Thank you again, Libby, Tom, Aimai, and Crank, for sitting in while I was gone. I really appreciate it.
And now I see that a number of Republicans who allegedly suffered significant damage to their political viability in the past year are pressing on -- and are being cheered on by the Beltway. Here's Politico writing about Ted Cruz:
... After battling with Senate Republicans for much of 2013, prompting tense confrontations and occasional shouting matches, Cruz is starting to achieve what once seemed unthinkable: He's getting along reasonably well with most of his GOP colleagues.Wait -- he was still thinking about forcing the Senate to postpone a recess so it could hold a pointless vote on Obamacare, and he's thought to have mellowed because he reconsidered this idiotic plan? I'd continue to treat the guy as a lunatic until he stopped even considering such craziness, but hey, that's just me.
Since playing a lead role in the government shutdown last fall, Cruz has joined with Republicans on fights ranging from the Internal Revenue Service's scrutiny of conservative groups to the Obamacare contraception mandate. Cruz dined with [John] McCain at the posh Capital Grille steakhouse. He cracked jokes with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) at last week’s State of the Union.
In an olive branch to his colleagues, Cruz privately assured them he wouldn't raise money for a conservative group attacking GOP senators. And he even allowed the Senate to leave early for its Martin Luther King Jr. Day recess by dropping demands for what would have been a futile attempt to gut Obamacare....
There's also the impending comeback of Marco Rubio, as reported by The Hill:
Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-Fla.) political stock is rated a buy by major Republican fundraisers in Washington, who are bullish on Rubio's future as a 2016 presidential candidate.Well, that's the pattern, isn't it? The eventual nominee starts the race loathed by hardcore conservative voters -- think McCain on immigration in '08 and Romney on health care and abortion two years ago. That's the guy who wins the nominee, because he has the organization and the Establishment support. Of course, he has to tack far to the right in the primaries, and then pick a favorite of the crazies as his running mate, and as a result he loses in November. So, yeah, Rubio/Cruz could be the losing ticket in 2016. But who knew? He seemed dead in the water for a while there.
A group of Republican fundraising heavyweights and wise men in Washington's business community are solidly behind Rubio, and see him not only as someone who could win the White House, but someone they can work with....
Christie's fall could create an opening for Rubio, who saw his stock with conservatives fall last year after he helped move an immigration reform bill through the Senate....
And then there's the possible future comeback of ... Liz Cheney? Well, Politico thinks it's possible:
On Jan. 6, within hours of confirming her plans to leave the Wyoming Senate race, Republican Liz Cheney gathered her aides and advisers on a conference call to thank them for their hard work -- and to put them on notice for the future....Well, why wouldn't she come back -- in Virginia if not in Wyoming, or maybe in some other state she decides to make her home-slash-political base? Republicans do almost every time -- either they get rehabilitated (hello, Congressman Mark Sanford) or they suffer a moment of embarrassment that doesn't even momentarily derail their careers (e.g., senator and possible future governor David Vitter).
One listener recalled the candidate's message, paraphrasing her words: "At some point, I will be running for something else. This isn't the right time for my family." A second listener confirmed the general message she expressed on the call.
... Contrary to the perception in Washington that Cheney was essentially laughed out of politics thanks to her rocky Senate bid, no one close to the candidate or her family mistakes Cheney's present silence for a long-term departure from the electoral arena.
Quietly, over the last few weeks, Cheney and other members of her family have taken steps to tend to her small but powerful political circle. The former candidate has reached out to major contributors -- in Wyoming and elsewhere -- to express her appreciation. Lynne Cheney, the former second lady of the United States, has also made a few calls of her own...
Scott Brown is getting himself photographed shirtless on the front page of the Manchester Union-Leader as he prepares for a carpetbagger Senate run in New Hampshire. There's chatter about another Mitt Romney presidential run in 2016. Hell, Sarah Palin has the highest favorability rating among prospective GOP primary voters, according to a January survey from Public Policy Polling.
It's understandable. There simply isn't anything as efficient as the right-wing noise machine on the liberal/Democratic side -- the right's Mighty Wurlitzer pumps out a negative portrait of liberalism and the Democratic Party 24/7 on talk radio and Fox News, an effort that's limited on the left to a few hours of MSNBC weekday prime time and a few lefty blogs. Yes, there's a pile-on when a Chris Christie stumbles or a Sarah Palin embarrasses herself -- but it's not incessant otherwise.
And even GOP pols who get in trouble often avoid total humiliation -- where's the pile-on for Michael Grimm? It's not just that he threated a reporter with death, it's that he has a long history of confrontations and seemingly dirty dealings. If there were a left-wing media that worked like the right's, he'd have been a household name on the left long before the death threat to the reporter. And there'd have been dozens and dozens of stories about him since the threat. He'd be a political dead man walking, like Anthony Weiner. He probably wouldn't be able to withstand the pressure. He'd have had to resign.
But the press, especially the middle-of-the-road press, basically dropped the Grimm story after he apologized. The right doesn't work this way. Scandal? Campaign embarrassment? Right-wing sharks circle as soon as a drop of blood is seen, and they just keep feeding. Ask Michael Dukakis. Ask Al Gore. Those guys didn't do anything except run less-than-ideal campaigns, and they're still laughingstocks, while Vitter and Grimm still hold office.
So of course Republicans can always make comebacks. Christie will too, if no smoking gun is actually uncovered. That's just how it works.