Tentative Primary and Caucus Schedule
  March 1 (Super Tues)
  March 2-14
L blue   March 15-31
Delegates needed for nomination:
GOP: 1236,   Dem: 2242
Map explained
New polls:  
Dem pickups:  
GOP pickups:  

News from the Votemaster

Could Boehner's Departure End the Gridlock Temporarily?

It is possible that Speaker John Boehner's announced departure from Congress could turn him into Superman just at the moment that Amazon is out of kryptonite. As a parting shot, to help the Republicans in 2016, and to get revenge on the conservatives who forced him out, he could bring to the floor a number of bills the Freedom Caucus hates. These would certainly include funding the government, either short term or long term, raising the debt ceiling, and possibly reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank. What the bank does is make loans to foreign companies for the purpose of buying expensive American products, like Boeing aircraft and Caterpillar agricultural machinery. Conservatives oppose the Ex-Im Bank as a form of corporate welfare, but big business loves it.

It could really get interesting if Boehner decides to heed Lady Macbeth's advice ("screw your courage to the sticking place and we'll not fail"). He could bring the immigration reform bill that the Senate already passed to a vote. It would pass, largely with Democratic votes but also with the votes of those Republicans who realize passing the bill—and SuperBoehner getting some of the credit—will help them greatly with Latinos in 2016. It would also help undo some of the damage Donald Trump has done to the Republican brand.

If the House passed the Senate's immigration bill, it would have to be passed by the Senate again since it was passed by a previous Congress. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would personally run over to the House to get the signed bill before the ink was dry because he desperately wants to get immigration out of the 2016 debate. A Senate vote would put the four Republican senators running for President in a bind, but with the entire Democratic caucus behind him, McConnell would get the bill passed again.

Of course, bringing up the Senate's immigration bill would make the Freedom Caucus go ballistic. They would immediately introduce a "Motion to vacate the chair," forcing a new election for Speaker. But if Boehner is smart, he would first make a deal with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to have her members vote "no" on the motion to vacate. Also complicating the whole issue is the internal fight within the Republican caucus for the new leadership positions, so Boehner might have to choose between what is good for the national party in 2016 vs. what is good for his friends in the internal leadership struggle. He also has to think of his legacy as Speaker. It's a complicated situation but we will know soon what he decides.

The Media Are Always Preaching to the Choirs

Note the plural form "choirs" in the headline. That's the problem. Back 50 years ago, everyone watched either Walter Cronkite or Huntley-Brinkley to get the facts. Although people disagreed on whether, say, the war in Vietnam was a good idea, the facts were beyond dispute. The Internet has changed all that. It is well established now that the country has fragmented along ideological, ethnic, and other lines, and each group gets its news and even facts from different sources. People who read Daily Kos every day probably don't read RedState and vice versa. Also, the broadcast media are more fragmented than ever. People who listen to Rush Limbaugh during the day time are probably not pining the loss of Jon Stewart at night.

Two recent news stories illustrate this point well. Progressive media reported the Ahmed Mohamed story as being about Islamophobia. Conservative media saw it as the failure of the educational bureaucracy. Same thing for Carly Fiorina's statement that she had seen a video of a fetus with a beating heart that was being kept alive to harvest its brain. Progressive media said she was lying. Conservative media said she was telling the truth. Technically, both were right. She had seen the video—but it was doctored by inserting an unrelated clip of a different fetus. If we can't even agree on basic facts, how can we have a political discussion on public policy?

Boehner's Downfall is Infecting the Presidential Race

Within minutes of John Boehner's announcement that he was quitting, John McCain pleaded with his fellow Republicans to stop fighting with each other and focus on winning the presidency and keeping Congress in 2016. The problem is that conservatives don't want a truce; they want victory and think they can get it. A WSJ/NBC poll showed that 80% of conservatives dislike Boehner and McConnell. Now some of the presidential candidates are joining in. An angry Mike Huckabee said: "Republicans aren't doing anything different in the majority as they were doing in the minority." Bobby Jindal called for McConnell to follow Boehner and step down. While Sen. Marco Rubio didn't explicitly say McConnell should go, he did say it was time for a new generation of leaders. McConnell is 73 but he still has an excellent memory. Should Rubio be elected President, he is going to have to work with McConnell as either majority or minority leader. Insulting him is not a wise move.

Bill Clinton Is Back on the Trail

We will soon be seeing a lot of Bill Clinton in 2016. He's smart, charismatic, and although he doesn't jump out of airplanes he is the most media-friendly of the four living ex-presidents. He's also close with the Bush family and—by the way—is married to the Democratic frontrunner.

There is a widespread perception that the Clintons' marriage is for show, and that Bill and Hillary are not connected to one another in any meaningful way. This may or may not be true—only they know for sure. But when it comes to politics, make no mistake: The Clintons are one of the greatest husband and wife partnerships in American history, equaled only by the Roosevelts (with the Kennedys and the Nixons not too far behind). Both of them badly want to be in the White House again. As such, anytime Bill speaks about the 2016 campaign, the first question should be: "How is this designed to help Hillary?"

On Friday, Bill was interviewed by CNN's Fareed Zakaria, and the topic of Hillary's emails came up (of course). The former president argued that his wife is the victim of a witch hunt perpetrated by people who are trying to tear her down. This dovetails nicely with Hillary's oft-repeated assertion that the email scandal is much ado about nothing (OK, no more Shakespeare today)

In the same interview, he also shared his views on Donald Trump. Bill predicted that the Donald might actually win the Republican nomination, declaring that, "He's got a lot of pizzazz and zip, he's branded himself in a clear way and he's generated some excitement." It is highly unlikely that either of the Clintons really believe most of that, but what they actually believe does not really matter (and rarely has, as they are both politicians to the core). Both of them know that Trump is a fly in the Republicans' ointment, and as long as he keeps buzzing around, he's doing damage to the Republican brand while allowing Hillary to remain quietly in the background, lining up delegates and raising funds. If Bill Clinton believed that declaring the Donald to be the fifteenth incarnation of Buddha would keep Trump 2016 afloat for another month, he would immediately start chanting "TrOMMMMMMMp."

In short, Bill Clinton is in a position to be the greatest campaign press secretary in history. There has never been a situation like this, and it will be interesting to see exactly how much he is able to help his wife's campaign with carefully-timed interviews and comments.

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---The Votemaster
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