political-theater

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

President Donald Trump salutes as First Lady Melania Trump holds her hand over her heart at former President George H.W. Bush's casket in the Capitol Rotunda on Monday, Dec. 3, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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.

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

From left, Rep.-elect Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., and Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, arrive Thursday for the House Democrats’ leadership elections in the Longworth Building. Bustos went on to win the race for Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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. 

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

Members-elect from the 116th Congress pose for the freshman class photo on the East Front of the Capitol on November 14, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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.  

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

Girls dressed as characters from “Thor,” pose during an event near the Capitol reflecting pool hosted by Awesome Con in 2014. The U.S. election system is starting to take on aspects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a constant churn of smaller narratives setting up bigger chapters. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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. 

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

The recent bomb threats against prominent public figures are just one example of the escalating rhetoric in the political arena. But what effect does it have on voters? (CQ Roll Call file photo)

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. 

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

Director Jason Reitman, left, and actor Hugh Jackman attend a photo call for “The Front Runner” at the Crosby Street Hotel on Sept. 24 in New York City. (Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images file photo)

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

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

Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke joins Willie Nelson on stage during his Turn out For Texas Rally last month. Other Texas legends are coming out for O'Rourke. How much difference will it make, though? (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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

Taylor Swift endorsed former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen’s campaign for Senate in an Instagram post this week. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for TAS file photo)

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.

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

Senate staffers watch from their offices as police begin to arrest protesters opposed to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the atrium of the Hart Building on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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.”

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

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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