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Charlie Cook on the

Charlie Cook on the Bug Man in Winter (thematically if not seasonally) ...

On the political front, DeLay's re-election situation is dicier than commonly thought.

Are DeLay's ethical and legal problems much worse than they were on Election Day last November and are voters back home aware of it? Absolutely.

Is the political climate more difficult for DeLay now than back in November? Yes. From Social Security and gasoline prices to Iraq and the absence of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., as a whipping boy, things aren't as good for Republicans today as they were six months ago.

Finally, does DeLay face more formidable opposition if he seeks re-election in 2006 than he did last year, when he beat neophyte Democrat Richard Morrison 55-41 percent, with a Libertarian candidate and an independent each garnering 2 percent? Yes.

Former Rep. Nick Lampson, who represented about 20 percent of this district before a DeLay-engineered redistricting, is the strong frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. Lampson might face Houston City Councilman Gordon Quan in a March primary.

Given the substantially greater adversity that DeLay faces today, it might be enough to cost him 5 to 9 percentage points and the seat.

While DeLay spent more than $2.7 million to get re-elected in 2004, not counting considerable outside resources that went into the effort, this time it would likely cost upwards of $5 million.

Keep in mind, the 22nd District is not DeLay's old rock-ribbed Republican seat. DeLay was a team player in redistricting, and gave up heavily Republican areas, picking up Democratic territory, as a gesture to urge Republican members also to give up friendly territory.

In retrospect, he really could use that old turf. One Washington insider privately noted that it would be ironic if DeLay ended up being the first GOP casualty of his own redistricting plan.

Win or lose, this will be an ugly and costly re-election fight for DeLay -- if he chooses to pursue it.


More details about TPMCafe.com.As

More details about TPMCafe.com.

As I noted before I went away on vacation, TPMCafe will host a small number of individual, subject-specific blogs -- one of which will focus on foreign affairs and national security.

This will be a group blog with six contributors.

They are Daniel Benjamin of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Ivo Daalder of Brookings, John Ikenberry of Princeton University, James Lindsay of the Council on Foreign Relations, George Packer of The New Yorker and Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

(What I've listed here are just brief mentions of each contributor's institutional affiliation. You can find out more about them by clicking on the individual links.)

It's an exciting group of voices, not only because of the qualities each possesses individually, but because of the eclectic mix of perspectives -- as academics, policy practitioners and journalists -- they bring to the conversation.

More to follow ...

Duce Duce or Toadies

Duce! Duce! or Toadies on Parade!

DC conservatives hold tribute dinner to hail fearless (Majority) Leader DeLay, man of steel.

Where is the Chaplin for this dubious Duce, this tin-pot Tweed?

Amazing. When I left

Amazing. When I left a week ago, the Princeton Frist Filibuster site was still a hastily-thrown-together operation, mainly serving up a slow feed of some student filibustering Bill Frist. Now, it's a whole elaborate set-up, with a media archive, lists of upcoming speakers and events, links to filibusters at other campuses -- amazing.

They're even fundraising for something called "phase 2" of their filibuster, though I couldn't seem to figure out from the site what phase two was. Certainly, something quite worthy.

By now Professors Witten and Nappi should have their TPM T-Shirts they won for being the first two profs to get in on the action. Actually, that means that there's still a third T-Shirt waiting for whoever was the third professor to take a stand and filibuster Frist. But I'll let the organizers on the scene determine who that lucky T-Shirt recipient was.

Let me just get

Let me just get started with a note of thanks to my two guest bloggers, Matt Yglesias and Kenny Baer. It was a pleasure leaving the site in both of their hands over the last week.

My wife and I just flew into New York this evening after a week's honeymoon on the Yucatan peninsula. And thanks to all of you for the kind notes, written while I was away, about that.

More soon on several subjects.

My time at TPM

My time at TPM is almost up. Instead of leaving with a long post cataloguing how I think the world should be, I leave this little slice of cyberspace by saying thank you: to the more than 1500 readers who responded to my query of Friday; to friends and sources on both sides of the Atlantic; to the scores of readers who e-mailed me with thoughts, corrections, and a few choice criticisms; and -- most of all -- to Josh for entrusting me with this incredible platform.

The hype about blogs is only building in intensity (Exhibit A: the front page of the business section of the New York Times today). While others -- many with big names -- will be jumping on the bandwagon, they will have a high standard to meet. Josh -- and TPM readers -- have set the bar for intelligent, reasoned, and researched discourse. It's been an honor to contribute, and I hope that whether you liked or disliked my thoughts, I provoked you enough to read my column at the New Republic Online, and from there we can continue this conversation.

Josh, over to you...

Now no one tell

Now, no one tell Josh’s wife that he sneaked away to post during his honeymoon. While Josh was posting from an undisclosed, but sunny, location, I was reminded of a much colder time: the weeks after the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994. Democrats were devastated; pundits were gabbing hysterically about the dawning of “prime ministerial” government in the US. That December, I returned from England and had a conversation with the historian Fred Siegel, a friend and mentor of mine. Fred said not to worry; he wished control of the House of Representatives on the GOP as, eventually, it would turn them into what the Democrats on the Hill had become by the late 1990’s -- an out-of-touch, Beltway party focused on the needs of the donors who fund their campaigns.

In Slate this week, Jacob Weisberg notes that this prediction has come true. “Interest-group conservatism,” he argues, has replaced interest-group liberalism -- with all its accompanying pathologies. Weisberg’s piece underscores what many across the party have argued: that Democrats must seize the mantle of reform. Embracing a reform agenda -- along with developing a forward-looking public philosophy -- will not only rid Democrats of the worst excesses of interest-group liberalism, but put us on track to do what the GOP did a decade ago: win.