I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material there. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. You will all receive invitations to post to the blog. (Please let me know if you do not get such an invitation.) I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:
To post questions or comments about the readings before we discuss them in class;
To follow up on class discussions with additional comments or questions.
To post relevant news items or videos.

There are only two major limitations: no coarse language, and no derogatory comments about people at the Claremont Colleges.

Search This Blog

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Democratic Roles in the 2013 Simulation


Neil Malani
Kristie Shu
Dane Brown
Laura Epstein
Adrian Vallens
Ben Tillotson
Isabel Lane
Colin Hulse
Katie Rodihan
  • Proxy 

Foreign Relations

Melissa Carlson
Anna Joseph
Richard Ahne
Aaron Outland
Sarah Servin
Eric Van Wart
Tim Burke
Jeff Pollock
  • Proxy 


Frances Kyl
Jessica Laird
Gabe Siegel
Hector Villanueva
Erin Elfrink
Sam Stone
Macie Leach

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

Random Comments on Writing and Analysis


  • Use the term platform only to refer to a formal statement of positions by a party organization.
  • There is no such thing as "the" Tea Party.  It is a loose term referring to an even looser set of individuals and organizations with diverse and often conflicting opinions.
  • Strategy and tactics mean different things.

Legislative Process 1

Online petitions are one source of legislative ideas, though not always good ones.

Legislative Research
Bill Drafting
The Name Game

Do They Read The Bills? No.

John Conyers and the PATRIOT Act:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Democrats raise pressure on GOP for a spending cut compromise

When I read this article, my mind immediately jumped to our class discussion on the animosity between the House Republicans and Democrats. The ideological divide between the two parties (as well as the finger pointing, mud slinging, and unwillingness to compromise) can be seen in the below quotes from the article:

"...the intractable ideological divide over taxes, spending and the role of government has led to another political showdown in Washington like those that dominated Obama's first term."

"Republicans contend the idea came from Obama and continually refer to the cuts as "the president's sequester," while the White House notes GOP leaders also endorsed and voted for the plan before Obama signed it into law."

"Obama "has offered a balanced approach and it is time for (the) Republican Congress to stop playing games with our jobs recovery, to stop playing games with our middle class who struggled long enough (and) finally see some hope, some income growth, some job growth..."

P.S. Anna Joseph and I are excited to play the roles of Barbara Boxer and Bob Menendez, respectively, for the class simulation #subtlehints

Haskell on Leadership

Prof. John Haskell, who teaches in CMC's Washington Semester, spoke about congressional leadership today on C-SPAN:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Leadership and the 112th Congress

One-term wonders from the class of 2010:

Lost general election:

Charles Bass, R-N.H., 60
Ann Marie Buerkle, R-N.Y., 61
Francisco "Quico" Canseco, R-Texas, 63  
Chip Cravaack, R-Minn., 52
Mark Critz, D-Pa., 50
Robert Dold, R-Ill., 43
Frank Guinta, R-N.H., 42
Nan Hayworth, R-N.Y., 53
Kathy Hochul, D-N.Y., 54
Jeff Landry, R-La., 42
David Rivera, R-Fla., 47
Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., 48
Joe Walsh, R-Ill., 51
Allen B. West, R-Fla., 51
Lost primaries:

Sandy Adams, R-Fla., 56
Hansen Clarke, D-Mich., 55
Ben Quayle, R-Ariz., 36

Barber Conable, a moderate Republican from upstate New York, retired in 1984, and wrote a column reflecting on life in the House. Instead of looking at the upstarts with horror, he instead saw something very natural:
Old as I am, I recall being a "young turk" at one point and participating noisily in a successful effort to change House rules which the then Establishment found adequate. I learned a lot about the institution from the effort, vented my frustrations, and gradually became part of the Establishment myself. Youth presses age, provides a good deal of the dynamic and the dialogue, and eventually ages. Partisans may not like the tranquility of my view of these recent histrionics, but I find reassurance in the cycle of renewal.

The Gang of Seven: Charles Taylor (NC, top-left), Rick Santorum (PA, top-right), John Boehner (OH, middle-left), Scott Klug (WI, middle-center), Jim Nussle (IA, middle-right), Frank Riggs (CA, bottom-left), John Doolittle (CA, bottom-right).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Majority Roles in the Simulation

Foreign Relations

ARRGG! We MUST CUT the deficit! We MUST CUT spending! (EXCEPT the stuff WE care about)

Politico's Scott Wong posted an article about the impending sequestration that encapsulated some things we've been discussing about in class. Some of these dynamics include a legislator's inclination to follow the interests of their own constituencies, sometimes over party agenda, and how important earmarks are.

Wong writes that members of Congress are all racing to make sure pet projects in their states or districts avoid the chopping axe of the sequester. This is occurring on both sides of the aisle and on both chambers of Congress. Senator Tom Udall (D, NM) wants to save nuclear labs and a missile defense system in his state. Senator Roger Wicker (R, MS) does not want cuts in the Army of Corps of Engineers, fearing cuts may jeopardize waterway construction in the Mississippi River. Democrat Cheri Bustos and Republican Adam Kinzinger, both Representatives from Illinois, joined forces to show concern about cuts to certain federal defense contracts in the Rockford area.

Draper's book also had a hilarious but similarly telling moment. In chapter 9, page 77, Draper recounts a conference of the Republican freshmen, with everyone eager to seriously cut government spending. They all agree at the outset of the meeting: We must consider everything. Nothing is off the table. There are no sacred cows. IMMEDIATELY after setting this rule, Jeff Duncan (R, SC) says how important it is to maintain American aid to Israel. Everyone agrees. Suddenly, foreign aid to Israel is off the table. 

Lindsey Graham (R, SC) was quoted by Wong in the article that summed up the issue at hand pretty well:“When it’s somebody else’s base and district, it’s good government. When it’s in your state or your backyard, it’s devastating." Basically, cutting the deficit is good. But not when you cut stuff in my district or the things important to me. Then it's a "job-killer" or "a threat to our national security".

In short, members of Congress will probably agree that deficit reduction is a serious national issue. But they will also probably agree: just don't start in my backyard. Or with the things I care about.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Hagel, Graham, and McCain

To follow up on our discussion of Chuck Hagel and party politics, here's an interesting article about how Graham managed to switch McCain's vote on the confirmation, leaving Hagel one vote shy of cloture. Politico suggests that it will help Graham's bid for reelection in 2014, but this claim has not been confirmed.

"For old McCain allies, it was an all-too familiar scenario: Their champion pulled back into the fray by his friend Graham, a likable but impulsive figure caught up in his own political battles with the right in South Carolina. By reversing himself, McCain effectively sacrificed his own credibility to buy Graham more time to continue his campaign against Hagel — an issue that plays to Graham’s advantage as he prepares to run for reelection in 2014."

Leadership: Background to the Present Day

Gingrich and the book deal in 1995:


  Political scientist Keith Poole has a detailed historical measure of partisan polarization. These data show a partisan gap that seating arrangements will not close.

Click graph for enlarged view:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

CBC Members Push President to Embrace Causes

Since we learned about the CBC last week in one of the readings, I thought I'd share this article about possible tensions between the caucus and Obama's recent cabinet appointments. Some parts of the article are below:

About one month into her new position leading the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Marcia L. Fudge already has shown a willingness to push the nation’s first African-American president aggressively behind the scenes to embrace her group’s priorities.

Privately, the relationship between the two entities has been complicated for a long time, with members complaining about social snubs and Obama’s reluctance to address the high black unemployment rate head on.
In late 2011, the disagreements culminated in a public spat. But more often, they have been masked. White House officials are sensitive to any conflict being reported in the press, and CBC members often hold their tongues.
 CNN: Republicans Stall Hagel Nomination

The past week we have been discussing the various responsibilities of the House and Senate. This article focuses on the Senate's ability to check Presidential power by approving government officials he appoints, this case being the Defense Secretary. Senate Republicans filibustered approving Chuck Hagel's nomination because of persisting tension over the Benghazi attack among Republican Senators, as well as questions over Hagel's finances. Below are two quotes from the article that I thought was particularly relevant to our class discussion:

"Filibusters of cabinet officials are extremely rare, largely because senators typically believe a president has a right to pick the leaders of his government."

Senate majority Leader Harry Reid  stated, "Republicans have made an unfortunate choice to ratchet up the level of destruction here in Washington. Just when you thought things couldn't get worse, it gets worse."

To read the full article, click here

"Regular Order"

The Washington Post reports on the efforts of committee chairs to return to old-fashioned legislating, with a focus on Dave Camp (R-MI), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee:
How does a major piece of tax legislation get to the House floor without the approval of the chairman of the once-powerful Ways and Means committee?

As Congress has turned into a partisan battlefield, lurching from crisis to crisis, the difficult, tedious, careful work of writing legislation has been replaced by hurried, haphazard deals brokered at the edge of disaster with brinkmanship and confrontation.

But now Camp is part of a bloc of committee chairmen in the House and Senate trying to reassert themselves and reverse course; their aim is to re-establish their chairmanship gavels as meaningful tentacles of power after years of watching the legislative process atrophy, along with their roles in it. Tired of watching as flailing leadership negotiations fail to produce any key legislation, these senior lawmakers hope that a return to the old days of subcommittee hearings and bill markups, floor amendments and conference reports may offer a path forward on everything from immigration to a long-term budget plan.

“We’re all frustrated. We all wish there was more legislating and less messaging,” said Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Some chairmen are pushing legislation without a green light from their leaders, some have created their own vote-counting operations, and Senate committee leaders recently defused a fight on filibuster rules with a compromise that gives them more power.

The overarching demand is for “regular order.” which is congressional speak for how things are supposed to work — at least how things used to work. Their hopes are straight out of the old Schoolhouse Rock “I’m Just a Bill” anthem, where bills start in subcommittees and move to full committees and competing versions are passed by each chamber, leading to a conference committee to iron out the differences. A final version gets approved and sent to the president for his signature.

That process, already withering away over the last decade, broke down completely in the 112th Congress. Senior aides could not point to a single significant bill introduced in the past two years that moved along those old procedural tracks. The Senate, intended as the more prudent, less fractious house, set a modern record for futility in 2011 and 2012 by holding just 486 votes — about 175 fewer roll calls than a normal two-year session.

Friday, February 15, 2013


At Roll Call, David Drucker writes about internal criticism of House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).  As you will see in the Draper book, the current set of House Republicans is hard to whip...
But McCarthy’s critics say there are factors within his control that might allow House Republicans to present a more united front to President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats.
In addition, McCarthy lacks the attention to detail and deep knowledge of the issues that make a good whip, his critics contend. He is too concerned with maintaining good relationships to exert party discipline, and he does not delegate enough to a staff described as quite capable, they say.
McCarthy’s predecessors regularly used earmarks and promises of campaign-fundraising assistance to flip and corral votes on politically charged legislation. Such local favors helped maintain discipline and unity.
Now that earmarks are banned, every vote is a “conscience vote,” one Republican said.
Even so, McCarthy and his whip operation have encountered difficulty almost every time the House has considered major fiscal legislation that tested the Republican majority’s ability to govern and carried significant political ramifications.
Examples include the 2011 debt ceiling bill, the 2011 extension of the payroll tax holiday and, most recently, legislation to avoid the fiscal cliff, which passed with more Democratic than Republican votes.
McCarthy hasn’t used tools available to him, GOP observers say, including preventing members’ bills from receiving committee hearings or blocking them from floor consideration. Such tactics could be enforced subtly, avoiding the public outcry that surrounded leadership’s decision to remove four maverick Republicans from coveted committees.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013



See inside cover the Davidson book:

The moment that made Newt

Gingrich on the difference between majority and minority:
In short, overnight I found myself in a job far bigger than most people, even Washingtonians, understand to this day. The Speaker is the third-ranking constitutional officer. That in itself might seem weighty enough. In addition, the day-to-day job requires him not only to preside over, but to attempt to lead, 435 strong-willed, competitive, and independent-minded people. (Some wag has likened this to an attempt to herd cats.) After all, if these people had not in the first place been heavily endowed with all three of these characteristics—will, competitiveness, and independence of mind—they would never have been able to get through the process of winning a primary, followed by a general election, followed by the requirement that they represent 600,000 of their fellow Americans in the nation's capital. So if they sometimes made difficulties for one another, and for me, that was one of the great strengths of the system.
All of this added up to the fact that, politically experienced as I was, everything seemed a little unfamiliar to me. I hadn't shifted from my old job to my new job fast enough. I hadn't shaken off some of the habits I had acquired being the minority whip. I'll give you an example. As the minority party, we were in the position of having to fight every day just to get some media attention. We tended to say and do things that were far more strident and dramatic than are prudent to do and say as the leaders of the majority who find themselves in front of the microphone every day. If you are seldom covered by the press, which was the case with House Republicans for forty years, you have a lot of leeway to make mistakes. But when you are in people's living rooms every evening, your mistakes are magnified.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Parties and Leaders

  • Party in the electorate (PIE)
  • Party organization (PO)
  • Party in government (PIG)
Party campaign committees:

Republican... RNC NRCC NRSC 
Democratic.. DNC DCCCDSCC*

*Chair appointed by party leader

Four strategic postures


President's Party..........GOP 04, Dems 08...............GOP 06....Dems 10
Out Party.....................GOP 10, Dems 06...............GOP 08....Dems 04

Hill leadership


Unaired SNL Sketch on the Hagel Hearing

Thursday, February 7, 2013

NYT: Missouree? Missouruh? To Be Politic, Say Both

Our class discussion on hill style vs. home style reminded me of an article published in the New York Times last fall during the election. We discussed highlighting individuals with different accents in campaign ads, but in Missouri, politicians themselves take on different pronunciations of words depending on where they are campaigning:

The question is not what position to take on abortion, economic stimulus or health care, though those issues have all proved thorny enough. It is how to pronounce the state name: “Missouree” or “Missouruh.”

Monday, February 4, 2013

Campaign Finance

Here is the most cogent explanation of super PACs:

Here is the most cogent explanation of 501(c)(4):

Congressional Elections I

Intraparty Tensions

At The New York Times, Jennifer Steinhauer writes on the declining clubbiness of the Senate:
The willingness of Republicans to skewer one of their own became increasingly apparent on Friday as more and more members of the party peeled away from Mr. Hagel, President Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense, saying they would not vote to confirm him after Mr. Hagel melted like chocolate on a dashboard under combative questioning from Republicans.
There were other moments as well. Earlier in the week, Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, took to talk radio to refer to a Republican colleague, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, as “amazingly naïve” for his proposals to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. Mr. Rubio did not choose to respond or question the judgment of Mr. Vitter, whose phone number once appeared in a client list of a Washington madam.
As Politico reports, however, there was a response from somebody on Team Rubio:
Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) associates, furious about fellow Republican Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) calling the Floridian “nuts” and “naïve” over his immigration reform efforts, are hitting Vitter where it hurts.
“David Vitter has done some nuttier things in his life,” a source close to Rubio wrote in an unsolicited email to POLITICO.
That’s a not-at-all subtle reference to Vitter’s 2007 admission that his phone number appeared on a client list of a Washington, D.C. madam. A New Orleans-based prostitute and madam have also, separately, accused Vitter of being a client, but he has denied those charges.
Asked for comment about the jab, Vitter’s press secretary didn’t respond to two emails. A receptionist at Vitter’s Washington office said the press staffer “must be away from his desk.”
Meanwhile, Politico also reports that the president has long frustrated Hill Democrats:
President Barack Obama and his top advisers have declared that they’re done playing “the inside game” in Washington, but one crucial Democratic constituency — his former colleagues in Congress — say the president shouldn’t deep-six a strategy that he only half-heartedly tried in his first term.

As Obama prepares an aggressive public lobbying campaign for his ambitious second-term agenda, Democrats on Capitol Hill are bluntly warning him that he has to do more to engage them if he expects his congressional allies to take a series of politically tough votes.
Interviews with dozens of members of Congress and senior aides reveal frustration and in some cases exasperation that a president who came from the Senate has no apparent appetite for cultivating relationships on Capitol Hill.

These Democrats say they almost never hear from Obama personally, haven’t been to the White House since Rahm Emanuel was still chief of staff and are mystified that the president passed over a popular legislative affairs aide for the job as top congressional liaison. One high-profile Democrat who recently spoke to a group of Hill Democrats came away stunned at their anger toward a president they hardly know.

Friday, February 1, 2013

First Essay Assignment

Choose one:
  • Pick any House seat that changed party hands in 2012. Explain the outcome, with reference to candidates, the district’s characteristics, and the larger political climate. Is the same party likely to hold the seat in 2014? 
  • Compare and contrast the “Hill styles” and “home styles” of two senators from any state. Explain the key similarities and differences. 
  • Pick any of the four party leaders (Boehner, Pelosi, Reid, McConnell) and evaluate that leader’s performance in 2012. That is, what were the leader’s main political and policy goals for the year, and how well did the leader achieve them in light of the relevant resources and constraints? 
Essays should reflect an understanding of class readings and discussions. Many resources, including CQ Weekly and Politics in America are at http://library.cqpress.com. Also go to the library and see The Almanac of American Politics. You should check other sources as well. See:


  • Essays should be typed, stapled, double-spaced, and no more than four pages long. I will not read past the fourth page. 
  • Put your name on a cover sheet. Do not identify yourself on the text pages. 
  • Cite your sources. You may use either endnotes or parenthetical references to a bibliography. In either case, put your documentation in a standard format (e.g., Turabian or Chicago Manual of Style). 
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you. Return essays by the start of class, Wednesday, February 13. Papers will drop one gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a full letter grade after that.

Blog Archive