Jason Dick

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. 

Kavanaugh Nomination Fate Is Still the Superunknown
Supreme Court battle is still a ways from being over

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

Well, that was a day. The lengthy hearing featuring testimony and questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused him of sexual assault, has resulted in Republicans’ decision to go ahead with a confirmation vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday

As Minnesota Goes, So Goes the Nation?
Political Theater, Episode 38

Minnesota is suddenly the center of the political universe and voters there are more focused on health care and the economy than the latest scandal in Washington. And they'll have a lot to say in the midterms because the Land of 10,000 Lakes is hosting a governor's race, two Senate races and four competitive House races that will go a long way to determine the congressional majority next year. Roll Call Senior Political Reporter Simone Pathé spent six days covering six races and 12 candidates there and explains on this week’s Political Theater podcast why both Republicans and Democrats consider Minnesota a bellwether state.

Power, Confirmation & Lies
High court confirmation battle comes to a head, and the midterms loom, kind of

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

After what seems like a nonstop election cycle since Nov. 9, 2016, with several special elections since then and a president that never seems to tire of political events, it’s safe to say even politics junkies are looking forward to Nov. 6, the day of the congressional midterms. Except … it might not even be over then, according to Roll Call elections analyst Nathan L. Gonzales, who says the number of close House races and likely runoffs might preclude us from knowing who will be in control of Congress for maybe weeks to come. Thanks, Nathan. 

High Court, High Political Drama — Probably for Years to Come
Political Theater, Episode 37

In the middle of a singularly rough Supreme Court nomination fight, the business of the high court goes on. The fate of Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s second nominee to the court, is still up in the air. But the  direction of the court, regardless of what happens with Kavanaugh, seems to be moving inexorably negative, at least politically, say CQ legal affairs writer Todd Ruger and senior writer Kate Ackley in the latest Political Theater podcast.

 

All Senate Judiciary Democrats Formally Ask for Delay to Kavanaugh Vote
Combined with Republican panel member Jeff Flake, panel could entertain postponement

All 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday formally asked for a delay in the confirmation vote of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, which, taken together with similar calls by one of the committee Republicans, Arizona’s Jeff Flake, add to the face-off between the judge and the woman accusing him of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford.

“We write to ask that you delay the vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. There are serious questions about Judge Kavanaugh’s record, truthfulness, and character. The Committee should not move forward until all of these questions have been thoroughly evaluated and answered,” the Democrats wrote in a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa.

All Eyes in Congress on the Hurricane, and Beto and Willie
Religion, mother nature cut week short in Washington, so it’s back to the campaign trail

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

Thanks to the weather and religion, Congress had one short work week. Due to Rosh Hashanah, neither chamber was in Monday or Tuesday, and didn’t get back into town until Wednesday afternoon. Then Hurricane Florence’s approach to the Atlantic seaboard brought with it worries of flight cancellations.

Beto O’Rourke: Not Just Another Bassist From El Paso
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 36

Rep. Beto O’Rourke has gained rock star status as an insurgent liberal candidate running against the established Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, but, but, but, says Nathan L. Gonzales, Roll Call’s elections analyst and the publisher of Inside Elections, O’Rourke’s rise to national prominence did not happen overnight or come out of nowhere. 

When Burt Reynolds Played a Congressman, It Was a Slippery One
The film icon had many memorable roles, but this was not one of them

Among Burt Reynolds’ least known roles is a particularly baroque portrayal of David Dilbeck, a fictional Florida congressman, in “Striptease,” the 1996 film based on the Carl Hiaasen novel of the same name. 

Playing a corrupt creep who is head over heels for Demi Moore’s stripper with a heart of gold Erin Grant, Reynolds went over the top in oozing sleaze in the role. 

Something Old, Something New, Someone Appointed, Neither Blue
Republicans Jon Kyl and Troy Balderson sworn in on Wednesday

Congress grew by two Republicans on Wednesday when Jon Kyl was sworn on the Senate side and Troy Balderson over in the House. 

Shortly after the Senate convened at noon and voted to confirm Elad Roisman to be a member of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Vice President Mike Pence swore in Kyl, a former Senate minority whip who retired in 2013 but was appointed on Tuesday to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.