Jason Dick

There’s Some WTF in This Lame Duck Session of Congress
Appointed, maybe and not-yet, maybe-never members dot the Capitol

Every lame duck session of Congress is special in its own way, and the current one, operating alongside the orientation session for newly elected members of Congress, has its share of oddities and weirdness. 

Speaker Paul D. Ryan swore in new members of the House on Tuesday, those who won special elections to fill out unexpired terms, Joseph D. Morelle, D-N.Y., and Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa. Oh, and also an “appointed” member, Republican Kevin Hern of Oklahoma.  

What Really Happens During Congress’ Freshman Orientation
Political Theater, Episode 45

 

What’s my Representational Allowance? Why can’t I take pictures on the House floor? Where are the bathrooms? Newly elected lawmakers are participating in freshman orientation this week, and while it has a first day of school vibe, they should pay attention. It could save them some embarrassment, and maybe even avoid getting into hot water with the Ethics Committee or even federal authorities. Roll Call Staff Writer Katherine Tully-McManus runs down what the members-to-be are doing during freshman orientation, and why it matters.

Over? Did You Say Over?
Late counts, recounts and etc., the election never really ends

In the immortal words of the future Sen. John “Bluto” Blutarsky: “Over? Did you say over? Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” And the 2018 campaign season ain’t over yet, not with a recount in, wait for it, Florida, as well as the terminally slow counts taking place in California and other places. 

While control of the Senate and House won’t be affected by whomever prevails in these races, it can certainly be aggravating to not be playing with a full deck (not that Congress has a full deck at any given moment anyway, what with the trickle of resignations and the like). 

The Midterms' Most Memorable Moments
Political Theater, Episode 44

Every campaign season is defined by moments when the big picture starts to come into focus. A parade outside Kansas City where Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder is confronted about gun violence. A pizza parlor in New Jersey becomes an overflow town hall. Roll Call politics reporters Simone Pathé and Bridget Bowman and elections analyst Nathan Gonzales discuss such moments during the 2018 midterms, as well as how to address the dreaded election hangover we’re all suffering.

 

Welcome to the Marvel Political Universe
Presidential and midterm elections are now surrounded by lead-in elections

The American election system has become its own version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Presidential elections every four years used to be the tentpole movie that everyone went to see. Midterms, off-year special elections, primaries — those were for the real political geeks out there. Not anymore. 

‘A Private War’ Illustrates Power, and Risk, of Reporting the Truth
Political Theater, Episode 43

“I think fear comes later, when it’s all over.” Those are the words that frame “A Private War,” Matthew Heineman’s new film about the late war journalist Marie Colvin. They’re spoken first by Rosamund Pike, the actress portraying Colvin, then over the end credits by Colvin herself, a poignant bookend to a film about the courage required to seek the truth in the world’s most dangerous places. At a time when journalists around the world face threats in and out of combat zones, and are characterized as the enemy of the people, Heineman’s movie arrives at a delicate inflection point. The director, nominated for an Academy Award for his documentary “Cartel Land,” and Pike discuss their picture on the latest Political Theater Podcast. 

Meanwhile, in Non-Pipe Bomb Political Midterm News …
The president, health care, the economy, violence, Supreme Court, all kinds of things motivate voters

The question has come up a lot since pipe bombs started showing up at the doorstops of prominent critics of President Donald Trump: How will this affect the midterms? Leaving aside the fact that millions of people have already voted in key states, there is really no way to know. One thing is for sure though: This isn’t the only thing on people’s minds as they cast their votes. 

Just ask Martha McSally.

Explosive Rhetoric Ramping Up, But Do Voters Care?
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 42

Praising violence against reporters. Sending pipe bombs to public figures. Threatening political opponents. The fiery rhetoric is in full swing as the nation enters the homestretch of the 2018 midterm election. Is any of it changing voters’ attitudes or behavior? Roll Call Senior Political Writer Simone Pathé and Inside Elections Editor Nathan Gonzales discuss the effect of all the bad vibes on the electorate. 

Sandra Day O’Connor Leaves a Political and Judicial Legacy
First woman on the Supreme Court was a skilled legislator in Grand Canyon State

Sandra Day O’Connor’s announcement Tuesday that she was stepping away from public life brings into stark relief not just the legacy of the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, but that of a fading model for what a justice could be: a politician actively engaged in the civic arena.

Citing a dementia diagnosis that would most likely progress to Alzheimer’s disease, the 88-year-old said she was “no longer able to participate in public life,” something that defined her career. 

Booze, Prohibition and the Man in the Green Hat: An Original October Surprise
Undercover Capitol takes you inside the historic workplace — one video at a time

The confessions of The Man in the Green Hat — who supplied booze to the House and Senate for a decade during Prohibition — made front-page news just weeks before the 1930 midterm elections. And the Democrats ended up making huge gains in the House that November. Deputy editor Jason Dick shares the remarkable story of George Cassiday, bootlegger to Congress and one of the original October surprises.

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‘The Front Runner’ Rolls Into Middleburg Film Festival
Political flick starring Hugh Jackman gets star billing at area event

Can’t wait for this weekend’s screening of Hugh Jackman’s latest star turn, “The Front Runner,” at the Middleburg Film Festival and subsequent chat with director Jason Reitman? Fret not. Roll Call’s Political Theater podcast recently discussed the movie — about former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart’s short-lived and prophetic presidential run, starring Jackman and Academy Award winner J.K. Simmons — with Reitman and co-writers Matt Bai and Jay Carson. 

Have a listen to What ‘The Front Runner’ Says About Today’s Politics

Messing With Texas, Midterm Edition
In the Lone Star State, it’s not just about Beto and Cruz

Yes, the Texas Senate race between Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke gets a 72-ounce steak’s worth of attention in politics, what with Willie Nelson and President Donald Trump weighing in with their preferences and all. 

But regardless of who emerges from that Texas two-step, several other races will go a long way toward determining the House majority, and whether the Lone Star State might be moving toward swing/purple status. 

Will the Lone Stars Align for Beto O’Rourke in Texas Senate Race?
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 41

Will appealing to Whataburger partisans get out the vote? What about a new Willie Nelson song? These are but some of the questions that will be answered by the Texas Senate race between Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke

That’s because some of the Lone Star State’s favorite sons, like country-music legend Nelson and filmmaker Richard Linklater, have come out strong for O’Rourke and are putting their artistic talent where their mouths are. Will it make a difference, though? Leah Askarinam from Inside Elections and McClatchy’s Alex Roarty, who grew up in Houston, discuss the race, whether famous Texans will help O’Rourke and what sort of downstream effect the race has on competitive House races we might see on the latest Political Theater Podcast. 

Swift Winds From the West
Tay and Ye meet again, on the political stage

It’s been almost 10 years since Kanye West and Taylor Swift began to bicker. Remember? Beyoncé had just made one of the best music videos. OF. ALL. TIME. Here’s the timeline from then until now — the moment the Swift-Kanye conflict broke the fourth wall and entered DUH, DUH, DUH!

The Political Theater.

What ‘The Front Runner’ Says About Today’s Politics
Political Theater, Episode 40

“The Front Runner” is not going to tell you how to feel about politics. The new film, starring Hugh Jackman and directed by Jason Reitman and co-written by him and Matt Bai and Jay Carson, tells the story of the short-lived 1988 presidential campaign of Sen. Gary Hart, D-Colo., who went from being the presumptive favorite to win the presidency to political oblivion within the span of a few days, felled by a scandal fueled by the senator’s extra-marital affair. “You could see the seeds of politics we’re dealing with now,” says Carson, a former Capitol Hill staffer.

The central tenet of the film is that few people — the candidate, his staff and family, journalists, etc., — were prepared for what happened to Hart, and they made the best decisions they could at the time in what would help define the electoral and political process for years to come. “We’ve created a process that rewards a bit of shamelessness, that both attracts and rewards candidates that who will do anything to get or hold office,” Bai adds. Listen to our full conversation, including a partial interview with Reitman, on this Political Theater podcast: 

Final Kavanaugh Vote Comes With a Whimper, Not a Bang
Somber mood pervades Senate as Supreme Court nominee is confirmed

In the end, for as long, drawn out and acrid as the fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination was, the actual confirmation vote itself was brief, to the point and relatively somber.

Senators, seated to take their votes in the chamber during the rare Saturday session, rose at the calls of their names, saying “yes” and “no.” When Vice President Mike Pence announced the 50-48 vote and that Kavanaugh had been confirmed, he did so flatly, with none of the flourish or emotion that usually comes with such hard-fought victories. 

The Ghosts of Impeachment Haunt the Kavanaugh Fight
Ken Starr, David Schippers, even Kavanaugh himself were key players in impeachment of Bill Clinton

The spectacle of politics and how it fits, or doesn’t, into the nation’s culture. Subscribe to our newsletter here.

Washington is doing its best to prove the William Faulkner maxim that “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

Rap, Race and Health Care Help Decide Upstate New York Fates
Political Theater, Episode 39

In Upstate New York, two Republican House freshmen are fighting for their political lives in districts that supported President Donald Trump in 2016. While health care is a dominant issue Democrats there hope to capitalize on, there is an underlying racial issue in one district, as the GOP tries to make the rap career of Democrat Antonio Delgado a part of the equation. Bridget Bowman explains how exactly AD the Voice became a part of the political calculus in 2018 on this week’s Political Theater Podcast. 

Kavanaugh Floor Vote Awaits FBI Investigation
FAA reauthorization on Senate agenda while chamber anticipates probe results

With the House gone until after the midterm elections, and the threat of a government shutdown removed until December, the Senate has Washington to itself this week, with the debate over the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh playing out as the FBI completes a “supplemental” background investigation of sexual misconduct allegations against the nominee. 

After last week’s blockbuster Senate Judiciary hearing featuring Kavanaugh and one of his accusers, Christine Blasey Ford, and a dramatic vote on Friday to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the floor, senators reached an agreement to delay a planned floor vote on the nomination to allow the FBI, acting under a directive from President Donald Trump, to complete the probe no later than Oct. 5. 

And That’s a Wrap: House Out Until After Midterms
Official word came after chamber concluded business on Friday

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., made it official on Friday, announcing that votes are no longer expected during the month of October, and that the House will reconvene on Nov. 13.

While the chamber had long been scheduled to be in session during the first two weeks of October, the move had been widely expected and comes as House Republicans are defending dozens of competitive seats on Nov. 6. It allows vulnerable members to spend the run-up to the midterm elections in their districts.