The Live Fix: Sarah Palin's new book, who's afraid of Michael Steele, getting "Scozzafaved," boys can play field hockey too

Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 13, 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.


Chris Cillizza: Good morning everyone.

I am at Fix world HQ (aka my house). Charlie Fix has been fed. Coffee has been secured for Mrs. Fix. All is right with the world. The Avett Brothers have been chosen as the soundtrack for the chat.

Let's do this thing.


San Diego: So, will you be snuggling under a warm down comforter with an espressmochaccino to read "Going Rouge"--er, "Rogue"--anytime soon?

Come on, you can admit it. We're your friends. We won't judge you.

Chris Cillizza: There is such a thing as an espressmochaccino? That interests me.

And, yes, I am definitely going to read the book. Just as soon as I can lay my hands on an early copy...hint, hint.


Still a victim?: Does Sarah Palin's book reinforce the image some have of her as a rather helpless victim? Nothing was her fault. She was badgered by Katie Couric, intimidated by Charlie Gibson peering over his glasses, and victimized by the McCain campaign. Her rather uncomfortable laughter at some of these things when interviewed by Oprah did not give me the impression of someone who could be a strong President.

Chris Cillizza: Well, it's a 400+ page book and we've only seen/heard a few tidbits.

So, I am wary of judging her tone and attitude based on a very small sample.

That said, it's hard for me to see how Palin can't take some of the blame for the Katie Couric interview, which began the steady decline of her public image.

She was either ill prepared or over prepared and came across as someone who couldn't (or wouldn't) answer even the most basic questions about her life.

Whether the McCain people helped or hurt her in advance of that interview, it is ultimately Palin's job to make sure she is ready for what was clearly an important interview.

And, she wasn't.


Prescott, Ariz.: I keep hearing about how Palin's book is selling so well and it proves she is a big star. I can go to right-wing advocacy website and buy it for $4.97, which they tell me is $24 off the cover price.

Doesn't this suggest that a bunch of right-wing advocacy groups bought these books (with Richard Mellon Schaife's money) to pump up her sales figures and are now basically giving them away? Why should gaming the sales figure system like this be rewarded?

Chris Cillizza: I am not an expert enough on book buying and the publishing world to give you a definitive answer.

But, with interviews with Oprah and Barbara Wawa, it's hard for me to imagine that the book isn't going to be a pretty huge seller across the board -- not just among people of a particular political ideology.

That is the most fascinating thing about Palin. Whether you love her or hate her, you want to find more out to reinforce your views.


Oprah's Interview With Goliath: "Well, ya know, I only fought David because I felt sorry for the guy. It's kinda sad, ya know? Having such a low sense o'self-worth ya gotta go fight giants ta prove yerself. Of course I totally kicked his ass, but ya know how it goes, Oprah. The media only shows the part where I laid face-down on the ground a sec ta catch my breath."

Chris Cillizza: Oh that's well done.


Chicago: How is going on Oprah going rogue?

Chris Cillizza: I believe that decision was much more about the massive financial windfall Oprah can deliver in book sales than about any going rogue.


Minneapolis: in the headphones: wilco's 'I must be high'

Two things: 1) will the line come out before 4:30 today?

2) What marginally topical questions will be most annoying to people who don't get Raj Goyle today?

Chris Cillizza: 1. It's already published out. Click on the Fix -- after this chat ends of course -- for my latest ratings on the 10 Senate races most likely to switch parties in 2010.

2. I am going to go with my incessant chatter about field hockey....


Boston: Now that Mrs. Fix's season is presumably over and she doesn't have a team to coach is she turning her coaching instincts internally on Mr. Fix? What are her "goals" for you this off-season and are you counting the days until her next season starts?

Chris Cillizza: Speaking of field hockey....

No, Mrs. Fix's season is not over thanks to their upset of Kean University on Wednesday night!!! They play Montclair (in NJ) tomorrow night.

Myself and Charlie Fix are already getting excited.


Phoenix, Ariz.: Are you afraid of Michael Steele?

Chris Cillizza: No. Should I be?


Lunch: How was your lunch with President Obama last Friday? Assume the chatter was off the record, but how was the coffee?

Chris Cillizza: It was really, really interesting. And, yes, it was off the record so I can't talk or write about it much.

Highlight of the day: getting to meet David Brooks. Dude is smart. And, we share a 2012 darkhorse in John Thune. (Although David beat me to writing about Thune today in the Times.)


Montgomery, Kan.: Are you keeping an eye on other Republicans who could get "Scozzafaved" in 2010 mid-term election cycle?

May I suggest one to you? In the Republican primary for the soon-to-be vacated seat of U.S. Rep. Todd Tiarht, you've got the moderate State Sen. Jean Schodorf (sister of newscaster Bill Kurtis) who most of the time every knows would win and the Teabagging embracing candidate businessman Mike Pompeo with a potential upset.

Anyhow, you ever decide to make potential "Scozzafaved" list with Carly Fiorina, Kelly Ayotte, Charlie Crist, Mark Kirk, Rob Portman, etc... I'd also give a second look to adding Kansas' 4th congressional district.

Any regular reader of your chats will know the name of the likely Democratic nominee, Raj Goyle, who seems to have an easy primary, if he gets one.

Chris Cillizza: Interesting....

also, Goyle!


Carbondale, Ill.: Who do you see the Democratic primary in Illinois shaping out? You blogged recently about a poll by Cheryle Jackson's campaign. I don't see her or David Hoffman really winning it with this "outsiders" stuff. I'm aware Jackson is a woman but she is banking too much on that. She needs another sentence after reporters asks why she thinks she can win besides just "I'm a woman"

I think Jackson and Hoffman have bought into the outsider myth of Barack Obama's 2004 campaign. While there was differently real grassroots support, Obama made nice with all the downstate county party officials too and went to all those county fairs and union meetings too, which Hoffman and Jackson seem to act like they're above.

And it's not like I'm the biggest Sexy Lexi fan either, but I'll give it to him, he's done with homework and made nice with folks downstate.

Chris Cillizza: 1. Nice Sexy Lexi reference

2. I think he remains the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination but Jackson and Hoffman are both serious people who have put quality consulting teams in place and are going to run real races.

I think Lexi's biggest edge at the moment is the fact that he has been in the race for the better part of the year, giving him far more time to campaign, raise money and build the sort of organization you need to win what should be a pretty low turnout affair next year.


Ellicott City, Md.: If I may coin a phrase, Sarah Palin is "meta-fascinating". In other words, she is herself not fascinating, but the fact that so many people find her fascinating is itself fascinating.

Chris Cillizza: I like it. One day I hope to be "meta-fascinating"


Tuckerton, N.J.: Seriously, why does the mainstream media collectively get so excited about Palin?

She hasn't spoken to the national media in a year, she is no longer Governor, she has demonstrated zero substantive policy knowledge and she was the lesser half of a Presidential ticket that lost in a landslide.

Where's the beef?

Chris Cillizza: I think saying the "media" is the one who creates the Palin stuff is wrong.

Anywhere she goes (or is rumored to go) becomes a major story because there are so many people who feel so passionately about her -- for good and for bad.

The "media" didn't put her book at #1 on Amazon for the better part of the last month. Like it or not, she is an object of considerable interest/intensity at the moment.

And, if you don't like to hear about her, I would suggest leaving planet earth for the next week as her book comes out on Tuesday.


Rumors: Any truth to the rumors that when Sarah Palin passes a mirror, she looks deeply into her own eyes and whispers, "You complete me"?

Chris Cillizza: !

Is that weird? Cause I do that sometimes.


Boonsboro, Md.: What is the percent of Palin-haters vs neutral/like you get emails from on these chats? I am guessing it is 50:1.

Chris Cillizza: There is NO ONE who is neutral on Palin. NO ONE. People love her or hate her.

And, I probably get 5 "hate her" emails for every 3 "love her" emails.

Of course that's a lot better ratio than the 50 "Hate you" to 1 "like you" emails I get.


Claverack, NY: "Going Rogue" = Burn Book from "Mean Girls". Discuss.

Chris Cillizza: Mean Girls is LiLo's finest hour.


Los Angeles, Calif.: Just to follow up on last week. That's pretty funny about you and Vampire Diaries, right?

It films just in and around Atlanta including some parts in my hometown of Monroe, Georgia. Not much happens in Monroe, so it was big "to-do." I remember saying the big trucks and cars with Virginia license plates last summer. So if I'm back in Atlanta, I'll keep an eye out for you "on-set."

Chris Cillizza: I never got confirmation on this. Is it possibly true that there is a character on the show named "Mr. Cillizza"? And is it then possible said character has anything to do with me?

I need answers. If you have them, email me at


Boston: And that makes four straight weeks of Raj Goyle references. Honestly never heard of him before, but now his name is in my Google News Alert.

Chris Cillizza: A victory for the Goyle-ites!


Herndon, Va.: I understand that in Asia guys play field hockey. What's up with that?

Chris Cillizza: Field hockey is the second most played sport in the world behind soccer/football.

Some dudes in the states play as well -- particularly in California.

I am telling you, if you have never seen a field hockey game, you need to know. It is RIDICULOUSLY exciting.


Minneapolis: Speaking of field hockey, writing about that sport used to be common for Peter King, of sports illustrated, formerly of Montclaire, NJ. He recently achieved a lifelong dream of appearing in the NYT crossword puzzle. a) do you run into him at field hockey events and 2) if so, perhaps he can do something for your lifelong dream.

Chris Cillizza: I did not know that. I am on a one-man mission to evangelize about field hockey to the country.

This is a game of skill, passion, toughness, subtlety and intrigue.


Austin, Tex.: Tell us more about your lunch with Obama...without going "on record", what sort of topics were discussed? Why would something like this be off record, anyhow - to promote more free conversation?

Chris Cillizza: Again, it was off the record meaning that I can't talk about it at all other than to say I was there.

Did I mention I got to hang with Brooks? And Jon Meachem? Red letter day for the ole Fix.


Washington, DC: Please tell Tuckerton that the large number of Palin questions that you've already answered (and which, doubtlessly, are in the producer's in-box) is proof positive that she doesn't need the media to drive the public's fascination with her. She is one of the most different and unique politicians that this country has seen in decades and that alone will drive the interest, whether it's admiration or derision.

Chris Cillizza: Agreed.


Austin, Tex.: Morning Chris....Missed you the past few weeks due to meetings. This week's music recommendation is uber-talented yet underknown Denton TX band Centro-Matic. Working class, psychedelic, lo-fi Americana. Front man Will Johnson is an incredibly prolific writer.

What's the latest handicap on the primaries (particularly the R's, since that's likely the one to win out in the long run) in Texas? Last I saw, Perry held an 11 point lead over this race over before it started?

Chris Cillizza: Hello Austin.

Thanks for the music rec. Always like more...keep them coming.

As for the Texas primary, my sense is that the race is basically a toss up at the moment. Voters are still not paying much attention even as Perry and KBH blast each other -- via their campaigns -- on a daily basis.

Perry is more closely aligned ideologically to the average Texas primary voter but Hutchison will have the money and the name identification to provide voters with an alternative.

I don't know who is going to win but it is going to be amazingly fun to watch.


Ashburn, Va.: "I like it. One day I hope to be 'meta-fascinating'"

That's quite the leap for the guy who, just last week, was content with being "The Homeless Man's Bill Simmons."

Chris Cillizza: To be clear, my main goal in life is to be referred to by Bill Simmons as the "homeless man's Bill Simmons"

Being meta-fascinating pales in comparison to that.

Got to make sure my priorities are in the right place.


Your lunch with Obama: No, no, no, Chris. When you are badgered about your off-the-record lunch with Obama, you are supposed to say "You're being inappropriated, Larry" then not answer any questions for the next couple of minutes.

Chris Cillizza: Ah. Many thanks. Will file that away for use at a future date.


Austin, Tex.: True or false: public schools can't legally prevent boys from playing field hockey, but they would be required to wear the same uniforms as everyone else.

Urban myth from my high school days, 20-something years ago, was that a couple of guys wanted to play but were told they'd have to wear skirts.

Chris Cillizza: Believe urban myth. I have seen several high school boys play and they wore shorts not skirts.


Seattle: Who's the male equivalent of Sarah Palin? Dan Quaylee (since he likes to add e's to the end of everything) is the historical comp (although George W. Bush might be even better) but for a current politician I'd say that dude down in Louisiana except some people seem to think he's smart.

Chris Cillizza: There isn't one.

Palin has become a superstar who transcends politics and has become a sort of pop culture figure.

The only equivalent in terms of fame in President Obama but he is, of course, president.

And, that "dude in Louisiana" is Bobby Jindal -- a name you should remember come 2016.


Washington, D.C.: Well it better be true about Mr. Cillizza being on Vampire Diaries or else the grassroots letter writing campaign to the production team to make it happen has been for nothing...

Just kidding. I've never seen the show yet although just ask the person next to me about it and was told it WAY better then you'd expect from a show on The C.W. called "The Vampire Diaries."

Chris Cillizza: And, is there a "Mr. Cillizza" on it? I want the truth even if I can't handle it.


Wellington, NZ: The GOP nomination for NY-23 wasn't a primary, but does the reaction of the far right a precursor of things to come? In the 2010 Senate races, there are a lot of favored establishment candidates who are starting to be attacked from the right by 'outsiders'.

Rubio taking on Crist is well known, but there's also Lamontagne taking on Ayotte (NH) DeVore taking on Fiorina (CA) Paul building a warchest to take on Grayson (KY) Ganley spending on TV already against Portman (OH) etc.

Which establishment candidates would you say are most under threat?

Chris Cillizza: In order of vulnerability:

1. Fiorina

2. Crist

3. Ayotte

4. Grayson

5. Portman


Male field hockey players: But what if we wanted to wear the skirts?

Chris Cillizza: I say, do it!

Also, I have begged Mrs. Fix to show me a few things on the field hockey field. She is resistant -- perhaps out of fear that my incredible lack of athleticism could embarrass her in front of her colleagues.


Alexandria, Va.: Chris, Beau Biden and Bob Etheridge: What's your prediction regarding either becoming a Senate candidate in 2010? Thanks.

Chris Cillizza: Biden -- yes

Etheridge -- no.

I feel VERY confident on the first. The second is a pure guess. Etheridge isn't talking much about his decision, which was supposed to come this week. My general rule on people who say no to a series of statewide bids -- like Etheridge -- is that they don't all of a sudden find the courage to make the leap of faith that running for the Senate requires.

Prove me wrong Bob....


Sane View: "I am telling you, if you have never seen a field hockey game, you need to know. It is RIDICULOUSLY exciting." Maybe world's most boring sport - play stops about every three seconds for some variation on high sticking and the rest of the time not much goes on, but if you like it good for you.

Chris Cillizza: Incorrect.

Play almost never stops. There are a lot of whistles/rules but if the game is played/reffed properly, it is one continuous motion.

If all you have ever seen is high school field hockey do yourself a favor and watch a college game. Totally different -- and more exciting -- game.


Mr Independent: Any chance of Lou Dodds entering the 2012 fray a la Ross Perot? Have to admit, love or hate him, that he is telegenic and smart. If he does, who does he hurt most?

Chris Cillizza: It DID seem like Lou was going to run for something when he stepped down from CNN earlier this week, right?

How about the Connecticut Governor's mansion? Gov. Jodi Rell (R) is retiring and there's no Republican in the race just yet.

If this happens, I call dibs on taking credit for suggesting it first.


Fairfax, Va.: From what I've gathered from various reviews of the book, it should have been titled "Sarah Palin: Everything is Someone Else's Fault."

Which is interesting, considering this is someone who seeks to be the leader of "The Party of Personal Responsibility."

Chris Cillizza: I like the idea of alternative titles....others?


Richboro, Pa.: Chris, what is the chatter regarding the race for PA-Gov? Considering this race hasn't made your line even once, you must be pretty confident that the Democrats will keep control of the seat, but all the buzz I hear suggests the Republicans may be able to pick this one off. And why are there NO high profile candidates in this race in one of the biggest states in the Union?

Chris Cillizza: It is a GREAT race that just hasn't gotten that much attention just yet.

In the Fix poll earlier this week, Pennsylvania won as the state with the most interesting races in 2010 -- governor, Specter-Sestak-Toomey and the 6th and 7th districts too.

On the Republican side, Tom Corbett, the AG, seems like the nominee although Rep. Jim Gerlach is running too.

The Democratic side is far less defined with Allegeheny County DA Dan Onorato the nominal frontrunner although I am sort of intrigued by Chris Doherty, the mayor of Scranton, who just announced this week.

There aren't any BRIGHT LIGHT names in the race -- yet -- but because of the centrality of PA to both parties' national political calculus, it will get lots of attention in the coming year.


Roseland, N.J.: In this country, men play lacrosse rather than field hockey. Which makes sense, as flailing at your opponent with an undersized butterfly net is the way real men have handled their disputes for centuries.

Chris Cillizza: SO GOOD.


Alternative title: Going Rogue: Another thing I'm not going to read.

Chris Cillizza: Not sure how that will sell.


Washington, D.C.: She says it possible there's a Mr. Cillizza on Vampire Diaries. She hasn't seen every episode although I'm surprised about how "into it" she is... Somebody overheard us and he's also a fan. It's weird moment right now courtesy of you.

Chris Cillizza: I do my best. In high school I was voted "king of weird moments".


Arlington, Va.: My dream (actually, nightmare, but it would be highly entertaining to watch) ticket for 2012:


It there a snowball's chance that could happen?

Chris Cillizza: I never say never in politics but never.


State College, Pa.: The Texas GOP primary for Governor not only will be fun to watch, but it will be a mini-stimulus package. Don't KBH and Perry each already have $10 million to spend on the race? Add that to the cost of the special election to replace KBH when she resigns from the Senate, and voila, instant stimulation of the Texas economy.

Chris Cillizza: Yes. Each candidate likely to spend more than $25 million on the race.

Of course, everything IS bigger in Texas....


Philadelphia, Pa.: "The only equivalent in terms of fame in President Obama but he is, of course, president."

Hi Chris...are you serious? Palin is the antithesis of Obama. He has a post graduate degree and taught at the university level. She traipsed through about 4 colleges and doesn't seem to care if any of her children go to college let alone high school. He wrote 2 books by himself, one of which is a policy book (The Audacity of Hope). She quickly put together a memoir with a writer to cash in on her embrace by the right. son's HS Field hockey team has a boy who plays in a skirt.

Chris Cillizza: Thanks for the insight on boys playing field hockey. PA is the official capital of the field hockey world -- amazing players come out of the state.

On the Palin-Obama thing, you are missing my point.

I am not comparing their relative resumes. I am simply noting that Palin's status in the pop culture firmament is only matched by that of Obama.

Can you think of another politician that the average person on the street a) knows or b) has an opinion on?


Palin on Oprah: Not watching Oprah, but wondering if there will be someone slaughtering turkeys in the background as in former Gov. Palin's Thanksgiving message last November? That was an eye-catching diorama.

Chris Cillizza: Which reminds me of a CLASSIC Simpsons episode.

Ralf Wigham has all of the star wars figures in their original box and he wins the diorama competition.

Upon being informed he was won, Ralph says: "What's a diorama"?

I loved the Simpsons before it became unfunny five years ago.


San Antonio, Tex.: I find that it is interesting that NY 23 may be much closer than what was reported on November 7th. When will all of the absentee ballots be counted and a certification of the winner by the election officials?

Chris Cillizza: Honestly I don't know since absentee ballot counting is usually very sloooooow.

That said, there are 10,000 or so absentee ballots out and Bill Owens is beating Doug Hoffman by 3,000.

So a comeback isn't all that likely.


Washington, DC: Fairfax, Va.: From what I've gathered from various reviews of the book, it should have been titled "Sarah Palin: Everything is Someone Else's Fault."

Actually, that's only partially right. It's actually Obama's biography (published about 3 1/2 years from now) and entitled "Barak Obama: Everything Is the Bush Administration's Fault."

Chris Cillizza: Complete with the "Barak" misspelling!

Also, this is reminiscent of Homer Simpson's slogan when he ran for sanitation commissioner: "Can't someone else do it?"

So true.


State College, Pa.: Don't forget about Jack Wagner running for PA Gov on the D side. He's done pretty well in his past elections as Auditor General; he got more votes than BHO last year here in PA.

Chris Cillizza: Good call. Also, he is the only one in the race who shares a name with a famous actor.


Pa.: Chris Cillizza: "This is a game of skill, passion, toughness, subtlety and intrigue"

Wow, for a moment there I thought you were talking about politics... :-)

Chris Cillizza: I could have been. I love three things in this world: 1) Mrs Fix and Charlie Fix 2) politics 3) field hockey.


Sarah Palin title: Stuff White, Conservative, God Fearing, America Lovin' People Like

Chris Cillizza: !!!


Princeton, NJ: Going Rouge: How to apply makeup for fame and success

Chris Cillizza: BOOYAH!


Going Rogue: Staying is for Quitters: Still think she quits the book tour and lets the ghost writer finish it.

Chris Cillizza: ooohhhhhh.....


West Chester, OH: Is there any chance my Rep. Boehner loses his leadership post after the '10 midterms?

Chris Cillizza: Probably not. Republicans will almost certainly pick up seats in the House and, if that happens, it's hard to see there being a groundswell with the House GOP conference to drive Boehner out.


Washington, DC: You might say that your luncheon with Obama is off the record, but it's obvious that he asked you to only accept questions bashing Palin. Sheesh, give it a rest already! You get the point, you don't like her!

Chris Cillizza: Not true at all.

In fact, I regularly get emails and tweets blasting me for being a Palin apologist.

This goes back to my Palin theory: whether you like her or hate her, you have an opinion on her and you are convinced everyone should share your opinion.


IMDB Land: IMDB does not list a character with the name Cillizza. Doesn't mean one doesn't exist, but it would be a really small role or a 1-shot, bon-recurring role if it does exist.

IMDB knows all.

Chris Cillizza: Man. I am disappointed. Crushed.

Now, the only thing that can save me is to get Bill Simmons to call me a homeless man's version of himself.

Let the letter-writing campaign begin!


Re: Sarah mania: Chris, you sort of get it right when you reference her incredible popularity in the pop culture world. But what you fail to get is that she's like Jennifer Aniston: on the cover of People or In Touch or Us every other week, but almost all of her movies flop. I think her biggest hit was "Marley and Me" and that was because of the dog.

It's fine if you think she's got lots of buzz but it's another thing to treat her like a serious politician and you have a little trouble distinguishing between the two. But don't worry, you're not alone.

Chris Cillizza: I sort of like that movie she was in with Vince Vaughn..."the breakup"?


Lyme, Conn.: Lou Dobbs for Governor of Connecticut? Why would he want that job: to protect the shores of Connecticut from yachts sailed by New Yorkers?

Chris Cillizza: Lyme!

Beautiful town...and it was just a suggestion!


Festivus...: ...just got an email from Eric Cantor's ERICPAC -- they are having a Festivus Celebration/Fundraiser 12/2. How do you think this will go over with the right wing base? Is he engaging in the war on Christmas?

Personally, I'm tempted to pay $500 just to tell him it's nice to know he has a sense of humor.

Chris Cillizza: Who will make the Festivus pole? And when will the airing of grievances begin?


Counting Things Is Very Important In Politics: Mr. C wrote: "I love three things in this world: 1) Mrs Fix and Charlie Fix 2) politics 3) field hockey."

Isn't that four things?

Chris Cillizza: I am including Mrs and Charlie Fix as one -- should have said "my family".


4) Bob Dylan

5) Friday Night Lights

6) Georgetown basketball

7) emoticons

8) being referred to as the "homeless man's Bill Simmons"

9) Hoosiers

10) Wilco


New York, NY: Which Avett Brothers CD?

Chris Cillizza: right now I am hooked on "I and Love and You"., Really good.


2010 predictions: "Republicans will almost certainly pick up seats in the House"

That will come back to haunt you. Economy turns around & GOP can't make up their mind if they're big tent or small tent. Result: Dems hold/gain seats in House.

Chris Cillizza: I don't get haunted. I get even.


Chris Cillizza: That's all folks!

Make sure to check out the Fix for the Friday Senate Line. And, remember to spread the word on the Live Fix chat. EVERY Friday from 11 am to noon. It's the place to be!

Have a great weekend.



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