The Live Fix: Brown's win in Mass., SCOTUS ruling, meteoric political careers, best pro wrestlers of all time

Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 22, 2010; 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.

Amazing week: Senator Scott Brown, health care without an obvious path to passage AND the freeing of corporations (and unions) to spend unlimited sums on campaigns.


Add to that the fact that I heard Darius Rucker (aka Hootie) on the Dan Patrick Show list his three best professional wrestlers as 1. Ric Flair 2. Dusty Rhodes and 3. Hulk Hogan and it's clear we have a lot to talk about.

So, let's do it.


Seattle: Any Word on the Exit Polling in Mass. about how Brown won? Was it more dissatisfaction with the Democrats, or did they just preferred Brown over Coakley?

Did they believe Brown's Message of "The Health Care Reform Bill will actually hurt Mass. current Insurance."?

Chris Cillizza: The problem: there was no exit polling. The networks didn't pay for it.

So we have limited knowledge of what the electorate was thinking. Partisan pollsters on both sides have released post-election data but none of it presents a clear picture.

My observation: voters are mad as hell and they think the change they were promised hasn't been delivered.


Southwest DC: Morning Fix! You must be loving this week! Maybe it's a bit of shadenfreude, but what are the chances of Martha Coakley ever winning a race more important than dog catcher in Mass. Not deigning to meet the common people outside Fenway?!?! Is it any wonder she lost?

Chris Cillizza: It has been an amazing week. That said, I think I nodded off at my desk for like 8 seconds yesterday. I am, as the French say, exhausted.

Coakley, I believe, plans to run for re-election as state Attorney General this November and my guess is that she will win pretty easily.

I do think any talk that she could come back as the Democratic nominee against Brown in 2012 is preposterous, however. To my mind, Rep. Mike Capuano, who finished second to Coakley in the primary, has the right of first refusal against Brown next time around.


Chris Cillizza: Quick food update: Already downed a grande caramel macchiato and a sausage sandwich. (BOOYAH!)

Soundtrack for chat: "Tennessee Pusher" by Old Crow Medicine Show.


Deval Patrick: Am I on your endangered species list?

Chris Cillizza: Yes. And thanks for chatting, governor ;)

Deval Patrick was already in bad shape as he prepared to run for a second term this fall but the special election results on Tuesday suggest he might be in more trouble than we even thought.

And, who let the governor be in the camera shot behind Coakley as she was conceding? Talk about sending the wrong sort of mental image to voters.

Patrick's one saving grace is the fact that he looks headed to a three way race with state Treasurer Tim Cahill running as an independent and Charlie Baker as the likely Republican nominee.

If all three remain viable, it's possible Patrick could win with 35-40 percent of the vote.


Anonymous: I was in the camp of "This is national election"

For one, because of electoral college, even the race for U.S. President isn't a national election.

But the more and more I read about Martha Coakley's campaign, the more I think she deserve more and more of the blame. This was a woman who polled her chances of winning before Edward M. Kennedy had died and the announced she was running with 2 weeks of his death. That put of the Kennedy family and the Democratic establishment.

Boston talk radio was in the bad for Scott Brown and he pretty much got 24 advertising from them while only one show. Coakley didn't spend a penny on advertising in Latino or Black media markets. She didn't call Boston Mayor Menino or any of the U.S. Representatives until a week before Election Day. And there are rumors that Mayor Menino purposely kept quiet on the race, not because she was going to lose, but he wanted her to lose.

Chris Cillizza: I DO think Coakley ran a poor campaign -- sort of hard to dispute that.

But, I think to say the President and his agenda had NOTHING to do with the race is beyond implausible.

Scott Brown ran overtly as a check and balance to the Obama agenda in Washington; at his victory speech people were chanting "41" to signify his status as the vote that kept Democrats from a filibuster proof majority.

In a race that draws as much national attention and money as this one did, there's no ONE thing that causes a candidate to win or lose.


mad is right: I think a lot of pundits are reading way too much into Brown's win as it relates on a national level. The facts are that he was a better candidate with an image as a "hunk", and the darn seat had been held by a Kennedy for a long, long, time. Maybe voters just opted for change because change is good sometimes.

Chris Cillizza: Generally agree. Again, however, to look at how independents flocked to Brown (as they did to Republican candidates for governor in New Jersey and Virginia in 2009) and not conclude that that is a major problem for Democrats heading into the midterms seems to me to be pretty short sighted.


Chris Hax: Help! So my handsome married boyfriend (I know, I know) yea, well, he like finally admitted he's the father of my child!!!! Now what?

Chris Cillizza: B-R-U-T-A-L.

Has any politician risen faster (and higher) and fallen faster (and lower) than John Edwards?


Richmond, VA: How do you factor in the Supreme Court decision yesterday into November's races? Do you think some seats that looked safe will now be more vulnerable if a large corporate or union interest decides it's in it's better interest to dump obscene amounts of money into a candidate?

Thx. Dunkin Donuts regular..

Chris Cillizza: Love it.

Nothing better than a cruller and cup of Dunkin. Man I miss the northeast sometimes.

On the SCOTUS ruling, I think the basic effect will be to take power in campaigns away from candidates and party committees and hand it to outside interest groups.

While candidates and party committees have to abide by contribution limits, corporations and unions can now use unlimited sums of money to DIRECTLY advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate.

That is HUGE. (In the past, they could only run so-called "issue" ads, advocating for a particular issue but not directly asking for voters to cast a ballot for or against a candidate.)

What it means is there will be HUGE amounts of money poured into campaign ads during this campaign. HUGE.


Has any politician risen faster (and higher) and fallen faster (and lower) than John Edwards? : Gary Hart?

Chris Cillizza: A good nominee!


Arlington: Hulk Hogan is clearly the #1 wrestler. As the French would say, come on now.

Chris Cillizza: Dude could not wrestle a lick. The leg drop as a finishing move? COME ON.

My top 3: 1. Flair 2. Bret Hart 3. Shawn Michaels


Old Town: C-$:

I know we all have to blah blah blah about Scott Brown today and pretend its such massive news. But lets cut to the chase.

1.) If you model yourself on Bill Simmons why don't we have a C-$ podcast. You're all written words here, bro-seph. We need you interviewing some of these D.C. players and maybe turning Milbank or Paul Kane into your J-Bug or Cousin Sal.

2.) If Beau Biden were going to run, he would be in this thing already, right?

Chris Cillizza: A very good point.

I DO need a podcast in which to pour all of my inane ramblings into. Here's the problem: I have NO idea how to do it. Is it easy? Even for someone as technologically challenged as me?

As for Delaware, I tend to think that the longer Beau Biden waits, the less likely it is he runs. Democrats still insist he is a go but why isn't he in? There is an awful pedophilia case going on in the state in which his office is in charge of and there is some talk that it will take up so much time that he will ultimately not have the time to run for Senate. We shall see.

Bill Simmons sidenote: You would think with the Massachusetts Senate election going on this past week it was the perfect opportunity for him to throw a "Chris Cillizza is the homeless man's Bill Simmons" reference into his column, right? Wrong. Dang it!


Washington, DC: Our political system has genuinely turned into nothing more than a game, has it not? More attention is paid to who runs, who wins, and how they do it than is paid to what the winners actually do once in office.

Chris Cillizza: To be clear, I am -- and the Fix is -- focused on the game aspects of politics. How campaigns are won and lost, who's up and who's down, the horse race.

I've never pretended to focus the Fix on anything other than that. Lots of great substantive coverage of policy in the Post -- and online -- every day if you are interested in it.


Boston MA: I first heard of Brown when I heard some co-workers complaining about how Martha Coakley was taking them for granted and wouldn't even debate Brown. So they were going to vote for him. This conversation was immediately preceded by a discussion of how grateful they were that they were going to be eligible for MassCare and therefore get good and affordable health insurance. Anecdote is not the singular form of data, of course.

Chris Cillizza: Good point. Unfortunately, because of the lack of exit polling, anecdote may be the best thing we have to go on when it comes to figuring out what happened on Tuesday.


Minneapolis, MN: Does it bother you that the comments at The Fix are filled with toxic bile such that the regulars that used to have interesting, informative discussions have been driven off?

Chris Cillizza: More than you know.

But, our attempts to ban people by username and IP address have failed because proxy servers let people get new IP addresses.

If anyone has suggestions short of me spending all of my time moderating the comments section I'd love to hear them.


Austin 3:16 says...: your favorite wrasslers are wimps.

Chris Cillizza: Austin is another example of a guy who couldn't really wrestle but was an amazing entertainer. Hogan being the best example but The Rock belonging in that category too.

On the other side, you have someone like Chris Benoit, an amazing technical wrestler with no personality and, as his violent end made clear, HUGE issues.


Bowie, MD: "Has any politician risen faster (and higher) and fallen faster (and lower) than John Edwards?"

Eagleton had a pretty quick rise and fall VP Nom to off the ticket in a month!?

Chris Cillizza: True enough.


Man I miss the northeast sometimes....: You know we have Dunkin Donuts here too, right? Maybe not on every other block but there are a bunch.

Chris Cillizza: I know...but it's not the same. it's like going to a Friendly's down here.

Fix fun fact: My first job ever was washing dishes at a Friendly's in Glastonbury, CT. Good times.


Near Richmond, VA: What are the odds that Obama and the Democrats fight hard to recapture the populist anger and do some real policy change (and regards to the White House, real personnel change)? It seems painfully obvious that's the only way to save themselves electorally this Fall, but I've lost all faith in the Democrats' ability to be bold.

Chris Cillizza: I think the White House will work VERY hard to paint themselves as populists.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said earlier this week that the choice before voters was between big insurance companies and a child without health insurance. I mean, WHOAH.

One problem for the White House in this strategy is that Obama is not a natural populist. He ran and won on his image as a calm, cool and collected intellectual not as a man-the-barricades, people vs the powerful populist.

Can he convince people that he feels their pain and, more importantly, their anger?


Hill Rat Washington, DC: No way Michaels is #3, bump Hart down to #3 and put the Rock, the People's Champ, in at #2 . . . Jabroni

Chris Cillizza: Terrific use of the word "jabroni".


Woodbridge Va: So how many old bull chairmen facing life in the minority decide to call it a career and head home? Also, do Stevens and Ginsburg retire at the end of the term or wait and force Obama to negotiate with the Rs about their replacements?

Chris Cillizza: Well, if they are chairmen they are by nature in the majority.

That said...I think there is real concern within the ranks of Democratic strategists that some members who represent conservative districts -- Ike Skelton, John Spratt, Alan Mollohan etc. -- will look at the political landscape post-Massachusetts and decide that retirement is their best option.

Five Democrats in swing seats have retired in the past 6 weeks. If 5 more go in the next six weeks, that could be a problem for House Democrats.


Tampa, FL: Any chance of the Senate Dems using the nuclear option and changing the Senate rules to ban filibusters?

You will recall the Republicans were ready, willing, and able to use the nuclear option to ram through W's judicial nominees.

1. Boris Malenko (father of Dean Malenko). 2. Rick Flair. 3. Dusty Rhodes.

Chris Cillizza: Zero.

I just don't see Democrats pushing down a partisan parliamentary move in the wake of losing a race in the most Democratic state in the country.

The liberal left sees this as an option but I see no practical political way Senate Democrats decide to pursue it.

Terrific Boris Malenko reference. No one has mentioned the star crossed Von Erich family -- the first family of wrestling -- but there is an argument to be made for Kerry Von Erich as a top five of all time guy.


The Upper Peninsula of Michigan: Chris - is it really that uncommon for the party with Presidency to lose some Congressional ground at midterm and off-years? I mean, their gains in MA (with a politically middle-of-the-roader) may give the GOP hope, but historically, it doesn't mean they'll get the Speakership in 2010 or the White House in 2012.

Chris Cillizza: The first midterm election of a president's term is almost uniformly bad news for his party in Congress.

Typically the party loses 15-20 seats in the House and 2-5 seats in the Senate.

The lone exception to that in modern times was 2002 when the lingering impact of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks delivered George W. Bush and Republicans victories in the House and Senate.

Also, love the question from the U-P!


Eugene, Ore.: One thing I noticed about the Bush 43 administration was that as his presidency wore on and got worst, his press secretary got more and more good looking.

Not to knock White House press secretary Robert Gibbs's looks, but when suddenly a new more physically attractive person is at that podium, that's my sign that Team Obama is in trouble.

Chris Cillizza: I find Robert quite handsome. Dudes with glasses are the best -- or so I've heard.


Podcasting: Its easy, just grab a Mac, Garageband that comes free with the mac and get a good microphone and follow the tutorial. You will be a near within an hour, all pro after a three podcasts. Interview Mrs. Fix about field hockey, then you move laterally in the horserace that is politics.

Chris Cillizza: "Grab a Mac". Check.

"Garageband" Check.

"Mrs Fix and field hockey". That's a potential hurdle. Mrs Fix tends to think most of my ideas are of the bad variety.


Brian, Va: Best match I ever saw was Mr. Perfect v. Brett Hart, Summer Slam 1992.

Do you think this could become an anti-incumbent election where Republicans are as endangered as Democratic ones?

Chris Cillizza: Oh man. Mr. Perfect, Curt Hennig. RIP.

And, I am telling you, no one is better than Bret Hart. Not only was he a product of an overbearing father and the greatest tactician ever in the sport, he was also deeply troubled and barely able to contain it during his matches. Just a human drama of epic proportions.

I DO think -- and have been writing -- that the most similar election to 2010 at the moment is not 1994 but 1992 when the mood as anti-incumbent and not directed at either party overwhelmingly.

That said, Democrats have large majorities in the House and Senate and, therefore, have more incumbents to protect. So, I think that the anti-incumbent sentiment will hurt Democrats more than Republican in 2010 even if voters aren't looking to send Democrats specifically a message.


Bummed in Boston: My two cents: First, they don't make cruellers any more at DD. They instead have sticks-- a poor substitute for the twisted wonders that were too labor intensive to make. Second, as a middle aged woman and admirer of Coakley's job as AG and District Attorney, I ended up voting for Capuano in the primary. I never knew why she wanted the job, whereas Capuano is a known quantity who was up for a fight. Because I am an issues voter, I would never have considered Scott Brown and voted for Coakley Tuesday. I went to a rally for her Monday where Vicki Kennedy remained and shook people's hands and Coakley left the building.

Chris Cillizza: WHAT? WHAT?

The no crullers thing is almost as big a piece of news as when a chatter told me that there was a character on the "Vampire Diaries" named "Mr. Cillizza".

What kind of world doesn't have crullers at DD?

I think lots of people felt like you did, "Bummed". No on felt passionately about Coakley -- they were with her because they thought they should be.

But, when presented with an attractive (ahem) option in Scott brown, it was easy for these voters to switch allegiances because they were never loyal to Coakley in the first place.


Best heel?: 1. Piper 2. Jake the (creep-me-out) Snake 3. Undertaker?

Chris Cillizza: Hard to beat the Hogan heel turn when he joined NWO. The best was how he made his stubbly beard black to signify he has turned heel.

Other good heels: Flair -- he could do it all -- Big Sexy Kevin Nash, Rick Rude. Agree on Jake and Taker. Both creepy as hell.


RE: Best Wrestlers? : Your chat is now as dignified as Weingarten's. I think I like you, not as much as Gene though.

Chris Cillizza: YES!

If I wind up coming up short in my attempt to get Bill Simmons to refer to me as a homeless man's version of him, I could adopt this as my slogan: "Chris Cillizza -- people like him, but not as much as they like Gene Weingarten."


West Coast: You think Brown will toe the Republican line and oppose Obama on major issues or will he display some independence with the 2012 election looming? After all, didn't he support a women's right to choose or might he do an about face (Romney) on that?

Chris Cillizza: To get re-elected in 2012, Brown will have to be the most moderate Republican in the Senate. Period.

Anything short of that is political suicide.


Brookline, MA: Massachusetts voter here. Washington is mis-interpreting MA voters‘ attitudes about health care reform. MA was a bad test state for a referendum on national health reform because 98% of our citizens already have health insurance thanks to state legislation passed by our legislature in 2006. Cost control remains an issue the legislature is currently addressing, but the program is popular both among the public and the health care industry.

Unfortunately, since we already have health insurance, most voters didn‘t care about the rest of the country. They perceived the national proposal was going to increase their taxes, and figured they shouldn‘t pay for everyone elses' insurance when they already had theirs. Had we not had universal health care (and had a democratic candidate who actually campaigned) the outcome might have been very different. We‘ve also had some high profile scandals among democrats in the state, and the Kennedy family turned everyone off pushing through a succession plan, which rendered their endorsements worthless when they should have mattered. But having universal health care in our state was a big, big factor that isn‘t really being recognized.

For what it‘s worth, my town had a 60% turnout and went overwhelmingly for Coakley, myself included.

Chris Cillizza: Thanks for the thoughts...very insightful.


San Francisco: Is it more funny or disturbing that consecutive items in the navigation of Sports Illustrated's web site are Fantasy Dan Patrick Swimsuit Photos?

Chris Cillizza: Both.

Dan patrick's radio show=best thing on radio.


Carbondale, Ill.: Isn't Scott Brown's victory good news for Sexy Lexi in Illinois? I mean, Senator Cosmo centerfold and then Senator Sexy Lexi. Damn, I guess I'm not a Republican or Democrat, but a Handsomrat.

Chris Cillizza: This question has two major things in its favor:

1. It mentions "Sexy Lexi" Giannoulias, a frontrunner for best political nickname of 2010 in our book.

2. It uses the word "Handsomrat" which kind of sounds like "Handsome Rat".


John and Gary: I'd agree that Hart rose and fell faster than Edwards, but he never attained the heights reached by the NC Senator, nor the depths that he now finds himself in. While Hart was finished as a presidential candidate, he did manage to achieve some small degree of credibility as a commentator on national affairs. Can't really see that happening with Edwards at this point.

Chris Cillizza: But, did Edwards get caught with his mistress on a boat called "Monkey Business"

That may be one of my five "truth is stranger than fiction" moments in politics.

That and Mark Sanford having an affair with an Argentine woman and calling her his soul mate.


Calgary Alberta Canada: Let us not glorify the Harts. Stu Hart was pathological in all sorts of ways, and his sons and grandsons are concentrated crazy.

Chris Cillizza: I said that! That's the compelling thing about Bret. He is clearly haunted by his father's pathological behavior and the tragic death of his brother.

In a way he hates wrestling and what it has done to him and his family but he is also drawn to it time and time again.

Oh the humanity!!!!


Sterling, VA: I read an op-ed that argued Coakley didn't lose because of her gender, but no way Brown would've won had he been a woman. The reason: the nude modeling photograph. A female candidate simply couldn't have survived with that in her past. Thoughts on this? It's okay. Sen. Brown was just being a (naked) man.

Chris Cillizza: Fair point.

I am actually working on a piece for the Outlook section this weekend on the five biggest myths of the Massachusetts special.

One of them is that Coakley set back the cause of women in politics. Which I disagree with.

That said, if Coakley had been photographed in the (mostly) nude, it would have almost certainly been a bigger issue in the campaign.


Impossible to support the NWO: There was no 'underdog' element to the NWO. They were the wrasslin world's Wall Street... except they didn't need a Fed/Treasury to cry to because they never lost. BTW, Big Daddy Pump makes Mark McGuire look like Gene Weingarten.

Chris Cillizza: I mean, this gets into the whole "NWO" vs "Dx" debate in terms of best rump elements within wrestling.

Scholars have spilled thousands of words....


Sen Brown: Why haven't you posed nude for Cosmo?

Chris Cillizza: Who says I haven't?


Shepherd Park. DC: 1. Gorilla Monsoon 2. Haystacks Calhoun 3. Andre the Giant

Now those were wrestlers!

And my favorite match was the midget tag-team bout that I saw at the Capital Centre in the late 1970s.

Chris Cillizza: Old Skool


Washington DC: Re Gary Hart and "Monkey Business": What makes that story even better is that some reporters were actively looking into whether Hart was fooling around and he challenged them to "Follow me. I have nothing to hide." So they followed him. And it turns out he did.

Chris Cillizza: yes. Hard to top that one.


Chris Cillizza: And that's a wrap. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today.

I'll be back next Friday with even more "Live Fix". Spread the word. To Bill Simmons. And Gene Weingarten. And others.

Have a great weekend. And, make sure to check out the Fix for the latest and greatest in political news and analysis.



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