Monthly Archives: October 2013

Never Forget the Dream

Reprinted from

Originally published on The Hill.

Two analyses of the current political environment recently caught my eye and caused me to rethink the GOP’s current positioning on the economy.

The first, put out by the nonprofit group American Principles in Action, aggressively challenged the conclusion reached by a so-called “autopsy” put out by the Republican National Committee, which basically said that the Republican Party needed to appeal to more moderate voters by being less offensive to minority groups.

Instead, according to this group, “Republicans urgently need to construct a conservative economic message that connects to working and middle-class voters’ present economic concerns.” Continue reading

Random Thoughts: RINOs & Rumors


You’re a RINO!

No! You are!

I am not! You’re a big ugly RINO! And your mother dresses you funny!

RINO stands for Republican In Name Only. I got called a RINO because I hung out with “moderates.” It used to be a slam against Republicans who didn’t toe the conservative orthodox line.

I helped former New York Rep. Amo Houghton start the Republican Main Street Partnership, an organization he founded and funded to expand the influence of Republicans (and he hoped, ultimately, Democrats, too), who occupied the center of the political spectrum. Continue reading

Symptom, Not the Disease

Reprinted from

You can fix a website. You can’t fix Obamacare.

At least, you can’t fix Obamacare easily.

It is not clear yet if the problems that currently plague the Obamacare website are an early indicator of a program that is going to be a wild success or an unmitigated disaster.

You can make the case that the problems that have plagued the program are caused by a system that is oversubscribed, that too many people want to get into it and that is why it crashed. You can also make the case that this situation is endemic of a law that has been poorly thought out and will never work in the real world. Continue reading

How Far the Establishment Has Fallen

Reprinted from

I’m thinking about getting t-shirts made, emblazoned with the words, “I am the establishment.”

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh attacked me on his radio show, basically accusing me of being part of the “establishment” because I had the temerity to suggest that if Ted Cruz, the Texas Senator, wants to accomplish anything in Washington, he probably shouldn’t go out of his way to alienate every single other member of the Senate (other than his buddy Mike Lee).

Otherwise, he would make a fabulous radio talk show host. Continue reading

Bipartisan Spirit of a Bygone Era

Reprinted from The Washington Post

Try as he might, Speaker Tom Foley could not gavel the House to order. It was Nov. 29, 1994, the last day of the 103rd Congress. I had just offered a resolution honoring him, and the speaker was being given a standing ovation for his 30 years of service. Our fellow members would not sit or quiet down.

It was a fitting tribute to a great public servant who assumed the mantle of leadership in the House at a difficult time.

Tom had just been defeated for reelection, and I was retiring. In an unprecedented gesture of goodwill and comity, Tom invited me to assume the chair on the speaker’s podium while he gave his farewell address. For the first time in 40 years, a Republican presided over the House, if only for a few minutes. Continue reading

It Happens in Threes

Reprinted from

They say it happens in threes.

Three men who made a significant, if a disparate, impact on Washington died over the last week.

Bill Young

You could find Bill Young on the far end of the last row of the House floor, holding court in the Florida corner, when he wasn’t managing bills as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee or in the Committee offices, trying to get the leadership to be more reasonable in their allocations. Continue reading

Sell the UN

Reprinted from

During the presidency of George W. Bush, member states of the United Nations declined to re-elect the United States to one of the seats reserved for Western States on the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

They elected, instead, France, Austria, and Sweden.

The Bush Administration was unmoved by the slight, pointing out that the UN Human Rights Commission routinely elected such paragons of human rights as Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, Somalia, and Uganda. Continue reading

The Good News

Reprinted from

I want to focus on the good news.

The good news is that Barry Black, the Senate Chaplain, has come out of this entire mess as the only clear winner. His sermons have been on point, passionate, realistic and deeply spiritual. And he is now a rock star (as much as a Senate Chaplain can become a rock star).

The good news is that the government is finally open again.

The good news is that we didn’t default on our debts.

The good news is that the stock market largely ignored what was happening in Washington, figuring that we would figure it out. They were right. Continue reading

Explaining Boehner

Reprinted from

So, why did John Boehner make one last effort to get the House Republicans to vote on one final unified offer yesterday?

On its face, the Speaker’s Hail Mary Pass seemed risky.

The Senate was close to reaching a final agreement, which Boehner’s announcement seemingly scotched. The clock was ticking towards the final countdown until financial Armageddon. The stock market was getting nervous. The ratings agencies were none-too pleased and getting increasingly agitated with the Washington shenanigans. Continue reading

Republicans, Democrats, & the Righteous Few



There is no word that better explains the intractable nature of our government’s dysfunction, particularly now in the throes of frozen federal appropriations and a looming debt ceiling crisis.

Righteousness is a noun that describes an attitude that results in behavior “arising out of an outraged sense of justice or morality” (the appropo Webster definition). It is a behavior rooted in a sense of such uprightness that it is essentially free of guilt or sin. The righteous feel absolved from any need for self-judgment or self-reflection.

Can I have an amen?

We have heard President Obama again and again refuse to negotiate and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warning of Armageddon if no one acts. We have listened to Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee pontificate about the immorality of compromise, and we have heard the same refrain from dozens of Members of Congress from Justin Amash of Michigan to Continue reading

Shooting the Messenger

Reprinted from

I didn’t believe the polls in 2008.  I thought there was a secret group of voters who would come out to vote and propel John McCain to the White House over Barack Obama.

I believed the polls in 2010 because I thought that the American people were all on board to reject the President’s signature achievement, Obamacare.

I didn’t believe the polls in 2012. I thought the methodology was wrong. How could they oversample Democrats so much and how could independent voters skew so much towards Romney and have him still losing? Continue reading

Elections Have Consequences

Reprinted from

I’ve been doing a lot of TV since the shut down began. Specifically I’ve been doing one or both of Anderson Cooper’s programs at 8 PM Eastern and/or 10 PM Eastern.

In almost every one of those programs whoever is to my Left says that President Obama has been elected twice on the program of ObamaCare and, as ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES, Republicans should back off, roll over, and accept their fate as having lost the Presidency in 2008 and 2012.

There is something to that. I’m not sure I remember either election turning on the fulcrum of ObamaCare but that might be because Mitt Romney didn’t have a good answer opposing ObamaCare because of the Massachusetts plan that was adopted when he was Governor – ObamaCare lite. Continue reading

Time to Bring in The Closer

Reprinted from

It is time for President Obama to bring in the Administration’s version of Mariano Rivera.

They need a closer. And that closer is Joe Biden.

Mr. Obama’s approval ratings have fallen to 37%, chiefly because he refuses to negotiate with Republicans. The House Speaker has basically begged the President to do what every other President in American history has done: negotiate.

But the President and his chief ally on the Hill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, either won’t negotiate or can’t negotiate.

The White House is so convinced that they have the winning strategy that they even put out a meaningless veto threat on the Republican bill to name a so-called “negotiating committee” on legislation that will never reach the Senate floor. Continue reading

News Media and Making Government Work


“This is so asinine, the Washington Post should be embarrassed it wasted anyone’s time with it.”

Those are the words of Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner reacting recently to a Post thing—I’m not sure what to call it– by Juliet Eilperin and Zachary A. Goldfarb fantasizing about Boehner becoming a bipartisan coalition speaker.

Buck’s understated reaction underscores a troubling reality in media today. They, the infotainment media complex, are as dysfunctional and as lacking in meaningful contributions to public governance as the politicians who they spend so much time second-guessing and ridiculing.

Now, when we need responsible, dependable media more than ever they just aren’t there. Continue reading

Scam Attack on Mitch McConnell

Reprinted from

“I’ve never won anything.”

That was Adam Brandon’s famous quote in Slate Magazine. Who is Adam Brandon and why does it matter?

Well, Brandon runs political operations for Freedom Works, the group that loves to beat up Republicans in the name of conservative values.

Brandon recently penned a fundraising letter where he attacked Senator Mitch McConnell for being a RINO.

Here is what the letter had to say:

Patriot, Mitch McConnell called you a traitor. Continue reading

A Battle Worth Fighting

Reprinted from

Hey, here’s a scoop! I was wrong about when the shutdown would end. I thought it would be last Thursday.

My new prediction is: Never.

As I think I’ve made pretty clear, I thought – and still think – that tying the shutdown to repealing or delaying ObamaCare was a bad idea. That doesn’t mean I think ObamaCare is a good idea; I do not. But, the GOP’s mantra, if you will remember, was “Repeal and Replace.”

Republicans in the House and Senate cannot repeal, and they have not offered a replacement.

But, that was last week’s news. This week’s news is we are about 10 days from the financial world coming to an end – again – this time because we are about to bump our national fiscal head on the debt ceiling.

Continue reading

Standing O

Reprinted from

The House of Representatives gave a standing ovation to the Capitol police force after the crazy event yesterday afternoon.

Some quipsters on the Twitter said that they would rather get paid than get the applause.

Don’t worry. They will get paid and they deserve the applause.

I owe my life to the Capitol Police. John Gibson, who served on Tom DeLay’s security detail in the late 1990’s, stopped an armed crazy person with his weapon in an office right next to mine. Unfortunately, Gibson was murdered in the process.  Continue reading

Saved from Becoming “The Party of Nonsense?”

Reprinted from

Pete King doesn’t do alternative universes.

He also hates bullies.

When Newt Gingrich stepped off the back of Air Force One and complained that President Clinton wouldn’t talk to him, King called the Speaker, “political road kill.”

He did public battle with Tom DeLay at the height of DeLay’s political powers, something few people ever did.

By taking on Ted Cruz, another Texas politician he sees as a bully, King is doing what he always does: Speaking truth to power. Continue reading

Cruz & McCarthy: Yes, No, Maybe So


When Harold H. Velde took the chair of the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1953, he vowed to “weed out the communists and their fellow travelers, the pinkos, as they are called” from the departments of State and Defense and promised to serve as a watchdog for “commies” infiltrating the Eisenhower Administration.

The Committee had already made a name for itself. Five years earlier, a young member of the committee from California named Richard Nixon claimed fame by subpoenaing records that led to the imprisonment of Alger Hiss, the prominent and popular wunderkind of the Roosevelt era, who was accused of turning over government secrets to the Soviet Union.

In fact, since its founding in 1938, the Committee was on the leading edge of the anti-communist movement in the United States, a movement founded on legitimate national and international concerns about the global spread of Marxist-Leninism to China and across Russia into Eastern Europe and beyond. The spread of Communism would have profound, lasting ramifications for the free world and especially for the United States, the post-war protector of democracy and policeman of the planet.  Continue reading