Jason Dick

Roger Ailes, the Connection Between Bushworld and Trumpworld
The 41st and 45th president had in common the legendary GOP fixer and Fox News boss

For all of the contrasts drawn this week between President Donald Trump and President George H.W. Bush, and there are many, the two chief executives did share one thing in common that helped assure their electoral successes: Roger Ailes.

This week’s tributes to Bush, with their emphasis on his gentlemanly public service, optimism and affability, diverge sharply with the current president’s dark, transactional demeanor and outlook. But for all their superficial and substantive differences, they both were aided greatly by Ailes: Bush as an employer of his skills as a strategist and political ad man in the 1988 race and Trump as a recipient of his authority to provide a ready platform on the country’s premiere conservative news channel: Fox News.

For Riverby Books, a Time to Close
For owner Paul Cymrot, decision was personal, based on several factors

The closing of Riverby Books’ Capitol Hill location brings with it all the hallmarks of the great literature that animated its business: a sense of place, change, ambiguity and loss.

“I love the way it looks. I love the way it feels. I have a lot of memories here. It’s a neighborly place,” owner Paul Cymrot said of what he will miss most about the store he opened at 417 East Capitol St. SE in 2001 with his father, Steve.

Roger Ailes 'Was Never Sorry About Anything'
Political Theater, Episode 47


Sweet Smell of Succession, House Democrats Edition
The upward mobility of people who played the leadership game

For those House Democrats frustrated that Nancy Pelosi won’t provide them (Seth Moulton, Kathleen Rice, Tim Ryan) with a succession plan that entails her leaving and someone, anyone else taking over, consider — wait for it — this week’s House Democratic Caucus leadership elections

Let’s back up for a second. 

Vote on Confirming Thomas Farr Delayed, Demonstrating Low Margin of Error for Support
Unexpected absence of one GOP senator punts contentious nomination for now

Despite Senate Republicans’ hopes they would fill it this week, the nation’s oldest judicial vacancy will get a little older after they push consideration of Thomas Farr to be a district judge in North Carolina until next week. The delay also highlighted the degree of opposition to Farr, because it was necessary due to the unexpected absence of one GOP senator.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said Thursday a final vote on the nomination of Thomas Farr to be a federal judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina was postponed because Sen. James M. Inhofe had a death in the family. An aide later clarified it was a family emergency. 

Going Down to Mississippi, Senate Runoff Edition
Political Theater, Episode 46


Remembering James Billington, Who Brought Ice Skating to the Library of Congress
Long-serving librarian of Congress died at age 89 on Nov. 20

Tributes to the late Librarian of Congress James Billington have touched on his transformational role at the institution, his scholarship of Russian and intellect. But he also brought ice skating, yes ice skating, to the institution's Great Hall. 

On Oct. 25, 2012, the nation's repository of knowledge rolled out not exactly ice but an acrylic surface for “ice dancers” to perform in a winter wonderland for the Role of the Arts in International Relations, an event sponsored by American University’s Initiative for Russian Culture and the Mariinsky Foundation.

Mac Collins, Who Represented Georgia for 12 Years in the House, Dead at 74
Georgia Republican hailed from rural part of Peach State that quickly grew with Atlanta sprawl

Former Rep. Mac Collins, a Georgia Republican who represented parts of the Peach State for 12 years, died on Nov. 20 and was buried in Milner, Ga., on Sunday. He was 74.

The owner of a trucking company, Collins came to Congress after stints in the Georgia state Senate from 1989 to 1993 and the Butts County Commission from 1977 to 1981, where he served as a Democrat before switching parties to the GOP. Collins was elected to Congress in 1992, defeating incumbent Democrat Richard Ray.

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.

(Featuring illustrations from
‘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.