Brennan and the Grump Bowl

Get ready: Tomorrow is the second coming of the Super Bowl, at least for Beltway junkies. Everyone who's anyone will be stocking up on wings and six-packs and flipping the channel to C-SPAN to watch the John Brennan hearings, the mid-season peak of Obama's second-term appointment marathon. The reason this is must-see television? Thank Republicans, who have turned a once routine procedure into over-the-top political theater starring Walter Matthau John McCain as the very grumpiest of old men. 

Dramatic confirmation hearings aren't completely unprecedented—the word "Borking" exists for a reason. But this year, just about every hearing (confirmation and otherwise) has produced entertaining television featuring scenery-chewing performances by too-tanned, quarrelsome senators . At last week's Chuck Hagel hearings, those on the Armed Services Committee asked all the wrong questions, which overshadowed the poor answers the Defense nominee was dishing back. Hillary Clinton, facing the last hearing of her tenure, was asked the same question over and over again, to which she replied with a whole host of eyeglass adjustments. John Kerry's hearing was relatively painless, but don't forget, it came at the heels of Riceageddon.

David Petraeus, the last CIA director to face a confirmation hearing, glided into office with the unanimous approval of the Senate. Brennan won't have the same luxury. And he shouldn't, either. Before he became the architect of the drone program that may prove to be Obama's greatest foreign-policy legacy, Brennan was a deputy executive director at the CIA at the beginning of the two wars we still find ourselves waging over a decade later—at a time when enhanced interrogation techniques were an agency calling card. These are obvious things to address in a confirmation hearing, but given the Senate's campy hearings as of late, that may be too much to ask. The only answer we could have at the end of the day tomorrow is that, yes, there is no limit to how much Senate Republicans can embarrass themselves. 

So They Say

“The president and the first lady are kind of like the mom and the dad of the country. And when your dad says something, you listen. And when you don’t, it usually bites you in the ass later on.”

Chris Rock, speaking at a gun-control press conference on the Hill today


Daily Meme: Live Rove or Die Hard

  • Karl Rove and his motley gang are already gearing up to launch the next new Transformer of the Republican Party since their old one, American Crossroads, has lost its luster. The Conservative Victory Project, according to a article in the Sunday Times, is set to squash the Tea Party candidates that proved the bane of the GOP's existence (and its hopes of retaking the Senate) in 2010 and 2012. 
  • To which a Newsbusters writer smugly responds, "If I were launching a new conservative venture, the last venue I’d choose for the announcement would be the New York Times."
  • How far Karl has fallen. Once the man behind the curtain in the Bush campaign years, he's now reviled by the conservatives who dare him to pry the party from their cold dead fingers. 
  • Michelle Malkin says, "This is war."
  • Former Congressman Joe Walsh, the kind of politician CVP would be unlikely to back—agrees. He's starting a super PAC to try to counteract all of Rove's moves. 
  • Conservative radio host Steve Deace writes, "The GOP establishment is so hated by its own base that increasingly more and more of its grassroots have decided they might be better off with Democrats in charge rather than Rove’s kind of milquetoast, John Boehner-type of Republican. In an all-out fight for freedom and liberty these types of Republicans have proven to be about as useful as lipstick on a pig."
  • Ben Shapiro accuses Rove of abandoning REAGAN, of all people!
  • To which Ed Kilgore's like, um, no.
  • What a mess. Rove's been in damage control since the Times story, preaching his new-and-improved Republican gospel and calling out the haters
  • Steve Benen notes, "This probably wasn't the start the Conservative Victory Project was hoping for."
  • And it all proves, once again, that the Republican Party isn't quite ready for a makeover—as much as they need one. 

What We're Writing

  • Like so many of us, Tom Carson falls victim to the charms of Netflix and a full-season-at-once as he sets out to watch House of Cards.
  • According to David Dayen, newly-minted Senator Elizabeth Warren is warrin' early, taking banks and their regulators to task for lapses of ethics and conduct.

What We're Reading

  • Anonymous broke into the Federal Reserve's website and made off with some contact info, continuing its retaliation against the government for the death of Aaron Swartz. 
  • For better or worse, the White House's white paper is out, and in a world of known unknowns and unknown unknowns, the 'kill a citizen' checklist seems a little vague.
  • The federal government is putting together a fun-looking case against ratings agency Standard and Poor's for its involvement in the subprime debacle. Keep this up, guys, and eventually you might be prosecuting the actual perpetrators.
  • It's not just naturalists against fracking anymore—now Natty Light's in on it too. Clean beer takes clean water, folks, so even Keystone's not behind the Keystone
  • Austerity is a cruel mistress in all her forms, and today the target is USPS. The postman always rings twice, but maybe not on Saturday anymore.
  • Eric Cantor gave a weird (but maybe good?) speech full of positive stuff (that maybe won't get any follow-up) to make our lives better. Maybe.

Poll of the Day

Rasmussen finds that 43 percent of taxpayers believe sales taxes to be the fairest variety, compared with 26 percent for income taxes and 6 percent for property taxes. In other news, 43 percent of Americans may not be economics majors. Twenty percent told the truth and admitted they were clueless.

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