Many of us worry that some Republicans in the Senate and the House don't have the public interest at heart - that they put special interests ahead of our common well-being. We worry that these Republicans are too influenced by greed or fear or hatred. However, some Republicans are just mind-numbingly stupid. Here are three such cases from the last 24-hours or so:
A Louisiana senator is stalling Florida emergency management director Craig Fugate's nomination as head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Fugate had sailed through his nomination hearing and Monday cleared the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee by a unanimous voice vote. Republican Sen. David Vitter said, however, that he'd blocked Fugate because of concerns he has with FEMA.
"I have a hold on the FEMA nomination because I sent a list of hurricane recovery questions and projects to FEMA, many of which have not been adequately addressed," Vitter said in a statement. "I'm eager to get full responses and meet with the nominee immediately."
The hold -- which comes a month before the start of hurricane season -- was reported in CQ Today, a Capitol Hill newspaper, which noted that Vitter's home state "bore the brunt of the botched agency response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005."
At that time, FEMA was led by Michael Brown, who had little emergency management experience. Fugate, however, garnered widespread praise for deft handling of back-to-back hurricanes in Florida and won bipartisan support at his confirmation hearing and was expected to be confirmed swiftly.
Vitter, who represents Katrina-ravaged Louisiana, is delaying a qualified FEMA director one month before the start of hurricane season. And he's delaying the widely-acclaimed pick because he is awaiting answers from FEMA. Well, Hookerlover, maybe you'd get those answers more quickly if FEMA had a director who could respond to you, dolt.
North Carolina: Freshman Republican backbencher Richard "Bank Run" Burr really doesn't get it. Typically a guy who receives little to no press coverage for anything, he received a mountain of terrible press coverage when it spread that he told his wife to rush the ATMs when the fiscal crisis was brewing - behavior that would have crippled the economy had too many Americans done what "Bank Run" Burr did. And what did "Bank Run" Burr learn from the experience?
Burr's comments spread across the blogosphere and were slammed as irresponsible. Some suggested he was encouraging a bank run. Now, Burr says he has no regrets and would do the same thing again.
"Absolutely I'd do it [again]," Burr told WFAE, a public radio station in North Carolina. "The exact situation we were faced with was a freeze bank to bank. And as I stated, my attempt was to make sure my wife had enough cash at home to make it through the next week."
But Burr added that the bank in question was never in trouble, which raises questions about why he feared it would run out of cash.
"It was not an attempt to run a bank," Burr said. "Nor was it a bank that was even considered then or now to be in trouble."
So not only is "Bank Run" Burr too dense to get why people might have been disquieted by his behavior, but he also doesn't even realize his own lack of logic - if the bank wasn't in trouble, why did he need to rush the ATMs?! Keep on digging, "Bank Run" Burr.
Chris Cillizza rates the seat of retiring Republican Senator Kit Bond the third most likely to flip from one party to the other in 2010 -- and for good reason. Take a look at latest numbers, with even Republican polling showing Democratic Secretary of State Robin Caranahan leading either of her potential Republican competitors, former House Minority Whip Roy Blunt or former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman.
A new U.S. Senate poll shows Democrat Robin Carnahan leading both of her potential Republican opponents in the 2010 contest, but the numbers also point to some political vulnerabilities of Congressman Roy Blunt.
The poll, taken by Republican pollster Wilson Research Strategies and released to The Notebook Thursday, shows probable Democratic nominee Carnahan leading Blunt 47% to 44%. It shows Carnahan leading former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman by a larger margin, 47% to 39%.
The numbers also reveal that although Blunt is much more well-known than Steelman, he carries higher negatives among independents and Democrats. Pollster Chris Wilson said the results highlight Blunt's inherent weakness as a candidate.
The polling isn't all good news for Carnahan, as top-level statewide races in Missouri tend to be very close and no candidate polling under 50 percent of the vote can be assured of victory. That said, with the leading Republicans polling at just 44 percent and 39 percent -- in Republican polling -- the GOP clearly must be concerned about the possibility that Bond's seat will go the way of Jim Talent's before that, switching from Republican hands' to the Democrats.
Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the former House minority whip, will announce Thursday in St. Louis that he is running for the seat that GOP Sen. Christopher (Kit) Bond is vacating, sources told CongressDaily. After former Republican Sen. Jim Talent announced last week that he would not seek the seat, it was widely expected that Blunt would jump in. Democratic state Treasurer Robin Carnahan has already announced she will run and has been backed by Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Menendez of New Jersey. Blunt has press events scheduled throughout the weekend.
Under Roy Blunt's watch in the House Republican leadership, either in the number two or number three position, the GOP lost close to 60 seats in the House -- a pretty remarkable feat, to say the least. Contrast that electoral record with that of the likely Democratic nominee in the Missouri Senate race, Robin Carnahan, who last fall won the most votes of any Missouri candidate in the history of the state. Luckily for the GOP, another Republican with questionable electability -- the former state Treasurer who lost a gubernatorial primary last year -- is looking at the race, so it's still possible that Blunt (who, by the way, is the father of a Governor who was so unpopular that he couldn't run for reelection in 2008) will not be their nominee.
At this point, it's hard to see how the race to succeed the retiring GOP Senator Kit Bond isn't a tossup -- if not an ever so slight Democratic advantage.
This is a heck of a recruitment day for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Robin Carnahan currently serves as Missouri's Secretary of State, winning election in 2004 with 51.0 percent of the vote and reelection in 2008 with 61.8 percent of the vote. Notwithstanding the fact that she doesn't come into this race with a robust campaign account, the funds from which could be transfered to a Senate bid (though she is already up on Act Blue), she is likely the strongest potential Democratic candidate for this contest -- and perhaps even the strongest candidate of either party. And having met her at both the Yearly Kos Convention and the blogger tent at the Democratic National Convention, along with her former-Senator-turned-blogger mother Jean, I did come away with the sense that she gets it.
With Carnahan in this race, it probably doesn't get worse than tossup for the Democrats any time between now and election day.
I've already noted that one of the names being batted around as a potential Republican successor to retiring GOP Senator Kit Bond of Missouri is that of former House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, under whose watch House Republicans have lost close to 60 seats in two election cycles. But Republicans aren't apparently only looking at one electoral loser. Former Congressman Kenny Hulshof, who lost his gubernatorial bid last fall by 19 points, is also being mentioned, as is, apparently, Jim Talent, who lost his Senate reelection bid just two short years ago.
Two Republican operatives close to former Sen. Jim Talent say he is likely to run for the Missouri Senate seat of retiring Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.).
One Republican operative close to Talent said that he has been "itching to run" since losing to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) in 2006, and is eager to make a political comeback.
Talent is currently a co-chairman (read: lobbyist) for Fleishman Hillard Government Relations, a Washington public affairs firm that also has offices in St. Louis.
Talent narrowly won a special election against Jean Carnahan, who had been appointed to serve after her late husband defeated John Ashcroft, in the Republican-friendly year of 2002, and then lost a bit less narrowly four years later when he faced Claire McCaskill. He also narrowly lost a gubernatorial election in 2000. In other words Talent is clearly a formidable candidate -- but not necessarily one with a stellar track record of success. Throw on top the fact that Talent moved right back into lobbying after his loss in 2006, just as he had after his loss in 2000, and you have an imperfect candidate. In other words, Talent would be able to keep this race close, though whether he has the strength to put this race over the top (he never received 50 percent in any of his three statewide bids, during which he averaged about 48.4 percent of the vote) remains to be seen. Either way, I still stand by my prior sentiment that this race is a tossup at present.