Crack of Dawn Tuesday Open Thread: Did They or Didn’t They?Posted: January 22, 2013
Good Morning Early Birds!!
I’ll have a Tuesday Reads post up a little later on, but here’s something to get you started.
Remember when we learned about what some Republican leaders were doing on the night of President Obama’s Inauguration in 2009? They met at a dinner organized by Frank Luntz in which they planned how they would thwart Obama’s agenda by obstructing every single initiative he brought forward. Robert Draper revealed it in his book on the U.S. House of Representatives, Do Not Ask What Good We Do.
On the night of Barack Obama’s inauguration, Republican leaders met in a private dining room at an expensive Washington, D.C., steakhouse to plot their comeback. It was a mix of congressmen and senators with three others added to diversify the gathering of white men. Pollster Frank Luntz, right-wing journalist Fred Barnes, and former speaker (and soon-to-be former presidential candidate) Newt Gingrich. Gingrich gave the opening remarks and gave tactical advice throughout, including a suggestion for Republicans to target the tax problems of New York Democrat Charlie Rangel. At the end of the night, Gingrich proclaimed, “You will remember this day. You’ll remember this as the day the seeds of 2012 were sown.”
Fortunately, Gingrich was wrong about that. Now Jason Horowitz of the Washington Post reports that Luntz tried to get the old gang together again last night.
Luntz is apparently trying to get some of the band back together, according to the office of Sen. Ronald H. Johnson (R-Wis.). This year’s strategy session will not be held in one of the private salons of the Caucus Room, much to the chagrin of Cristina Cravedi, the restaurant’s special-events coordinator, who said all the attention to the last banquet “was good for business.” Luntz, along with former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour (R) and power lawyer Tom Boggs, is an investor in the Caucus Room.
On Sunday, a few minutes after chatting with Obama confidant David Axelrod at Cafe Milano, Luntz declined to confirm or deny this year’s dinner. But he claimed that the depiction of his dinner four years ago was inaccurate. “There was never a conversation about how to make Obama look bad; that was never part of it,” he said…
Texas Rep. Pete Sessions hinted that such a meeting might happen.
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.), who attended the last dinner (“The first question was, ‘Are you going to accept the fate that falls your way? No!’ ”), said that he again planned to dine with Cantor and Jim Jordan, a conservative Ohio representative who was forced to apologize for lobbying colleagues to oppose House Speaker John A. Boehner’s debt plan. “There will be another one of those and it will be equally expressive,” he said of the dinner. (Asked whether he meant the Luntz dinner, he said, “I’m not going to spill those beans. I’m going to let you call Frank.”)
Others who attended last year’s dinner said they’d be meeting in smaller groups.
“We’ll find some Mexican restaurant somewhere,” said Coburn, who plans to discuss the debt limit with his friends, GOP Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Richard Burr of North Carolina). Others are legally barred from breaking bread (“The crazy ethics rules will keep me from meeting with any members,” said Republican former senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who now heads up the Heritage Foundation. “We’ll just stay away for now.”
Did they or didn’t they? What is their plan this time? What enterprising reporter will get the lowdown on the meeting?