Reagan 2.0, Gen. Petraeus, Dan Coats, what's a conservative, more from The Live Fix with Chris Cillizza

Jun 25, 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.

Hello everyone!

I am deep in the heart of the Post building today with one eye on Portugal-Brazil (0-0 at half) and one ear on Sufjan Stevens.

The other eye and ear are all yours.  Let's do this thing.

One reason why Barack Obama isn't accomplishing his dream of being Ronald Reagan 2.0 is that Reagan never shied away from calling himself conservative as well as making the term "liberal" seem being wacky and out of the mainstream. But President Obama shies away all the time from labeling himself as a liberal. You might tell me isn't a liberal, but he's about as liberal as Ronald Reagan was a conservative yet Obama still lives in fear that liberal title. He needs to own and realize Ronald Reagan is dead and he can't hurt you anymore.

There is a long running debate about the politicization of the term "liberal".

What is clear is that most Democrats who represent swing areas shy away from using that label; to the extent they talk about ideology, they describe themselves as "progressives".

With good reason, according to new Gallup data released this morning that showed 42% of Americans calling themselves conservatives as compared to 35% moderates and 20% liberals.

I figure Pres. Obama would replace Gen. McChrystal with Landon Donovan since Lord knows he can bring home victory in a hopeless situation.

No. You. Didn't.

Sidebar: I awarded Petraeus with my "Worst Week in Washington" award moments ago.

You can read it all here.

Hi Chris, Here's my predictions: Tim Pawlenty elected president in 2012, and Hillary Clinton elected president in 2016. What do you think?


I mean, anything is possible. 

On Tpaw, I am sure he is running in 2012 but it's way too early to predict whether he can/will win either the primary or the general election. He's working it very hard though.

On Sec of State Clinton, I genuinely believe she is done with electoral politics. I know the Clintons are so deeply rooted in politics that people will forever assume she is positioning for another run but I just don't see it at all.

Given you are a sound arbiter of all things political, musical, and potable, can you explain the appeal of Passion Pit? I rarely find alternative bands distasteful, but their helium inspired party rock reminds me of overcooked mashed peas. What am I missing here?

No, I cannot.  I defer to Chris Richards and J. Freedom du Lac, my two guides for everything musical to explain Passion Pit.

Actually, while they're at it, I would like a broad explanation of XM channel 43 broadly. It's like Pitchfork on the radio -- meaning that I listen to it and feel hopelessly uncool.

Chris, can you explain the Democrats' strategy in the Indiana and Louisiana Senate races? The two Republicans both seem to have vulnerabilities, what with David Vitter's hypocrisy on family values and Dan Coats's lobbying ties, comments about retiring to North Carolina instead of Indiana, and weak primary victory. Yet the Democrats haven't been able to capitalize. Is the plan to wait until the last month or so and then just unload, effectively making the race a sprint and not a marathon?

Not sure it's fair to say that Democrats aren't doing anything.

The truth is that campaigns don't engage in a meaningful way until after Labor Day. 

In both Indiana and Louisiana, Democrats face an uphill fight because of the partisan nature of the two states -- both of which have moved more to the ideological right during the Obama presidency.

In Indiana, Democrats are optimistic that Brad Ellsworth, their nominee, is the exact right fit for the state....conservative record, telegenic etc.

In Louisiana, Vitter's personal problems -- he admitted to involvement with a DC prostitution ring in 2007 -- are going to be a factor in the race but how big an issue remains to be seen.

When do Senate races normally heat up? Post summer? I thought Dino vs Murray would be a hot one, but so far...nothing. Dino doesn't even have an Issues page on his website and Murray hasn't mentioned his name. I want action! one wants these races to engage more than me!

But, as I mentioned above, we are going into something of an electoral lull between now and Labor Day as people go on vacation and candidates prepare for the two month or so sprint to come.

In Washington State, Rossi is already widely known so unlike most challengers he doesn't need to spend this time introducing himself to voters.  In fact, he's probably better off laying low given that he's run unsuccessfully for governor twice in the last six years and doesn't want to appear too political.

Polling suggests that when this race does engage it's going to be very close. Rossi is, without question, Republicans best possible nominee but Murray is a vastly undderated candidate.

I don't know Charlie Crist that well in terms of where he stands on many issues which is suprising considering how often he is written about in blogs. Is it really possible for Charlie Crist to causus with the Democrats come November? Is his beliefs and stance able to fit? Plus won't having Jeff Greene, just like having Alvin Greene, at the top of the ballot hurt downticket Democrats especially in the national, state and local party officials are offering zero support to the senate candidate?

On Crist caucusing with Democrats, there's really no ideological litmus test to do so.

After all, Barbara Boxer (Calif.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.) have all sorts of disagreements on policy but both caucus with Democrats.

As for Greene in Florida, I think the Crist forces see him as their preferred Democratic nominee.

Why? Because Kendrick Meek would almost certainly win black voters by an overwhelming margin (he is African American) and that would make it more difficult for Crist to co-opt enough Democratic votes to beat Marco Rubio.

Plus, Greene has a, um, colorful past that could well disqualify him in the eyes of some Democratic voters who would then, presumably, vote for Crist.

Do you think Petraeus was ever going to pull an Eisenhower despite all the denials? He is the most suitable person for the McChrystal's job but after Jon Huntsman's appointment I am almost wondering if there was some RealPolitik at play here with his new assignment being a way to neutralize him.

It's unknowable.

But, what we do know is that there were lots and lots of Republicans who were going to do everything they could to get Petraeus to at least consider the possibility of a run.

It's hard to know whether he would be interested. That said, to rise to that high level in the military requires a detailed understanding of how politics works and so it's not entirely far fetched to think Petraeus might consider a bid down the line.

Hard to see that happening in 2012 now but there's always 2016...

People are always always comparing Barack Obama to Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Delano Roosevelt or John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Considering the hoopla about his birthplace, I think Chester A. Arthur fits better. But to that poster who thought Tim Pawlenty will win in 2012. If Tim Pawlenty won, then think it through. The obvious person to run against him in 2016 would be Barack Obama, not Hillary Rodham Clinton. Then we can add comparing him to Grover Cleveland to the list.

The only man to be president in non consecutive terms! Grover Cleveland=the answer to all political trivia questions.

in last week's chat you complained about the blatant homerism of ESPN's World Cup announcers. I instinctively dismissed that remark as elitist whining, questioned your patriotism and deleted The Fix from my browser's favorites. On Wednesday, I finally watched a game in an environment where I could hear what they were saying. Turns out you were right. Their homerism is pretty bad.


But, did you put me back into your browser?

Chris, Alexi Giannoulias is always referred to a "flawed candidate." Is it simply because of Broadway Bank (not to minimize that at all), or are there other issues with him as a candidate? Feel like there's more that people are not saying... More broadly, how do you view the race at this point?

I think the main issue for Lexi is that he was a senior loan officer at a bank that failed.

Some people question whether someone his age -- he is in his early 30s -- is ready for the Senate but I don't think that is such a big deal. Time will tell.

Two months ago, I would have said that Giannoulias' bank issue made him the underdog in the race.

But, Mark Kirk's repeated misrepresentations about his military resume have turned into a month-long sideshow that give each candidate a major problem they will have to deal with between now and November.

My prediction: this is the nastiest Senate race of the cycle and has the potential to go down as one of the nastiest ever.

I grew up in Indianapolis, and here's what the wishful question is missing: nobody who lives in Indiana wants to retire there. They want to be in Florida or North Carolina, and everybody understands what he means.

Interesting.  I bet Peyton Manning wants to retire in Indiana. And, so does Jimmy Chitwood -- the greatest basketball player of all time.

I don't live in North Carolina, but I was one of those "Cal Cunningham has to be the stronger candidate, right?" folks. Now he's out and thought "Hello six more years of Richard Burr" until I just saw a poll that had Elaine Marshall within the margin of error against Richard Burr. And it was a poll done by Rasmussen!?! Am I missing something about Elaine Marshall?

Elaine Marshall was a FAR stronger candidate in the primary than many people in Washington thought.

She had been in statewide elected office since 1996 and, in that time, had built up a significant network of supporters and considerable name ID.

Cunningham wound up being a disappointing candidate but even if he was stronger it's not clear he would have beaten Marshall.

As for the general, I would give it a few weeks before looking too much at polling. Marshall is certain to get some sort of boost from her win -- and the media coverage she got because of it.

The question for her is whether she can raise the money she needs to be competitive with Burr. And, if she can't, will the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spend on her behalf?

Confirmed: I would listen to M. Ward singing a grocery list.

Mr Cillizza, There are only two stations to listen to on XM if you want to be cool: the Sinatra channel and Radio Margaritaville. Listening to Springsteen is never cool. If they had a Steve McQueen station it would just be 24hrs of exhaust notes of Steve's favorite cars. Any sorry WP reporters/bloggers can never be cool except for Wilbon.


Wilbon is the only cool writer/blogger?

What about Weingarten?

And, I am a big "underground garage" fan...I think it is XM 59.

Also, the old school rap channel: XM 65.

Sufjan Stevens? Really? I tried to listen to his "Illinois" album. Didn't get it. That being said, if he were to record a "Kansas" album, and featured a certain Fix favorite. I could be on board.

Sufjan Stevens is amazing. AMAZING. Listen to his song about John Wayne Gasy on "Illinois". SO GOOD.

You say in this morning's Post that conservative numbers are rising. Couldn't that have to do with the fact that "conservative" is still a nice word, while "liberal" becomes more of a curse for much of the media? I don't think America is actually becoming more politically conservative in these difficult economic times, but people are living more "conservative" lifestyles. Do you see real growth for Republicans? They don't seem to be growing in any way good. Americans aren't embracing extremism. They are embracing the word conservative, huh?

I note in that post that it's a mistake to assume that ideology is a direct corollary with voting. It's not.

As evidence, I note that in 2008, conservatives far outnumbered liberals in terms of ideology and President Obama won with 365 electoral votes.

The growth of self-identifying conservatives in the Gallup poll seems to me to be another measure of the fact that conservatives are very energized right now and proudly wearing their ideological position on their collective sleeves.

And, enthusiasm matters big time in elections -- particularly lower-turnout midterm elections.




Most impressive teams so far: 1. Argentina 2. Netherlands 3. Brazil 4. Uruguay 5. Germany

Any disagreement?

"One reason why Barack Obama isn't accomplishing his dream of being Ronald Reagan 2.0...." Is that really his dream? Did I miss something?

I don't think it's his dream.

But, when looking at historical comparisons the one between Reagan and Obama is an interesting one.

Both were elected to replace failed presidents in the eyes of a majority of voters. Both put in place ambitious agendas to fix major economic problems facing the country.

And, Reagan and Obama are similarly gifted as communicators.

Just an interesting discussion to have.

QUOTE: "senior loan officer at a bank that failed" To be fair, he left the bank four years before it failed. That makes it seem like he was there. I feel as somebody in Illinois, I ought to give some defense of Sexy Lexi. One is that he loves fundraising and he'll always have more money raised then the Republican. Another is the traditional problem of Chicaog politician have trouble "connecting" with downstate folks. Mark Kirk is having it and so did Lisa Madigan. Sexy Lexi actually likes going downstate and always seems at ease in those tiny towns nobody in Chicago has ever heard of. The local officials here like him. It was in all the news here about how Cheryl Jackson and Doug Hoffman barely ever came downstate and never even called any local officials. Granted they were running an "for the people/outsider" campaign, but there is a way of taking that too far. I'm not with the Giannoulias campaign and I'm sure they can give you more, but I think the "troubled candidate" stuff ignores that he does have strong points and that Lisa Madigan wasn't a perfect candidate either. I'm sure having her name mentioned everyday in the Blagojevich trial isn't helping her despite no wrongdoing on her part.

Fair enough. As I said, I think the race is an absolute toss up now. Both Giannoulias and Kirk have major flaws as candidates. The question is which campaign can better exploit the other's weaknesses.

How about an XM channel of 24-hours of vuvuzela music?

SO GOOD.  Also, Brazil-Portugal update. 0-0 in the 83rd minute. With both going through to knockout round, I don't think either side is going to go all out in the last seven minutes.

Giving up on Fightin' Paul Hodes already, eh? Not cool. What are you expecting to come out of the "menage a quatre" that is the GOBP primary?

How so?

I think Ayotte is still the likeliest nominee out of the GOP primary but it's far from certain.

In the general I think Hodes has a solid chance. But, if there is any place in the country where the spending by the federal government could hurt a Democratic nominee, it's New Hampshire where disliking federal interference is so important that it's on the state's license plate.

Hello Chris, Have to disagree with you having Germany at #5. They lost 1-nil to Serbia, barely beat 32nd-ranked Ghana. And Chile have looked as good as Uruguay. Don't forget Portgual either, holding fast with mighty Brazil and destroying DPRK (just don't call them "North" Korea). Here's my list: #1 Argentina, #2 Holland, #3 Brazil, #4 Portugal, #5 Chile or Uruguay

Fair enough. Chile and Portugal have bnoth looked good. But why does Cristiano Ronaldo flop so much? Maddening.

And Republicans lost 26 House seats in Reagan's first mid-term. By 1984, it was "Morning in America." Could be very similar to what Obama experiences....

A very good piece of comparison I forgot to note. Thanks for reminding me.

"Most impressive teams so far: 1. Argentina 2. Netherlands 3. Brazil 4. Uruguay 5. Germany. Any disagreement?" I would've had Paraguay in there until their draw with New Zealand yesterday. How about some love for my All-Whites? Clearly, their three draws this go-round are priming them for World Cup dominance in 2014.

Um, ok....

Chris: I've been scratching my head over the Will Folks allegations about Nikki Haley. He used to work for Sanford and Haley and was a respected journo/blogger in the Palmetto State. Why on Earth did he throw it all away? Unless there's some actual there, there?

I honestly have no idea. When he first came out with the allegation he insisted he had all sorts of proof (text messages etc). Unless I missed it, I never saw any of his "proof" made public.

It's all very very odd.

I was referring to Richard Wolffe's book "Renagade" which Mr. Cillizza mentioned reading. Obama wants to be a President in the mode of Reagan, but not in policy. Reagan won over his opponents and made his own policy the political norm rather then far right policies. Plus he was huge on the world stage. According to Wolffe and others, Obama wants a presidency like that compared to Bill "School Uniforms" Clinton.

Right. A president who does big things.  And, between the economy, financial reg reform, health care and the war in Afghanistan, he has plenty of big things on his plate.

President Obama - when it looked pretty clear that he was going to fire McChrystal?

Rep. Barton - Whose Apology for his Apology convinced no one that he wasn't 100% in BP's corner.

World Cup Soccer Players - generally three emotions, all done very poorly - "My leg! I'll never walk again!" "Why are you giving me a Yellow Card? I can't believe it!" "It's a miracle! I can walk again to make the penalty kick."

I do think it is HILARIOUS when they fall over, writhing on the ground like they have just compound fractured their leg.

Then, once the yellow card is awarded to the guy who committed this atrocity to them, they get up, wag their finger at the offender, wince several times and then start playing again like nothing happened.

Any nominations for team with the most/worst floppers?

Victory in Europe in World War II was very different then "the surge" of Iraq (a war most people polled have negative feelings about) and we still don't know how Gen. Petraeus will do in Afghanistan. Plus in today's world where you are basically running for President for 2 years (it's nuts, right), I think "Hero General" can only last so long. It's a bit premature for the Petraeus=Eisenhower, right? That said, Sasha Obama for Governor in 2046!

What about the inevitable Jeb P. Bush vs Chelsea Clinton presidential race?

In the wake of the NBA prospects' potential being dissected, please tell me what you think of Cory Booker's likely future. Any other sleepers/rising stars most people don't know about yet?

Cory Booker will run statewide in the very near future. My guess is against Gov. Chris Christie in 2013.

As for others, it's hard to name unknown rising stars because we know so much about all of these people.

Paul Ryan is going to run for something bigger soon. I think Steve Israel has a bright future in House Democratic politics. I hear good things about Dustin McDaniel, the AG in Arkansas. Ditto for Mike Haridopolos who is a Republican in the Florida legislature.

You've been frenetically responding to so many topics that you either didn't notice or didn't have time to respond to being called MR. CILLIZZA.

Holy cow!

That is awesome. 

I feel like I should put a tie on.

I just found out Jenny Lewis is in town in September. If you need me, I'll be in the corner of the Black Cat drooling.


I'm pretty sure you meant George P., Jeb's son. But the confusion is understandable -- there are 836 Bush progeny running around, all with permutations of the same 8 names.

Yes, yes. I can't keep them all straight...but yes George P.!!!

I won't disagree with your list - maybe Netherlands a bit (as an ardent Dutch supporter who is a little concerned). But how about Japan? Not in the top five, but I am impressed that they bucked the assumption that they were the outlier in their group. You might also want to rank least impressive teams, although France and Italy may have set a new standard in crashing and burning.

Least impressive.

1. France. Just a train wreck. 2. Italy: The Azzurri couldn't score 3. Ivory Coast. I thought this was supposed to be their year?

Listening to Springsteen is always cool. Anyone who says otherwise probably listens to Justin Bieber

Kind of agree.

And, remember, there's a darkness on the edge of town....

The Duke basketball team. Plus, they always get the calls. Oops, you meant soccer.


Shane Battier: the king of the fake charge. And he made the NBA!

Thoughts on Chris Coons as a candidate?

I met him yesterday.

A very impressive candidate although it's a tough race because Rep. Mike Castle is a beloved figure in Delaware.

But, my guess is that the Delaware Senate race will be closer than most people think.

Do you think that McChrystal did what he did on purpose to position himself as a Republican candidate for office in the next few years?

Um, no.

What's your take on CNN's primetime show upcoming in the fall featuring former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and conservative columnist Kathleen Parker? CNN has taken a ratings hit lately but I'm not sure this show will change its momentum. Do you think Spitzer can still have a career in politics?

I think Spitzer wants to have a career again in politics. I don't know if the voters of New York want him back.

But, I am certain they will get their chance in the not-too-distant future to decide.

How did you meet Chris Coons? Guessing it washing in line at the grocery? Wasn't Chris Coons also born in Connecticut?

He came in to meet with me -- as do lots and lots of candidates running for office. It's one of my favorite parts of the job.

And, yes, he, like me, was born in  CT.

And that's all folks. Thanks for joining me this week. Have a great weekend and GO USA!!!!

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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