort of an uninspired pick. Obviously, he had a REALLY bad week. But, I wanted to go with someone that not everyone was thinking about in McConnell.

And, as for McConnell and Paul, isn't it worse that even though McConnell warned everyone that Paul could jeopardize the seat he now has to stad behind him because he is the party's nominee in the state?

Do you think Sestak will beat Toomey?

Genuine toss up.

Sestak proved those who had doubts about how his temperament would play on the campaign trail wrong during the primary.

He ran a disciplined message race and complemented that with several terrific television ads.

Like Sestak, I think Toomey tends to be underrated a bit. His fundraising has been remarkable and he has smartly sought to appeal to independents while Sestak and Specter abattled it out.

I think it's a genuine toss up.

In order to get properly psyched up for the coing World Cup, I am going to watch a retrospective on 50 years of the English Premier League this weekend.

Any other videos I need to watch/books I need to read before things get started on June 11?

Hey Fix, Don't all these primary results make it seem more like we're about to see an anti-incumbent wave, that claims victims from both parties, more so than an anti-Democrat wave? I.e. more 1992 than 1994. If so, shouldn't it change how the punditry ranks races/thinks about things? For example, Mike Castle has a huge lead in the polls, but he's the ultimate insider against an outsider. It strikes me very much as a Ben Nelson vs. Chuck Hagel kind of race where Coons won't move up in the polls till late in the race, but age/insider status will cost Castle in the end.

I've said this before and I will say it again: I think we are looking at an anti-incumbent sentiment but that will hurt Democrtats more simply because they have lots more vulnerable incumbents.

I do think we might look around the day after the elections and see a handful of incumbents of both parties who lost because they failed to understand the political climate

Hi, Chris, WTNH-8's political correspondent said last night that in his 30 years of covering Blumenthal, he never heard him misrepresent his military record. What do you make of this, since McMahon's camp claimed credit for getting the NY Times to write that article, then backed off, and is now crowing about it again? Who suffers the backlash? NYT? McMahon? Blumenthal?

This goes to the point i was making earlier about Blumenthal's relationship in the state helping to save him....

Chris he announced his candidacy on Rachel's show. As he'd won he was of course invited back. And make no mistake, Rachel wasn't expecting things to go the way they did. She tried everything to keep him from setting himself on fire, but he kept pouring on the gasoline.

I totally agree.

Rachel didn't lead Paul down the primrose path...he went down it all on his own.

And, I get that he had been on the show before. I just don't know why, as the nominee of the party in KY, he thought it made sense to do the day after the primary.

Is it just me, or does it seem that for the past two years or so, things (in the political/government world) have been non-stop? It is as if we can't even stop to catch our collective breath before the next crisis/scandal/story hits. This is exasperating.

Case in point: On Tuesday morning, I was trying to take it easy because I knew it would be a late night.

Then, WHAMMO -- Mark Souder. Thanks a lot. Man.

Rappahannock. Nice enough place.

HMMM...will investigate.

Greenberry's in Reston--may be a little far out for you, but the place has good coffee, a strong wireless connection, and lots of light

I second the Greenberry's rec. There's a location in Courthouse too.


Can't drive 20+ minutes...not doable in Fix sked.

What do you expect the relationship between the White House and Joe Sestak to be like going forward? Will Arlen Specter still be a reliable Democrat the rest of his term?

I think the relationship will be just fine. This is politics and I thunk both sides know it.

The reality is if Sestak makes it into the Senate he is likely to be a pretty reliable Democratic vote -- and certainly more reliably in favor of the President's agenda than Toomey.

The White House knows that and, as a result, they will line up right behind Sestak heading into the fall.

You're going to read books to prep for the World Cup? It seems like there are Spaniards everywhere in DC. Find out what bars they frequent, then go chat them up about the WC. And find the English to do the same. Then go watch the US v. England game at said English bar and have the time of your life. It's best watched with a large crowd.

I do love Rooney.

If nothing else, has Rand Paul ended the national love affair between liberals and libertarians?


hands down the best book to read about soccer and the world cup is "Soccer in Sun and Shadow" by Eduardo Galeano

Good deal. And a recommendation of mine: How Soccer Explains the World by Frank Foer. AMAZING.  Even if u hate soccer.

It's not trendy nor precious enough. It's quite cute, but you won't find any of your Georgetown cocktail party denizens there.

Oh, well then ;)

If Charlie Djon wins the special election in Hawaii's 1st congressional district, it's pretty certain he and Joseph Cao are #1 and #2 on a list of "most likely to switch party" come November? Just curious which one is more likely?

If Charlie Djon wins on Saturday, I am going to be stunned because he isn't even on the ballot.

If Charles Djou on the other hand wins, I think it depends what percentage of the vote he wins with. If he can get 43% of the vote or more, there is at least a path for him to win a full term in the fall -- depending on who Democrats nominate.

Either way, I still think "The future is Cao" is more vulnerable. Just a terrible district for Republicans.

and following the Senate race. One thing about McMahon, she has a husband who believes that he is beyond bullet-proof, surviving federal steroid investigations much more aggressive than the type that landed the likes of Marion Jones in prison. These are aggressive, arrogant people, to whom "formidable" may be an understatement. They may have more "on" Blumenthal. Not people I would want to cross. Not necessarily a good thing either in a popular election either.

The x-factor in that race is that Linda McMahon has said she would spend $50 million of her own money.

That can make up for lots of personal baggage, which she obviously has.

I think the Blumenthal story actually benefits Rob Simmons, the former Congressman challenging McMahon, more.  Simmons is a deocrated Vietnam Vet and has been all over cable the last few days talking about his service.

Best soccer book? Hands down: Among the Thugs. Okay, not really a book about the play as much as a book about the sport itself. Will help people understand why the World Cup is a big flippin deal everywhere.

Have read "Among the Thugs". Scary, Scary book.

I'm a senior in high school at Langley, and I have a bone about the coverage. I understand there's concern about the oil, but even in the worst case there's so much water in the Gulf that the oil gets diluted. What really bugs me, though, is the huge impact on investors. My grandfather left me 1,000 shares of Transocean when he passed away last year. It was enough, selling at $95 per share, to buy me a 2010 Land Rover Sport Supercharged. Well, not anymore. I just looked and the stock is down to $58. So now I'm stuck with the Land Rover LR-4. With NO Supercharge. All because Obama fusses about the leak rather than swallowing Transocean and BP's liability so the companies can stabilize themselves. Thanks a lot Obama. Stop being the problem, and start being the solution.

Um, it's 80 degrees and sunny out in DC today. I would recommend going outside and reveling in the fact that you are in high school.

It's a glorious time of life -- particularly when you are 18 and have a Land Rover.

Hey CC, since the Wizards (the most dysfunctional sports franchise in america) got the #1 pick in the Draft it got me thinking. If we had a Political Draft who would go number 1 over all , and for each party? Would it be the Big Man in the Middle, Obama; the new hot shot, Brown; or the media sensation, Palin (Everyone only gets one name in honor of the world cup)?


Well, if you assume that the draft is on potential -- meaning that President Obama is out since he is the LeBron/Kobe figure of politics) -- here are my thoughts.

#1 -- Marco Rubio. A favorite for the Senate...young, Hispanic and handsome.

#2 -- Mark Warner. A businessman who has been governor, in the Senate and will run for prez one day

#3 -- Jack markell. Doesn't get much pub but a young, wealthy chief executive (he's the governor of Delaware) who will likely become a player nationally -- if he wants to

# 4 -- George P. Bush.

#5 -- Newark Mayor Cory Booker

#6 -- Scott Brown. if he can figure out how to get re-elected.

#7 -- Mark Souder. Just kidding. Wanted to make sure you were still paying attention.

also, to help get inside the mind of the English fan before the US meets them, read the original Fever Pitch about Nick Hornby's obsession with Arsenal (before it was bastardized into that movie about baseball)

That book was about Arsenal? Not the Sawx. UNREAL.

Also, read Sports Illustrated's pieces on World Cup in this week's edition. Didier Drogba -- surprisingly c0ol.

"Case in point: On Tuesday morning, I was trying to take it easy..." Sorry, Fix, but as a digital soldier in the Brave New World of internet political combat, there is no "taking it easy" with 24/7 information access. Your "old school" is showing. (not safe for work)

...that when pressed yet again in a GOP debate about her chickens-for-healthcare plan, she blurted out, "People think paying your doctor is like some big... dump truck! It's NOT! It's a SERIES OF TUBES!!"

Going with the "create a distraction" strategy. Smart.

A a reminder: It is NOT a dump truck.

Are you fully embracing the plethora of amazing new albums that have come out this month?

Primary season has gotten me out of loop. Aside from new Josh Ritter, what am I missing?

That the "18 yr old Langley High student" was not real. As a 30 year old government contractor who is about to have to buy whatever junker $1500 will get him, I'm not sure I still have the will to live if he actually exists.

I totally think that was a joke, but a very funny one.

I tend to agree.  I can only assume it was a joke. I can only hope -- for my own sanity -- it was a joke.

"Brilliant Orange" is a really interesting book about Dutch "total football" of the 70s and how that came out of the Dutch mindset. Reading "The Ball is Round" now but having a tough time getting into it.

Brilliant Orange, thanks.

Also reading the SI pieces on World Cup made me want to go and get a copy of the 1982 Brazil-Italy game -- won by my people 3-2.

Are you enjoying season four thus far? What's the over/under on the number of games that East Dillon wins? Three? Two?

I really just love the show.

Mrs. Fix and I have a routine. We put Junior Fix down to bed -- after reading a few pages of the Almanac of American Politics* -- and then we settle in for Coach Taylor, Tim Riggins and the boys from East Dillon.

Important questions:

1. When did JD become such a jerk?

2. Is Landry going to turn into a star?

3. Is Tim Riggins the coolest person on earth?

* I am kidding about readin Fix Jr the Almanac before bed. Or am I?

In addition to Josh Ritter - The National, The Hold Steady, LCD Soundsystem, Band of Horses, Janelle Monae, The Dead Weather, The New Pornographers, and Broken Social Scene. All out in the last three or four weeks and all worthy of your time.

Awesome. Heard "Bloodbuzz Ohio" from the National this morning in XM. Really good stuff.

"Soccernomics" is terrific, and the section on penalty taking should be required reading prior to the knockout rounds of the world cup.


I want to write a book called Fixnomics where I discuss my various and sundry theories about politics.

Last night I was reading Winnie-the-Pooh to my 1 1/2 year old son, and noticed that the book was sponsored by BP. BP logo all over the back cover. Oil is everywhere.


Thats why you should be reading the Almanac of American Politics to your kid. That book is entirely oil-free.

Independent candidate in November? Or, will he have the tact to not waste Pennsylvania's time?

Won't and, I believe, can't under state law.

It's all over for Snarlin' Arlen.

You might want to read the informational leaflet inside the bottle of No-Doz.

Come on!

I use to be a soccer-hater. But, as I watched more and more of it, I started to like it for the same reason I love field hockey.

Sure, there's not much scoring in either but the tactics and the pure skill is something to watch.

Poor Oregon. Did you learn anything from Oregon's primary? Maybe we shouldn't over-hype this "sea change" stuff?

I learned that Chris Dudley, former Yale Eli and former NBA player, will be the Republican nominee for governor.

Might have to make a trip out west to play Dudley in one on one...

You need to see "The Cup", whihc is about how young monks in a buddhist monastary go crazy for the World Cup. Must watch for any soccer fan!

Love it.

I saw this sign this morning:

"Rand Paul's America: Not Wheelchair Accessible"


Don't know if this has come up before, but check out Buzz on Slater's Ln (?), near the new Rt 1 overpass. Coffee, bakery, tons of room and homey decor.

UM, you must be new to this chat. it's cool.

I am a DIEHARD Buzz fan and used to do the Live Fix chat from there every week. But, we moved from Old Town and it's a hike to get over to Buzz on Friday mornings...hence my search for the "new" Buzz...

... is in fact the coolest person on earth.

Rigs...I mean, he doesn't need college...he and Billy can just fix up trucks...and he can dine out on his good looks.

Actually, now that I write it down, it sounds a lot like my life....


I need to head out and get my Land Rover SUPERCHARGED fixed up so that's all I have time for today.

Hope you have a great weekend and always remember to check the Fix and for the latest and greatest from the world of politics.

Spread. The. Word.


In This Chat
Chris Cillizza
Chris Cillizza 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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