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What We Learned: Tragedy Strikes In Arizona What We Learned: Tragedy Strikes In Arizona

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Politics

What We Learned: Tragedy Strikes In Arizona

January 9, 2011

-- This week, House Republicans learned the hard way that it's not always easy being king. Just about as quickly as the new majority was sworn in, Republicans were put on defense. First, the Congressional Budget Office judged a health care repeal would deepen the deficit, then a reading of the Constitution was criticized by some because it omitted parts of the document.

-- The numbers for Michael Steele to be re-elected as chairman of the Republican National Committee just are not there. A majority of the 168 national committee members are backing someone other than Steele as both their first and second choice. Unfortunately for Steele, while he put on a strong and surprisingly restrained debate performance this week, perhaps his most memorable line came from him quoting "A Tale of Two Cities" after saying "War and Peace" was his favorite book. While a minor flub on a non-issue, the statement gave late night comedians more fodder to throw at Steele and reminded committee members of Steele's not-always-ready-for-prime-time speaking style.

-- Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar (R) tried to make nice with conservatives as he heads into his 2012 re-election campaign. Lugar drew the ire of Tea Partiers with his support of the DREAM Act and the New START Treaty during the lame-duck session and appears to be heading toward a primary challenge. But Lugar's sit-down with state Tea Party leaders this week didn't go so well. Despite paying Indiana's longest-serving member of Congress personal compliments, Hoosier Patriots co-founder Greg Fettig said Lugar should still expect a showdown with the Tea Party. The good news for Lugar is that -- unlike in the case of fellow moderate Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) -- an obvious primary challenger has yet to emerge.

-- The insult of the week is calling someone a "Martha Coakley." First, Doug Rubin -- a former strategist for Gov. Deval Patrick (D-Mass.) -- wrote a Boston Herald piece saying Sen. Scott Brown (R) could be the next Coakley. Days later, Kentucky businessman Phil Moffett's (R) gubernatorial campaign manager, David Adams, brushed off the campaign being outraised by state Senate Pres. David Williams (R) with a statement that began "David Williams is Kentucky's Martha Coakley."

-- If there was any doubt, this week's Public Policy Polling survey showed Nevada Republicans are in the same place they were last year with former Gov. Jim Gibbons (R). If Sen. John Ensign (R) -- whose performance in the poll was dismal -- won't step aside, they have to beat him in the primary or risk a likely loss to Democrats in 2012.

-- Remember when Comedy Central's Jon Stewart thought Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was a favorite guest of his? That officially ended this week as Stewart began waging a war to irritate McCain via a belligerent Muppet version of McCain in a sketch called "Let's All Stand On John McCain's Lawn." Stewart's very angry version of McCain was imbued with racism, overall bitterness at losing to Obama and a rather foul mouth. The sketch only reminded viewers that it wasn't too long ago that Stewart thought well of McCain and even more recently had a bit of an event to encourage civility.

-- Airing your income tax returns in the public arena has become nearly as important as filing ballot signatures, especially in local races. If you know they contain less-than-savory information, (a) don't wait until the last minute and (b) don't make snarky comments when people start to ask where they are. Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun could have learned an important lesson from former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and former Chicago Schools Board President Gery Chico who both released their returns over the holiday break, ensuring they would be quickly lost in the shuffle. Instead, Braun initially told reporters she wouldn't release the returns because she didn't want to, then wound up releasing them the next day, ensuring that she and her financial woes would dominate headlines all week long.

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