Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Procrastinating Senate Majority Leader Is Bailed Out by Ted Cruz

Conventional wisdom over the last two days has coalesced around the idea that bumbling arch-conservative Ted Cruz misfired when he requested additional time for the Senate to be in session, because it allowed a bunch of liberal Obama judicial nominees to get confirmed.

Here are the headlines about this gambit:

  • Ted Cruz does it again (Politico)
  • Ted Cruz Just Did Obama a Big Favor (Slate)
  • Ted Cruz Gave Obama An Early Christmas Gift Over The Weekend (Business Insider)
  • Republicans blame Cruz for year-end confirmations (AP)
  • Did Ted Cruz Give Harry Reid One Last Victory? (Weekly Standard)
  • Ted Cruz just did a huge favor for Democrats (Vox)

This is from the AP:

Under the Senate's rules, Cruz's maneuver allowed Reid to begin the time-consuming process of confirming nominations on Saturday at noon - when lawmakers had been scheduled to be home for the weekend. 
Had Cruz not made his move when he did, according to officials in both parties, Reid would have had to wait until Monday night - more than 48 hours later. Disgruntled Republicans said they felt confident that Reid's rank and file would not have been willing to remain in Washington in that case, and only four or five nominees would be confirmed instead of 23.
Man, what a putz that guy Cruz is! Does he even know how to do politics?

But this view ignores the question of why Harry Reid waited until the very last days of the very last session of the 113th U.S. Congress to get the ball rolling on all these nominations.  It seems a little bit like maybe he was foot-dragging a bit.  Everyone's piling on Ted Cruz, but why did it take a knuckleheaded political move on Cruz's part for these nominations to come to the full Senate?

Too many Democrats seem to be happy to mock Ted Cruz for this, but are unwilling to direct ire at Harry Reid for cutting it so close in the first place.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Survey: Republicans Believe False Things

The title of this post is in reference to a Selzer poll conducted for Bloomberg Politics, described by Al Hunt.

Bloomberg Politics poll shows that on two controversial issues, the budget deficit and deporting illegal immigrants, the public believes Obama's critics–even though reality favors the president.
By 73 percent to 21 percent, the public says the federal budget deficit has gotten bigger during the Obama presidency.
It hasn't.
By 53 percent to 29 percent, Americans believe that Obama has sent fewer undocumented immigrants home than were deported a decade earlier.
He has sent more.

On the surface, this is a sad statement about the knowledge the American public has about news.  But digging a little deeper, one finds that one party in particular is driving the results here.

Republicans by an 8-to-1 ratio say the budget deficit has grown over the last six years; a smaller majority of independents and Democrats say that. Likewise, 66 percent of Republicans say there have been fewer deportations versus only 45 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of independents.

There are subjective questions polling firms ask about how politicians are handling economic crises, or if one approves of a politician, and I basically ignore them, because there is no right answer. It's just an opinion. But then there are questions about basic facts, which are like examinations of poll respondents.  It is no longer "what do you think of this?", it's "what do you know about this?".  And this survey shows that being a Republican is strongly correlated with not knowing about both the budget and current immigration policy.