Tales from the Trail

Bejeebers! A scary fiscal outlook and Tea Party politics

Tackling huge budget deficits and growing debt is essential for the United States to avoid a financial market crisis that would push interest rates higher and severely damage the U.S. economy, many economists have warned.

Compromise and statesmanship will be needed to cut spending and raise revenues to narrow the budget gap, and that might not be possible inUSA-ELECTIONS/TEAPARTY the current political environment, says at least one experienced budget expert.

“We’re certainly going to have a more fiscally conservative Congress next year,” Rudolph Penner, a former Congressional Budget Office director told a U.S. Chamber of Commerce forum.  “The Tea Party, if nothing else, has certainly moved both the Republicans and Democratic Party to the right.”

However, that may not translate into a deficit-reducing budget deal that can pass the House of Representatives and the Senate and then get signed by President Barack Obama, he said.

“A real problem here is that the Tea Party is going to scare the bejeebers out of any Republican that is talking about compromise for fear of what will happen in the next primary,” Penner said. “There is no way we’re going to get out of this problem without a compromise between the two parties.”

Barack and Jon, together again, on The Daily Show next week

First he gave an unexpected endorsement to Jon Stewart’s upcoming “Rally to Restore Sanity.” Now President Barack Obama is giving the host of the satirical talk show the ultimate television “get” — himself as a guest.

OBAMA/Obama will appear on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” on Wednesday, Oct. 27, in the middle of a week of special episodes taped in Washington ahead of the Nov. 2 midterm elections. It all culminates with a Saturday rally on the National Mall.

The Washington episodes – to air Oct. 25 – Oct. 28 – are called “When Grizzlies Attack: A ‘Daily Show’ Midterm Teapartyganza.” That’s a reference to the conservative Tea Party political movement and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin referring to conservative women politicians as “Mama Grizzlies.”

US Justice Thomas’ wife calls Anita Hill

Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas acknowledges that she made a call to Anita Hill‘s office at Brandeis University last weekend.

An ABC News blog said Mrs. Thomas left a message asking Hill to consider apologizing for “what you did with my husband.”anita

Hill was the law professor at the center of Clarence Thomas’ 1991 confirmation hearings scandal. She publicly accused him of making sexually inappropriate comments when she was his aide at the Equal Employment Opportunity Office. Thomas blasted  the proceedings as “a high-tech lynching.”

Washington Extra – A belief in tea, and the Constitution

The Tea Party takes pride in its belief in the importance and centrality of the Constitution of the United States. Indeed, Senate Republican candidate Christine O’Donnell has been reported as referring to the document as a “covenant” based on “divine principles”.

So there was some disbelieving laughter from the audience in Delaware today when O’Donnell showed she did not know the contents of the First Amendment. “Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” she asked Democratic opponent Chris Coons. OBAMA/

“The First Amendment does?” O’Donnell went on to ask. “Let me just clarify: You’re telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?” Watch the whole eight-minute exchange here, part of a debate about whether schools should teach intelligent design or evolution.

O’Donnell has question on U.S. Constitution – where does it say separation of church and state?

Republican Christine O’Donnell has a question: where in the Constitution does it say separation of Church and State?

And she is genuinely amazed that the issue is addressed in the First Amendment.

The moment was captured during a debate at Widener Law School in Wilmington and quickly spread through the blogosphere.

Political Surrogate Smackdown!

USA/You can tell it’s autumn in Washington: the leaves are changing color, Congress has flown away and the political surrogates are in full cry. For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon, the full cry of the surrogate can often be heard from coast to coast — or at least from Broadway to Reno, Nevada.

Surrogates can do things the candidates can’t, sparring with words most candidates don’t use in places some candidates wouldn’t go. That’s why they’re fun to watch when they figuratively put up their dukes in the struggle before the November 2 vote.

At a Broadway theater on Monday night, Michelle Obama got a glitzy introduction from Sarah Jessica Parker of “Sex and the City” fame, who called the first lady “a role model, an inspiration” and a woman who “doesn’t need a pair of heels to stand tall.”

Media relations eclipse rhetoric as bare-knuckle politics

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The campaign rhetoric couldn’t be harsher, what with the talk about who’s a whore and who’s a nut job and who cheated on who’s ex-wife. (Remember when ‘who’ was just the guy on first?)

But nowadays the real bare-knuckle politics appears to be between the candidates and the news media.

Take the Senate campaign in Alaska. Tea Party Republican Joe Miller won’t talk to the press about his past as a public official. And when a journalist wouldn’t stop asking about it over the weekend, Miller’s private security team intervened.

Political insider still “in” in New York governor’s race

carl1New York voters are plenty angry. But apparently they’re not so comfortable with “scary-angry” and that could be costing Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino some support, The New York Times reports.

According to a New York Times poll released on the eve of their Monday night debate, Democrat Andrew Cuomo has opened a big lead over Paladino, 59 percent to 24 percent.

Fifty-nine percent of voters said Paladino did not have the right temperament and personality to be a good governor.  Fifty-five percent said the real estate developer who’s never held public office did not have the right kind of experience.

O’Donnell: Not a witch but maybe a nut job?

USA-POLITICS/MCCAINLike father, like daughter?

Meghan McCain, the outspoken daughter of Senator John McCain, showed her father’s outspoken tendencies as she described Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell of Delaware as a “nut job”.

“Christine O’Donnell is making a mockery of running for public office,” Meghan McCain said of her father’s fellow Republican, who recently ran an ad declaring, “I’m not a witch.”

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” McCain said  Tea Party favorite O’Donnell “has no real history, no real success in any kind of business.”

When Harry Reid met Sharron Angle

Anyone expecting to see a smack-down in the desert would have been disappointed.
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The first and only debate in the high stakes Senate race between Nevada Democrat Harry Reid and Republican challenger Sharron Angle ended with both candidates still standing.

But there were plenty barbs as the Senate Majority Leader and the Tea Party-backed former state legislator met face-to-face Thursday night in Las Vegas.

In the hour-long debate, Reid called her “extreme.” Angle repeatedly referred to him as “Harry Reid” and portrayed him as a tax-raising, career politician.