where to buy viagra on the high street zoloft 50 mg a day el costo de cialis priligy per nachnahme bestellen accutane whartisthebestin canada kamagra generic viagra 100 mg sildenafil what is mexican viagra where to buy viagra in broadmeadows melbourne 1500 mg metformin with pcos buying cialis 80 mg powder cheap free herbal viagra viagra viagra wellbutrin 150 mg and zoloft 50 mg cialis 5mg bph cipro manufacturers india pregnant on 6th round of clomid reviews viagra drugs in chennai is zithromax safe for infants body by vi canada order viagra rxlr generic viagra diflucan and nursing price cialis daily use order cialis 20mg metformin in stroke canadian no prescription prednisone generico del viagra en colombia donde zithromax over the counter in bangkok can you take clomid whilst breastfeeding cialis 5 mg ervaringen camping best price on viagra at walgreens buy generic viagra 139 free delivery cialis 50mg tadalafil finasteride buy online cipla when to take metformin for best results san juan puerto rico purchase viagra doxycycline 100 mg bladder infection ringing in ears zithromax dosage doxycycline hyclate india green tablets cialis 10 mg dividere he usado 6 pastillas cytotec viagra means in urdu is clomid available in south africa what is walgreens retail cost for cialis 5 mg metamizol 500 mg tropfen dosierung viagra doxycycline dosage for severe acne how quickly does viagra kick in metformin leaves a taste in my mouth cialis legal in japan employment specialist jobs in cleveland ohio melatonina pura 5 mg controindicazioni viagra zithromax 200 mg difference between metformin and avandia generic name role of ciprotreatment of chl infection in men viagra original kaufen schweiz generic viagra online pharmacy reviews pantoloc 40 mg wirkung viagra viagra kaufen in regensburg clomid bodybuilding uk supplements generic cialis buy australia comprar viagra en forma discreta does japan sell viagra over the counter mechanism of action of prednisone in cancer buy finasteride uae inderal canada zoloft for teen depression 12 5 mg how often can you take a 4 mg dose pack of prednisone propecia cost in mexico can you take viagra and extenze together boots chemist cost of viagra viagra the facts safe order cialis canada zithromax online uk degrees apodefil sildenafil 50 mg duracion generics viagra in philippines can u get high off of doxycycline hyclate vasque taku gtx womens reviews on cialis doxycycline prix belgique price difference sertraline zoloft prednisolone 15 mg 5 ml espanol can i take propecia with high blood pressure doxycycline tablets boots furosemide lasix price best time take clomid tablets doxycycline 100 mg pregnancy modula cialis over the counter how many errections can a man gey in viagra viagra pills in new zealand cani buy propranolol anxiety online buying viagra over the counter in france can we buy cialis in singapore chlamydia doxycycline treatment dosage brooks ghost 8 womens reviews on viagra viagra buy edmonton will clomid cause gyno top facialist in nyc how to score viagra in kl viagra bd price puedo comprar cytotec sin receta cialis india walmarts pharmacy viagra price finasteride 5mg h 37 price prescription propecia wac pricing for generics for zoloft farmaco generico del diflucan cialis super active paypal accounts how long does it take for cialis 20 mg to kick in generic cialis online price indian viagra hyderabad concentration of ampicillin in agar plate zithromax 250 mg dosage chlamydia test how soon after you take clomid do you ovulate ethinyl estradiol acetate de ciproterona selene costume can fertile woman take clomid what is the medicine doxycycline used for noex 50 mg generico do viagra lasix dosage medscape causes of clomid failure accutane prescription price glucophage 1000 mg leaflet how often do you take priligy propranolol er 80 mg capsule chinese cialis 100mg reviews doxycycline 100 mg cost in india viagra reviews uk ciproxin hc ear drops buy shop canadian cialis viagra tadalafil price in bangladesh clomid twins percentage diflucan one dose buy online se toma cialis 5 mg viagra to get confidence back review on thirty day cialis socialist realist painting popular titles nolvadex paypal betalen nolvadex for sale manila clomid for sale in london cheapest place to get clomid cialis 20 mg oder 10 mg fda approved viagra in india american liquid viagra can i take doxycycline once a day priligy generico comprar carro jcb 540 140 for sale in uk zithromax viagra online sales pfizer reviewson viagra difference in prednisone and methylprednisolone viagra brand name drug how to get clomid without prescription in south africa accidentally took 40 mg of prednisone latisse generic cheap cialis cialis break in half clomid 50 mg gravidanza what is the generic drug for viagra rough nose accutane cost azithromycin 250 mg zithromax prednisone 10 mg dosage directions ovaire multifolliculaire et clomid online buy viagra from local store sacramento metformin hydrochloride sustained release how much potassium for lasix 20 mg el ciprofloxacino causa gastritis amoxil antibiotic price brand cialis online pharmacy cialis generico pago contrareembolso viagra tablets features what say the law in the uk for the clomid sildenafil in sri lanka can you buy viagra over the counter in wallgreens can you take viagra and testosterone diflucan in australia over the counter perth cialis buy in europe priligy 30mg e 60 mg adderall xr propranolol 10 mg 3 times a day in medical terms doxycycline time in system viagra from united states viagra cost nz is 5 mg prednisone enough for a gout flare counterfeit cialis review what is the best time to take cytotec safety of uses of spray viagra 100 mg viagra how long does it take to work order generic cialis canada purchasing viagra usa buy generic viagra 50mg online timer usn master training specialist recommendation taper prednisone 40 mg counseling credit generic viagra cialis 20 mg is ok if drink vodka with that why am i not getting pregnant with clomid super x vega sildenafil 100mg uk 20 mg cialis effects on pregnancy intazin 10 mg prednisone how long does it take to be prescribed clomid buying cialis at a pharmacy. viagra pfizer 100mg canada viagra on line generico brand cialis with free postage tadalafil generico 5 mg preise viagra 100mg sildenafil generico in italia para que se usa doxycycline hyclate 100mg espanol sildenafil symphar 50 mg cena achat cialis paypal euro brand name of glimepiride with metformin what to buy lasix herbal viagra green pill comprar viagra online en chile se inderal 10 mg vs valium 10mg nolvadex 60 count 20 mg was ist brand viagra cheap overnight cialis ejertol sildenafil 50 mg clomid 75mg success stories buy diflucan using paypal can i take viagra with norvasc prednisone 30 mg for 5 days dapoxetine poxet 60 generico do viagra da eurofarma peru metformin review nature box metformin buy online india cuantas pastillas usar de cytotec how long will cialis be in your system is cipro safe for stage 3 kidney disease urology specialist in pleasanton ciproxina comprimidos 250 mg prednisolone liquid strength story amoxil capsules 500 mg viagra from soho london can you buy viagra over the counter in malaysia yahoo does doxycycline treat genital herpes where to buy finasteride and minoxidil metformin 1000 mg ohne rezept ciprofloxacin 500 mg compared to z pack cipro cut in half does finasteride cause liver problems buy viagra or cilas cialis blue round alp 40 mg generic options for accutane cialis generika rezeptfrei bestellen doxycycline acne medication yahoo review natural dht blockers vs propecia cialis generic can elevate psa buy prednisone sold in the united kingdom soft viagra quick delivery clomid tablets information in urdu usar viagra sem necessidade retail price of cialis 5mg trusted pill online buy viagra usa prices of viagra in toronto lovenox price generic viagra farmacie online sicure cialis dosage kelnor generic form of zoloft viagra 100 india sildenafil 50 mg farmacia del ahorro viagra cost per pill at walmart vodelan tabletas de 500 mg metformin prednisone 20 mg po zithromax purchase online canada can i put prednisolone in juice why use lasix can you take doxycycline for gum infection viagra ersatz ohne rezept kaufen viagra auf mallorca kaufen no prescription cialis in united states propecia reviews in women safest viagra alternative safe use zovirax while pregnant best cold medicine to take with zoloft ciproxin da 250 mg soglie in pietra per finasteride accutane causes nosebleeds donde comprar cytotec en morelos is 1mg of tadalafil equal to 1 mg of cialis purchase viagra from tesco how long does prednisone injection stay in your system tadalafil et paypal keflex and prednisone viagra in nashville metformin dangerous in pregnancy getting pregnant on clomid alone buying clomid on the internet genuine cialis in singapore viagra australia do u need a prescription balboa press positive reviews of zoloft viagra online sell old night shipping india generic viagra buy one viagra price per pill usa donde comprar viagra en chile sin receta que contiene el amoxil 500 effects of sildenafil can u take viagra two days in a row tadalafil for sale from india zithromax out of pocket cost user reviews of ciprofloxacin viagra for men how can i get in kuwait where to buy clomid without prescription in london female viagra at low cost at chennai can you get doxycycline over the counter in canada cialis for women costs how much is cialis cost is diflucan an over the counter medication how to treat doxycycline sun rash tadalafil 2.5mg price in delhi ampicillin sodium generic name guantes de vinilo donde comprar viagra can you get viagra over counter ciprofloxacino 500 mg saval viagra 20mg online web md generic cialis zovirax ophthalmic ointment buy viagra for sale usa cheap authentic viagra viagra online bestellen legal guardianship viagra of india clomid canada online azotek 500 mg metformin price compare cialis viagra or dogmatil 500 mg metformin purchase prednisolone online plant viagra in abudhabi generic propecia out yet best zoloft paxil best organic form of viagra will viagra gold 800 my really work best propecia online azamun 50 mg viagra is there hcg in clomid new generic cialis costo de pastillas cytotec en colombia comen remedio levoid 50 mg zoloft can you buy doxycycline brand name for ampicillin and sulbactam cialis safe after stroke alternative al viagra in erboristeria i frutti doxycycline perioral dermatitis efecto de sildenafil 50 mg cloxacillin capsules bp 500 mg metformin name in englis of tadalafilo motiron 10 mg bivirkninger av zoloft sildenafil citrate review picolax suppositories 10 mg prednisone doxycycline 250 mg tablets and jock itch buy viagra in saudi aribia viagra buy tablets priligy whartisthebestin no prescription viagra 25 versus 50 mg cialis 2.5 mg erfahrungen propecia price at boots is it safe to take viagra after heart buypass google fulvestrant generico de cialis how to use in urdu viagra tablets for men ovulation douloureuse avec clomid side effect of long in take of clomid deformed babies from accutane reviews finasteride for hair growth accutane initial breakout 30 mg oxycontin diflucan 150 mg tabs fluconazole hasta que semana puedo usar cytotec can i take two pills of cialis 20 mg zoloft therapeutic dose viagra chi lo ha usato nick villarreal la viagra femenina kamagra cialis biz review zithromax 500 mg indicaciones de ratas viagra blood pressure effects mindiab metformin dosage generic one a day cialis generic metformin zydus phar about zoloft 50 mg doxycycline liquid online zoloft metallic taste in mouth can you use doxycycline for a staph infection viagra usa bestellen can doxycycline be used for strep what time of day is best for taking zoloft diflucan fluconazole cheap diflucan online purchase ukrainian can you use cipro eye drops in the ear costo viagra 100 grammi low dose prednisolone apo prednisone 5mg buy generic cialis in uk side effect of doxycycline bp 100 mg is hair loss 30 mg of prednisone daily with vibramycin how much does nolvadex cost thailand prednisone liquid dosage chart when to take tadalafil 20mg is the generic propecia as effective comprar finasteride generico accutane 40 mg dosage rua sesamo generico do viagra buy clomid tablets from the uk how many viagra is it safe to take in 24 hours cialis 50 mg precio weight gain on 50 mg zoloft for depression lasix baownbeuv cost zovirax dispersable 400 mg para que sirve donde comprar viagra en guadalajara mexico zovirax 200 mg tabletter mot zoloft safety risk pregancy herbal clomid uk sandoz finasteride australia biochemistry of prednisone buy sildenafil no prescription uk safe withdrawal of propranolol only been taking 8wks prednisone in bloodstream liquid viagra recipe chinese viagra in redbox cialis 20 mg com 8 comprimidos lasix 25 mg compresse furosemide prezzo 20 mg viagra cost are cialis from canada safe tab finasteride 1mg india viagra vs kaboom reviews where to buy viagra in singapore airport getting viagra in mexico doxycycline can be taken with milk emblema de remedios generic viagra ciprofloxacin in verbindung mit der pille buy diflucan 100 mg prescription pepcid 20 mg dosing of cipro zoloft in liquid prednisone 10 mg tablets weight loss doxycycline uses in treatment of kennel cough in dog what does viagra and cialis cost prednisone lasts in body generic cialis ervaringen anti online pharmacy india viagra safety how to get viagra sample cialis 80 mg does it existe is clomid safe to use 25 mg viagra generic where to buy propecia in ireland viagra used to work how do you know real viagra metformin mg 500 er weight loss cialis 20 mg 8 tablet fiyati cytotec donde lo puedo comprar where to liquid sildenafil in ladies ciprofloxacin 250 mg 100 count bottle generic cialis with dapoxetine online socialist party usa article price of clomid in mercury purchase cialis on the net sildenafil tablets from india buy viagra paypal australia metformin 500 mg ivf clomid to treat low testosterone in men 10 mg cialis lasts generic finasteride vs propecia safe to drink while on zoloft how soon to take cialis sildenafil patent australia prednisolone liquid enema for kids que es el amoxil prezzo farmacia viagra generico in farmacia tadalafil generico overnight shipping cialis generic cheap generic finasteride uk national lottery where buy cialis inverness metformin hydrochloride india order cialis online no prescription canada doxycycline safe breastfeeding viagra 100 how to use is viagra safe to take before surgery does lilly manufacturer cialis in turkey se requiere receta para comprar cytotec cialis dosage mims glucophage egg quality best cost for accutane 30 mg zovirax cream in india can 100 mg of doxycycline cause pregnancy symptoms dose of cialis for ed comprare clomid online inderal para se usa come comprare pillole cialis twins run in family and on clomid but not ovulating doxycycline buy in eu viagra generico in farmacia quando a chuva walgreens viagra 100mg cost 5 mg inderal metformin pregnancy risk viagra costs per pill usa does viagra cause nosebleeds zithromax cost dosierung capval 25 mg zoloft viagra patent expiring touteleurope sildenafil 50 mg y licor buy cialis in tesco costco mx viagra price propecia india helpline viagra india cart what is the cost of generic viagra doxycycline in veterinary aluprex zoloft generic name prednisone 20 mg three times a day pantyhose best online pharmacies for generic cialis use of viagra in industry cialis 15 mg first time 36 hr dosage name of some viagra in hyderabad 300 mg of viagra Kiwipolitico » Blog Archive » Legislators versus representatives (or, how Scott Brown is about to get schooled).

Legislators versus representatives (or, how Scott Brown is about to get schooled).

datePosted on 16:37, January 21st, 2010 by Pablo

Former Cosmopolitan Magazine nude pinup boy Scott Brown’s victory in the special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat is a body blow to the Democrats and Obama administration, especially with regard to its attempts at healthcare reform. The pundits have already well dissected the reasons for the first GOP senatorial victory in Massachusetts since Edward Brooke’s tenure ended in 1979. Voter anger with the Washington “establishment,” the role of the Tea party movement, the arrogance and complacency of the Coakley campaign–all of these factors made for a decisive electoral shift that will have significant repercussions outside of the state in which the original tea party took place. That much is clear.

But what have the good people of Massachusetts got for their preference? For one thing, they have a rookie Senator who has no national-level experience at all and just ten years of legislative experience in a very liberal state. Nor does he have any executive experience. In fact, Barack Obama looks like an elder statesman in terms of previous experience when compared to the male model-turned politician. Moreover, Brown has been elected at a time of extraordinary anti-politician and anti-Washington sentiment that, even if born out of the mistakes of commission and omission of the Bush 43 administration, have seemingly been compounded by his successor. This has made for a highly volitile political climate that in turn has made extraordinarily attractive his vague populist appeals as a Washington “outsider,” something that traditionally resonates with a disgruntled electorate (and boy, are they disgruntled now!).

Why this matters is because of the arena in which he is about to enter. Much more so than in parliamentary systems (where party discipline and hierarchy often supersede the representational mandate, especially when List MPs are involved), elected officials representing states at the national level in the US Congress fulfill two roles: that of representatives and legislators. On the one hand, they represent the interests of their constituents, be it district (US House of Representatives) or state-wide (US Senate). This role is played up during electoral campaigns (hence Mr. Brown’s claim that he is a “Brown Republican” who will independently champion the interests of his state), and is much more important for US House representatives who are elected every two years. Senators, in contrast and by design, elected every six years and representing state-wide interests that can be quite heterogenous and often competing, tend to limit their appeals to the representative role to election season. Either way, that is only half of the equation.

Once in office, US congressmen and women become legislators. That means that they need to engage in the political bargaining and understanding of national-level issues as well as those that most immediately impact their individual constituencies. Sometimes these two levels of engagement–national and local–run against each other. The congressional legislator, by the nature of the US political process, must steer towards compromise rather than principle in most instances given the competing interests at play. Thus the legislator role often is at odds with the representative role, which is part of the reason why the Founding Fathers designed the two-chamber Congress (in order to allow the Senate to overcome the populist tendencies of House members). 

This is where Scott Brown is about to be schooled. As a novice Senator he will be at the bottom of the congressional pecking order. His appointment to committees, which is determined by a mix of seniority, trade-offs and patronage, will depend largely on how he “gets along” with his fellow Senators (committee work being the most important aspect of a senator’s job, as it is in committee where all bills are first considered). Since his victory is owed more to the tea bag movement and conservative media support rather than than of the GOP bloc in Congress, he is walking into a forum without much political cover. Moreover, he is a moderate Republican (for example, he supports abortion rights) in a party increasingly dominated by non-elected conservative fundamentalists. Sure, he will be lionised by the Republican National Committee and congressional bloc at first. But once the hard work of legislating begins, his representative appeal will have to take a back seat to the back room wheeling and dealing of which legislation is made (recall the old adage that the two things one never wants to see being made is sausage and US legislation). As a minority state senator in a one-party state like Massachusetts he has some notion of what that entails, but if he is to be more than a one-term Senator, he will have to lift his game exponentially given the national stage he is now playing on.

All of which means that his anti-Washington, anti-healthcare appeal, which was essentially a negative campaign about who he was not and what he opposed, now has to be transformed into a practice of pragmatic compromise and centrism unless, of course, he is hoping that GOP majorities will be restored in both Houses in the November 2010 mid-term elections. But even if that occurs, he still has to downplay his representative role in favor of his legislative obligations, at least until he is up for re-election. In a political moment where disenchantment and resentment is rampant throughout the electorate, that may turn out to be far harder than running a dark horse campaign against a lackluster opponent. But if he favours the representative role over the legislator role now that he is in office, he runs the risk of alienating his Senate colleagues and consequently be rendered hopelessly ineffectual in delivering on his promises. Either way, he has his work cut out for him, and his good looks are of no use in that context.

PS: Among many other things I will leave for the moment the conservative movement penchant for photogenic poster people over those with substantive political experience, or the potentially  (seemingly counter-intuitive) negative implications this outcome has for any NZ-US trade deal.

categoryPosted in Democracy, Parliament, USA | printPrint

28 Responses to “Legislators versus representatives (or, how Scott Brown is about to get schooled).”

  1. Bruce Hamilton on January 21st, 2010 at 17:15

    Thanks for that interesting perspective. Have you any feeling for how new Senators would be trained?. Do they have mentors, are there a diverse range factions that they can choose from, or can they be loners?. Presumably he will want to ensure he is visible on the national stage as well as local.

    If he wants to become prominent, how long will it take for him to be accepted ( in Terms served? ).

  2. Pablo on January 21st, 2010 at 17:30

    Bruce: My understanding is the senior members of his party will mentor him. He will also be given advice by the RNC on the how and who of office staffing (including issues such as “cloture” and who is allowed to enter first into the Senate elevators), although he will obviously bring his own close aides from MA. The trouble with mentoring is that it leads to dependency on the mentor and his/her projects and clout, which in turn leads the junior member to often adopt positions contrary to his/her representative role and which make him/her seem like the puppet of the senior member. In Brown’s case, should he fall under the sway of a more conservative GOP Senator, then he could be seen as moving away (in fact, betraying) the moderate principles he advocated while in state office and during the campaign. Two terms (12 years) usually allows people to get up to speed and comfortable in Senate office, which also allows them to develop seniority as retirement and election defeat take their toll on senior members.

    One big problem for Brown is that the other Senator from MA, John Kerry, is very senior and very hostile to him, which means that even GOP senators are unlikely to seriously cross swords with Kerry on areas where he and Brown are in opposition (including healthcare, where Kerry has taken over Ted Kennedy’s mantle as a “reasonable centrist” on the issue, while Brown appears to have taken his talking points from Glen Beck).

  3. Tom Semmens on January 22nd, 2010 at 07:41

    People are on the right in the US are talking about a Petraeus/Palin ticket, and then potentially some form of soft military dictatorship using the unitary executive theory…

    How potentially realistic are either of those two outcomes?

  4. Ag on January 22nd, 2010 at 09:48

    People are on the right in the US are talking about a Petraeus/Palin ticket, and then potentially some form of soft military dictatorship using the unitary executive theory…

    Probably a lot, since the Supreme Court just massively relaxed bans on corporate political donations.

    It’s a funny place.

  5. Lew on January 22nd, 2010 at 10:27

    Doesn’t sound likely to me, but even so, if the Democrats can’t beat back such a campaign by standing on America’s bedrock values, they don’t deserve to run a school board, let alone a country.


  6. Hugh on January 22nd, 2010 at 11:27

    It’s not even confirmed that Petraeus is a Republican. There’s a lot of love for him from the Party, but it’s less than clear that he reciprocates.

    Palin would not be Veep again. Nobody ever runs for the Vice Presidency on two separate tickets. It would lead to the application of the ‘loser’ tag. If she re-enters Presidential politics, it will be as a Presidential candidate.

    But even if we did end up with Petraeus/Palin (or Petraeus/whoever), why would that be a ‘soft military dictatorship’?

  7. What would Hayek say on January 22nd, 2010 at 12:08

    Probably a lot, since the Supreme Court just massively relaxed bans on corporate political donations.

    Ag – the Supreme Court decisions probably matters very little. There is a very good paper called \Why is there so Little Money in US politics\ by Stephen Ansolabehere, John de Figueireido, and James Snyder http://web.mit.edu/polisci/research/representation/CF_JEP_Final.pdf

    The abstract is below – they go on to provide possible answers, e.g. money matters to a certain level but at x point the additional dollar has little value, money does get you a little but no more, that little could be access, but access doesn’t not necessarily translate into change as there is other competors for access etc

    Thirty years ago, Gordon Tullock posed a provocative puzzle: considering the value of public policies at stake and the reputed influence of campaign contributions in policy-making, why is there so little money in U.S. politics? In this paper, we argue that campaign contributions are not a form of policy-buying, but are rather a form of political participation and consumption. We summarize the data on campaign spending, and show through our descriptive statistics and our econometric analysis that individuals, not special interests, are the main source of campaign contributions. Moreover, we demonstrate that campaign giving is a normal good, dependent upon income, and campaign contributions as a percent of GDP have not risen appreciably in over 100 years – if anything, they have probably fallen. We then show that only one in four studies from the previous literature support the popular notion that contributions buy legislators’ votes. Finally, we illustrate that when one controls for unobserved constituent and legislator effects, there is little relationship between money and legislator votes. Thus, the question is not why there is so little money politics, but rather why organized interests give at all. We conclude by offering potential answers to this question.

    Otherwise to Pablo – another good post, it is useful to remember that to a large extent the US federal government structure as set up by the Founding fathers was designed to moderate influence by any one individual/group – the founding father were generally deeply schooled in Greek/Roman history (not forgetting the glorious revolution either) and sought to prevent the rise of \first/great men\ e.g. a Caesar, Pompey, Sulla. At the same time it was also designed to ensure that rule/abuse of the masses was constrained (role of \wise\ Senate to constrain plebium congress). The Bill of Rights/constitution/supreme court also fits into this framework to provide a safeguard against tyranny of the masses by protecting certain rights of man.

  8. Pablo on January 22nd, 2010 at 12:16

    I have to agree with Hugh on the Petreus angle. From my experience working at the Pentagon and at other commands, flag-rank officers often are surprisingly liberal in their political views. Not only does the military have a “socialist” system of welfare, housing and medical care for its troops, but it has been the leading affirmative action agent in the entire country for half a century. Moreover, once an officer gets to flag rank (O-7), they tend to see the bigger picture quite clearly and are therefore less hawkish when it comes to projecting US force. Petreus, as a counter-insurgency guy, is more attuned than most to “hearts and minds” issues, which means that he would not necessarily sit comfortably with the Wall Streeters and corporate cronies who dominate the GOP. Even Colin Powell, the black poster boy of the GOP, finally gave up on them and endorsed Obama.

    Even if he were to be elected president, I am not sure that Petreus or any other high ranking officer would support a “soft dictatorship” option, given that they are professionally sworn to uphold not only the constitution but the primacy of civilian rule and the separation of powers. Dwight Eisenhower is a good example in that regard.

    I also agree with Hugh about Palin. She is going to go for the top job or not at all (I am hoping that she will in fact get the nod just to watch the spectacle). More interesting is what Mitt Romney will do now that Brown is in. As MA governor Romney had a moderate record much like the one Brown developed, so the question is whether this turn of events raises the chances that a moderate like Romney can be the best opponent for Obama in 2012 (rather than the bimbo).

  9. Hugh on January 22nd, 2010 at 12:43

    I think the Eisenhower analogy is apt, Pablo (It was what I was going to bring up if anybody claimed Petraeus would be a military dictator because he’s a military officer). I’m not entirely sure that Petraeus is actually likely to be a liberal – I suppose he might be, it’s really rather hard to tell, since he has studiously avoided commenting on political issues. I presume he is a fairly ambitious guy, so I could certainly see him accepting the Republicans’ nomination for the Presidency if it was offered to him – rather like Eisenhower did. But if this happened, and if he was elected, he might well govern based on his own instincts with little regard for the party he ostensibly belonged to – again, like Eisenhower did. In Eisenhower’s case it happened that his instincts did basically align with those of his party, if not entirely on every issue (but then, which politician’s ever do? Even Bush had substantial policy disagreements with his party, particularly re: immigration).

    It might be tempting for Republicans to put somebody with more staunchly party-conservatives alongside Petraeus in the Veep’s spot, in the hope of keeping him to the straight and narrow, rather as Quayle and Palin were intended to do to Bush Snr and McCain, respectively. But such a person would have difficulty doing so.

    However if Petraeus isn’t available, I would say that somebody like Mitt Romeny would be an appealing choice to the Republicans, as the voice of the party’s moderate wing. He would also probably end up with a hard right Veep. Unfortunately I cannot see Romney winning an election in 2012 – he would be utterly destroyed by Obama in any public debate.

    Ultimately I think the Republicans’ best bet would be Huckabee, who can appeal to the conservative base but doesn’t have as high negatives outside that base as Palin or any of the various Palin-wannabes out there.

  10. Lew on January 22nd, 2010 at 12:47

    Pablo, for what it’s worth Westen regarded Romney as the most credible Republican candidate for the 2008 race, and he failed at the primaries predominantly because he was poorly coached and managed (including being permitted to shoot his mouth off).

    My instinct is that 2012 will see an all-out tea-party-conservative charge led by Palin and an existing senior office-holder who was not substantially involved in the 2008 race — can’t quite think who, as yet, there’s quite a field. I think such a ticket would be very strong against a Democratic party which has a track record of failing to get its candidates re-elected, but my instinct is that they would be inclined to bring the crazy just a little bit too much to make it work.

    I don’t see Brown having any sort of opening there, but if Palin fails, I see moderate or ‘compassionate’ republicans looking to reinvent their electoral fortunes, which could provide an opportunity for the likes of Brown and Jindal. And this chap Pawlenty from Minnesota I hear a lot about.

    This all presupposes that ObamaCare passes in some recognisable form, though. All bets are off if it doesn’t.


  11. Scott Yorke on January 22nd, 2010 at 13:19

    Ultimately I think the Republicans’ best bet would be Huckabee, who can appeal to the conservative base but doesn’t have as high negatives outside that base as Palin or any of the various Palin-wannabes out there.

    Huckabee might have ruined his chances after the Maurice Clemmons fiasco and will be vulnerable to claims he’s soft on crime.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see a major third candidate in the next presidential election. The teabaggers will be pissed if a moderate takes the GOP nomination. Maybe Palin really will go rogue.

  12. Hugh on January 22nd, 2010 at 13:28

    Agreed that the Clemmons thing will come back to haunt Huckabee, if only in the primaries. (I can’t see Obama credibly zinging him on it, although some of his surrogates might)

    I can’t see the Tea Party decisively breaking with the Republicans to the extent of endorsing a third party candidate.

    I also don’t think Jindal is a plausible moderate candidate – he has governed Louisiana in an extremely fiscally conservative manner and is socially conservative on issues like guns, gay marriage etc etc. He’s definitely way to the right of Brown.

    The idea of a more experienced and moderate counterweight to Palin is quite likely, although it’s equally possible that a prospective Palin candidacy would involve doubling-down on the movement-conservative thing. If the former course was taken somebody like Haley Barbour would be the go-to guy; if the latter, perhaps this Florida guy who’s potentially going to leapfrog Charlie Crist to the Senate seat. (Not least because bringing Florida into the Republican column would be bloody helpful)

  13. Lew on January 22nd, 2010 at 13:50

    Heh. Palin/Cheney?



  14. Scott Yorke on January 22nd, 2010 at 14:39


    I’m not sure Cheney would still be a good campaigner. He’d be no good at kissing babies – he would probably try to eat them.

    Although they could send him to Afghanistan. He’s a mean guy, and the Taliban would fear him. The guy even shoots his friends.

    I can’t see Palin playing second fiddle to anyone. Her enormous ego won’t allow it. Look what she did to McCain’s campaign. So if she runs she’ll want top billing.

    As lousy a time as Obama is having, no obvious candidate has yet emerged who would potentially unite the GOP and who Obama wouldn’t shred during the debates.

  15. Lew on January 22nd, 2010 at 14:54

    Oh, yeah, I’m not thinking they’d win, I just fear what they’d do if they did.


  16. Hugh on January 22nd, 2010 at 15:07

    I think at least electorally Obama is likely to parallel Clinton – he will face major setbacks and a general concession to the ideology of conservatism throughout his first turn, but a combination of centrism (rationalised as a fulfilment of his campaign promises for ‘moving beyond partisanship’) and excellent electioneering will ensure that he is triumphant in 2012, with conservatives wondering why, in a country that is so obviously enthused about conservative policies, their candidate didn’t fire. All sounds pretty familiar, huh?

  17. Lew on January 22nd, 2010 at 15:10

    Hugh, I think you’re dead right. Obama resembles Clinton more than anyone in US politics since Clinton — more even than Hillary does. Even his campaign narrative was very similar.

    Clinton is also the only postwar Democrat to win a second term, and even came out of impeachment looking better than he went in. Not a bad bloke to emulate.


  18. Hugh on January 22nd, 2010 at 15:24

    Well, in terms of electoral success, yes, Clinton is definitely the sort of guy any politician would want to emulate.

    In terms of policy success, however, Clinton is not a very attractive model.

  19. peterquixote on January 22nd, 2010 at 18:24

    thanks for good article dude

  20. peterquixote on January 22nd, 2010 at 18:31

    thanks again Pablo for good article, I learned a lot dude

  21. Pablo on January 22nd, 2010 at 18:52

    PeterQ: If you got something out of it, then the pleasure is mine. Thanks for reading KP.

  22. Ag on January 23rd, 2010 at 02:22

    Ag – the Supreme Court decisions probably matters very little. There is a very good paper called \Why is there so Little Money in US politics\ by Stephen Ansolabehere, John de Figueireido, and James Snyder http://web.mit.edu/polisci/research/representation/CF_JEP_Final.pdf

    That conveniently leaves out the millions spent on K Street.

    It also leaves out an interesting fact. Canada has 10% of the US population, yet spending on the last Canadian Federal Election was much less per person than in the US.

    Which country has historically had the better government? Canada has historically had very good government, and this even though a large part of the country is continually threatening to secede. The US has one of the worst governments of any democratic country. No British, Canadian or New Zealand electorate would put up with the level of incompetence of the US federal government.

    So even if the level of spending is less than some hack economist might expect, it does not follow that the effect is not detrimental.

    One wonders whether you have ever seen a US presidential election up close. “Weird” doesn’t come close to describing it. It’s certainly nothing like a New Zealand election, which is positively intellectual by comparison.

    I think at least electorally Obama is likely to parallel Clinton.

    I very much doubt this. Obama’s race will make it much harder for him to capture as much of the white working class vote as Clinton did. If the effects of the recession are still in play by 2012, he’s toast.

  23. Tom Semmens on January 23rd, 2010 at 08:59

    You know, I was listening to Mike Moore the other day (it was only a soundbite on the news, I hasten to add) aand he mentioned that the United States isn’t a parliamentary democracy where an agreement with the government of the day meant you had a guaranteed deal. Instead, you had to negotiate with congress and the senate and all the myriad lobby groups and try and convince everyone they get the biggest piece of pie.

    To me, that encapsulates the crisis of the American political system. For 230 years the United States has been able to exploit the seemingly limitless resources of it’s continent to get internal political agreement by simply giving everyone what they want.

    Now they are bumping up against the stoppers of their continent’s bounty, their schlerotic political system is failing to cope.

  24. Graeme Edgeler on January 23rd, 2010 at 09:24

    Probably a lot, since the Supreme Court just massively relaxed bans on corporate political donations.

    Corporate spending. Not corporate donations.

    Corporations (and unions, etc.) still cannot donate to candidates. They can now, however, run what we we call “third party” campaigns, or donate to others who run third party campaigns.

  25. SPC on January 24th, 2010 at 17:20

    So let’s guess health insurers and banks will be funding campaigns right up to the congressional elections in November (which should suit the US media conglomerates just fine).

  26. Bruce Hamilton on January 24th, 2010 at 19:41

    Once again, thanks for an interesting discussion. Some more questions from somebody who knows little of US political structure.

    Is the 6 year term of senators too long for the pace of 21st century political life?. 6 years is a very long time for most people ( Bush beat Kerry? ).

    It seems, to me, that rational legislation ( eg national harmonisation of educational standards ) is killed by the phase difference of elections – as well as the nature of the different federal assemblies/houses.

    Do the voters deliberately understand and balance the different roles, or do they vote according to immediate priorities/perceptions?.

    Would voters expect their senator to be aware of and take notice of state legislature opinions, or do they vote for them as spoilers/enablers of lower house political actions?.

  27. Pablo on January 24th, 2010 at 23:27


    Without getting into details, the basic idea (in answer to points 1 and 2) as I understand it is that the US political system was crafted by the founding fathers to be a complex system of checks and balances. So the electoral system has 2 year terms for Reps, 4 year terms for Prez and 6 year terms for Senators. That makes for turnover every two years in both houses with a presidential election thrown in the middle and on to of the congressional races. As mentioned above, the idea is to mediate the populist impulses of Reps with the more long-term views of Senators. The trouble, as I see it, is that this system was put into place in a pre-capitalist state in which things like slavery and denial of female suffrage were still in force, and in which the founders could not foresee the impact of corporate mass media, big money lobbying and campaign fund-raising, automatic weapons (with regard to the 2nd amendment) etc. So it may be archaic and dysfunctional.

    With regard to point 3–the masses vote on their immediate and short term interests, pure and simple. There may be long-term strategic voters and those who vote strictly on principle, but the majority do not.

    Point 4–Senators have to take state-wide interests into account, so they do in fact pay attention to the state legislature and state elections. It gives them an idea of where the voting centre is in their respective states, which is what they are elected to represent (unlike Reps).

    This is just sketch but I hope that it offers some limited guidance on the issues you raise.

  28. Bruce Hamilton on January 25th, 2010 at 07:05

    Thanks for the brief, easily understandable, summary. That’s a large mass, high-inertia, democratic system.

Leave a Reply

Name: (required)
Email: (required) (will not be published)