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If the 2012 elections proved anything, it's that words matter. Unfortunate comments about rape by Rep. Todd Akin (R) in Missouri and Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) in Indiana likely cost the Republican Party two Senate seats they otherwise would have won.

And Mitt Romney's infamous "47 percent" remarks may have cost Republicans the White House as well.

It was so bad that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) even urged his party last month to "stop being the stupid party."

With that in mind, here's a round up of the 10 most controversial comments — some inflammatory, some just plain crazy — made by Republican politicians in the first month of ...  More»

 

In the few days since John Kerry resigned to become Secretary of State, five prominent Republicans have passed on the chance to run for his seat in a June 25 special election.

On the Democratic side, two well-known lawmakers, Rep. Ed Markey (D) and Rep. Stephen Lynch (D), have launched their bids, setting up an April 30 primary.

Why the cold feet among Republicans?

One reason is timing. The candidate who wins in June will have to quickly gear up to run again in 17 months, when Kerry would have been up for re-election.

Another reason is the strong and heavily financed Democratic field of potential candidates who could run either this year or next.

But Massachusetts voters famously bucked their Democratic tradition a few years ago and elected Scott Brown (R) to fill the vacancy left by the death of legendary Sen....  More»

 

After a disastrous election cycle for his super PAC, Karl Rove announced he's forming a new group — the Conservative Victory Project — with the sole purpose of ensuring that "electable candidates" emerge from the Republican primaries.

Rove pointed to candidates last year in Missouri and Indiana as justification for his new group. Rep. Todd Akin (R) and Richard Mourdock (R) both made extreme comments on rape and abortion that Rove and his allies believe caused the GOP to lose winnable races. The comments also hurt the Republican brand more broadly....  More»

 

When hackers broke into former President George W. Bush's email last week, they found photographs of unfinished self portraits of the former president in the shower and the bath tub.

Bush apparently sent the photos to his sister, and though they were never intended for public view, the art critics have already weighed in. Bush was not a president known for self-introspection, and the find has many looking for clues into what the once most powerful man in the world thinks about himself and his record.

The Huffington Post says most formal art critics "were perplexed by the images."

Here are a few reviews:

New York Times: "The two paintings could be said to depict the introverted self-absorption for which Mr. Bush is known. Perhaps, he is trying to cleanse himself in a more metaphorical way, seeking a kind of redemption from his less fortuitous decisions ...  More»

 

With Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) giving the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address, many are asking if he's the answer to his party's electoral woes.

Time magazine even put him on the cover and asked if he's the Republican savior.

But there are three big reasons why it's unlikely the Florida senator is on a fast track to the presidency in 2016.

1. Republicans almost always pick the next guy in line.

Ever since the untested Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) lost in a historic landslide in 1964, the Republican Party has nearly always picked a nominee who has previously run for national office....  More»

 
February 14, 2013, at 12:15 PM

GOP strategist Mike Murphy argues in TIME magazine that President Obama is making a "titanic mistake" by governing as if his re-election campaign never ended.

He says that White House aides "are fundamentally misreading the political landscape if they think a barrage of fiery stump speeches and campaign-style advocacy will achieve anything in Washington. In reality, the it-is-always-a-campaign thinking will subvert any chance for a meaningful Obama success in his second term."

Murphy adds: "Showing the hubris of all things Obama, the White House has forgotten that while he won re-election fair and square with about 66 million votes, 61 million other ...  More»

 
February 16, 2013, at 10:15 AM

Congress justified its absurdly low approval rating this week as Senate Republicans blocked the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary.

Hagel, who is perfectly qualified for the post, made the unforgivable mistake of disagreeing with his former colleagues while he was still in the Senate.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) candidly told Fox News that Hagel had committed the sin of saying President Bush was "the worst president since Herbert Hoover" and that the escalation in Iraq "was the worst blunder since the Vietnam War."

But Hagel's biggest mistake was that he was very "anti his own party, and people don't forget that....  More»

 

During the heat of last year's presidential race, Mitt Romney declared, "I think, by and large, you can just look at the things the president has done and do the opposite."

The statement sums up the Republican Party's strategy in dealing with President Obama. Without regard to the substance of the policy, the best politics is usually to just oppose the president.

During President Obama's first term, Democrats were genuinely mystified at how they ended up supporting a health care reform package which was once largely developed and championed by Republicans and yet got absolutely no Republican support....  More»

 

Two-term presidents historically suffer from voters' six-year itch, when the president’s party loses a substantial number of House and Senate seats after a half dozen years in office.

But Democrats think it might be different in 2014.

National Journal obtained a confidential memo from Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) which argues that his party is in a much stronger political position to start the 2014 campaign than in either of the last two cycles.

Israel directly rebuts the conventional wisdom that House Republicans have a near-lock on their majority at least until the next redistricting of congressional ...  More»

 

Republican voters must be steaming mad.

But they don't seem to show it despite the political malpractice of their party leaders over the last several years.

Republicans bet everything to defeat President Obama's health care reform plan — without ever offering a real alternative or working with Democrats to find common ground. Then they doubled-down on hopes the Supreme Court would overturn the law. They doubled-down again believing that voters would deny President Obama re-election and they could repeal the law. They lost every time. Now, the country will live under a health care law — for probably a generation or more — that could ...  More»

 

I've argued before that President Obama is not overreaching on his ambitious second-term agenda because a severely divided Republican Party gives the president more flexibility that his re-election vote margin might otherwise allow.

And now, two new polls suggest it's the Republicans who are overreaching.

USA Today/Pew Research poll finds President Obama "starts his second term with a clear upper hand over GOP leaders on issues from guns to immigration that are likely to dominate the year. On the legislation rated most urgent — cutting the budget deficit — even a majority of Republican voters endorse Obama's approach of seeking tax hikes as well as spending cuts."

Greg Sargent points out that on every one of the major issues facing Congress — with the exception of the proposed assault weapons ban — the GOP position is ...  More»

 

Despite the rhetoric about how damaging the automatic spending cuts mandated to take effect on March 1 will be, the debate on Capitol Hill isn't really about spending cuts at all.

In fact, President Obama has already proposed more spending cuts that the sequester would guarantee — including to Social Security and Medicare programs — if the Republicans would just agree to close certain "tax loopholes."

Why wouldn't Republicans want greater spending cuts in return for additional revenue?

It's because the sequester fight is about protecting current low tax rates on capital gains and dividends and keeping open the carried interest loophole that hedge fund and private equity managers use to reduce their own tax burden.

In other words, President Obama would agree to greater spending cuts if only Republicans agree to raise revenue by spreading ...  More»

 
February 27, 2013, at 9:34 AM

Republicans take solace in the fact that they lost last year's presidential race by only a few percentage points, but two new polls this morning show the party is actually losing ground quickly.

As First Read puts it, the GOP "is about as popular as Carnival Cruise Lines right now."

Here are the key finding from the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll: Just 29 percent have a favorable view of the Republican Party, as compared to 49 percent for President Obama and 41 percent for the Democratic Party.

The public also believes Republicans are more interested in partisanship: 48 percent say Obama wants to unify the country in a bipartisan way, while 43 percent say he's taking a partisan approach. By comparison, 64 percent say Republicans are taking a partisan approach, versus 22 percent who say the GOP is focused on unity....  More»

 

After a hastily called meeting at the White House this morning, President Obama and congressional leaders departed after just an hour with no deal to avoid the automatic spending cuts scheduled to hit later today.

While most of the discussion has been on how the spending cuts will hurt Americans, a larger consideration is what Americans will lose with no compromise between the two parties.

By refusing to consider more revenues by closing tax loopholes for wealthy Americans, Republicans have lost out on a chance to control entitlement spending. Had the GOP pushed a plan to dramatically cut entitlement spending in combination with new revenues, it would have been very hard for President Obama to refuse.

As Ron Brownstein correctly points out, Republicans "are underestimating the value of a Democratic president willing to provide a heat shield for ...  More»

 

Members of Congress snuck out of Washington just as automatic across-the-board spending cuts took effect, and no one is quite sure what happens next. But when lawmakers return they'll find at least five pressing matters that require their immediate attention.

1. Gun control: The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to take up several proposals pushed by President Obama including enhanced background checks, an assault weapons ban, and a gun trafficking measure. There appears to be some agreement on background checks, but Democrats are less optimistic on the other measures....  More»

 

When President Obama announced he would not force a government shutdown over the automatic spending cuts that took place on Friday, he lost significant leverage in his dealings with Congressional Republicans. The sequester will now almost certainly remain in place for months, if not even longer.

White House officials had predicted for months that Republicans would cave by agreeing to new revenue from closing tax loopholes. But they never did.

The president's strategy is now down to this: He'll crisscross the country highlighting how Americans are hurt by the spending cuts forced by the sequester and hope resulting pressure will force Republicans back to the negotiating table.

But as John Avlon notes, it's a dangerous game....  More»

 

Conventional wisdom suggests that Republicans would hold five additional U.S. Senate seats if their candidates hadn't said really dumb things during the last two election cycles. 

So last month, I decided to keep track of the most controversial comments — some inflammatory, some just plain crazy — made by Republican politicians.

Here's the round-up for February:

1. "When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body. That's a big thing. That's a big surgery. You don't have any other organs in your body that are bigger than that....  More»

 
March 4, 2013, at 2:20 PM

When Chris Wallace asked Mitt Romney on Fox News Sunday why he lost the presidential race, one of the reasons Romney highlighted was, "ObamaCare was very attractive, particularly for those without health insurance, and they came out in large numbers to vote, so that was part of a successful campaign."

He added: "Well, I think the ObamaCare attractiveness and feature was something we underestimated in a — particularly among lower incomes. And we just didn't do as — as good a job at connecting with that audience as we should have."

It's an extraordinary admission because Republicans spent years trying to scare voters into believing that the law would wreck the country. It was portrayed as a step towards socialism, or worse, as its "death panel" provisions would soon condemn your grandparents....  More»

 
March 6, 2013, at 12:05 PM

Vanity Fair runs a fascinating excerpt of Zev Chafets' biography of Roger Ailes, Roger Ailes: Off Camera, featuring amazingly frank comments from the Fox News chief on key political players and how God will judge him and his career.

On President Obama: "Obama's the one who never worked a day in his life. He never earned a penny that wasn't public money. How many fund-raisers does he attend every week? How often does he play basketball and golf? I wish I had that kind of time. He's lazy, but the media won't report that... I didn't come up with that. Obama said that, to Barbara Walters."

On Joe Biden: "I have a soft spot for Joe Biden... I like him. But he's dumb as an ashtray."

On Newt Gingrich: "Newt's a prick... He's a sore loser and if he had won he would have been a sore winner....  More»

 

Sen. Rob Portman's (R-Ohio) announcement that he now supports same-sex marriage since learning that his own son is gay is certainly newsworthy.

Portman is the first Republican senator to back gay marriage, he was on Mitt Romney's short list of potential running mates, and is considered a possible Republican presidential candidate himself in 2016. The change of heart could even tip the balance in the gay marriage debate.

But what makes the news most interesting is that Portman's policy reversal came not from debates in the Senate but from a personal connection to the issue....  More»

 

The give and tug of politics is often messy and ugly to watch. But political theory tells us that politicians working in their own self interest usually produce an optimal policy outcome for the country.

But what if politicians don't act rationally?

After two election cycles in which Republicans lost at least five Senate seats most thought they should have won, it would be natural to assume the party would make adjustments. And after Mitt Romney lost a presidential election in a race dominated by a terrible economy, most would think the GOP would modify its positions to attract more voters.

But leading Republicans are instead taking the opposite approach.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said this week, "So just because the election didn't go our way, that means we're supposed to change our principles?...  More»

 

The Republican National Committee will release a massive, unprecedented “autopsy” of what when wrong for the GOP during the 2012 elections.

The report isn’t out until Monday, but RNC Chairman Reince Priebus hinted at some of the findings and recommendations on CBS’ Face the Nation:

1. Move up the Republican National Convention

Priebus: "I'm calling for a convention in June or July. We're going to set up a commission that's going to make that decision. I'm going to be a part of that. I'm going to chair that commission, but no more August conventions."

2. Dramatically limit the number of Republican primary debates

Priebus: "I would do one a month, this is me talking now. I would do one a month. I would have more say over the moderators, more say over the debate partners....  More»

 

The GOP's resistance to comprehensive immigration reform — including a path to citizenship for the nearly 11 million people now in the country illegally — may be weakening.

There have been three significant developments in the last day:

1. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) backs a path to citizenship.

In a major speech this morning, the Kentucky senator and possible 2016 presidential candidate declared, "If you wish to live and work in America, then we will find a place for you." While Paul is not necessarily a leader of Senate Republicans, his position may give cover to other Republicans who are currently on the fence about the issue.

2. The RNC urged the party to embrace immigration reform.

While the GOP's extensive autopsy of what went wrong during the 2012 elections focused almost entirely on strategy and tactics, the 100-page document also...  More»

 

After losing a Senate race in Missouri that most analysts think they should have won last year, Republicans are trying everything to avoid a repeat in 2014. They're even attempting to get involved early in the primary process to make sure that ultra-conservative candidates like former Rep. Todd Akin (R) don't emerge as nominees.

But candidates in Georgia aren't making it easy.

Roll Call reports that two likely U.S. Senate candidates in Georgia — Reps. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) — were among just 10 Republicans to vote against the House budget today.

Broun told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the proposal was "insufficiently conservative" — even though he voted for a similar budget proposal two years ago.

The real impact of these votes were for Broun and Gingrey to position themselves to the right of their ...  More»

 
March 25, 2013, at 1:45 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear two cases this week related to gay marriage. And while most legal observers think it's unlikely that the court will make a broad constitutional ruling legalizing same-sex marriage across the country, even a narrow ruling could give the movement toward marriage equality a new boost.

In fact, the march toward legalizing same sex marriage in the United States sometimes seems unstoppable.

A new Washington Post poll shows that 58 percent of Americans now support gay marriage. Among those 18 to 29 years old, the number is a whopping 81 percent....  More»

 

The U.S. Senate held a vote-a-rama last weekend. The word describes how lawmakers dispatched with 101 amendments over 13 hours of consideration of the federal budget. But we haven't heard it very often because this is the first budget the Senate has passed in four years.

It's a great word unique to politics, and there are dozens more that should be used more often.

Here are 10 examples from my political dictionary:

snollygoster — A politician who will go to any lengths to win public office, regardless of party affiliation or platform.

dummymander — A gerrymandered district drawn by one party that over time looks like it was actually designed by the other party.

Election Administrator’s Prayer — “Please, please, please let the winners win big,” or “Lord, let this election not be close....  More»

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told Nevada Public Radio yesterday that unless judicial nominations start moving through the U.S. Senate he’ll consider dramatic rule changes.

Said Reid: "All within the sound of my voice, including my Democratic senators and the Republican senators who I serve with, should understand that we as a body have the power on any given day to change the rules with a simple majority, and I will do that if necessary."

This is a change of heart from Reid, who just last year suggested that rules could be changed with a simple majority — but only on the first day of the legislative session.

As Roll Call notes, Reid’s comments are similar to those of former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn....  More»

 

While a wide majority of Americans look at Congress with disdain, sometimes it’s important to look at the context. Our lawmakers were elected by voters after all, who according to a new Public Policy Polling survey released this week, don’t always see the world very clearly.

A sampling of the more alarming results:

• 6% of voters believe Osama bin Laden is still alive.

• 21% of voters say a UFO crashed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 and the federal government covered it up.

• 28% of voters believe secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government, or New World Order.

• 28% of voters believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks....  More»

 
April 6, 2013, at 6:27 PM

Legendary movie critic Roger Ebert, who died earlier this week, loved politics as much as the movies and regularly offered up his opinions through Twitter or his blog. Politico highlights some examples of his take on the nation's politics.

As a tribute, The Fix republished a reader-generated list of the best political movies ever. It's a good list, but I think it can be narrowed down to ten.

Here are my 10 favorite political movies:

1. All the King's Men - The rise and fall of a corrupt politician, who makes his friends richer and retains power through populist appeal.

2. The Candidate - A Senate candidate with no hope of winning actually wins.

3. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington - A newcomer to the U.S. Senate gets a tough lesson in political corruption, but doesn't back down....  More»

 

President Obama's months-delayed budget was finally released today, and it's being sharply criticized from both sides.

Liberals suggest the president is a "sellout" for proposing cuts to Social Security and other entitlements by using a "Chained CPI" calculation, while Republicans are falling back on their familiar "tax-and-spend liberal" attacks.
 
John Avlon sees this political posturing as a good sign, noting that the budget "is not a positional bargaining document, designed simply to rally the base at the outset of negotiations."

While it's possible the White House is trying to triangulate its way to a "grand bargain" on the budget, what's striking ...  More»

 
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