The Live Fix

Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 31, 2009 11:00 AM

Every Friday, The Fix goes live, as Chris Cillizza discusses the latest news about Congress, the Obama administration, upcoming elections and all the latest political news.


Chris Cillizza: Good morning everyone. Welcome to the first official Fix chat -- streaming into your airspace every Friday morning from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Rather than paint this Friday chat as a review, we are choosing to cast it as a revue -- full of music, dancing and hilarity.

Like the Smothers Brothers comedy hour. Except it's just me.

And away we go.


Alexandria, Va.: Chris, What's your take on New Jersey? Are the recent arrests of a number of state and local officials on corruption charges the final nail in the coffin for Gov. Corzine? Or is 4 months an eternity in politics? And how does this correlate, if at all, with President Obama's standing in the polls? Should the Rs take heart?


Chris Cillizza: Let's start with the bread and butter....

New Jersey Gov.Jon Corzine (D) was in trouble before this huge sting -- politicians AND rabbis -- last week.

He's in even more trouble now. When 40+ people are arrested in a political corruption scandal and several mayors and state Assemblyman are among the guilty, it makes people feel like all politicians are tainted.

Enter Chris Christie, the former U.S. Attorney who has based his entire campaign on his law and order credentials and outsider status.

Ultimately, this race is a referendum on Corzine and the economy -- neither of which look good at the moment. But, the sting operation is just another hurdle the incumbent will need to find a way to overcome.


Starfleet Academy: What did you think of Shatner's rendition of Palin's speech?

Chris Cillizza: It was good. But was it this good?


Alexandria, Va.: Does Sarah Palin realize that thin tiny starlets don't eat, therefore they don't have to hunt? (Tuesday's Mouthpiece Theater was a classic, BTW).

Chris Cillizza: See above. And, we do our best. When it comes to Mouthpiece Theater, Milbank is the brains, I am the brawn.

_______________________ Mouthpiece Theater: Menage a Stella Artois


Philadelphia, Pa.: Cillizza, that's a funny name. OK, now you go and insult me. Maybe that way we can both get in on the free beer at the White House program.

Chris Cillizza: SO good.


Galena, Ill.: What kind of beer did Obama serve at the White House? Probably should have been Sam Adams, since his guests were from Cambridge, Mass.

Chris Cillizza: Beer choices:

Obama: Bud Light

Gates: Red Stripe

Crowley: Blue Moon

Biden: Buckler's (!)

Fix beer of choice: iced tea


Alexandria, Va.: Obama should've gone with a local brew, Lawnmower from Dogfish Head.

Chris Cillizza: Make sure you watch today's Mouthpiece Theater (I laughed, I cried) for more on what beers everyone should have drank.


Jackson, Miss.: Chris -- What do you think of the beer choices at the "Beer Summit" yesterday? I don't know if I am more appalled at the president drinking Bud Lite or a police officer drinking Blue Moon.

Chris Cillizza: Um, any attempt to analyze beerastroika is a mistake.

This was a photo-op, pure and simple, that was designed to put a nice finish on what started last week as an unforced error


Correction: Apparently the good professor changed from the Red Stripe to a Sam Adams Light. Yo.

Chris Cillizza: DANG!

Why did no one drink Natural Light Ice in honor of the Fix's college years?


Chicago, IL: Your beer of choice is not a pitcher of High Life from The Tombs?

Chris Cillizza: See above. Natural Light Ice! Party at the wave house.


Austin, TX: I'm an Obama guy, but damn...Bud Light? Seriously? I thought they were drinking beer. Aren't there any decent microbreweries in the area?

Chris Cillizza: There are tons. But not every state can be blessed with Shiner Bock.


NW D.C.: Hi Chris -- On a lighter note regarding the beer meeting at the White House yesterday, I noted that the two guys who live here knew enough to take off their jackets and roll up their sleeves given our typically awful weather. Gates and Crowley looked kind of funny all buttoned up.

Chris Cillizza: Very good call. I noticed that too.

My calculation in the summer in DC: walk more than three blocks and sweat profusely.

The idea of sitting outside in that swelter last night made ME sweat.


Helena MT: Okay, Chris, how many Blue Dogs are in the caucus? I heard one of the conservative talk show hosts say they were going after the Blue Dogs if they don't stop health reform, and I have to say I hope GOP goes after them regardless. I might even contribute to get rid of someone like Ross from Arkansas. I just think the Democratic majority might be better off with a smaller, more unified caucus than with these conservatives whose only goal is to tick off the liberals.

Chris Cillizza: An interesting point.

In an interview yesterday with Lois Romano for the Post, Ross said he thought there were roughly 70 conservatives in the house and another 100 (or so) moderates.

There are 50 (or so) actual members of the blue dog coalition.

The truth is that Democrats 40 seat majority is large and there WIDE ideological disparities between many of its members.

As I have written though, Republicans would LOVE to have that problem.


Bethesda, Md.: Chris - a question of immediate import: do you have that Nixon 5 o'clock shadow, where it looks like you haven't shaved an hour after you shave?

Chris Cillizza: Yes. Nixon is my mentor in all things including facial hair ;)


Reading, PA: Chris : First off congrats on becoming a "fixture" in the WaPo Friday chat line-up. A spot usually reserved for the more snarky of chat hosts. Can you give us some insight into how the governor races are shaping up in NJ and PA ? Did Obama's recent visit help Corizine's slipping numbers and has anyone actually heard of the candidates running to replace our beloved Ed Rendell ?

Chris Cillizza: Thanks!

I am excited about it even if I do have to go to snarky re-education classes.

I talked about NJ above (bad for Corzine) and I think Republicans have reason to feel good about VA too.

Bob McDonnell, the Republican nominee, is the best person Republicans have put forward in the last 12 years and the Old Dominion, historically, goes opposite of whichever party is in the White House.

As for Pennsylvania, NO ONE knows any of the candidates just yet since there is no Rendell-type figure in the field.


The Senate's funniest Tweeter: Okay, I love Chuck Grassley he is completely insane and his tweets are teh funny, but...

Iowa is a blue-purple state that Gore and Obama won. Are the Dems going to find a serious candidate to challenge Chuck?

Chris Cillizza: I am a fellow Grassley-ite when it comes to Twitter. Rife with misspellings and half sentences and yet somehow compelling.

As for his re-election prospects, he is totally safe. Although, as you point out, Iowa has moved more Democratic in recent years, Grassley is an absolute institution in the state and national Democrats don't really even bother recruiting anyone against him.


Beerg, UT: Chris -- has our Veep given up alcohol? Was he worried about his mouth running if he had one beer? I mean, it's not like they were downing shots of tequila or vodka...

Chris Cillizza: I honestly don't know.

It would have been funnier if they all agreed to do a shot of Jagermeister (from one of those cheesy vials) to ease racial tensions.

Now THAT would have been a photo op.


Charlotte, NC: What is your take on the North Carolina United States Senate race? Richard Burr is not a household name according to polls but neither is North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, his most highly touted potential competitor. If Marshall gets in the race, would Kenneth Lewis and former State Senator Cal Cunningham (if he decides to run) present credible challenges to Marshall in a primary?

Chris Cillizza: North Carolina is a hard one to figure.

On the one hand, national Democrats believe that Burr is vulnerable due to a combination of the state's changing demographics and the fact that he hasn't made much of an impression on the state's voters in his first five years in office.

On the other, NO ONE seems to want to run against him. Roy Cooper, Heath Shuler, Bobby Etheridge and Mike McIntyre have all taken passes.

Could Marshall give Burr a real race? Sure. But remember that she came in a distant third in a Democratic primary when she ran for Senate earlier this decade....not exactly a strong showing to build on.


Beer choice: Come on, cut Obama some slack. Had he chosen anything but a "Joe Six-Pack" brand, he would have been pilloried (again!) as an elitist. Remember when Newsweek ran a cover using arugula to represent Obama and contrasting it to a mug of beer? So of course he had to choke down a crap beer in public view. Fancy microbrews must be saved for consumption in the private residence.

And, apparently, Biden claims never to have had a drink in his life. (Who knows, maybe he had alcoholics somewhere in his family -- some people avoid the stuff for that reason.) But it is funny to imagine how talkative he would be after a couple. Unless he's one of those "opposite" drunks -- maybe he would just become quiet and sulky.

Chris Cillizza: Very informative.


Boston: were wrong about one beer choice at yesterday's White House meeting. Prof. Gates drank Sam Adams Light.

Chris Cillizza: And we have corrected it above! Gates' initial choice was red stripe.



RE: Iowa: I can see him as a safe seat, but shouldn't the DSCC at least find a credible opponent. Grassley is in his mid 70's, even with U.S. Senators apparent indestructibility a good challenge could help position someone for 2016.

Chris Cillizza: Sure. And they might. But, my point is that Grassley is not losing this time around, that's all.


Kansas City MO: One of my right wing pals is arguing that Cash for Clunkers running out of money proves Obama and the Dems can't fix health care. Does he have a point?

Chris Cillizza: I think the decline and fall of cash for clunkers could -- not will but COULD -- have some residual effect on the health care debate.

Here's why: The Obama Administration is asking people to trust them as they put in place a number of programs designed to grow the economy, improve health care, improve the environment etc.

When a high-profile program like cash for clunkers goes belly up, it erodes some of the trust that people have in the chief executive.

Questions start to get raised about whether the Obama Administration knows exactly what it is doing.

And, any flagging of that trust and confidence could hurt the Administration's credibility as they try to sell the necessity of health care to the American public over the next month.


Boston: I saw in the NYT crosstabs that 40% of Americans think Congress is taking Health Insurance reform too slowly (vs. 25% too fast). If the reform fails to pass again, how many of those Blue Dogs get whacked in the 2010's? I can see them both bleeding support from their base and being attacked by energetic Republicans. What's your take?

Chris Cillizza: The Blue Dogs are in a tough spot.

On the one hand, they tend to represent districts that are far more conservative by nature and, therefore, their constituents aren't likely to punish them for being against an Obama proposal.

On the other, Republicans will brand them as part of the problem no matter what they say about health care since they are members of the Democratic caucus.

It's a catch 22 and the Blue Dogs know it. It's why they negotiated for more time on the bill -- so they can go home and try to figure out how to turn this vote into a winner (or a potential winner) for them next November.


San Diego, Calif.: The comment section on "The Fix" is getting really bad, devolving into name-calling back and forth, so I appreciate your thread about being civil and "on topic". Will you at least consider banning IP addresses of those who refuse to abide by your request?

Chris Cillizza: You stay classy San Diego.

The comments section on the Fix -- and most popular blogs both on the Post site and other sites -- is a tough nut to crack.

We have a vibrant community of people who like to sound off on politics and, generally, engage in on topic debates with one another.

But, we have another group of people who simply try to shout down everyone else with name-calling etc.

We are working to find ways to incentivize the comments section so that reasonable discussion can flourish.

I am generally against the idea of banning IP addresses unless someone is blatantly offensive to other posters. It's a tough line to walk but be assured we are working to address it.


Cash for Clunkers: "Decline and fall"? "Belly-up"? I don't follow. Isn't the problem that the program has been phenomenally successful, beyond expectations, so that it has burned through the money with lightning speed? Sure, that means there's a funding issue that needs to (and surely will) be addressed, but I don't see how this gets framed as a failure. "Belly-up" would make sense if there were still tumbleweeds blowing through car lots and crickets chirping on the sales floor.

Chris Cillizza: This post reminded me of the beginning of "The Big Lebowski" which I need to see again.


Hoya, DC: Yep, Chris is absolutely right. Natty Ice all the way. High Life is for the children and for the lost GWU students.

Chris Cillizza: BOO YAH!


Jackson, MS: This one of my favorite political questions to discuss over beers: which state's senate delegation is the most politically schizophrenic, i.e., has the two senators who are the most diametrically opposed politically?

Chris Cillizza: I. Love. You.

GREAT question. I spend LOTS of time thinking about stuff like this.

Harkin/Grassley in Iowa are definitely up there.

Richard Burr/Kay Hagan?

Harry Reid/John Ensign?

Who am I missing?

Also, an all time great Mutt and Jeff pairing was in the 1990s when Paul Wellstone, a liberal's liberal, and Rod Grams, a strong conservative, represented Minnesota.


Mansfield, Ohio: How much time do you spend reading the comments made on articles you post?

Or, do you just post an article, never look back at whatever comments are posted, and move on to writing the next one?

Chris Cillizza: I do tend to monitor the comment section -- occasionally in dismay -- to see how people are responding to a given post.

I think one of the best things about having a blog is the interactivity it affords you -- people can talk back to you in real time.

It's why I am so active on Twitter and Facebook -- both of which, interestingly, have a far more civil running commentary about my posts than does my own blog.


Arlington, VA: Will the Fix be watching any Kenner League at McDonough? Go Hoyas!

Chris Cillizza: Trying to get over there at least once this summer.

Andy Katz just wrote a piece saying Hoyas are the logical challenger to 'Nova for Big East supremacy this year since West Va. has had all sorts of off season problems. (In a Bob Huggins-run program? Perish the thought!)

But, my mind is far from basketball at the moment. We are three weeks away from the start of Catholic University's field hockey season. All of my sports rooting energy is focused there at the moment.


Los Angeles, Calif.: Are you FB supporting Palin to further confound her or to gather op research? Just sayin...

Chris Cillizza: To make sure I get updates on my wall when she posts things like she did last night.....for those who missed it, Palin is NOT attending an event in California that it was reported she was in fact attending.

Good times.


Pittsburgh: My theory is that last evening Professor Gates and Officer Crowley were discussing the doping scandal surrounding World Series champs Papi Ortiz and (then-Bosox) Manny Ramirez.

Chris Cillizza: I bet. I mean, that had the potential to be a SUPER awkward conversation.

Lots of weather and sports talk I bet.


Washington, D.C.: Should Obama supporters like myself be legitimately concerned about the "birther" movement? Do you think it represents a bizarre way of expressing legitimate concerns about Obama's policies, or is it simply a fringe movement that should be ignored? Is it also fundamentally racist, symbolic of the fact that some white Americans simply cannot accept that not every natural-born American looks like them anymore?

Chris Cillizza: Fringe movement to be ignored.

If you look at a poll conducted for Daily Kos today, there are 10 percent or so of people who don't believe Obama is a citizen.

In my years of studying public opinion polling, there are 10 percent of people who carry a contrasting view no matter the evidence to the contrary.

For example, if we polled whether the Fix totally rocks, there would probably be 10 percent (lunatics!) who said it doesn't when we all know it does.



Sen Mutt/Sen Jeff: The classic example, to me, were Sens. Moynihan and D'Amato. Mutt and Jeff on every conceivable level!

Chris Cillizza: VEry good one.


Mutt and Jeff: Were Carl Levin and Spencer Abraham in the Senate from Michigan at the same time? That would be a pretty striking contrast. And Voinovich and Brown from Ohio, to some extent. (Voinovich has episodes of moderation, but mostly follows the GOP crowd -- it's Brown's progressiveness that makes the contrast.)

Chris Cillizza: Yup.


I may need to make a Fix post out of this.....


Chris Cillizza: And we made it. Hour one of the weekly Fix chat experiment is in the books.

Was it good for you? Send your suggestions on how to make this chat even more ingenious and hilarious at

In the meantime, have a great Friday and weekend. And drink a Natural Light Ice for me.

See you next Friday! Same time! 11 am. It's where it's at. Spread the word! Exclamation points rock!


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