Among Republicans, and conservatives more broadly, who is up and who is down?
UP: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), for pushing the White House to disclose information on Benghazi and Chuck Hagel. Facing a potential primary challenge from the right, he has been stalwart in uncovering the president’s AWOL status on the night of the Benghazi attacks and in opposing Hagel.
DOWN: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), for undermining Graham. Aside from the president, no senator has done more to undermine a filibuster than he. The right’s anti-McCain ire is once again heating up.
UP: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, for governing like a conservative. He has turned Wisconsin into a conservative reform success story, backs reasonable immigration reform and has resisted Medicaid reform. As he put it, “I think we need to be more optimistic, I think it’s not enough just to hold a referendum on the opposition. You got to hold a viable alternative. It’s good to be realistic about our challenges but we’ve got to be eternally optimistic about our solutions.”
DOWN: Florida Gov. Rick Scott, for reneging on his Medicaid promises. His name is mud among conservatives these days. As Stephen Hayes put it: “He ran a private citizens’ group opposing ObamaCare, he ran for governor opposing ObamaCare, he was elected largely because he opposed ObamaCare. He said he was going to reject ObamaCare after he was elected. He led the federal lawsuit against ObamaCare, and then, once the Supreme Court decision came down, he said, basically, this will be devastating to the states, it’s a terrible idea to expand Medicaid, and we won’t do it here in Florida, because we’re going to do the right thing. I think money has spoken to him, and he’s clearly changed his mind. I think it’s a bad decision. It’s politically cowardly and hypocritical.”
UP: Bob Woodward, for standing up to the White House and consistently rebuffing its spin about the sequester. He also broke news that Democrats had gone to the White House asking if Chuck Hagel was going to be withdrawn.
DOWN: MSNBC, for ludicrously hiring presidential political hacks David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs with the promise that they would be independent analysts.
UP: Sen. Rand Paul, for debunking the sequester hysteria, returning $600,000 in office funds to the Treasury, and threatening a hold on CIA director-nominee John Brennan.
DOWN: Sen. Richard Shelby, for backing both the Hagel and Jack Lew nominations. His moves set off a furious reaction in conservative media and energized his home state’s tea party to attack him.
UP: Sequester skeptics, for spotting how ludicrously overblown are the president’s claims. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) gets a gold star for explaining:
Look, the federal government is twice the size it was 11 years ago. We are spending almost $4,000 per person, per year, coming out of the federal government, $12,000. The average family is on the hook for unfunded liabilities in, quote, “in excess of three quarters of a million dollars per family.”
And what sequestration is, it’s a terrible way to cut spending. I don’t disagree with that. But to not cut 2.5 percent out of the total budget over a year when it’s twice the size it was 10 years ago? Give me a break. . . . But the fact is, is we have tons, hundreds of billions of dollars, of fat and waste and excess in the federal government. And we ought to be about cutting some of it out.
DOWN: Sequester hysterics, for not even getting the numbers straight. The Post noted, “While the sequester orders the White House to withdraw $85 billion in spending authority from affected agencies in the fiscal year that ends in September, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that agencies will reduce actual spending by only about $44 billion, with the remaining cuts carried over into future years.”