Weekly Political Highlights: McCain booed, Palin at CPAC, sequester

Another week of dysfunction on Capitol Hill, making our good citizens even more fed up, even though we are part of the problem. Photo: Sen. McCain faces hostile Arizona town hall AP

WASHINGTON, February 22, 2013 — Happy Birthday, George…Washington that is. The city is named for you, but it has done more to tarnish your good name than anything you could have ever done (and yes, you did some questionable stuff even as you did some stuff of greatness).

Makes us wonder what you would think of another week of dysfunction on Capitol Hill. It has made our good citizens even more fed up, though admittedly we are part of the problem.

Monday Feb. 18 — Another Republican bites the dust

Nebraska Republican Sen. Mike Johanns is the fifth senator to announce he will not run for re-election next year, even though the mild-mannered, first term senator should have been a shoo-in the next go-around. He joins Senators Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa; Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia; John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia; and Frank Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, all speeding off the exit ramp.

The question is who’s next? Here was a senator who couldn’t stand being in Congress not one minute more, much less getting out there on the plains and campaigning once again. Ten to one it was the thought of the Tea Party that gave him Congressional heartburn. He would have been a major target after criticizing conservative organizations that came into Nebraska to influence elections. Plus he made the fatal mistake of joining the bipartisan group, the Gang of Eight, that tried to get deficit reduction deal and failed. The Right has a longer memory than any elephant.

Sarah Palin, CPAC speaker AP

Tuesday February 19 — The Mama Grizzly, aka Sarah Palin, is set to roar at 2013 CPAC convention

She is woman. Hear her roar. Former Alaskan Governor and 2008 Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin must be tuning up her vocal chords for her big moment at the 40th Annual CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) convention next month. CPAC just announced that once again she will be featured along with 28 conservative stars from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul to NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre to Hispanic GOP stars of tomorrow Florida Sen. Mario Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

After being gracefully dumped by Fox News for some of her intemperate remarks over the last couple of years, including not following Fox News honcho Roger Ailes’ admonition to not make any inflammatory remarks after the shooting of Gabby Gifford, Sarah Palin must feel vindicated by the CPAC invitation. Or as Sally Field once put it at the Oscars years ago, “You must really love me.” It’s doubtful that anyone will be trying to muzzle the Mama Grizzly at CPAC. This is a red meat crowd from Red states. In fact the whole convention should be tons of the fun for the media, Right or Left. Sound bites galore. Outrageous remarks. Ted Nugent. The Tea Party. The Fringe unhinged. Let the fun and games begin.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 — Arizona audience boos John McCain, demanding the “dang fence”

Arizona Sen. John McCain met with outright hostility at a town hall meeting from an audience of constituents who were having none of his brand of immigration reform. Of course, McCain has been all over the map on this issue, depending upon what political season he’s in, but now he’s facing a backlash for his latest stance in support of immigration reform. One audience member demanded to know, “Where’s the dang fence?,” throwing back at McCain his famous slogan, “Build the Dang Fence.” He is not up for election until 2016, so he may be able to ride the boos out.

It was sort of fun to watch McCain squirm with discomfort and then get hot under the collar as fellow Arizonians let loose on him, accepting none of his excuses that ranged from it’s the budget’s fault to it’s Christian as his defense against the onslaught. This is the same McCain that put former Sen. Chuck Hagel — his so-called “old friend” — in the hot seat and then turned up the heat mercilessly. Was the town hall meeting a moment of Karma come home to roost? To mix a metaphor or two.

Thursday, February 21 — 15 GOP senators ask President Obama to drop Hagel’s nomination

In their latest maneuver to block the nomination of former Republican senator Chuck Hagel to Secretary of Defense, 15 of his former colleagues sent a letter to President Obama, demanding he withdraw Hagel’s name from consideration. The venom directed at Hagel by fellow Republicans has stunned many in Washington. The Gang of 15 cited Hagel’s lackluster, not ready for prime time appearance at his confirmation hearing and what they deemed his “dangerous” position towards Iran. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who was very critical of Hagel during the hearings did not sign the letter. Democrats plan a vote on Tuesday.

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel AP

Hagel will be confirmed, thanks to the 55 Democrats in the Senate and three Republicans who have said they will vote for him. Even McCain and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), who did sign the letter, say they will vote for him, making it 60 votes. However, Republican actions over the last week, including the false charges that Hagel received support from a group called “Friends of Hamas,” which does not even exist, have truly been beyond the pale.

But what the signers of the letter are actually doing is burnishing their political street creds with the Tea Party and their Right Wing base, as they worry about their re-election in 2014 or plans for a 2016 presidential run. It is all political posturing and another example of Congress at its nastiest. Truly a low point in the careers of all 15, if that’s possible.

Friday, February 22 — Sequester threatens Americans from sea to shining sea

Gambling that the draconian spending cuts and resulting economic hurt will damage the Democrats and President Obama more than it will them, the Republicans continue to rebuff the President’s balanced plan for spending cuts and tax hikes on the wealthiest and corporations. All the Republicans will consider are cuts. The immediate effect, if the sequester is not ended, will be to kill hundreds of thousands of jobs from Border Patrol to our nation’s defense to benefits for poor families to the tune of $85 billion this year.

It’s High Noon in Washington on Monday, February 25. Don’t expect either side to back down at this point. Even with the American public ready to blame the GOP if the sequester happens, the Republicans are determined to keep their gerrymandered base happy and take the American economy down. Hyperbole? Nope, that’s just reality.

The clock starts ticking Friday, March 1 and the sequester machete will start hacking at the federal budget, laying off Americans from shipyards to TSA to teachers and cops to food safety inspectors. It is not an idle threat. It will happen and some states, particularly those with military bases will be particularly hard hit. And all because the Republicans refuse to ask the millionaire class and corporations to pay their fair share.

The cause and effects of the sequester will be covered in Monday’s Ad Lib on what the sequestration cuts will do to America.

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media. 


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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe

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