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Archive for March, 2012

In light of Mitt Romney’s absence from the stage tonight, we cannot issue a full ballot of Primary Awards. However, one standout deserves recognition. Rick Santorum not only clinched both the Mississippi and Alabama primaries, but he made a distinct rhetorical choice: he did not mention divisive social issues at all in his victory speech. Instead, he appeared to be taking the advice of Chris Matthews, who suggested on air last week to the campaign’s top adviser that the former Pennsylvania senator stay away from talk of contraception and religion, rather sticking to jobs, populism, and the economy. This is exactly what Santorum did — even though one could imagine he could have more easily done so in the context of these Deep South audiences. Talk about his immigrant grandfather and his big hands working in the coal mine, Matthews advised John Brabender. “Get off the social issues. Somebody got the memo. (Santorum also debuted a new campaign placard as his backdrop: “Made in America.”)

If Santorum maintains this position, presenting a stark populist contrast with the awkward, patrician Romney, he is on a potential path to the nomination.

Postscript: Newt Gingrich does deserve the MadMen Self Promotion Advertising Award recognition for his mention of one Samuel Samford, an unemployed man who took the Speaker up on his appeal to donate 1 gallon of “Newt Gas” at the imaginary price of $2.50 per gallon. A-la Ronald Reagan, Newt closed his speech with a tribute to Mr. Samford, who did just that, and whom Newt gave a personal phone call to thank him for donating $2.50. Great speechifying, but his campaign is done.

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My small contribution today to POLITICO’s forum on the legacy of Dennis Kucinich, who lost his primary bid last night to Marcy Kaptur. I frequently interviewed Kucinich during the Iraq War period, when he was active of course as one of the fiercest opponents of the Bush administration.

Among Kucinich’s unorthodox strategies at the time was scheduling a poetry slam for members of Congress, almost eight years ago to the day. I covered this event for CQ and recall it fondly; it also marked the first time those venerable pages included a news story written in rhyme. Hence I included a farewell haiku on POLITICO, though I’m not sure how many people will catch the 5-7-5!

Here is my original Kucinich verse, from 2003:

There were two MC’s from Ohio

Kucinich and Kaptur by name

They’re not for the war

As they say on the floor

In rhetoric hot and aflame.

To bolster their passionate pleading

On Wednesday they called in some friends

To Longworth we ran

For a poetry slam

And all the transcendence it lends.

Here’s W.S. Merwin, Pulitzer winner

Reading Ogres and speaking his mind

He says Bush “deceives” 

With immoral motives

And now we’re in one awful bind.

Kucinich reads Yeats’ Second Coming

“The center cannot hold.”

John Conyers gets raucous, says “let’s form a caucus”

Poetry’s good for the soul!

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The outbursts of malignant misogynist rhetoric from Rush Limbaugh, aimed at the Georgetown 3L woman who testified before Congress on women’s health issues have truly moved beyond the pale. Read my thoughts here on POLITICO.

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My thoughts today in POLITICO on Sen. Olympia Snowe’s surprise decision to not seek re-election. Snowe said that in her view, the political process is fundamentally broken and suggests there is simply no room left for moderates in the Senate GOP.

I was privileged to interview her many times while writing for Congressional Quarterly during the Iraq War, when she was one of only a handful of Republicans who dared to raise questions about Bush administration policies. She was a diligent, intelligent, and independent legislator, and will be missed.

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