Friday, September 27, 2013

I have nothing to say.

I should not admit this as an active blogger, but I have nothing new to add to the discussion about the impending budget battle taking place in Congress.  Nor do I have much to add about its twin sister, the debt limit showdown.  Together they look like Gerard Depardieu and Nick Nolte on a date at a Chuck E. Cheese.

Although there is one aspect that never made much sense to me and when I ran this issue by my class they just asked if it would be on the exam.  In regards to the debt limit fight, the Radical Right always say they want something in return for lifting the debt ceiling.  As if they didn’t want it lifted, as if solvency was not a priority for them, as if maintaining a credit rating that allows us to borrow money for almost free, is not good enough.  They make it sound like agreeing to borrow money so that we can pay the bills on obligations they voted for is something they don’t want.  It never makes sense.  It is like being at your birthday party and saying to your guests, yes, I will take your gifts, but only if you are willing to agree to mow my lawn, do the dishes, press my shirts, and get the gummy worms out from under the seat of my car that my kids left there.  I can imagine the strategy meeting with the House Republican Study Committee went something like this. (thanks to my student Noah)

Like I said, I have nothing to add to those battles.  Which means we have to go back to our most reliable source of material – Rick Santorum.  In fact Rick Santorum is to invisible primary bloggers what …..well…..Rick Santorum is to late night talk show hosts.

He is ginning up his game these days ever since Sen. Ted Cruz (from the great 51st state of Canada) has been stealing the spot reserved for radical, nonsensical, candidates.  Rick has been to Alabama to open up a new GOP headquarters (because they need one of those like they need another Chick-fil-A).  But not to be further upstaged by Senator Cruz’s eloquently reading of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish on the Senate Floor; Santorum just had his first public screening of a new movie that his media conglomerate produced.  It will be coming to a theater or sanctuary near you soon.  Called “The Christmas Candle,” it is an attempt to grow the strong base of support he gets from the Jewish community, at least that is what I read in the comment sections of a reputable “news” source (shout out to @LawnMowerBeerBelly).  The Christmas Candle (here is the brief trailer – no, really, check out the trailer) is also an attempt to appeal to a broader, more Obama-centered, group by appealing to the theme of “hope”.  As Santorum stated in his press release, “Our goal is to release quality entertainment with positive, uplifting messages of hope,” Santorum continued. “That’s what people across America and the world are looking for, including my own family.”   This big-tent-loving, bipartisan move is a clear sign that he would have voted to defund Ted Cruz, like many of the other GOP Senators did, in his recent Senate performance.

This all bodes well for the Santorum for America campaign a la 2016 but I fear he may be slipping a little in his game.  For instance, I was surprised he missed the chance to be part of this ground breaking meeting with conservative and liberal groups in the key swing-state of Wyoming.  (Yes I chose to make two KKK references and leave Hitler out of this posting).  I also expect to see a big shake-up in his campaign staff due to their inability to secure Mr. Santorum a role that did NOT include an Uncle Sam mask in this Koch Brother’s commercial.  Although he seemed to be pretty nimble with that speculum.

Stay tuned for bigger things! Soon Sen. Cruz will not have a forum to dominate and distract people from the nation’s business and Mr. Santorum will, once again, be able to regain his leading spot for 2016.  That pretty much guarantees that I will post at least one more time before 2016.  Thanks for the collective sigh of relief.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall = Best Season Ever

And we're back! Late September formally brings us academic classes in full swing and autumnal glory where all college campuses look like they do in the brochures. Crunchy leaves, sweater-wearing students, cheerful football games and underage drinking. Ah, September. On a personal note, my students this semester are fabulous! They totally make up for the feces-fest unraveling now on Capitol Hill, because watching that is enough to discourage even a stalwart, system-adoring political scientist. Here's to a new generation!

But first, let's look at the current state of affairs.

This September brings us another perennial nugget of joy: the threat of a government shutdown. Unless you have been completely distracted by the WORLD'S BEST COMMERCIAL (as, I confess, I have been at times where distraction is necessary), you know about the looming crisis and the resulting rift in the Republican Party. If not, please let this terrific article explain for you the coming week (courtesy of my friend and fellow blogger, Lonce). And sorry for stealing this, Lonce. You an also check out this good one from Politico (like they do anything badly?).

Since this entire kerfuffle is political theater, you just know there has to be Invisible Primary drama behind the scenes and so we begin with the thespianism on the floor of the US Senate right this minute! Quick! To C-SPAN 2 (the Deuce)! Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) launched an old-fashioned filibuster (ala Mr. Smith) against Obamacare and vouched to speak "until I am no longer able to stand." Good on you, sir, and this comes after a bruising little amount of press that called you a bunch of names and also questioned your popularity. It's good to stand for something, especially when you actually have to stand in order to stand for it.

But the possible shutdown tactic is splitting the GOP which is never good, unless you are a Democrat. Specifically, the 2016 IP contenders have to weigh in on this and thus far the results are mixed. Republican Governors Chris Christie (NJ) and Scott Walker (WI) both begrudgingly said that they would not want to shut the government down, as did former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. On the other side are the aforementioned Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee, and sorta kinda Florida Sen. Marco Rubio who seems to want it both ways by saying that "The American people support defunding Obamacare and oppose shutting down the government." OK! Not sure how that works out, but here is PolitiFact's take on Rubio's press statement.

So how is it going to end? Good Lord, who knows? I do know that Veep Biden schlepped out to flood-devastated Colorado and promised that regardless of any shutdown, FEMA would provide assistance to those in need which was both reassuring and tactically savvy, all at the same time. Last week, Biden was in Iowa at the Tom Harkin steak fry, which fueled speculation that he was, in fact, running. At the fry, he swapped hats with an Iowan for a photo-op, which only fueled my motherly instinct to yell "DON'T DO THAT!" as a preventative measure against head lice. Joe, don't say I didn't warn you. And don't share your comb or barrettes either.

Wrapping up this week in the Invisible Primary, last night former President Bill Clinton was on David Letterman, who was fishing for Hillary 2016 scoop. Letterman said: “If she is running to your knowledge, blink twice.” Bill denied all knowledge of his wife's intentions, which did not seem to surprise me in the least. Fair turnabout, don't you think?

That's all from the cheap seats. if the government shuts down, I tell my students, the price of pizza is going to sky rocket and beer will be banned in all 50 states. They don't believe me. See? What a smart, terrific group I've got! Hooray for September. And Happy Fall everyone!