Post Politics Hour

Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 27, 2010; 11:00 AM

Federal Eye blogger Ed O'Keefe takes your questions about who is up and who is down in the world of politics and the latest news out of Washington.


Ed O'Keefe: I'm here! I'm here! (Phew!) Welcome to the Tuesday edition of the Post Politics Hour, I'm your somewhat tardy host, Ed O'Keefe, author of The Federal Eye and ready for your queries on today's Senate hearings about Goldman Sachs and mine safety, the president's trip to the Midwest, his debt commission and the latest federal news.


Florissant Valley, Mo.: Hey, Ed; What is your take on Lindsey Graham? For a conservative and ambitious Republican, I (a liberal but fair-minded Democrat) have always found him charming and straight-forward. Is he playing some Byzantine game, trying to back the administration into a corner with his threatened suspension of communication? He seems to be the one R willing to cross the aisle, at least on some matters. Is this current explosion "contrived"? Thanks

Ed O'Keefe: I think he's like any other Senator -- he's flexing his political muscle, trying to bank on his influence and involvement on two hot issues -- climate change and immigration reform. It's evident he wants to move first on climate change, so he's making it known. If it were any other senator, they'd probably do something similar, regardless of party.


Arlington, Va.: I was quite stunned this morning to hear John McCain blame the immigration law on President Obama for "failing to protect our borders."

How can he honestly lay the blame for this at the president's doorstep?

Ed O'Keefe: While he is laying at Obama's feet, in reality, the federal government -- during the Bush administration and with McCain's support -- had a chance to enact reforms back as early as 2006. They didn't do it then and McCain backed off.

Remember: McCain is locked in what appears to be a nasty primary with conservative Republican J.D. Hayworth. He's got to speak out and support the Arizona governor's decision or risks political peril with his Republican base.


Redding, CT: Why does the general public not seem to see the irony in the US Senate, which is generally comprised of liars and cheats, dragging Goldman Sachs employees to DC to explain themselves?

Ed O'Keefe: Oh, I'm pretty sure a lot of people see the irony, no worries.


Knoxville, Tenn.: Here is my two cents about putting Ronald Reagan's likeness on the $50 bill.

They can't have it both ways and skip over the two George Bushes to Ronald Reagan. So until if they won't us to forget or get over the past decade, then we need to also forget about the 1980s too, right?

I've thought that it's pretty telling how the Republican Party would rather publicly defend the wackiness and racial hatred shown with "Tea Parties" then defend the Bush 43 administration.

Ed O'Keefe: Hmm, I don't quite follow your logic, but this gives me a good excuse to point people in the direction of my blog post from last week about polling that finds most Americans do not support putting Ronald Reagan on the $50 bill.


Washington, DC: Charlie Crist announced to his cabinet that he would let everyone know his decision on Thursday. Any doubt that he is going Independent?

Ed O'Keefe: Allow me to cite from the work of my esteemed colleague, Dan Balz, who wrote about Crist on Sunday:

"Many Republicans believe that Crist has made up his mind to run as an independent. Old friends and advisers, many of whom think Crist would be making a fatal mistake by going the independent route, have been shut out by a politician who likes to hear what he wants to hear. A Crist friend says be careful to leap to conclusions before the governor announces his intentions."

When in doubt, believe what Dan writes.


Las Vegas, Nev.: I've read that Phoenix was a frontrunner for hosting either the 2012 Republican National Convention and also the 2012 Democratic National Convention and about to place bids for both.

Yet with the illegal alien law passing, has it killed any hope of Phoenix being selected by either party?

Ed O'Keefe: Hmmm... that's a good question worth pursuing. Thanks for the tip!


Rockville: "I voted for that before I voted against that" is close to a famous quote. But it shows how being an "insider" in the Senate is not that easy to understand. Will the public follow the Republican line? Or will this action with financial reform hurt?

Ed O'Keefe: Lots of questions along this line of thought today: Senate Democrats will force votes on financial regulatory reform later this week, but negotiations will also continue.

Note what Scott Brown (R-Mass.) said:

"My vote is not a vote against financial reform; instead it's a vote to insist that the parties continue bipartisan negotiations."

Many will consider that a sound line of reasoning -- since Americans generally prefer bipartisan solutions. Others will argue that Washington has had two-plus years to deal with this issue and hasn't acted.

It's too early to know if this Republican strategy will work. Stay tuned.


Helena MT: I know the media really buys into Lindsay Graham being someone who will support climate change legislation or immigration, but we outside of Washington think this is just a ploy on the part of the senator and he will find some reason to back off. I think his recent temper tantrum - complete with stamping his feet - about the order in which these bills will be voted on shows us to be more correct in our assessment than the media. I don't think there will be any cooperation between the parties on any legislation between now and November, because the GOP has decided there best strategy to gain seats is to obstruct all legislation. But they have to do the theater anyway.

Ed O'Keefe: We'll see. It seems financial regulatory reform might be the last best chance to get bipartisan action this year, but you never know...


McLean, Va.: Ed,

My understanding of the new Arizona immigration law is that law enforcement is allowed to demand proof of citizenship if they have "reasonable suspicion" that someone is in the country illegally. My question is: is there any sort of way that a LEO could determine "reasonable suspicion" of being in the country illegally that passes Constitutional muster? I literally can't think of anything.

Ed O'Keefe: And that's the tricky thing about this law. Remember: It's still a few weeks away from taking effect. You better believe there will be some kind of court case filed between now and then that could tie it up and maybe eventually rule it unconstitutional. We'll see.

Columnist Richard Cohen has

an ironic twist

on what the Arizona law might mean for some non-Hispanics.


Dallas: Reagan on the fifty? Whats wrong with Grant? Won the war, saved our country? Geez, how about $2 coin?

Ed O'Keefe: Yes, keep it coming: Who would you put on our money? Or what kind of person merits the monetary honor?


Ithaca, N.Y.: Considering the unrest among Latinos right now, how much do you think Barack Obama wishes he would have nominated Sonia Sotomayor now instead of last year? If she was nominated now among all the Arizona headlines, it would have helped Pres. Obama and Democrats more in getting a bigger percentage of Latino voters then her nomination did last year. Just my thought.

Ed O'Keefe: That's an interesting point. Let's see if Latinos remember that Sotomayor nomination when they head to the polls later this year and ever cite it as a reason to support Democrats and/or Obama.


Pittsburgh: How successful is Sarah Palin's TV career, really? How are her ratings? Apparently the preview of her Alaska show was disastrous. I get that she's made money from TV, but is it likely to last? I've got my suspicions that she'll get over-exposed quickly with all but her hardest-core supporters.

Ed O'Keefe: The ratings for her special earlier this month were lackluster and yes, advertisers giggled their way through previews of "Sarah Palin's Alaska."

But I point you in the direction of

this New York Magazine article that does a nice job breaking down

what they call, "Palin, Inc."


East Lansing, Mich.: Both my parents are members of the Obijway tribe and they were a bit older and remember the days of "day pass" when if you wanted to leave the reservation, you have to convince a federal offical to give you a pass and he let a time that you had to back on the reservation by and you could be arrested and beaten if you were late. It's a sad part of our history.

So forgive it I roll my eyes with I hear pundits describe the new "papers, please" law in Arizona as "not something that happens in America."

Ed O'Keefe: Good point, thanks for it East Lansing.


Money: Why don't we just mint a new denomination for Reagan? Give him a $2 coin for use in slot machines and laundromats.

Ed O'Keefe: That's a good idea that others have explored before, but officials have concluded a $2 bill or coin wouldn't be useful or popular.


Marietta, Ga.: Reagan should be on the $1 billion bill, since he racked up more debt than all of the presidents before him. George W Bush could go on the $1 trillion bill.

Ed O'Keefe: OK, OK, one person's opinion...


Dale City, Va.: Thanks for taking questions. I read that Harry Reid is scheduling another vote on taking the bill to debate on Wednesday. Do you think he is getting the most political bang for his buck by doing that? Why not just say we tried but the Repubs stopped us and leave that as the talking point for a couple of weeks? Maybe they would get nervous that they might not get another shot and actually vote to debate the bill when it finally came up again.

Ed O'Keefe: Because he'd rather say, "We tried, and tried, and tried again, and the Republican stopped us everytime."


Florissant Valley, Mo.: On the convention sweepstakes, just a note that St. Louis has put in a bid for the 2012 Dems, which would be first time since Woodrow Wilson in 1916. It led to his successful reelection, so maybe the city fathers hope it will lure Obama for the same reason.

Ed O'Keefe: Ooo, I love these details, keep 'em coming!

And for the record, I've never been to St. Louis, and only briefly in Phoenix, so I'm open to either.


Sotomayor: I don't know about Latinos, but I'm a) a minority, and b) a former Republican, and you can bet I'll be remembering--and contrasting--the Sotomayor choice with the AZ immigration law/the GOP's support of it come the next few elections.

Ed O'Keefe: One voter's thoughts.


Poplar Bluff, MO: Ed, thanks for the chat. What is the latest on the pick for the Supreme Court and when can we expect it? No offense to George Washington, but Harry Truman would be great for the one dollar bill. Wasn't his motto, "The buck stops here"?

Ed O'Keefe: Haha! Yes it was!

Robert Gibbs said on Monday that a SCOTUS decision will not come this week.


Ed O'Keefe: Hey folks, that's it for today, thanks for your questions and talk to you soon.


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