Republican elites have been pushing the party to moderate its image in order to stave off losses as the national electorate becomes increasingly diverse. But all the preening is unlikely to amount to substantive change. Sure, Republicans can talk about softening their tone against undocumented workers, or agree to hypothetical tax hikes, but when it comes down to it, they are still indebted to the right-wing base.
Take Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss. He was among the first Republicans to turn on Grover Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Late last month, he claimed he cared "a lot more about [the country] than I do about Grover Norquist" during a radio interview with a Georgia station. Since then, he's stuck to his rosy bipartisan rhetoric. "I’m very open at home that I’m going to continue to work hard to solve problems because our country’s in trouble, and you can’t do it without Democrats and Republicans working together,” Chambliss said Monday.
The willingness to reach across the aisle could drive Chambliss out of his party. Public Policy Polling ran the numbers and Chambliss looks to be in trouble when he's up for re-election in 2014. The senator dominates the general-election field, but would struggle to win his own party's primary. Just 38 percent of Republicans would like to see him serve another term, compared to 43 percent who would rather send a more conservative senator to Washington. Herman Cain—the erstwhile presidential candidate who loves pizza, has a bizarre obsession with the number 9, and ended his last campaign after allegations of sexual harassment hit the news—trumps Chambliss 50-36 percent among Republican voters.
Perhaps Chambliss will ignore the threat emerging from his rightward flank. But more likely, he'll abandon those thoughts of compromise once a bill comes to a vote. Especially when conservative donors like Brent Bozell keep running to the press with threats against any Republican who dares cave. "The only people who should be funded are those conservatives who don't break their word," Bozell said, "and the primary opponents of the ones who do."
So They Say
"Thank you, Mr. President."
—John Kerry, responding to Senator John McCain's jab of saying "Thank you, Mr. Secretary" to his fellow senator at a press conference yesterday
Daily Meme: Party Like It's 2014
- All this fiscal cliff news is getting so boring and repetitive, what's a horse-race journalist just finishing up a long election cycle supposed to do for kicks? Write about the impending 2014 election, only a year and a few handfuls of change away!
- While Mitch McConnell is busy complaining about the White House during fiscal-cliff negotiations, Ashley Judd is planning a potential sneak-attack bid for his Kentucky seat.
- And why stop at 2014? Let's start covering the 2016 election too! Speculation was already rampant about what would happen in the next presidential contest before Mitt Romney even conceded.
- Politico reports that Rubio and Ryan are having big makeover parties, getting ready for their re-debuts four years down the line.
- No one seems to have given super PAC consultants the "election is over" memo, seeing as they are still collecting monstrously large fees.
- On the other hand, candidates are already courting big donors for these political slush funds, so maybe they aren't wrong in keeping the office doors open.
- David Remnick is pretty sure Hillary is going to run in 2016.
- While Joan Walsh is thinking maybe she shouldn't. A campaign founded upon the inevitability of her ascension to the White House throne would play out ... exactly like the last time this happened.
- And speaking of Hillz, why don't we talk about the 2013 election too? Bloomberg was hoping that she would be happy with taking over New York, instead of waiting three more years to try at winning the whole country again.
What We're Writing
- Robert Kuttner on how Elizabeth Warren's new seat on the Senate Banking Committee translates into a big win for progressives.
- Sharon Lerner on the model for how to do Pre-K education—get this: It's in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
What We're Reading
- Before David Petreaus's career abruptly ended last month, Roger Ailes was trying to push him to run against Barack Obama.
- Jonathan Cohn writes that falling off the cliff is better than the proposal offered by House Republicans.
- White House speechwriter Jon Favreau is leaving the Obama administration early in 2013.
- Jeffrey Toobin unpacks the laws and efforts that kept people from voting in this year's election.
- Ten reasons Anna Wintour would be a good ambassador to the U.K. (yes, this could actually happen).
- Americans for Tax Reform pulled in over $20 million in 2012.
- Heidi Moore translates the Republicans' response to the White House's fiscal cliff opening bid into plain English.
- McSweeney's provides hand-drawn proof that Barack Obama stole the 2012 election.
Poll of the Day
Forty-nine percent of Americans think we're heading over the fiscal cliff come January 1, and 53 percent say Republicans in Congress are to blame if it happens, according to a new Pew poll. Twenty-seven percent think the president is at fault if no solutions are found to the budgetary woes, and 12 percent share the blame equally between the two parties. All this means that if Republicans don't want to have a miserable two years, they'd better bring more to the table than they currently have.