Question Time with the Fix

February 2, 2013

As a C-SPAN junkie, I occasionally wander across the British Prime Minister being questioned by the House of Commons. The combination of performance art, policy conversation and stand-up comedy makes "question time" -- as its known -- some of my favorite TV out there. (And, yes, I am aware how big a nerd that makes me.)

If you've never watched it, you should. Here's a taste:

In an homage to question time, I do a weekly online chat with readers every Friday in which everything -- from politics to sports to pop culture -- is on the table. But, I always get WAY more questions than I have time to answer. So, I've made the executive decision to use this space every Saturday to answer more questions. Enjoy! (And you can see the full transcript of the questions we did answer Friday here.)

Q: What exactly did [Hagel] do badly? So quick with the narrative but not sure it's ever fully developed. And, really, isn't he unfairly compared to Hillary's atypical performance?

A: I think Hagel looked out of his depth for a lot of that hearing. He had to know that he was going to get quizzed on the Iraq surge, his past statements about Israel and Iran and his views on homosexuality. And yet, time and again, he seemed caught by surprise by those lines of inquiry and the answers he gave were confusing or just totally off point.  Not sure if you noticed but there were multiple times when Democratic Senators had to re-shape things Hagel said to make them make more sense. That's bad. Now, that said, Hagel is still almost certainly the next Secretary of Defense.

Q: Are you getting any sense whatsoever that the White House is the least bit embarrassed by Chuck Hagel's terrible performance yesterday? Frankly, even his supporters must have some doubt as to his competence to lead the Defense Department at this point? Has politics sunk so low that Democrats must vote the party line even if they think, deep in their hearts, that Hagel is a disaster and an embarrassment? What a depressing thought.

A: It's hard for me to imagine they were thrilled with how he did but I also think that President Obama and his top White House aides are realists. They know that the only thing that really matters is that Hagel is confirmed.  White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, who graduated from Georgetown in the same year as the ole Fix, had this to say to Bloomberg's Al Hunt on Friday:  "There's no question that there will be more than 50 votes to confirm Senator Hagel." So, that's that.

Q: Looking ahead to 2016, how in the world does Biden fight off Hillary if she runs? Clearly his political team has been thinking about this for a while, but these two have similar backgrounds and are friendly towards one another, by all accounts. They also have the foreign policy successes for the last 4 years to run on. How does he do it?

A: If Hillary is in, I don't think Biden runs. Or Andrew Cuomo. Or Kirstin Gillibrand. Or almost anyone not named Martin O'Malley. And he might not even run.  The only people who would run against Clinton in 2016 would be people who can't wait another four years. Now, if Hillary is out, I think Biden is in -- as are a lot of the names I mentioned above.

Q: 30 Rock Finale...I think it hit the right note - especially Tracy's last line, which was fitting for the show considering it was never a ratings hit. We lost Liz Lemon, but least we still have Ron Swanson on Thursday nights...

A: Yes, we will always have Ron Swanson.

Q: Landslide (1971 game). I know that this game is a little old for you, but have you ever seen/heard of it? It would be right up your alley.

A: I hadn't. But this interests me.

Q: I live in Massachusetts, and the buzz is that [Scott Brown] wants to leave politics for the private sector, but is getting a lot of push back. Sorry, but I do not see Bay Staters going from Deval Patrick to Scott Brown.

A: Maybe not. But his decision not to run for the Senate this year makes it much more likely -- in my opinion -- that he runs for the open governor's seat in 2014. Of course, Charlie Baker (R), who ran and lost against Gov. Deval Patrick in 2010, is also interested.

Q: Best part of Fridays... FixChat or new Simmons column?

A: Simmons. All day.

Q: A moment please for Ed Koch, a great New Yorker, a great mayor, and a great politician.

A: Well deserved.  Make sure to read the New York Times obituary and check out some of Koch's best quotes and an amazing story about his 1977 mayoral campaign.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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Sean Sullivan · February 1, 2013