It was a dim and misty morning in the middle of Nowhere…. (More)

Okay, I’m still not Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. I couldn’t even write something like this:

The night was dark; which is a bit redundant, since night is by definition dark, unless it’s a stormy night when lightning causes moments of brilliant light, or except in places like Norway or Alaska where summer nights can be pretty light, but still, most of the time when you say “night,” people are going to think “dark.”

That was penned, or typed, or perhaps chiseled on rock, probably something soft like sandstone since it’s awfully hard to chisel really hard stone like granite unless you have a diamond-bit drill, which perhaps Joseph E. Fountain of did, but it would have cost a small fortune to ship that chiseled granite from Fountain’s home in Fredericksburg, Virginia to office of the Grand Panjandrum of the Bulwer-Lytton Awards in San Jose, California, so Fountain probably penned it, or typed it, unless he texted it, but their submission guidelines don’t include a contact number for texting, so yeah, probably penned, or typed.

Which is to say, I don’t know but I can make a reasoned guess.

And while yesterday I said “I have no idea” about the guests or topics of the Sunday morning talk shows on April 30, 2017 – exactly 100 days after our next president’s inauguration – that’s not quite true. I don’t know, but I can make some reasoned guesses.

Let’s start with three data-based guesses. First, it’s increasingly likely that our next president will be Hillary Clinton. Second, it’s increasingly likely that Democrats will control the U.S. Senate. Third, it’s increasingly likely that Democrats will gain at least 10-15 seats in the U.S. House.

Now let’s add an expert guess. Georgetown University political science professor Michele Swers argued that a smaller GOP caucus will be even more conservative. That’s partly because most of the Democrats’ gains will come at the expense of moderate, purple-district Republicans. But she also notes that there are GOP safe seats where a more conservative newcomer will replace a retiring moderate.

All in all, there will probably fewer House Republicans in 2017, but more of them will be radical conservatives, the kind who will be angry that Speaker Paul Ryan abandoned Donald Trump. They might well back a challenger to replace Ryan. House rules require a majority of all House members to elect a Speaker, and the radicals probably won’t have 218 votes for their candidate. But they would need only 18 defectors from a 235-seat GOP caucus to block Ryan’s election …

… unless Democrats cut a deal. Say Ryan is 25 votes short of the 218 he needs and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says to him: “I’ll tell my caucus it’s okay if they vote for you, provided you agree to end the Hastert Rule. If your whip and my whip agree that a bill has 218 votes, from Republicans and/or Democrats, you’ll bring it to the floor.”

That may sound like a pipe dream, but Pelosi could make a strong argument: why should 118 Republicans – a mere 27% of the House – have the power to block a bill? That’s even more undemocratic than the Senate filibuster, which lets a 40% minority block a vote. And unlike the filibuster, Hastert Rule supporters can’t call on two centuries of tradition to defend it.

I think Ryan might well take that deal, and to back that educated guess I offer yesterday’s news that John McCain took the No-Mobile out for a spin, and it didn’t go well:

Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) office on Monday walked back his suggestion that Senate Republicans could continue to stonewall the confirmation of a ninth Supreme Court justice if Hillary Clinton is elected, insisting he will cast a vote on any nominee the next president puts forward.

“Senator McCain believes you can only judge people by their record and Hillary Clinton has a clear record of supporting liberal judicial nominees,” McCain spokesman Rachael Dean told TPM in a statement. “That being said, Senator McCain will, of course, thoroughly examine the record of any Supreme Court nominee put before the Senate and vote for or against that individual based on their qualifications as he has done throughout his career.”

The Arizona senator said in a radio interview earlier Monday that GOP lawmakers would remain “united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up.”

Even his Senate Republican colleagues are having none of that:

“We ought to let the people have a voice, and let the new president make a decision,” said [Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck] Grassley. “So whether Hillary wins, or Trump wins, I think it has to be done on January 20 or after that. And I think our Senate majority leader said the same thing.”

And last month, in a short conversation between votes, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told The Washington Post that there needed to be Supreme Court votes after the election.

“It couldn’t be long,” Flake said. “Some people would say, ‘Oh, hold out as long as you can.’ But politically, you can’t hold off that long. And you shouldn’t. I think we ought to move on him as soon as we get to the lame duck. Frankly, we’ll be lucky if – assuming Hillary Clinton wins – she appoints him.”

Maybe I’m reading tea leaves through rose colored glasses, but it seems to me like at least some Republicans have decided the No-Mobile won’t get them over the hill.

So let’s say Ryan takes Pelosi’s deal. How might that shape President Clinton’s first 100 days?

Why my emphasis on rural areas? First, because most House Republicans represent rural areas. Second, because polls show rural resentment was a key driver for Trump supporters. Finally, because 20% of Americans live in rural areas.

Yes, the 25% figures I suggested are a more-than-per-capita slice of the pie for rural Americans. And yes, much-ballyhooed reports that the post-2009 recovery left rural America behind were based on faulty data. But the numbers on small business startups weren’t, and if sweetening the pot for rural communities is the price of passing much-needed infrastructure, education, and jobs bills … Democrats would be as foolish to reject those deals as Ryan would be to reject my hypothetical Pelosi offer.

But-but-but, pundits say, Speaker Ryan hopes to run for president in 2020, so he’ll have no incentive to work with President Clinton. I disagree. If my data-based guesses above pan out, Trump’s loss will have crushed any remaining hope for a GOP-base-only election strategy. The 2012 GOP presidential candidate – whether Ryan or someone else – will know they must reach beyond Angry White Men in order to win. Polls show Americans are fed up with gridlock, and they blame Congress for it.

Ryan can’t drive the No-Mobile up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. If he truly wants to challenge Clinton in 2020, he’ll need to show he can work with her in 2017 … and that’s my fog-shrouded glimmer of dawn.


Image Credit: Crissie Brown (


Good day and good nuts