Monday, January 7, 2013

Elsewhere: House GOP, Hardball, Hagel

I have a new column over at TAP today on Constitutional hardball and the GOP scheme to rig the electoral college. Also, over the weekend at Salon I was more than a little unkind to House Republicans -- the clowns, but especially the sane ones who are intimidated by the clowns.

At PP today, I wrote about Chuck Hagel's nomination and Senate reform, arguing that what Republicans really want is to register their objections, not defeat the nomination -- and so if anything having an automatic filibuster on everything actually complicates their situation.


  1. TAP thinks you're somebody else!

  2. I disagree with you re: the ability of sane-yet-conservative House Republicans to reign in the crazy actions of the crazy wing of the party, mostly because I think you don't emphasize enough how powerful the 'primary them!' wing of the party is.

    There is a fairly well organized, grassroot-ish group of Republican activists who both a) are extremely conservative and b) possess a deep distrust of any Republican in Washington prior to 2010. They follow the lead of tea party elites, including in large part the conservative media base, tea party interest groups, and others who are driving the crazy stuff. They are actively looking for opportunities to primary people.

    I don't think that your average sane-yet-conservative Republican member of the House has the ability to win a primary against these organized groups, and they kno wit. So, their only choice is to put their head down and not stand out from the crazy crowd. The theoretical courageous dissenters have been branded as RINOs and beaten in primaries fairly consistently.

    I feel like the only way that the Republicans break through this strange hold at this point are either a) major stealth reforms to the nomination process that give party leaders more say [NJ county-level ballot fixing for primaries, for example] or b) Things get bad enough that Democrats start breaking through gerrymandered district lines and start making House Republicans pay a general election price for crazy.

    1. I take your point, but the truth is that very few House Republicans have actually lost their seats to a Tea Party challenge. Now, it may be true that in many districts the (small) chance of a Tea Party primary defeat is still larger than that of a (very tiny) general election defeat, but it's still not very large.

      The other part of it is that they may be better off in the long run figuring out some way to counter the crazy. After all, even if they keep their own seats, it's hurting the GOP overall. And it makes actual governing impossible...and sane conservatives do really have some governing goals.

    2. Is it possible that maybe a majority of Republicans believe this stuff? I mean...

  3. It may be that picking up a Michigan or Pennsylvania fully explains Republican electoral college plotting. Occurs to me that the upshot of Stephanie Cutter's "precinct captain" model (one recruiter for every 50 partisans in swing states) is extremely negative for Republicans to win a close election.

    The reported Republican plotting may help a little. Consider 2016: you are a precinct captain for HRC in Cuyahoga County, while I am a captain for Rubio in Chillicothe, semi-rural on the edge of Appalachia. For each of us, 25 of our 50 people are easy, cause they naturally do their civic duty anyway.

    Ten or fifteen take a bit of persuading, cause they say they're committed but they have to pick up dry cleaning or there's something on tv or whatever.

    The last ten or fifteen people will decide the election.

    Those last ten or fifteen are the holdouts; a lot of them will have to be persuaded personally. The holdouts will be randomly distributed in your footprint in Cuyahoga or mine in Chillicothe; since your footprint will be physically smaller, your holdouts should be less dispersed.

    Thus it should be much easier for the Democratic staffer to convert the last ten on her roster. Repeat that 100,000 times and it gets awfully difficult for a Republican candidate to win under circumstances other than a landslide. Indeed, this dynamic may turn a purple state like Florida blue or even a red state like Texas purple.

    Making the Democrat compete in Chillicothe does likely help the Republican candidate's cause in a Stephanie Cutter "district captain" world.

  4. I'm curious as to how'd you would view the "platinum coin" option to avoid the debt ceiling. An unhealthy example of constitutional hardball by Obama in response to Republican constitutional hardball, or a healthy example of Obama expanding executive power?


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