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The Live Fix: Chris Cillizza on Joe Wilson's Outburst, Sarah Palin's Editorial and 2012

Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 11, 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.

A transcript follows.

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Chris Cillizza: Good morning everyone from a dreary Washington, D.C.

It's a somber day as we remember the terrorists attack of Sept. 11, 2001.

Two music recommendations to commemorate the day:

1. The Boss

2. Elvis Perkins' "Ash Wednesday".

LOTS also going on in the political world too...just posted the Friday governors line with the top 15 (!) races in the country.

And, then there's Joe Wilson....

Let's get to your questions.

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Boston: Does Andrew Card -really- think he has a shot at Ted Kennedy's seat? Does he have any idea what people in Massachusetts think of the Bush administration? This isn't just filling a Senate seat, it's Teddy's Senate seat. There is no way absent hell freezing over that Andrew Card wins that seat. Curt Shilling and his bloody sock have a better chance. I honestly can't imagine why anyone thinks this is a good idea.

Chris Cillizza: It would be pretty cool to have the bloody sock be a candidate...

From my reporting, it's clear that Andy Card -- the former chief of staff to George W. Bush -- wants to run in the special election to replace the late Ted Kennedy.

As I wrote this morning in the Morning Fix, Card (or any other Republican) will have a very hard time winning in the Bay State.

Card's candidacy would draw lots of national attention to the special election but it's hard to see how he wins.

The action is really on the Democratic side of the aisle.

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Boston: How will Wilson's outburst impact an ever-widening gap between the more moderate Republicans and the more conservative base? Which side of the GOP will drive the messaging for 2010/2012 elections?

Chris Cillizza: I think we should all be careful in assuming that the Joe Wilson comments will have a HUGE impact in next year's elections.

There is a tendency in politics (and I play into this at times) that the thing that just happened is the most important and meaningful event in the history of politics.

But, the truth is that the American people have pretty short memories and, given that, I think it's far more likely Wilson fades back into obscurity than he becomes a poster boy for Democrats in 2010 or 2012.

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Anonymous: Music recommendation: The Junior Boys

www.myspace.com/juniorboys

washingtonpost.com: I second this.

Chris Cillizza: Hard for me to argue against a double music recommendation....haven't heard them.

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Athens, Ga.: I think you're missing something very notable here that Elwyn Tinklenberg didn't have in his race for a C.D. that's 96% white. South Carolina's 2nd is 26% Black and Black voters are extremely upset at Congressman Joe Wilson and previously, Congressman Wilson had a pretty good relationship with the Black community within his C.D. Not great, but still good. It's also 4% Hispanic with a major block centered in Lexington and Beaufort Counties. They're probably more motivated to see Joe Wilson out-of-office then even in 2008 to get Barack Obama.

I don't know how much Wilson won of the non-White vote in his previous re-elections, but even if he loses just 5% of it, he loses his seat.

Chris Cillizza: Sure, that's possible.

But, I disagree with your contention that the black vote in 2010 will be equal to or higher than it was in 2008.

Presidential turnout is historically far higher than it is for midterm elections and it's hard to see that changing in 2010.

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East Lansing, Mich.: Here's a funny idea. At the start of your chat type in the amount of donations that Rob Miller has on ActBlue.com ($743,090 right now) and then type in the amount he has when you finish your online chat.

Chris Cillizza: A bit more on Joe Wilson....

While I don't think his outburst will be a major issue in the 2010 election, it clearly has given his Democratic opponent -- Rob Miller -- a huge financial shot in the arm.

The amount of money given to Miller means that he will be able to run a professional campaign and perhaps match spending by Wilson in the election.

It doesn't mean, however, that Wilson is going to lose.

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SW, DC: As a former Virginian (and a librul), I am very interested in whether the recent news about McDonnell has had a measurable impact on the gubernatorial race. Can you clue me in?

Chris Cillizza: A very good question.

As I just wrote in the Friday governors line, McDonnell's master Thesis, which espoused a series of strongly socially conservative positions, has the potential to alienate Northern Virginia voters that, to date, McConnell had been overperforming among.

McDonnell went into Thesis-gate with a lead somewhere near high single digits and I have yet to see any credible polling post-Thesis that would give us an idea on how badly he has been hurt by it.

What we know: the Thesis story gave state Sen. Creigh Deeds' campaign a badly needed boost of momentum.

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North Andover, Mass.: Is the $80 billion the drug companies are giving to help "fill" the donut hole an absolute figure? Yearly? Indexed to inflation? Wouldn't percentage of something been a better calculus?

Chris Cillizza: Um, this is the Live Fix chat. I think you wondered in from the Ezra Klein or Steve Pearlstein chat.... :)

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Seattle: But I'm wondering, how long until ex-Governor Palin's "Facebook bunker" days end and she'll actually have to talk to accredited press with fellow-up questions and fact-checking to enter the national conservation.

Chris Cillizza: Palin, to my mind, has started to do a bit better for herself -- it was a low bar -- of late.

She placed an editorial on health care in the Wall Street Journal on the same day the President spoke to Congress on the issue -- ensuring that she was part of the debate throughout the day.

I have to admit I am somewhat baffled by her penchant to sound off via Facebook. But, I also think her not granting a lot of media interviews at the moment is probably smart too. This is not a woman who suffers from a lack of media exposure.

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Presidential turnout is historically far higher than it is for midterm elections: Perhaps, but your observation is not necessarily relevant to the question at hand, which involves a segment of the electorate that might be greatly inspired to turn out at the polling booths in November 2010. Do you have any data that suggest how voting percentages in midterm elections differ between districts that include "controversial" candidates and those that don't?

Chris Cillizza: I don't have any off hand.

But, logic would seem to dictate that turnout in the black community would be FAR higher in an election when they had the chance to elect the first African American president than in a subsequent midterm election when they have the chance to vote out a congressman who yelled "you lie" at the president 16 months before an election.

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Bangor, Maine: Whether or not Joe Wilson will win re-election, he's certainly made it harder and considering he's in such a safe seat and re-elected 4 times, it's certainly made a "race to watch" which it never would have been before, right?

Chris Cillizza: Absolutely.

He has put himself on the radar of national Democrats which is never a smart move. I saw that the Cook Political Report moved his race from "Solid Republican" to "Likely Republican" today too.

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Yuma, Ariz.: Fun fact, the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson was born and raised in Orangeburg, South Carolina with is in... you guessed it, Joe Wilson's congressional district.

Chris Cillizza: I did know that. Gene and I were together at the Democratic presidential debate in Orangeburg in 2007 and he told me that he could see the house he grew up in from the debate site.

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Minneapolis: What happened? Didn't you predict that Rep Wilson would be apologizing on the House floor. Instead I see a video of him shilling for money.

Chris Cillizza: I didn't predict any such thing.

That must have been the other Chris Cillizza.

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Fairfax, Va.: Did Democrats peak too early, winning so many races in 2006 and 2008, that they're going to run into trouble with the next round of redistricting because they seem on the way to losing a lot of governor's mansions?

Chris Cillizza: There's no question that the number of seats Democrats won in the House and the Senate in 2006 and 2008 put them in a tough position over the next few cycles.

Especially in the House, there are a number of Democratic members who represent very Republican districts that will have a tough time holding on to them if the political climate continues to erode for their party.

That's the natural pendulum of politics though. It's what makes it so interesting.

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Miami: I saw you the other day on Hardball with John O'Connor and I have to say, you had the WORST background. It made you look like you were hunched in a corner.

Chris Cillizza: YES!

I know....the Post newsroom -- where the camera is usually set up -- is being refurbished and so they have set up temporary space for the reporters and our live shots.

The Fix mom told me I looked "terrible" in that background yesterday. (Nothing like a little straight talk!)

In the future, I will do my TV hits from the NBC studios to make it a little easier on the eyes.

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San Francisco: Another music recommendation:

"Far Away" by Sleater-Kinney. They broke up a few years ago. It's the last band I was ever devoted to.

washingtonpost.com: Also second this one.

Chris Cillizza: Have seen Sleater-Kinney in concert. I wholeheartedly recommend as well.

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Davis, Calif.: Even if the Democrats lost 20-30 seats in House of Representatives, they'd have to lose at least 38 seats to lose control of it, right? And even Cook isn't expecting the Democrats to lose control of the Senate, right?

Chris Cillizza: Correct.

Democrats have a BIG majority in the House so if they gave back 20 seats next November, they would still have a 20 seat majority.

In the Senate, there is NO chance that Republicans will retake control in 2010.

But, with two very favorable Senate cycles coming up in 2012 and 2014 where Democrats will have to defend a slew of tough states, all Republicans want out of 2010 is to stay within shouting distance.

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The "other Chris Cillizza": Is actually Paul Kane, who predicted the obligatory tear-jerking apology on the Senate floor yesterday.

Chris Cillizza: Ah, Paul Kane, the smarter, better looking version of me.....

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Fredericksburg, Va.: I can easily see the Democrats losing a dozen seats in the South (Tom Periello, Larry Kissell, Bart Gordon, Bobby Bright, Parker Griffith, Jim Marshall, Travis Childers, Marion Berry, Chet Edwards, Alan Grayson, Glenn Nye, John Barrow -- there's a dozen without a sweat). But there's only one Southern Democratic senator in real trouble -- Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. (Remember that 2004 was a great GOP year in the South). How in danger is she? And will her becoming Agriculture Committee chair change that?

Chris Cillizza: I hesitate to answer questions from Fredericksburg since it is the hometown of the University of Mary Washington, a major rival for the Catholic University field hockey team. (Off to a 2-0 start with a game against Virginia Wesleyan College today!) But, I am trying to be a better person so....

Republicans have had a hard time recruiting quality candidates in Arkansas in recent elections. Sen. Mark Pryor (D) had NO Republican opposition in 2008 and there are a handful of lesser lights in the race against Lincoln in 2010.

Republicans in DC have high hopes for state Sen. Gilbert Baker who just got into the race.

We shall see. Lincoln, during her time in the House and the Senate, has demonstrated significant electoral appeal despite the Republican lean of the state.

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Bowie, Md.: Pet peeve:

Can we not use the suffix "-gate" ever again? I mean it is so, so, so annoying I can't tell you. Sorry, it's being used now for things so trivial that it has lost all meaning. Is the McDonnell thesis scandal really the same weight as Watergate which brought down a sitting president? I don't think so.

Chris Cillizza: Only if we can term this question "gate-gate".

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The Other Chris Cillizza: Yeh, that was me who predicted Joe Wilson would apologize on the House floor. Oh, and I predict the Redskins will win the Super Bowl.

Chris Cillizza: Love it!

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Gaithersburg, Md.: Regarding Palin's editorial in the WSJ -- are you really suggesting that she actually wrote it? Really?

washingtonpost.com: Obama and the Bureaucratization of Health Care (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 8)

Chris Cillizza: Her name was on it, no?

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The speech: New polling by CBS and others -- not the insta-kind -- sure make it look like Obama's speech moved the needle, as the Beltway expression goes. His approval numbers went back up among Dems, but among independents, too. Thoughts?

Chris Cillizza: Let's wait a few more days before we make final judgments on the impact of the speech but my initial reaction was that the combination of Obama's confrontational rhetoric and the Joe Wilson outburst probably would wind up helping the President in the selling of health care to the country.

As we saw on many occasions during the campaign, the President is a tremendously gifted orator who can be very persuasive on difficult topics. (See the Jeremiah Wright race speech).

I always wondered why the President didn't do more speeches like this during the summer as health care languished. It seemed relatively obvious from the start that the town halls he was holding wasn't getting it done.

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St Paul., Minn.: Hi Chris -- In the punditfest that followed the president's speech the other night, a couple of commentators, including the esteemed David Gergen, praised the speech but said it was given about three months too late. Your own esteemed pundit, Mr. Kaiser, disagreed, saying that to give that speech much earlier would not have made any sense. What do you think?

Chris Cillizza: So weird. Just wrote that in the last response.

Also, hope "St. Paul" went to the Minnesota State Fair. That fair rocks!

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You're good enough, you're smart enough...: But unlike Paul Kane, you don't feel the need to take gratuitous slaps at the so-called "far left" in every chat, even when we haven't done anything.

Chris Cillizza: Going negative on ole PK!

For the record, Paul has been a personal friend of mine since I started at Roll Call in 2003 and is one of the fairest (and best) reporters out there.

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Bloomington, Ind.: Don't know about you, but I'm actually really enjoying "The Junior Boys"

Chris Cillizza: Remember the "Jerky Boys"? Man was that a stupid trend.

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San Diego: How's Charlie?

Chris Cillizza: Thanks for asking. My little offensive lineman to be -- he is six months old and 20+ lbs -- is asleep!

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Minneapolis: Apologies for confusing Mr Cillizza with Mr Kane, it was very dark in the room at the time. I also predict that Brett Favre will lead the Vikings to the Superbowl this time.

Chris Cillizza: I love that Brett Favre. He is going to do great things for the Jets. Wait.....

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Arlington, Va.: Chris - Senator Inhofe is convinced there will be a Republican House and Senate in 2011. It is Inhofe after all, but I'm not so sure he is all that delusional on this one. Myself, I see a loss of 7 Dem Senate Seats if the political landscape doesn't change much from where it is right now with Dodd, Specter, Reid, Bennett, Lincoln and the open seats in Delaware and Illinois. Add to that Boxer and Dorgan if there is a GOP tidal wave.

Chris Cillizza: Well, if Jim Inhofe thinks so....

The seven seat loss scenario you laid out is, of course, possible but not probable as of today.

I think both Dodd and Reid are in for VERY tough races. I also think the open seats in Illinois and Delaware (if, and only if Mike Castle runs) will be very competitive although both are in good territory for Democrats.

The jury is still out on whether Specter (if he survives his primary), Bennet and Lincoln will go down.

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Bay State Native in DC: I think the blather about Andy Card running in the Senate race is really only to raise Card's profile back up in Massachusetts. Then he could run for governor in the November 2010 election. After all, for all the years that Card served as Dubya's chief of staff, he was one of the quietest chiefs of staff in memory. Sometimes I even forgot he was there!

Chris Cillizza: Not a bad idea.

Gov. Deval Patrick is in TERRIBLE political shape and already faces a very serious fight from state Treasurer Tim Cahill who switched from the Democratic party to run as an independent in 2010.

If Patrick and Cahill split the Democratic and Democratic-leaning Independent vote, there could be a path -- albeit a narrow one -- for Card.

Still, having served as one of President Bush's right hand men isn't exactly a great resume to win political office in Massachusetts.

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Sarah Palin's authorship: I'm no fan of Palin's, but does anybody think that any politician writes his/her own articles without a lot of heavy lifting from their staff?

Chris Cillizza: Correct.

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Bethesda, Md.: How long will the Wilson outburst be in the news? Do you think the story has legs, and will really unite the Dems?

Here's a music choice for you: "What it is" by Mark Knopfler. Great guitar work, as always.

Chris Cillizza: Love Knopfler.

Also underrated: Okkervil River. Just listened to "A Girl in the Port"

As for Wilson, my guess is he is off the news by Monday. But, unlike Paul Kane, I am not making that an official prediction :)

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Palin's words: "Chris Cillizza: Her name was on it, no?"

You're so cute when you get all naive.

If Palin wrote that, I'm Bruce Springsteen.

Chris Cillizza: BREAKING: The Boss follows the Live Fix chat!!!

Can't say I'm surprised.... ;)

(Emoticons rule!)

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Austin, Tex.: If we're going music recommendations, you can't beat Drive-By Truckers. What a 2009 they've had: two solo releases (one by an ex-Trucker, actually), a CD backing Booker T, a contract-filling outtakes collection, and a dynamite live CD/DVD of their Austin City Limits taping.

One of the best American bands in action these days.

Chris Cillizza: They totally rock.

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DC via Arkansas: To the poster asking about Blanche Lincoln-Lambert, it is worth remembering that Arkansas isn't your typical Republican-given that much of the South is. I don't believe that the state houses ever became Republican majority. I would actually say that with the exception of the presidential general election and the congressional seat for NW Arkansas (can't remember the district), any Republican elected is sort of a surprise.

Chris Cillizza: Good point. Lots of yellow dog Democrats down in Arkansas. Still, a Senate race has the potential to become nationalized relatively easily and if Lincoln is tied too closely to President Obama that could hurt her in a state where he performed poorly in 2008.

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Kirksville, Mo.: RE: Arlington, Va.

That case also ignores the Republicans losing control of the seats in Missouri, Ohio, New Hampshire, etc...

Chris Cillizza: Good point from Kirksville.

Also, how ridiculously good is Albert Pujols.

I loved Adam Wainwright's quotes after Pujols hit numbers 46 and 47 the other night. He said something like "I don't know how anyone can be better than Pujols".

Sounds like me describing Mrs. Fix.

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Paul Kane: Is one the THE BEST chatters at the Post, and a very excellent writer. I think what may grate folks a bit is - he calls it straight down the middle, and if he does not agree and/or you are wrong in your posts/question he points it out as such.

Great reporter and stays on point with facts.

Chris Cillizza: Chat ratings:

1. Weingarten

2. Hax

3. Kane

132 (and climbing). Live Fix

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NJ Governor?: Any news on that other governor's race in New Jersey? Has Corzine closed the gap?

Chris Cillizza: Wrote on this in the Friday Govs Line, which you all need to check out. (Page views=more peas and carrots to feed Charlie Fix).

In new Jersey, Christie has lost some altitude but Corzine doesn't appear to be benefiting much from it. Corzine is still mired in the upper 30s in the polling I have seen which is REALLY bad for an incumbent this close to an election.

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Pittsburgh: Wasn't the REAL intended audience for President Obama's speech on Wednesday evening not Republicans -- but instead those wavering Democrats in the House and Senate, as well as their constituents (who he presumably hopes will contact their legislators to urge them to support Obamacare)?

Chris Cillizza: ABSOLUTELY.

I think the White House recognizes that it's not likely to enjoy any significant support from Republicans in the House or Senate and so they are spending most of their time trying to rally Democrats to their cause.

Not sure how well the speech did that, however. The Blue Dogs put out a pretty tepid response and Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska said he like the President's speech but wanted to see the "nitty gritty" details.

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Richmond, Va.: Sara Palin cannot pronounce 'Bureaucratization,' much less use it in a critical analysis.

Chris Cillizza: Note to posters: When attacking someone as not bright, make sure you hit spell check before hitting "send".

:)

Emoticons!

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Miami: Wow, the Junior Boys are from my hometown. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada's Pittsburgh (sadly, they actually call it that).

Chris Cillizza: Canada's Pittsburgh!

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Kempton, Ind.: David Brooks seems to be IN LOVE with our governor, Mitch Daniels. Personally, I don't see. But in terms of 2012 or 2016, do you see Mitch Daniels sitting the national stage as either running himself or being a running mate?

Chris Cillizza: Mitch Daniels is intriguing.

He got elected twice running as a reformer with results -- a message not dissimilar to how President Obama reshaped the Democratic party in 2008.

Daniels has said repeatedly that he will not run for president in 2012 but he also continues to grant national interviews and involve himself in party politics, which makes me think he would like to find a way to wriggle out of the box he has put himself into.

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Sacramento, Calif.: I know 2012 is far off, but who do you see as the darkest horse on the Republican side? Someone who could come out of nowhere and steal the nomination?

Chris Cillizza: 2012 is just around the corner!

As for a dark horse...a true dark horse is someone who I don't even know about now.

But, in the known unknown category I would mention South Dakota Sen. John Thune.

He is a young, articulate and known nationally thanks to his defeat of then Sen. Tom Daschle in 2004.

Also, South Dakota's media market overlaps with western Iowa (where LOTS of Republicans) live so Thune is something of a known commodity.

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Chris Cillizza: And, Scene!

Thanks for joining me today.

Have a great weekend.

Chris

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