John Tomasic: Hi again readers, debaters, tweeters. It’s nearly high noon, which means the air is soon to become thick with rhetorical gunsmoke. Independence Institute leader Jon Caldara isn’t with us this week. Sources say he’s busy looking for office Christmas parties to crash. So, we’re a person short, but we’re happy again to welcome Dan Haley, former Denver Post editorial page editor and now vice president of communications at EIS Solutions, and libertarian Republican lawyer-mom-comedian Jessica Peck. Independent columnist Mike Littwin is always here and he’s ready to start things off. Take it away, Mike.
Jessica Peck: Let’s do this thing!
Mike Littwin: Hi, all. I’m busy planning my first trip to Cuba. Or maybe I’ll just buy a Cuban cigar and leave it at that. But either way, let’s get to the presidential news, and whether the next president thinks Cuba is a good idea. The Jeb Bush news is really really really big, unless, of course, the idea of another Bush-Clinton race makes you throw up a little in your mouth. Really? Is this really the best we can do? Another Bush and another Clinton? Why not bring back Romney? Oh, we might bring back Romney? Anyway, two thoughts: One, Republicans are trying like crazy to wrap up the Republican primary season as quickly as possible. They’re going the Tancredo route — the fewer debates the better. They want to pick a winner who will be a winner. And then here comes Jeb announcing his intention to get into the race in December 2014, which is, if my calendar is right, 23 months ahead of the the 2016 elections. Two, Bush can’t possibly win, can he? Florida Republicans are saying that Bush is ultra-conservative, but his record isn’t what will matter. He’s moderate on key issues – immigration and Common Core. He talks moderate. He won’t call Clinton a feminazi. He won’t say anything about Obama and neocolonialism. I just don’t see it.
Peck: Hillary Clinton is a feminazi. It’s a fact. A real feminist would have kicked Bill to the curb and taken over the West Wing when she had the shot post-Monica.
Dan Haley: Nothing says political stagnation more than another Bush-Clinton race. Seriously, there’s been someone named Bush and/or Clinton on every single presidential ticket (except for 2008 when Hillary ran but lost and 2012) since 1988! In a nation of 300 million people, we can do better.
Haley: Bush governed as a conservative as governor of Florida and already the far right is tarring him as a – gasp – moderate. I think his last name hurts him more than his politics.
Littwin: We all agree, so how is this happening. Jeb, according to the Fix, comes in as the favorite. And Hillary is the overwhelming favorite. Shouldn’t we be doing something to put a stop to this?
Haley: I read somewhere — Twitter probably — that if you Google Jeb Bush you see an ad for Rand Paul. Genius. The election season never ends.
Where will the money line up? And don’t forget, Hillary was the “presumptive” nominee in 2008 until she wasn’t.
Littwin: I can say that Dick Cheney hurts Jeb Bush, who should say something anti-Cheney immediately, like he doesn’t plan to torture, say, Ted Cruz, although you could see the temptation.
Peck: Not to play thesaurus here, but what is a conservative in 2016? America is seeing an ongoing and unprecedented ideological shift to libertarianism. We bought the “compassionate conservative” line from GW Bush. Then 9/11 happened.
As Mike and I discussed on PBS recently, all polling shows that government intrusion into our personal lives is considered a top concern by voters.
Littwin: Yes, Hillary was the “presumptive” candidate until Barack Obama got into the race. There are no Barack Obamas that I can see. There’s barely even one in the White House. But I did read a fascinating scenario the other day. Martin O’Malley challenges Clinton in Iowa. Clinton wins, but she gets only 43 percent of the vote. They’re heading to New Hampshire, and people are panicking. (Remember this movie. LBJ in 1968.) And the draft Elizabeth Warren movement begins anew, and Warren comes in to play the Bobby Kennedy role. It’s far out (as people actually said in the ’60s) and you’d have to hope for a better ending, but it’s possible. I guess.
Haley: Oh no, funny torture jokes carry over from last week. I think Bush and Clinton have the infrastructure in place to be considered the front-runners. They will line up traditional money and traditional infrastructure. But is that enough these days? Is there a 2008 Barack Obama lurking out there? Elizabeth Warren?
Littwin: I think the problem libertarians face is that there are conservative libertarians and liberal libertarians and never shall the twain meet, at least not in a presidential election, unless you think Democrats are going to vote for Rand Paul over Hillary Clinton
Haley: Elizabeth Warren is untested. She’s won one race — as a Democrat in Massachusetts. We just went that route hiring an untested state senator from Illinois. Americans may be wise to that one. At least I hope they are.
Littwin: Elizabeth Warren won’t go away as a possible candidate because why would she? She’s getting tons of free ink and she’s getting her cause talked about and she’s turning into the liberal leader. This is all good for her, especially since she doesn’t have to run. She’d never challenge Clinton, I’m sure, unless Clinton were someone weakened by scandal. Oh, I forgot, that’s Bill. But here’s a dark horse: The national people keep bringing up Hickenlooper. I guess they must have missed the 2014 campaign. And the 2013 political season. Let’s say safely that Hick is going nowhere.
Haley: So if Americans are shifting toward libertarianism – small L – who would benefit in a presidential race?
The 2014 election was the first time Hickenlooper was forced back on his heels, and it wasn’t always pretty. How he would fare with the Washington press corps?
Peck: Another round of hear-no-evil, see-no-evil? Any number of candidates can still feign “anti-torture” when we all know that torturous acts will be kept secret until any president’s lame duck second half of his (or her) final term in office.
This is how it will unfold. Regardless of who actually wins.
1. Candidate X condemns torture.
2. Candidate X insists that American won’t torture anymore on his/her watch. If only we elect him.
3. Candidate X gets elected.
4.Candidate X-turned President says nothing about torture until six years into his presidential tenure.
5. Coalition of CIA/FBA (and insert remaining agencies involved) announces that we regret to inform the world that we accidentally tortured foreign nationals (but did so with the best of the intentions)
6. Candidate X-turned-President swears he didn’t say anything before’t because he didn’t even know that America was torturing people.
7. Candidate X-turned-President convenes blue ribbon commission devoted to the prevention of unnecessary clandestine torture in the future.
8. Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman proclaims that we can easily fix the problem. We just need more money. President praises Chairman for his selfless commitment to transparency and honor.
9. More money is given toward the “war against torture”.
9. Chairman runs for office. Chairman wins.
Littwin: The national press corps loves Hick. He charms the hell out of them. When the quirky thing is brand new, it is seductive. And, of course, when he talks the nonpartisan talk, that’s what everyone in dysfunctional Washington wants to hear. If he did have to deal with them, it would be all foot, all mouth.
Littwin: Now, that’s cheery. In other words, we’re doomed? Should we change the National Anthem to Won’t Get Fooled Again?
Haley: So cynical …
Haley: I suppose he can still do quirky, but I don’t think he can’t do the non-partisan thing with a straight face anymore. Not after 2013.
Peck: Heels? I see it now. “I’m John Hickenlooper. Pick me because I’ll be the first from Colorado to storm the capitol in stilettos.”
Haley: We haven’t had a good Colorado presidential run since Pat Schroeder’s flirtation in 88 ended in tears and Gary Hart’s ended with flirtation. So to speak.
Peck: I disagree Mike. The Washington Press Corps has largely forgotten about Hick. At least based on my own perceptions (and conversations) from a recent trek to DC for a post-election press corps dissection.
Hickenlooper needs to shake up his schtick even more than Kate Middleton needs to change her hair style.
Haley: What else is out there? Cuba?
Tomasic: With the “Hick in Heels” image in our heads like sugar plums… let’s move to a lightning-ish round: We just finished an exciting election year in swing state Colorado. We also saw gay marriage sprint toward the finish line and fracking-local control heat up as a major state and national issue. Who were the big #copolitics winners and losers?
Littwin: Let’s start with losers. More fun.
Peck: Republican candidates under 40 are the winners. They no longer have to whisper that they’re supporters of gay rights or pot legalization. It’s out of their hands now. The voters have spoken. Thus, young Republicans will be allowed to focus on economic issues instead of ridiculous social issues that only distract us from more important challenges. Democrats, meanwhile, will also be forced to focus on economic issues. And this is where there is a disconnect between the fiscal libertarianism of young voters and the fiscally liberal conventional Democratic party platform.
Haley: Once rising star Andrew Romanoff seems to have been relegated to the dustbin of history with his near double-digit loss to Mike Coffman. … Although did I see chatter of running him again in 2016? Better get a long term lease on that rental unit.
Peck: Poor Andrew. Maybe he can get a mortgage from that bank Beauprez used to own? But more seriously, his ads were beyond bad. Andrew, if you’re listening, please understand. We girls think you’re pretty cool. But we don’t like when you look into the TV camera and pledge to use your white/male/patriarch power to protect us weak little women back home. Give me a break. Listen to us for once.
Littwin: Here’s some losers. John Hickenlooper is both a winner and a loser. He actually beat Beauprez by a bigger margin than Gardner beat Udall. But it was Beauprez, who lost by 17 points to Ritter. Meanwhile, as Hick ran his positive campaign, the outside money for him was all negative. It’s a win-lose.
Then, of course, Andrew Romanoff, who got clobbered in what was supposed to be the closest race in the country. What went wrong? Everything. It all started when he ran against Michael Bennet in the Dem primary. Nearly every negative thing Mike Coffman said about him came from the Bennet campaign. So Romanoff ran against Coffman and Bennet. And lost badly, meaning he’ll have to find something to do until he can figure how to be comeback player of the year.
And, finally, Tom Tancredo. I wrote long ago, and many times since, that Tancredo would never win a statewide race. Now he has finally proved it. Go away, Tom. Please.
Haley: What about Udall? Clearly one of the biggest “losers” in 2014. Again, I think it was another poorly run campaign focusing too much on women’s issues. Had he been driving around in that truck a little earlier, it might have helped. I think The Post’s harpooning his campaign has the final nail.
Haley: Man, I hope Obamacare covers your sick obsession with Tancredo. It never ends. I forgot he was even running. It was so long ago. Tanc won’t go away because you won’t let him. You two need each other. I secretly think your BFFs.
Tomasic: Who gets the “Best Comeback 2014” trophy? Ken Buck? Colorado Republican Party? Phil Anschutz?
Peck: The U.S. Supreme Court should ban blue ribbon commissions. If they could.
Too many reports. Not enough time. Blue Ribbon Commissions and agency investigative reports are the greatest sham in politics today. Both position would be candidates with built-in reform platforms.
Running this nation by consensus is a sign of weakness and effectively only encourages political nepotism and backdoor transfers of power.
Haley: Ken Buck gets the award for Right Place, Right Time. He was preparing for another tough run at Udall and just fell into the 4th CD race when Cory jumped into the Senate race. He landed a bed of feathers and now can likely be congressman for life if he wants to.
Peck: Hick didn’t win because he was positive. He won because he ran a stealth campaign and Beauprez only rarely engaged him in the public sphere. Ironically, it was the quietest race in the state.
Littwin: If Anschutz brings back the Rocky, he can retire the award. Ken Buck gets the Luckiest Man Since Ringo award. He was set to lose to Udall by 10 points in the U.S. Senate race when he and Gardner brokered the backroom deal for Gardner to get into the Senate race and give Buck the free ride to Congress from the 4th District. Another candidate would be Udall, who spent his time after his election disaster as one of the stars in the torture debate, ripping Obama, Brennan and everyone else associated.
Peck: And just think! Once northern Colorado becomes its own state, the 4th CD will be split into two.
Haley: I think the Senate race sucked up a lot of the political air. Hick’s insistence that he ran a clean race is just laughable. Anyone can run a clean race when your friends are pounding your opponent on TV all day and all night. They came after Beauprez late in the game and he didn’t have the cash to defend himself properly. All told, Beauprez was outspent three to one and lost by a few percentage points.
Peck: But wait. Maybe the White House really did fear Udall. Poor Menstruating Mark.
It’s really sad that he floundered after a very quiet and largely successful U.S. Senate tenure.
Littwin: If the 4th CD is split in two, how does the math work? Do we now have 3 2nd CDs?
Haley: Speaking of Ringo, Rock n Roll of Fame?? For Snickeroo??
Peck: Beauprez would have won if he had refrained from the whole “I’ve got to run again because I must fulfill my destiny” line. While the GOP “came together” and rallied for him when in public, it’s clear that voters didn’t buy it when it came time to fill out his ballot.
Littwin: Let’s just say John is rolling over in his grave?
Haley: Yes, clearly some R crossover votes for Hick, for whatever the reason. Many just stayed on his ship from 2010.
Littwin: Beauprez was a terrible candidate who couldn’t win in the best possible Republican year. I’m saying, Hick lucked out with his opponent. Again.
Tomasic: I’m raising an eggnog to all of our comeback kids. Now in a total departure, because working unfamiliar ground helps you grow: What’s the best non-political story of the year?
Littwin: Are there non-political stories? Is fracking non-political? How about twerking?
Peck: Kim Kardashian breaking the Internet? If only her iPhone and selfies were broken in the process.
Haley: There may be non-partisan stories, but few non-political stories that don’t involve Taylor Swift. Seriously. Problems in the NFL? Political. College football playoff? Political. Cuba? Political. ISIS? Political. GMOs? Political. The Rocky returning? Political.
Tomasic: Apparently even the idea of nonpolitical stories stumps the debaters! The sand in the hourglass is running out fast. Predictions for 2015?
Littwin: They’re going to start the college football playoffs and end the NCAA in the same year. What more could you ask for?
Haley: Only those of us who don’t go to Seth Rogen movies will make it to 2015.
Peck: Did we just have an entire political conversation about Colorado that DIDN’T involve pot. Who know that pot could be so. . . .so . . . . mainstreaming and boring. #winning!
Littwin: First prediction: Though I may go to Cuba, I’m not going to North Korea, no matter what Seth Rogen says.
But here’s the most obvious one for Colorado: The fracking committee fails. The legislature doesn’t act. Oil prices continue to fall. The issue starts to seem not so important. It goes to the ballot anyway. Oil people desperately wish they’d compromised when they could.
Haley: Predictions for 2015: The governor’s oil and gas task force ends without issuing substantive recommendations for whatever problem it is that they’re trying to solve. We can buy Cuban cigars, but then the do-gooders start slapping “nutritional labels” on them. The Broncos win the Super Bowl and Peyton retires but stays in Denver to run his pizza joints, which are wildly successful because of all of the potheads. There you go, Jessica. Pot.
Peck: Part I: No less than 5,000 Blue Ribbon Committees will be commissioned. Part II: the committees will bore the press corps. Thus they will be dissolved.
Littwin: Jessica, great point. We didn’t become Amsterdam. If we didn’t have the mountains (and the Broncos), we’d barely be Kansas City.
Peck: Oops. Meanstream. Not mainstreaming.
Littwin: Gordon Klingenschmitt, Dr. Chaps, your newest and weirdest legislator since at least Doug Bruce. I predict that by January, he will exorcise a photographer.
Peck: Prediction: Colorado will continue to be populated with extremely brilliant, good looking, funny political pundits. For sure..
Tomasic: Now that’s a prediction we can all get behind! Thanks all for your quick-draw wit. We’ll be taking the next two holiday Wednesdays off. See you all again here and on the Twitter and Facebook machines on January 7th, the day the Colorado legislature starts back up. Cheers!
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Jessica Peck is a libertarian Republican lawyer-mom-comedian best known as the founder and sacred leader of Jessicaterrianism, the world-watched global phenomenon changing the way people think about politics.
Dan Haley is vice president of communications at EIS Solutions, a Colorado public relations firm and was Editorial Page Editor at the Denver Post, after being an editorial writer, assistant city editor and news reporter.
John Tomasic is managing editor at The Colorado Independent. He has been a writer, editor, reporter, webguy, ghost in the machine for all kinds of journalism publications in the era of the Great News-Media Transition.