The Buzz

The pope is making some Republicans uneasy

Here we go with some post-Christmas chatter:

• “His economic perspective I’m not particularly enamored with, but his advocacy for the poor, his lifestyle example, his more modern outlook on social issues — I’ve been very impressed.” — Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican, on Pope Francis.

The new pope is scrambling the political math for Republicans who for years felt some kinship with the Catholic Church and its opposition to abortion, gay marriage and contraception-related provisions of Obamacare, Politico reports. Here’s a forecast: The pope, who has blasted “trickle-down” economics, will offer more surprises next year.

• “It’s no longer just a piece of paper that you can repeal and it goes away. There’s something there. We have to recognize that reality. We have to deal with the people that are currently covered under Obamacare.” — Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican and Tea Party favorite.

Johnson was acknowledging a new reality: With Obamacare now law, and some 2 million people benefiting from it, dealing with the issue isn’t as simple as just demanding its repeal. The key fact from a New York Times story on this: Once a benefit is bestowed, it’s almost impossible to take it away.

• “Millions of people have lost their health insurance. Millions of people can’t see their own doctors. And millions are paying more and getting worse.” — a new New Hampshire ad sponsored by Americans for Prosperity aimed at taking out first-term Democrat Ann McLane Kuster.

The ad, and a second one airing in Minnesota, are aimed at Democrats that Americans for Prosperity thinks are vulnerable in 2014. AFP president Tim Phillips said the group remains committed to repealing Obamacare. This also suggests that the health-care law will remain Political Topic #1 next year.

• “Simply put, too many Missourians feel that our representatives are being bought and paid for. Lawmakers need to be in it for the public service. Not for the freebies.” — John P. Messmer, a professor of political science at St. Louis Community College at Meramec and the founder of Missourians for Government Reform.

He was writing in the Post-Dispatch


Professor Messmer is right. Missouri remains the only state that permits unlimited gifts from lobbyists and unlimited campaign donations. Just think about that for a minute. That combo casts a pall over the entire Statehouse, not that Republican leaders seem to mind. When they come to realize that much of the prestige of their offices has evaporated — at least from the viewpoint of voters — that’s when they’ll finally take action.

• “A politician is a man who understands government. A statesman is a politician who’s been dead for 15 years.” — Harry Truman.

He’s so right. File this one under the “classic” category.