Reading the Tea Leaves on the Coming Ideological Battle over the Debt Ceiling

reading-tea-leaves

I’m getting a sense that the White House has a plan to deal with the GOP hostage takers in the debt ceiling fight. The plan involves eliminating every possible alternative to Congress allowing the Treasury to pay the nation’s bills, while calmly but forcefully explaining to the American people how the U.S. government works. Obama apparently understands that the media will not help him educate the American people; therefore he will work around them.

Whether this plan is going work is anyone’s guess, but it seems pretty clear that Obama plans to pin the full responsibility for action on Congress.

On Friday, the administration eliminated the most recent suggestion for a “plan B,” the so-called “trillion dollar platinum coin.” They also reiterated the decision not to use the 14th Amendment option, which Obama first announced during the 2011 debt ceiling fight.

Joe Weisenthal was “stunned.”

With this, the White House has now ruled out the two best options for preventing a default in the event that the House GOP refused to life the debt ceiling. The White House has been quite adamant that the other alternative (invoking the 14th Amendment) is not acceptable.
So now the stakes are high, as The White House has refused to negotiate with the GOP on a debt ceiling hike.

What bargaining chips does The White House hold? Unclear.

Paul Krugman was characteristically shrill.

If I’d spent the past five years living in a monastery or something, I would take the Treasury Department’s declaration that the coin option is out as a sign that there’s some other plan ready to go. Maybe 14th Amendment, maybe moral obligation coupons or some other form of scrip, something.

And maybe there is a plan.

But as we all know, the last debt ceiling confrontation crept up on the White House because Obama refused to believe that Republicans would actually threaten to provoke default. Is the WH being realistic this time, or does it still rely on the sanity of crazies? [….]

…if we didn’t have some history here I might be confident that the administration knows what it’s doing. But we do have that history, and you have to fear the worst.

On Saturday, Krugman reported that he had gotten “calls” about Friday’s post from the powers that be:

The White House insists that it is absolutely, positively not going to cave or indeed even negotiate over the debt ceiling — that it rejected the coin option as a gesture of strength, as a way to put the onus for avoiding default entirely on the GOP.

Truth or famous last words? I guess we’ll find out.

I honestly can’t blame the White House for not wanting to use the 14th amendment or “platinum coin” options. Both would undoubtedly lead to wrangling in the courts and, in the case of the 14 amendment choice, a possible Constitutional crisis. But still, was it wise to publicly eliminate the only possible leverage the White House has to force the House GOP to get over their tantrums and allow the Treasury to pay the bills that Congress has already run up? I simply don’t know.

In the President’s press conference this morning, he appeared to confirm that my sense of the “plan” is accurate. He did a good job of spelling out what the consequences will be for the nation and the world if the U.S. defaults on its debts.

The debt ceiling is not a question of authorizing more spending. Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize more spending. It simply allows the country to pay for spending that Congress has already committed to.

These are bills that have already been racked up, and we need to pay them. So, while I’m willing to compromise and find common ground over how to reduce our deficits, America cannot afford another debate with this Congress about whether or not they should pay the bills they’ve already racked up. If congressional Republicans refuse to pay America’s bills on time, Social Security checks, and veterans benefits will be delayed.

We might not be able to pay our troops, or honor our contracts with small business owners. Food inspectors, air traffic controllers, specialist who track down loose nuclear materials wouldn’t get their paychecks. Investors around the world will ask if the United States of America is in fact a safe bet. Markets could go haywire, interest rates would spike for anybody who borrows money. Every homeowner with a mortgage, every student with a college loan, every small business owner who wants to grow and hire.

It would be a self-inflicted wound on the economy. It would slow down our growth, might tip us into recession. And ironically it would probably increase our deficit. So to even entertain the idea of this happening, of the United States of America not paying its bills, is irresponsible. It’s absurd. As the speaker said two years ago, it would be, and I’m quoting Speaker Boehner now, “a financial disaster, not only for us, but for the worldwide economy.”

So we’ve got to pay our bills. And Republicans in Congress have two choices here. They can act responsibly, and pay America’s bills, or they can act irresponsibly and put America through another economic crisis. But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. The financial wellbeing of the American people is not leverage to be used. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip. And they better choose quickly, because time is running short.

He also took opportunities to continue patiently explaining, in response to questions from obtuse members of the press corps such as Chuck Todd and Major Garrett.

Despite the efforts of Todd and Garrett to get Obama to say he’ll have to give in to Republican demands, the president repeatedly said he isn’t going to negotiate with GOP terrorists.

Will it work? And more importantly, will Obama really refuse to cave this time? As I noted earlier, Krugman has his doubts. One reporter, Juliana Goldman, even asked the president why anyone should believe him this time when he has always caved in the past. Obama’s response:

Well, first of all, Julianna, let’s take the example of this year and the fiscal cliff. I didn’t say that I would not have any conversations at all about extending the Bush tax cuts. What I said was, we weren’t going to extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. And we didn’t.

Now, you can argue that during the campaign, I said — I set the criteria for wealthy at $250,000, and we ended up being at $400,000, but the fact of the matter is, millionaires, billionaires are paying significantly more in taxes, just as I said.

So from — you know, from the start, my concern was making sure that we had a tax code that was fair and that protected the middle class. And my biggest priority was making sure that middle class taxes did not go up. You know, the difference between this year and 2011 is the fact that we’ve already made $1.2 trillion in cuts. And at — at the time, I indicated that there were cuts that we could sensibly make that would not damage our economy, would not impede growth.

I said at the time, I think we should pair it up with revenue in order to have an overall balanced package, but my own budget reflected cuts in discretionary spending. My own budget reflected the cuts that needed to be made. And we’ve made those cuts. Now, the challenge going forward is that we’ve now made some big cuts. And if we’re going to do further deficit reduction, the only way to do it is in a balanced and responsible way.

It’s all very calm and reasonable-sounding; and, as I said, I think Obama did a good job in today’s press conference. He has two more high-profile opportunities to get his message out–the Inaugural Address next Monday and the State of the Union Address on February 12. He could also make campaign-style appearances around the country as he did before the “fiscal cliff” battle.

Now let’s look at what the Republicans are planning. This morning we got the inside dirt from the usual suspects at Politico, Jim Vandehei, Mike Allen, and Jake Sherman. According to the Politico guys, the GOP is getting ready to go on the warpath.

The idea of allowing the country to default by refusing to increase the debt limit is getting more widespread and serious traction among House Republicans than people realize, though GOP leaders think shutting down the government is the much more likely outcome of the spending fights this winter.

“I think it is possible that we would shut down the government to make sure President Obama understands that we’re serious,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state told us. “We always talk about whether or not we’re going to kick the can down the road. I think the mood is that we’ve come to the end of the road.”

Republican leadership officials, in a series of private meetings and conversations this past week, warned that the White House, much less the broader public, doesn’t understand how hard it will be to talk restive conservatives off the fiscal ledge. To the vast majority of House Republicans, it is far riskier long term to pile up new debt than it is to test the market and economic reaction of default or closing down the government.

GOP officials said more than half of their members are prepared to allow default unless Obama agrees to dramatic cuts he has repeatedly said he opposes. Many more members, including some party leaders, are prepared to shut down the government to make their point. House Speaker John Boehner “may need a shutdown just to get it out of their system,” said a top GOP leadership adviser. “We might need to do that for member-management purposes — so they have an endgame and can show their constituents they’re fighting.”

Basically, the whole world is supposed to stand back and let the Tea Party wackos in the House have an extended, violent temper tantrum to “get it out of their system.” Or else.

According the Politico piece, Speaker Boehner will be meeting with GOP members most of the week to discuss strategy and then on Thursday and Friday House GOP members will meet in Williamsburg, VA. During the two-day meeting Boehner and presumably some of the saner House Republican leaders will try to explain to the Tea Party crazies why forcing the U.S. into default is not a very smart idea. I wonder if there will be visual aids?

So that’s where we are for now. At least Obama has stated his case clearly. However, at some point he is going to have to do something dramatic if the Republicans won’t budge. And why should the Republicans or anyone else believe Obama will stick to his guns this time? Only time will tell. I thought this piece by Garrett Epps at The Atlantic (published on Saturday) summed up the situation very well: Does Obama Actually Have a Debt-Ceiling Plan, or Is He Bluffing?

Moby Dick Best Sm 1

In Melville’s Moby Dick, the whaling ship Pequod crosses the equator on its quest for the White Whale, and in that instant, Captain Ahab smashes his quadrant to the deck and crushes it underfoot.

No more careful navigation. It is, we understand, Moby Dick or die.

As we hurtle toward the new debt-limit crisis, President Obama has done much the same. He says he won’t negotiate spending cuts with a gun to his head. He’s also said that he won’t invoke § 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment, with its provision that “the public debt of the United States . . . shall not be questioned,” to give him authority to continue borrowing once the debt limit has been reached. The Senate Democratic leadership Friday urged him to prepare to raise the ceiling unilaterally; so far, he has remained mum.

Yet Obama, to all appearances, is the calmest man in this overheated capital as the doomsday clock counts down toward a first-ever U.S. default, and the almost certain global depression that would follow.

We can only wait and see what will happen, but as Epps writes, in the end, the onus will be on Obama.

The moment may be coming when wishing and faith do not suffice. Those are the moments when presidents earn their pay. If that requires reversing course on the Fourteenth Amendment, so be it; if it impels a stupid coin trick, then so it does; and if it imposes a political cost on the president, then he must pay it.

After Ahab smashes the Pequod’s quadrant, second-mate Stubb muses to himself, “Well, well; I heard Ahab mutter, ‘Here some one thrusts these cards into these old hands of mine; swears that I must play by them, and no others.’ And damn me, Ahab, but thou actest right; live in the game, and die in it!”

And that’s just the debt ceiling. Obama will also have to deal with fights over the sequester and the federal budget.

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41 Comments on “Reading the Tea Leaves on the Coming Ideological Battle over the Debt Ceiling”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    If nothing else, this will be interesting to watch.

    • RalphB says:

      I’m at a loss as to having a clue what may happen. I agree with your post 100% though and it will be one hell of a ride. I don’t envy Obama having to deal with insane children.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I thought it was interesting that Obama never mentioned Social Security except as an aside. He talked a lot about Medicare and Medicaid and how Republicans want to cut those.

        I admire the way he laid it out, but it all depends on whether he has the guts to hold out to the bitter end instead of caving.

      • dakinikat says:

        He did mention Medicare–which is part of the debt–and said he wanted to make it sustainable. I’m glad he didn’t mention Social Security. I’m tired of any talk of the federal debt and deficit with any mention of Social Security. That false link needs to be trounced good. I liked several things he said including his channeling Clinton’s Explainer-in-chief role by saying congress racked the bills up and needs to not do a dine and dash. I also liked him saying we are are not a deadbeat nation.

        Did you read Charlies P’s thing on the Tiger Beat? He was harsh as always …

        great post BB!!

        (Also, I”m tired of the damned white house press corps not knowing a damned thing about economics or how federal budgets work)

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks, Dak. I did look at Pierce’s blog but he didn’t have anything up on this then. I’ll go read it right now.

        • dakinikat says:

          I actually linked to his comments on both of these things on the bottom of the morning link … he’s got one up about obama’s “priorities” too.

      • RalphB says:

        I believe the entire press corps are bunch of freakin’ idiots. Treating something serious enough to crater the world economy as nothing more than an inconvenience for Orange Julius just proves how stupid and insular they are. They’re unable to think outside of their own social circles for any reason. That makes them as bad as the tea party dumbasses to me.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      “(Also, I”m tired of the damned white house press corps not knowing a damned thing about economics or how federal budgets work)”

      Ain’t that the damned truth. They’re just a bunch of friggin hand puppets!!!

  2. ANonOMouse says:

    Very good post BB

    “And that’s just the debt ceiling. Obama will also have to deal with fights over the sequester and the federal budget.”

    And I think that is Obama’s real objective. Looking at this from the point that Obama continues to make “that he won’t be held hostage” I’m beginning to think that the “sequester” is the real goal of this 12 dimensional chess game.

    Obama really has the edge in this fight because if the GOP throws us into default then Obama can just hold his ground all the way through to the budget fight because at that point he has nothing to lose. I’m wondering if the argument behind closed doors isn’t a demand that the debt ceiling issue must go away or he’ll force the sequester. We already know the sequester cuts Defense dramatically, while exempting the safety nets. I think that will be where Obama plants his flag. I read that our defense budget is greater than the defense budgets of all other nations combined. Obviously defense is the real budget problem and the sequester may be the only way to address it.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I can’t believe Obama will let us default. Even the Republicans are probably not crazy enough to do that. Once it happens, there will be no going back. The economy will crash and we’ll most likely go into a depression.

      But you could be right that the sequester is Obama’s ace in the hole. After all, if those cuts go into effect, the Republicans will be blamed and they are reportedly draconian.

      • RalphB says:

        I really don’t want to experience the US turning into Argentina when it defaults, but that could be the result. Gigantic unemployment, runaway inflation for a currency worth squat. Wouldn’t that be a hell of a legacy for the Republicans?

      • ANonOMouse says:

        The question I keep asking myself is “what would Obama have to concede to the GOP to avoid a debt ceiling fight?” Obviously the dispute isn’t over the bills that are currently due, Obama and the Dem talking heads have relentlessly made the point that raising the debt ceiling is only about paying the bills that have already been made. So the only thing that could be at dispute is down the road spending and we all know the GOP wants spending cuts in all the wrong places with no offsetting revenue. The GOP doesn’t want to make any corporate tax concessions, no tax code concessions, no concessions on the Defense budget, so the target of the GOP budget cuts is obviously the elderly, middle class & poor. IMHO Obama has no alternative but to hold his ground on the debt ceiling issue because I’m positive the concessions wanted by the GOP are SS, Medicare/Medicaid, ObamaCare. Since the extension of unemployment insurance was negotiated during the expiration of the Bush Tax Cut fight, UI is off the table, but the food stamp program, pell grants and the downline safety net programs like the school lunch program, headstart, housing assistance, daycare assistance etc are high on the GOP hit list. This is going to be a bloodbath.

        • dakinikat says:

          I’d just order the treasury to pay the freaking bills and let them figure out what basis the congress figure out why they ordered stuff up and then decided have not to actually pay for it … I think there’s something up his sleeve at this point … how can congress order spending and then NOT pay for it? It’s not constitutional!!!

      • ANonOMouse says:

        “I think there’s something up his sleeve at this point”

        I agree, but I think it’s so obvious we’re missing it. He said again today he’s not going to use the 14th Amendment option. He said it calmly and with conviction. He didn’t seem conflicted in his commitment to not be held hostage by the debt ceiling. The GOP can either hang itself or raise the debt ceiling. I don’t think they will commit suicide on this issue because I think that behind closed doors Obama is saying “if you do that then I’ll bring on the sequester”. The GOP does not want the sequester under any circumstance because the biggest hit is at the DOD. Nothing is more important to the GOP then the Military Industrial Complex. The debt ceiling stand-off is a bluff that will end when they believe that some sort of broader budget deal can be struck that will spare the sacred defense cow. I really think Obama has found the winning move here and as long as he doesn’t blink he’ll win this battle and also keep them from dismantling the safety nets.

      • RSM says:

        Could it be that the 14th Amendment option is in play, but it will not be an administration initiative? It’s going to happen, but in a way that keeps Obama’s hands clean? I mean if I was a federal contractor, and I was told by the government that they couldn’t pay the money they promised because of this, I’d be on the phone with my lawyer in a hot minute. I would have no problem filing a federal lawsuit over the constitutionality of Congress’ actions. There’s no question I would have standing to file. All that’s needed is a judge who’s willing to slap an injunction barring enforcement of the law until the situation is worked out, and appeals judges willing to uphold it. In general, businesses and lawyers know to file suits where the judges are most likely to be sympathetic.

      • bostonboomer says:

        It’s possible, I guess. I just hope there is some kind of back-up plan.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Sorry I missed your links, Dak. Pierce posted at 2:30, which is when I was working on this post. I’m slow because I’m hampered by this f&cking cold.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Pierce: “Politico is the Dalkon Shield of American journalism.”

      The Dalkon Shield???! That’s an oldie but baddie. I actually had one of those back in the day. I wonder what caused Pierce to drag that one up from the distant past. Politico is the IUD for Congress’s IED?

    • dakinikat says:

      argh … okay, well, given Bretton Woods didn’t happen until around WW2 … DUHHHHHHHH … I honestly don’t believe these freaking journalists… they have NO clue about fiat currencies … sheesh, what do they want to do? Crash like Spain in the 1500s and 1600s from freaking gold hoarding?

      • bostonboomer says:

        I don’t think that was the point. It was that FDR wouldn’t have closed off possible bargaining chips and he wasn’t afraid to do something unorthodox like using executive orders to create things like the bank holiday and the CCC.

        Sorry I irritated you though. Jonathan Alter has written at least two books on FDR, and I believe that his focus was to compare FDR’s daring attitude with Obama’s fear of doing anything that the villagers won’t like.

        • dakinikat says:

          well, all it said to me was I have no idea what monetary policy, fiat money, and the great changes that came from dumping the gold standard means to me … but then I don’t see it as just symbolic … that’s probably the problem… the idea of returning to “money” based on a commodity is like going back to an abacus … FDR certainly would not have done that

    • RalphB says:

      The commenters on that thread are really stupid people, for the most part. Most don’t even know the debt limit does not involve authorizing new spending. If they’re typical, we’re fucking doomed.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’d delete the comment, but then the responses would go too. It was just a silly story. Now I’m leaving. In my present condition I can’t handle getting beaten up. Sorry.

      • dakinikat says:

        No, no … I agree with the sentiment that FDR would do something bold … he did … he supported getting rid of coins based on GOLD … it’s not what you said at all … coins based on platinum are not what FDR would do … it’s a bad metaphor from them, the sentiment is fine

      • RalphB says:

        Please don’t leave. But if you do, take care of yourself.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Sorry for being overly sensitive. I am sooooo sick. I’m not in my right mind.

  4. mjames says:

    This whole thing simply boggles the mind. The first question I’d ask of any of these Repubs who allegedly espouse fiscal accountability: Where were you when Bush’s grand adventure in Iraq was never put on any balance sheet anywhere? Was never part of any federal budget. Was never paid for. Are you effing kidding me? That was a Republican show, spending gazillions of dollars with no accounting whatsoever. This has nothing at all to do with having too much debt. That’s where the fight should begin. Pointing out that the Repubs don’t care a whit about government debt. Having spent billions on unfunded wars, they have no credibility at all. Period.

  5. Hey y’all, sorry about no evening reads post tonight. My laptop is acting funny. This morning the touch pad was all over the place and then this evening when I turned the computer on…all my stuff was gone. I shut it down and left it alone for a while and just turned it on now and it works. Anyway, have a good night.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Sorry about your computer problems. I hope they resolve themselves. I’ve been having weird problems with mine lately too.

  6. If you get a chance, I know it is ot but: We Are Thetans In The Material World | TBogg

    Having previously allowed Megan McArdle to rent out her column to the likes of the Koch Brothers in return for Crate & Barrel gift cards, The Atlantic has now cut out the middleman and is just whoring themselves out to any bugfuck crazy cult that stops you on the street.

    […]

    In related news, Tom Cruise is going to save us all:

    Superstar actor and Church of Scientology member Tom Cruise is a high-ranking Church official and he’s on a mission to save people from the aliens that live inside of all of us, according to a new book.

    The claims come from a new book by Pulitzer Prize winning author Lawrence Wright who alleges that Cruise has focused on bringing non-believers into the fold in order to bring salvation to Earth from thetans.

    In Scientology doctrine, thetans are the alien life forms that inhabit humans and have destroyed the planet in the past.

    Who would have thought that Earth was going to be saved by a five-foot three closet case?

    Not me.

    I know how we all reacted to that McArdle post…damn!

    • Hey, in a related article, Why CBS Can’t Be Trusted With the News – Truthdig

      There is squawk about CBS and Cnet and the Vegas tech show.

      After the recently concluded Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, during which companies show off many of the new year’s gadgets, 40 editors of the online news and reviews site CNET met to vote on their best in show awards. They decided that the best device they saw in the whole show was the Dish satellite network’s Hopper, a digital video recorder that can skip commercials and send recordings to your iPad.

      But there was a problem. CNET is owned by CBS and CBS is suing Dish over that very device. CBS learned of the decision and ordered CNET to revote, excluding the Hopper from consideration.
      […]

      The Verge, another technology news and reviews site, reports the following: “Apparently the move to strike the Hopper from the awards was passed down directly to [CBS Interactive News executive Mark] Larkin from the office of CBS CEO Leslie Moonves. Moonves has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the Hopper, telling investors at one point, ‘Hopper cannot exist … if Hopper exists, we will not be in business with (Dish).’ ”

      It may seem obvious that corporations owning the news will inevitably lead to such conflicts of interest and censorship. But there has traditionally been an understanding in all forms of media that the truth is the truth and editors have independence from their paymasters. This story shows that not only is CBS willing to bend editorial decisions to its corporate interests, but with such brazenness, we have entered a new era in which the owners of news don’t even care about the pretense of truth and independence.

      Forget the Hopper for a moment. Why should we believe that Leslie Moonves doesn’t pick up the phone when he sees something he doesn’t like on “60 Minutes”?

      Tru Dat!

      I would also go so far as to say that a lot of the things Dak has mentioned about the press/media not knowing shit about what they are “reporting” about can also be a reflection of who is paying for ads and where the top executives interest are centered.

  7. RalphB says:

    The GOP may be negotiating with itself this time around.

    TPM: Report: House GOP Leaders Weighing 4-Year Debt Ceiling Raise

    House Republican leaders are weighing a proposal that would increase the debt limit for four years in exchange for substantial spending and entitlement cuts, Roll Call reports:

    The plan would, however, come at no easy price for Obama, who pledged as recently as Monday morning not to negotiate with Republicans on a debt ceiling hike. Republicans would demand major tax and entitlement reforms — the latter of which has been anathema to many Democrats — and they could also ask for movement on the sequester and an expiring continuing resolution that must be dealt with in the next three months.

    The plan is pending official approval from GOP members, along with a variety of other options, who will be briefed on the details by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) during their conference retreat later this week.

    • bostonboomer says:

      They always want massive “entitlement” cuts. That’s a non-starter.

      • RalphB says:

        Remember during the 2008 bailouts when the Fed created several trillion worth of liquidity to back Wall St? Wonder if Bernanke has something up his sleeve?

        • Ralph, I just saw this…it is about Europe:

          Whoopsy | Firedoglake

          The International Monetary Fund apologizes for any inconvenience:

          The International Monetary Fund (IMF) released research today suggesting that it had significantly underestimated the damage European austerity would do to EU growth rates.

          So things have gotten worse because of those austerity policies.

          But as you know by now, the only viable solution for the damage that has been caused by austerity is…more austerity.

          (Reuters) – The worst of the euro zone debt crisis may be over, but governments must not let up on reforms or budget cuts if they want to put the turmoil firmly behind them, the EU’s top economic official said on Friday.

          International Monetary Fund Admits It Severely Underestimated Cost Of Austerity | ThinkProgress

          You or Dak may have mentioned this before, since the IMF came out 2 weeks ago with that “Livestrong Truthcasm” (a reference to Lance Armstrong admitting to Oprah, what everyone already knew, that he did in fact cheat.)

  8. RalphB says:

    For anyone who may have missed Charles Pierce today :-)

    Proof That God Hates Me

    Sometimes I wonder why I keep doing this. Politics is nothing but an arena for abject disappointment.

    Former South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford said Monday she will not run for Congress. Sanford was on South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s short list of possible replacements for Republican Jim DeMint in the Senate. Haley appointed congressman Tim Scott, which created the House vacancy. Sanford had said she was going to look at possibly running in the special election to succeed Scott. She told the Associated Press on Monday that being a mother was more rewarding. Her popularity in South Carolina rose after it was revealed in 2009 that her husband, Mark, was having an affair with a woman from Argentina. Jenny Sanford’s decision avoids a potentially messy campaign against her ex-husband. The Weekly Standard reported last week that sources close to Mark Sanford said the former Republican governor will run for Scott’s seat, which he held from 1995 to 2001 before being elected governor.

    “Potentially messy”?

    How about, “potentially freaking awesome”? How about, “so potentially freaking awesome that Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner would come back from the freaking dead in order to write about it”?

    • RalphB says:

      Barry’s very first comment :-)

      Moderator Ray Bob Dick: “Ms. Sanford, by virtue of the coin flip and the agreement between campaigns, we have reached the part of the debate where the candidates ask each other questions. Mrs. Sanford…”

      Jenny Sanford: “Thank you, Ray Bob. I’d like to ask the governor, first off, should he be elected senator, does he intend on bringing that whore he’s fucking to Washington, if, in fact, that whore is even a citizen of this country, and does the whore mind that he cries after climaxing?”

      Ray Bob: “Governor, you have one minute for your response.”