Post Politics: Lieberman, judicial nominees, more

Lois Romano
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 12, 2009; 11:00 AM

Washington Post national political reporter Lois Romano was online Thursday, Nov. 12 at 11 a.m. ET to discuss the latest political news.


Lois Romano: Good Morning everyone. It's a very rainy day here in Washington. Hope there's sunshine where you are.

Thanks for joining us.


Richmond, Va.: How do Democrats counter the massive amount of misinformation being put out by the Republicans and their corporate sponsors? As the 2010 elections get closer will the MSM do a better job, as Ruth Marcus did the other day, of holding the Republicans accountable for what they say. It seems to me that they have controlled the conversation up to this point without being held accountable for what they say. Health scare tactics: A GOP blizzard of untrue statements

Lois Romano: I'm one of those people who believe that the truth generally prevails--but sometimes we waste a lot of time trying to sort it out. A good case in point in the tall tale some people were spinning about so called "death panels" that would decide who lives or dies. On the face of it, it was ridiculous- but sadly it took several media cycles before everyone got to bottom of it.

One of the problems us that the bill has so many provisions- that hardly anyone knows all the fine print. What particularly upsetting is that opponents of health care seem to routinely target the most vulerable-- the ill and the elderly- with misinformation. These are people who greatly fear a change in the status quo.

If you look at my interview today with john rother the policy director of the aarp, you'll see that the organization is spending much time and effort and money to keep its 40 million members apprised of the details of the bill


Washington, D.C.: Do you feel that the Catholic Church's position on the D.C. marriage bill will open a debate in Congress on faith-based grants?

My hope is that legislation will be passed to prohibit religious organizations from receiving Federal taxpayer dollars.... unless they are required to declare their revenue streams and pay taxes on the income.

Lois Romano: I found it to be a fascinating story and yes, it will generate a significant discussion. One thing to know is that the catholic church receives federal money because it offers a broad range of social services in conjunction with the city. The money is not used for the church to promote its own teachings-- it helps people of all faiths. It would a loss to DC to lose their input.


Boston: Do you think Obama finds it excruciatingly difficult to look fallen soldier's families in the face or order more troops to Afghanistan when he knows our troops are being killed and wounded propping up a corrupt and contemptible Karzai government? Makes you wish for an ability to carve out some portion of Afghanistan to use as a staging area against al Qaeda and let Karzai see how he does against the Afghan Taliban.

Lois Romano: How can it not be unbearable to deal with issues of war and life and death? He's also looking at a majority of the population who thinks we should not be in Afghanistan. Obviously, we are not privy to the intelligence he sees, but at a minimun he is receivign pressure to raise the bar for Karzai before committing troops.


New York: Ms. Romano-

Concerning the post-election assessment in NJ or VA that Republicans came out to vote while Dems, particularly Obama-movitated voters, didn't really mobilize, doesn't that really reflect the party's philosophies? Republicans care more about the power of local government and Dems are focused on the power of the Federal government?

The national scene is a larger game of Tug of War where wherever the flag falls could have an enormous influence on direction of the country. In local, most people's interests are relatively simple and the sense is their local government will align closer to their needs, regardless of the letter next to their name. Any truth to this idea?

Lois Romano: Yes, I think there is much truth in your statement. Voters are very independent minded- and while they might prefer one person for a national leader, they will vote their local interests in a more local leader.

As for NJ and VA- I really believe that they are two distinct political cases- and dont yet paint a trend. It was going to be very difficult in any case for the dems to hold virginia. Couple that with the fact that Deeds was not a good candidate- and the outcome was inevitable.

In New Jersey- the odder case- voters lost confidence on corzine because of the state's economy and high property taxes. His biggest problem was that he lost the Independents and swing voters-- critical in most elections.


The AARP?! Where's the Media?: You wrote: "you'll see that the organization is spending much time and effort and money to keep its 40 million members apprised of the details of the bill."

Why are organizations like the AARP now forced to do the job that the media is supposed to do?

I also notice that most of the major FOIA requests about torture and rendition are coming from the ACLU. Not the Washington Post, strangely.

What the heck happened to the media ferreting out the truth for us? I mean, really. Good thing we have those org's I guess, with journalists too afraid to get beyond false equivalence and really suss out the truth from fiction. On the front lines of health-care reform

Lois Romano: well, for one the AARP has a $1 billion operating budget just for this reason- to offer their members the best service and information available.

secondly, these groups --like the ACLU-- have often provided the media with any informtation they find.

Lastly, the media is still filing FOIA's and investigation issue as best it can. But you may have noticed media organzitions are little strapped these days-- so they do their best.


NYC: Hello,

New numbers have Dodd sliding backwards once again for reelection. I am afraid that he may be another Corzine and no matter what he does he will not be able to hold onto the seat.

Why won't the WH do what the GOP did with Bunning and get Dodd out of this race?

Lois Romano: Not that easy with a very powerful senator with seniority. They will try to save him.


Providence, R.I.: Do you predict any consequences for Sen. Lieberman's disloyalty to the Democratic Caucus?

He is still maintain his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee?

If he ran again as an independent in 2012, do you President Obama campaigning for him like Sen. Obama did in 2006?

Lois Romano: Democrats are likely to be furious if he filibusters the health care bill. Cant speak to consequences but Im sure some senators will be looking for blood...


New York: In his first year in office, George W. Bush had 28 federal judges confirmed. So far, Barack Obama has had seven.

What's the hold up?

Lois Romano: From my colleagues who cover this: The administration has been slow in its vetting process, proposing a relatively small number of nominees at both the circuit and district level.

Given that the White House has made health care and other things a priority on the domestic agenda, it likely doesnt want to open more fights on more fronts right now.

There is expected to be a partisan fight next week over David Hamilton a nominee from Indiana.


Louisville, Ky.: Good morning, Lois: Because of the potential for lack of 60 votes to defeat a filibuster; some feel that the Public Option can only survive through "Reconciliation." Since most of us seem to have no idea of what Reconciliation entails (and maybe this applies to the Senators, as well); do you see this as a real possibility in passing HRC? I read one scenario where the Public Option would be routed in this direction because of it's impact on the budget, with the rest of the bill channeled through the normal procedure.


Lois Romano: Reconciliation- a maneuver to pass legislation through the budget process- is very complicated and very controversial. While its always been an option, it seems unlikely that the democrats would use it because it would appear that they were cutting off debate.


re: Leiberman: "Cant speak to consequences but Im sure some senators will be looking for blood..." Please tell me there's some grown-ups among the Democratic leadership. Strip Joe of his chairmanship and committees and he drops out of your caucus - where does 59 votes and a furious indipendent looking for revenge get your agenda. Ried and Schumer would not let it come to this, would they?

Lois Romano: They didnt sanction him earlier for the very reasons you mention. They need his vote. And many Dems urged them to throw him out of the caucus because he campaigned with McCain. I dint think it will come fown to his one vote-- there will other moderate democratic senators who will have issues with the bill.


Cumberland, Md.: What are the chances that the Senate health-care bill will slip into 2010?

Lois Romano: I think there will be a vote in 2009-- the house-senate conference will likely go into 2010.


On the face of it, it was ridiculous- but sadly it took several media cycles before everyone got to bottom of it. : Ms Romano, I love your work and really respect that you stick your neck out in these chats, but your response doesn't seem to match reality. The "MSM" hasn't "gotten to bottom of it" yet. Sarah Palin is still at it, and still hasn't been called to account. On the contrary, she is more often than not rewarded for lying by reporters who praise her political acumen.

Lois Romano: You must be reading different MSM. Sarah Palin is NOT praised for her acumen. She is widely covered because she is very popular with her base. You cant ignore someone who's presale book numbers broke records.

I do think the "death panel" hysteria has been put to rest- regardless of what sarah palin is saying.


"The administration has been slow in its vetting process": Wow... and here I was thinking that even the 23 judges Obama has nominated have been held up by Congress. Those GOP "holds" can be a real killer.

But if the Post believes it's only the Obama Admin's fault... and the GOP has done nothing to thwart these appointments.... well, I guess I must be wrong.

Lois Romano: I think its fair to say its a little but of both.


The Afghanistan question: Lois, correct me if I'm wrong, but it appears some media outlets and pundits are basing their coverage/analysis of the President's decision making process on when they learn various facts, not when the President learned them. Just because reports came out yesterday that the ambassador had expressed doubts about a troop increase doesn't mean the President just got this analysis yesterday. It doesn't "add" a new wrinkle to the President's review because he probably knew this sometime ago. Am I correct here?

Lois Romano: yes, you are correct. The president likely knew the ambassadors views long ago. The fact that it was leaked to the media adds a new wrinkle. Now millions of people know Obama inside man is skeptical.


Belfast, ME: Lois, do you see any hope for third party movements rising from the bottom up? Could a Hoffman be successful in a solidly Republican district in the southeast, or a leftist candidate in the northeast?

Lois Romano: Its an interesting question. Historically, third party candidates have been seen as spoliers. Typically, voters vote for 3rd party candidates to send a message that they dont like the direction of the mainstram candidates. But with the Internet and such advanced communications its conceivable that a 3rd party candidate could hit a chord.


Lois Romano: Time to end - Thank you all for joining me, and for such thoughtful questions. See you in a couple of weeks. Lois Romano


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