Josh Marshall

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Ahhhhh! So you didn't believe Talking Points when he told you that Trent Lott was still living in denial about what happened in the Senate on November 7th? Well, maybe you'd be believe the New York Times? (Yeah, I thought so).

This article by Allison Mitchell describes how Senate Republicans are now divided between those who are willing to split resources and committee seats with Democrats and those who aren't. Trent Lott's in the second group and his conservative-heavy leadership team was just reelected. Their plan: screw the Democrats. With Dick Cheney's vote, we still call the shots.

Note to Trent: Don't bet on it.

The Daschle line:

"What I will simply say is that we will not be satisfied with anything less than a 50-50 split in the responsibilities and opportunities presented to this caucus and to their caucus in the next Congress."
That sounds right.

For quote of the day Talking Points nominates these choice words Democratic strategist David Axelrod told the Philly Inquirer's Dick Polman.

"[Al Gore] has fought his heart out, and he is getting an agonizing lesson in the unfairness of life. He knows in his own mind that he really won it, and that he was foiled by surreal circumstances. He has to process all that. The most difficult task of all is letting go."
Talking Points hasn't quite, totally, absolutely, positively, completely lost hope. But, ya know, we're getting close.

Can someone do me a favor? I need someone to talk to Trent Lott. Talking Points has never had particularly fond feelings for, or cordial relations with, the Mississippi Republican. So he's probably not the one to give Lott the news. But isn't this getting a bit ridiculous?

That's Lott in the picture. In case you're wondering, he's the Gulf Coast dandy with the ABSURDLY OVERSIZED feather in his cowboy hat. (Does this guy have something to prove? Is this some sort of sublimated courting ritual?)

Anyway, back to my story. Isn't this getting a bit ridiculous?

On November 7th Lott had his head handed to him on a platter. But he apparently hasn't felt around on his neck stump to notice that something is missing. Lott is starting to look like the little boy who goes to another kid's birthday party and is the only one who doesn't realize he ain't the main attraction. Who's gonna tell him?

That analogy doesn't work for you? Well then he's the has-been loser whose friends don't have the heart to tell him to pack it in. Actually, wait a second. That's not an analogy. That's exactly what's happening! He is a has-been loser whose friends don't have the heart to tell him to pack it in!

Ever since he led his Senate caucus to a humiliatingly poor showing on November 7th Lott has been making the rounds, telling reporters he hopes Senator-elect Hillary Clinton gets struck by lightening, that maybe some Senate Democrats will die and put the Republicans back in the Majority. Occasionally he makes reassuring comments about reaching out to the minority party. Lott's inappropriate bluster seems to grow at exactly the rate that his power diminishes. Maybe Don Nickles and Larry Craig need to organize some sort of intervention?

Trent … buddy, amigo. You're going to be the first Senate Majority Leader in history with no majority. The first one who needs a boost from the executive branch to get you into the big chair. Your colleagues on the Democratic side don't think you're the Majority Leader. And the only reason your Republican colleagues aren't pitching you overboard is that they all think your job is going to suck. Don't believe me? Take a peek at this article in The New Republic. In fact, let's just ditch the 'Majority Leader' title. Can't we just call you Parity Leader? It's still a capitalized title. You still get the big office. But no more "Majority Leader," okay? Not until you get another majority.

Talking Points just got his first blast email from something called the Bush-Cheney Presidential Transition Foundation, Inc.

(Not just a transition but a foundation. He really must be president.)

It says Dick Cheney's going to be up on Capitol Hill tomorrow shmoozing with people from the House and the Senate.

P.S. Talking Points really doesn't mean this in a flippant way. But didn't this guy just have a heart attack? Shouldn't he be taking it a bit easier?

Talking Points doesn't think today's double-barreled court decisions make it any more likely that George W. Bush will be our next president.

But it's starting to look pretty clear that Dick Cheney will be.

Most observers have lauded President Clinton's willingness to put vice-president Gore's talents to use during their two terms in the office. But here's one of the reasons you don't want to use the vice-president as a de facto prime minister (or, let's be honest, a de facto president.)

What if the president and the vice-president have a falling out? Or what if they break on a significant point of policy. With a Chief of Staff or a Secretary of State or a senior advisor, this isn't a problem. The president fires them. Or they resign. But Bush can't fire Dick Cheney. The vice-presidency is a constitutional office.

Now, I'm willing to admit that it's hard to figure how Bush and Cheney would break on a significant policy issue since Cheney seems to tell Bush what to think on every policy issue.

But, hey, maybe W. will start reading books after he's sworn in as president. Maybe he's not dumb, just a late-bloomer?

Anyway, it's worth thinking about.

Talking Points takes another guest turn at Slate Magazine. Here's his article on how the networks flubbed the call on today's Supreme Court decision.

CNN: Gore wins.

CNN: No, Bush wins.

CNN: Ahhh ... They ruled and, well ... they ruled.

Anyway, go see the whole thing for yourself.

On his site today Andrew Sullivan defends Montana Governor Marc Racicot against one of Sullivan's "liberal friends" who said Governor Racicot was "evil." (Racicot's the one who's been holding all those press conferences for Bush in Austin and appearing on countless chat shows on the governor's behalf.)

Sullivan's right.

Racicot's not evil. He's pathetic. (And that's much worse than evil.)

Sure, sure, Montana's one of the more feeble states. But it's still a state! Racicot's running around like he's trying out to be Bush's press secretary. Why doesn't this guy have more respect for himself? He's the governor of a state! Aren't the people of Montana starting to wonder why their Governor has set up shop down in Austin, Texas? Is he still on the state's payroll? And what happened to Karen Hughes? Isn't she good enough anymore?

Word is that Racicot may be in line to be George W.'s Attorney General. But doesn't this pathetic behavior in search of a cabinet post tend to confirm the charge that Bush puts sycophantic loyalty above quality and merit in most of his appointments?

Bring on the yes-men!

P.S. Think you've heard Talking Points getting on Racicot's case before? You're right. Last month, the late night post on November 20th. It seems to have become an obsession with Talking Points. And Sullivan's post just set him off.

Talking Points hardly likes anyone better at Slate Magazine than Will Saletan. Not only because he's a very nice guy and Frame Game is a great column, but also because he hooked Talking Points up with some really choice exit poll data on election day (I'm figuring that VNS has enough to worry about now and won't try to bully us with any lawsuits.)

But I don't quite buy the argument he makes in his most recent column. That argument (as nearly as I can figure it) is that the margin separating the two candidates is smaller than what one might call the margin of the error of the voting technology. So you're in a quantum physics-like conundrum where you just can't push the numbers much further than say a .1% margin.

That sounds right.

But his conclusion seems to be that since you can't really know who won in cases where the margin is this small you just have to go with the call the networks made on election night.

New Bush Slogan: they trust the people, we trust the networks!

(Note: I've caricatured Will's argument a bit here. If you want the uncaricatured version I'd suggest you read the piece. But, hey, I had to come up with a new post for this afternoon. So there it is.)

And another thing. George W. Bush is trying to make nice with Dems by saying he's going to appoint some House Democrats to his cabinet. Does W. think we're as stupid as Talking Points thinks he is? I'm sure the Republicans would like to knock a half dozen Dems out of the House.

(Note II: Talking Points had some help on this second item from this character. But actually Talking Points had also thought that Gore could demonstrate his bipartisanship by appointing senators Judd Gregg, Jim Jeffords, Dick Shelby and Gordon Smith to his cabinet. So he'll take some of the credit. Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck. We can play that game too!)

If Talking Points used headlines or titles for his posts he might call this one "moronic crap watch." The Miami Herald article discussed in the previous post included comments on the article's findings from the Bush and Gore campaigns. It's bad enough the Bushies keep insisting that undervotes are just ballots from people who didn't want to vote for president. Now Bush flak Tucker Eskew trots out this one:

Eskew, the spokesman for the Texas governor, flatly rejected [the study] as ``hocus pocus'' and ``an utterly unfounded scientific process.'' In addition to mistakenly assuming that voters handing in undervotes intended to vote, he said, the analysis also ignores the notion that many of the double-punched ballots may have been ``protest votes,'' intentionally spoiled. ``That is a deeply flawed model that suggests statistical voodoo,'' he said.

Yeah, I'm so mad I'm votin' for Bush and Nader. That'll show 'em. I'll vote for Bush and Gore. Let 'em take that!


You wonder after a while why the Bushies don't stick to the unexceptionable argument that overvotes (double voted ballots) don't count, period. Don't these transparently ridiculous assertions just make them seem indifferent to the truth?

He shoots ... He S-C-O-R-E-S!!!