William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 10:25 P.M. ET:

POSSIBLE? – Scott Brown's decision not to run for the Massachusetts Senate seat made vacant by the resignation of John Kerry has created a mini-panic (understandable) among Bay State Republicans, who must quickly find a substitute.  There is some buzz about Ann Romney, wife of the defeated Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.  Mitt had, of course, been governor of Massachusetts.  Interesting idea, but I hope that Ann doesn't plunge in without some serious polling first.  Mitt didn't even carry Massachusetts in November.  First word is that Ann is unlikely to run.  Republicans might want up essentially conceding the seat to the Dems.  It's hard enough for a Republican to win in Massachusetts with a good candidate.  But with no candidate..?

DEFECTION – Republican Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska has announced his support of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense.  Johanns is only the second Republican in the Senate to do so.  The other is Thad Cochran of Mississippi.  Hagel, of course, comes from Nebraska.  He and Johanns are old friends.  If Hagel gets three more Republicans, he would have 60 votes, assuming all Dems stay loyal to him.  That means he could overcome any use of the filibuster to stop his confirmation.  It is incredible that, even after Hagel's disgraceful performance at his confirmation hearing, not a single Democrat has turned against him.  Loyalty to The Won trumps all in the Democratic Party.   Of course, Hagel could be stopped if the Senate had more Republicans.  But both in 2010 and 2012 the GOP through away easy Senate victories by nominating goofball, fringe candidates.  Shameful.

QUICK TRIP – Bill Clinton is rushing back from a trip to Japan to speak at the funeral Monday for former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.  Clinton will be representing President Obama.  I wonder if Hillary will attend.  If she has further political ambitions, that funeral is the place to be on Monday. 

February 2,  2013