Deep Thought

Bigger scandal: Ensign's affair or Obama's date with his wife?

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Sen. Ensign To Admit Affair

I'm half-expecting the GOP will claim this as a terrible sign for Harry Reid's chances of reelection.

Ensign to Acknowledge Extramarital Affair

By Chris Cillizza and Paul Kane

Sources in Washington and Nevada say Republican Sen. John Ensign, a rising star in the Republican Party considering a 2012 presidential bid will hold a press conference later today in which he will acknowledge an extramarital affair.

Ensign, a member of the Senate GOP leadership, flew back to his native Las Vegas today in anticipation of the public announcement, sources said, missing a vote considered key to the Nevada tourist industry.

Two senior GOP political strategists, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter, said the announcement was imminent. They declined to say with whom Ensign had the affair.

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Ensign Raising Profile for Presidential Bid?

This news from Congress Daily a couple weeks back perked up my ears:

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., will make his first political appearance in Iowa this spring, a move that will stoke speculation about his political future, given the state's reputation as a launching pad for national politicians. American Future Fund, a 501(c)(4), signed Ensign to speak June 1 as part of a new lecture series featuring conservative leaders. Ensign will speak in Sioux City, long a hotbed of conservative political activity.

Politicians know what it means to make trips to Iowa to give big speeches, so you can't say that John Ensign isn't trying to stoke some speculation that he is looking to potentially run in 2012. And politicians certainly know what it means to flail wildly in attacks on a very popular President to score points with the base of their own party, too.

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, told CNN Sunday it was "irresponsible" for President Obama to have been seen "laughing and joking" with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas on Friday.


In the interview with CNN, Ensign was also sharply critical of the Obama administration for releasing previously classified CIA memos outlining Bush-era interrogation techniques.

"What the president has done is he has sent a fear throughout the intelligence community that they could be prosecuted in the future," Ensign said. "And that is exactly the kind of fear that paralyzed the intelligence community prior to September 11. I think America is less safe because of the release of these memos," he said.

"Irresponsible.""Less safe." These aren't just the words of the Senate's most conservative member -- not when combined with a forthcoming trip to Iowa. No, Ensign thinks that he can sow the seeds for a potential White House bid by throwing big words at President Obama and by speaking to the few remaining faithful in Iowa (and there are relatively few, considering that 145.6 percent more Iowans participated in last year's Democratic caucuses than in the Republican caucuses and that John McCain lost the state by nine and a half points last year).

Well, if Ensign's presidential ambitions go any bit as well as his tenure as chairman of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee during the 2006 cycle, when his party lost all but one of the seriously contested Senate elections around the country to a Democratic Party few thought had much of any shot of retaking the Senate, then this should be fun to watch.

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John Ensign's Psychic Powers

[This is a cross-post from my column at]

I take it back. Despite my initial impressions, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) has obviously thought long and hard about withholding congressional representation from the District's 600,000 residents. You see, Ensign concocted an amendment that would dismantle the city's gun control laws, and stapled it onto the DC vote bill (using a staple gun I can only assume). The bill, NRA kiss-up amendment included, passed the Senate. Now it and the gunless House version must somehow be reconciled.

Ensign had muttered to Politico that he "hadn't given it much thought," but now we see he was just jerking our chain, because yesterday we found he had written an op-ed for the Washington Post explaining his ironclad reasoning for keeping the District voiceless. The semi-citizens of DC don't want a House representative, Ensign tells us, we want more guns.

In the piece, Ensign really feels DC's pain, lamenting that we have been having our "right to self-defense" violated, that the restrictions on firearms imposed by the city government were "burdensome," and that they "frustrate and discourage DC residents." The raw, sincere empathy is quite moving.

John Ensign sees into our souls so clearly that I wonder if he isn't really TV fake-psychic John Edward. I can just see him now, at a community meeting in the District, wandering the stage and connecting with voters. . .

(Cue wavy lines indicating transition to imaginary scene.)

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Josh Marshall says "oy."

Sen. Ensign (R): 2001 Bush tax cut a model of bipartisanship Obama should aspire to.

I'm going to disagree with Josh here -- I think the 2001 tax cuts are exactly the model of bipartisanship that Barack Obama should aspire to. At the outset of his term, George W. Bush was able to get more or less everything he asked for from the Congress in terms upper-range tax cuts, yet still managed to get a dozen Democratic Senators and another couple dozen House Democrats to vote "aye." If President Obama can get almost everything he wants in the 2009 stimulus bill, and can steamroll a significant chunk of Congressional Republicans to support his position at the same time, then that's the kind of bipartisanship I can believe in.

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