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Christie ad infinitum

Why a Republican Senate would be horrible news for Obama

It’s looking like the Republicans have an increasingly strong shot at taking the Senate this fall.

That would be a huge setback for President Obama, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

Now November is a long way off. Politico may run the headline “GOP Confident of Senate Takeover,” but when have you ever heard party officials say they have no shot? Whether Republicans can pick up the necessary six seats depends on a variety of local factors, such as whether Shirtless Scott Brown runs in New Hampshire. Brown, who has done no organizing, told the Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty that he moved there for family reasons and “to just jump in and say I’m going to run for the United States Senate against a popular incumbent, it takes a little bit more than just winging it” against Jeanne Shaheen.

But along comes the American Conservative to declare that Obama shouldn’t fear a GOP Senate. Among the arguments made by Scott Galupo:

His agenda is dead anyway

“Things may actually improve slightly under a unified GOP Congress. Look at it this way: if Republicans win the Senate, their next prize, obviously, will be the White House. That’s a different ballgame altogether—a bigger, browner electorate. Suddenly the imperative to obstruct the Obama agenda begins to recede. A different incentive structure will take shape: the party will have to govern, or at least appear as though it’s trying.” He quotes the New York Times as saying some Republicans “believe it would be smarter to wait until after the midterms and pursue immigration in 2015 leading up to the presidential election, when Republicans will be more motivated to increase their appeal to Hispanic voters. If the midterm goes their way, they will be strengthened in Congress.”

Finally, “'Republican Congress’ will make for a juicy target in ’16. In 1996, President Bill Clinton had great fun turning the moderate Sen. Bob Dole into the sidecar villain of Speaker Newt Gingrich. There’s little reason to think the next Democratic nominee, whoever he or, ahem, she turns out to be, won’t be able to repeat the trick.”

Here’s why that’s all wrong.

Republicans are highly unlikely to be passing immigration reform in 2015 even if they win the midterms. The base hates it, and more important, we’ll be in the opening innings of a presidential campaign in which the party’s contenders will be pulled to the right, as Mitt Romney (he of “self-deportation”) was in 2012.

Two years of a Republican Congress won’t be much of a 2016 target, if things aren’t going well, compared to eight years of the Obama administration. As a bogeyman, John Boehner is no Newt Gingrich.

But it’s more than that. If they control the Senate machinery, Republicans will be able to launch twice as many investigations as they can now by holding just the House. They will be able to block Obama nominees, creating a sense of dysfunction. They will be able to bring bills to the floor, while Harry Reid watches helplessly, solely for the purpose of forcing Democrats to cast politically dangerous votes that can be used in attack ads. They can cut the budget in the name of deficit reduction. They may even be able to force Obama to veto legislation that suits their purposes.

In short, the White House will lose the bulwark of a Senate that ensures all conservative legislation dies in the House.

An all-Republican Congress can make life miserable for Obama and, by extension, for Hillary Clinton if she runs. The notion that the GOP will suddenly function as a cooperative partner totally underestimates the poisonous atmosphere in Washington.

Christie ad infinitum

If Chris Christie does indeed run in 2016, he will have one advantage: already having undergone a presidential-level vetting by the media.

Despite little movement in what some are calling Bridge-gazi, except for a new batch of subpoenas, the New Jersey governor continues to get pounded by the press. The Washington Post has a lengthy examination of his record as U.S. attorney (which is illuminating) and reports that he was laying the groundwork for a future political run (hardly shocking — anyone remember Rudy Giuliani?). I prefer this to the last Post effort on what he was like in high school.

Meanwhile, MSNBC patrols the Christie beat so relentlessly it is turning some New Jersey reporters and ex-officials into national figures. Yesterday’s “Morning Joe” spent 15 minutes debating whether Christie should step down as head of the Republican Governors Association.

Joe Scarborough insisted that Christie should step aside and that this was in his own best interest, not a “betrayal” of the governor who has frequently been a guest.

Question: How many people can name the last head of the RGA?

I’m all for covering this story aggressively, but there are many days when it feels like an attempt to keep it alive.

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