A broken Washington finally grinds down Saxby Chambliss

A scandalous photo wended its way through Washington last week, documenting a furtive-looking meeting at a dark Capitol Hill bar in Washington.

In the photograph, U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Mark Warner of Virginia, one Republican and one Democrat, are engaged in close conversation. Possibly, theirs was yet another bipartisan discussion of D.C.’s terrible fiscal condition. They’ve been beating that drum for the better part of two years – to little effect.

monocle

Perhaps Chambliss was chewing over his decision to throw in the towel. According to the time stamp, the photo at The Monocle was snapped on Wednesday, 48 hours before he pulled the plug on a 19-year career in Congress and a third term in the U.S. Senate.

The sight of a Republican and Democrat engaged in civil discourse has become so rare that the moment — like two threatened pandas in a zoo — was worth capturing. In itself, that’s proof that Washington has become an incredibly sick place. A hothouse of suspicion, back-biting and cable news posturing. Or a playground for people willing to kick the economy and your 401(k) thither and yon. Take your pick.

According to the 69-year-old Chambliss, pure frustration, and the prospect of wasting eight more years in trench warfare, prompted him to announce he’d be leaving Washington when his term ends. “The debt-ceiling debacle of 2011 and the recent fiscal-cliff vote showed Congress at its worst and, sadly, I don’t see the legislative gridlock and partisan posturing improving anytime soon,” Georgia’s senior senator said in a statement.

Chambliss had long conceded that he would have primary opposition next year. Tea partyists, angered by his dalliances with Democrats and his talk of the need for increased federal revenue, had been urging the likes of U.S. Reps. Paul Broun of Athens and Tom Price of Roswell into the contest.

Chambliss had banked $1.4 million for 2014, but had declared he would put off any major fund-raising until next month. He’s never been known as a stellar fund-raiser, but his friends said that money wasn’t an issue. Apparently, Wall Street is pleased when you spend two years lobbying for fiscal reform designed to keep the economy afloat – and out of the reach of those counseling the sack cloth and ashes of austerity.

Deep pockets were ready to fund multi-million dollar Super PACs in Chambliss’ defense, we’re told.

The irony of Chambliss falling victim to a rabidly partisan and dysfunctional Congress, of course, is that his successful 2002 campaign against Democratic incumbent Max Cleland was considered – at the time – a new level of hyper-partisanship. It included a TV ad that featured photos of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, while attacking Cleland, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, on security issues in the aftermath of 9/11.

But in 2007, Chambliss – a consistent champion of Georgia agriculture – ran afoul of his own GOP base when he (and compadre Johnny Isakson) participated in early negotiations on immigration reform. At that year’s state Republican convention, Chambliss argued in favor of an adequate guest workers program, and was showered with boos.

Chambliss backed away from that fight. But he refused to do the same when it came to searching for a grand bargain to address a $16 trillion federal deficit with Virginia’s Warner. Over Thanksgiving, Chambliss took on anti-tax guru Grover Norquist. Only last week, the senator chided would-be challenger Broun.

“Not only do I understand our debt and deficit problem, I have gotten off the sidelines to try and find a solution. Those who vote ‘no’ on everything obviously don’t care about solving the country’s problems,” Chambliss said.

Contacted on Friday, Cleland declined comment.

But other Democrats weren’t shy about praising Chambliss’ two terms and his battle for the middle ground. “I congratulate Senator Saxby Chambliss on his service to the people of the great state of Georgia,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed – even as he ducked the question of whether he would join the stampede for Chambliss’ seat.

The Twitter post from state Sen. Jason Carter, grandson of the former president:

“I wish #Saxby the best, but his retirement is sad for the country. We need folks working together to solve the debt crisis….”

Washington’s dysfunction and the need for Republicans to redefine themselves are closely linked. On the night before Chambliss decided that a life of sipping whisky on back porches wouldn’t be so bad, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told GOP leaders gathered in Charlotte, N.C., “We’ve got to stop being the stupid party. It’s time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has spent the last two weeks shopping a new Republican approach to immigration reform.

Georgia’s 2014 race for U.S. Senate will feature an army eager to please the Republican party’s tea party wing. But one unexpected name quickly surfaced on Friday – that of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, who during his eight years as governor often warned grassroots Republicans against volatile language and extreme positioning. Long before Chambliss, Perdue also tangled with Norquist and other anti-tax forces.

“The governor is really concerned about the current course of the country,” said a close adviser, who added that Perdue intends to think more about making the race next week.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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112 comments Add your comment

Buymadeinusjobs

January 26th, 2013
9:38 am

Sen. why not run as a independent so you can say and vote how you want issue by issue, that is what is needed I think. I did not like your behavior when you called disabled veteran Sen. Cleland a non patriot/weak on military or something similiar to that so I am sure you could beat a tea party opponent if you think that is problem.

Now Democrats if Sen. Chambliss does not change his mind, get behind strongest candidate now, register everybody to vote, educate them on what was in Ryan’s budget 2011 which all Republican Senators and House members voted for cut taxes for wealthy, cut benefits for veterans, voucherized medicare for seniors, cut medicaid/other benefits for disabled, seniors, low paid workers, unemployed.

Run a democrat in every local, state, federal race, get to know your voters[Koch bros/Alec other big money will lie about you , they will do anything to keep Repub. in power, get their legislation passed].

Make sure your voters have right ID, Vote in every election. Please start now.

Bob Loblaw

January 26th, 2013
9:49 am

Carter is correct. It’s sad for the country that a bi-partisan approach to our country’s debt crisis brings out the long knives from TEA party RINOs.

A Rasmussen poll says that the proportion of Americans identifying as Tea Partiers is down from 24 percent in 2010 to only eight percent now. The oft-quoted conservative blogger Erick Erickson at RedState.com concludes that the Tea Party “is in disarray.”

http://nonprofitquarterly.org/policysocial-context/21630-should-tea-party-embrace-or-distance-itself-from-national-groups.html#.UQPrtGc1CSo

lynnie Gal

January 26th, 2013
9:54 am

I was never a Saxby fan, being a Democrat, but I respect his efforts to compromise and find middle ground. When a solid conservative like Chambliss finds that his own party has become too toxic for him to perform his duties, it’s a real shame.

Jethro from Honest Atlanta

January 26th, 2013
9:55 am

It would be better for Saxby Chambliss to smoke marijuana and legalise is as a taxable cash crop for Georgia, saving money on prisons, jail, and policing, rather than inventing character assassination for Max Cleland. But I guess those hands in the dirt tax-paying marijuana farmers of the future would not be so keen to write nice big PAC checks to Senator Chambliss for some of that cut-n-run business as usual from outside the state of Georgia.

Jbill

January 26th, 2013
10:07 am

Max Cleland is a joke..thanks for your service sir but no to the Senate.
Buy USA –Yes! but Democrats will do all the dirty tricks to win like the last election. The Democrats of today are not the same party as 10-15 years ago. Left Liberals have taken over. I will never vote for a Demo again unless they change. The Two party system has gone to hell..to far to the left and to far to the right…

Jethro from Honest Atlanta

January 26th, 2013
10:07 am

The thing about drugs use is that drug use goes down when you legalise it. Not that many people want to take drugs to begin with, and when it is made legal, it no longer has the appeal of rebellion and “cool” to persons attracted to that. Legalising drugs makes the drugs “uncool.” Chambliss could make history if before he left the senate, he championed a bill to legalise drugs. But he appears to not be interested in making history. Where are the politicians who want to make history, real history? -It is said that those who have power do not like to let go of it. After the lobbying checks that are not from citizens, what is left for one of the men to do? Keep and hold power. This takes about as much intelligence as getting baked on marijuana, fat on pizza, and watching NFL on TV. But there’s money in it. You can take that money and pay for machine guns and cartels in Mexico, or you can pay for health and education in your home state. The joke is the resource rich providence in Canada in all the more rich from growing marijuana and shipping it to be sold in the United States. So what does Georgia do? Instead of producing and obtaining tax revenue, Georgia SPENDS MONEY on prohibition and driving their already dumb poor citizenry just a little bit farther into the dirt. Go Georgia! UGA! S-A-X-B-Y! M-O-U-L-T-R-Y! Keep it smart dumb and poor. If you’re not telling people what to do, then make everything else illegal. 1920’s a good time. Let’s bring it back. Force Poverty! Big Power! Wall Street! Character Assassination! Saxby! Saxby!

Road Scholar

January 26th, 2013
10:17 am

Saxby, sorry t see you go. But what about the proposal above to run as an independent. Would that give you the ear of both sides?

Regardless, let the next two years be your most productive! Immigration, tax, agriculture and other reforms could be your legacy!

honested

January 26th, 2013
10:17 am

I guess saxby heard bobby jindal’s speech and realized the choices….

Democrats, or the Stupid Party!

What you sow, so shall ye reap.

Jethro from Honest Atlanta

January 26th, 2013
10:18 am

Hey Saxby Why is it that under your watch, there are some areas of the economy with no market competiton? Are we supposed to learn to speak Russian next for some soviet era relating, comradre? -Saxby probably gets anaesthesia with his dentistry and has his teeth fixed instead of pulled. Oh, Comrade, my Captain.

Jethro from Honest Atlanta

January 26th, 2013
10:23 am

honested, Democrats? You mean the lying killers on the loose who want to change how you think?

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 26th, 2013
10:24 am

I wonder if being 70 years old has anything to do with it?

But then again, what fun would that be for the………….pundits?

Jethro from Honest Atlanta

January 26th, 2013
10:25 am

Hey Saxby, How come under your watch some little 25 year old genius hacker dude gets 5 felonies and 30 years in federal prison, and yet the HSBC bankers caught moving billions in drug money and nobody goes to jail?

Woofy One

January 26th, 2013
10:32 am

Debbie Dooley is a total idiot

honested

January 26th, 2013
10:34 am

jetrho,

You might want to climb out of the bunker and look around.

Phil Lunney

January 26th, 2013
10:35 am

Like many, i have criticized Saxby over the years, but after his staff member was caught gay bashing a couple of years ago, i thought i was seeing a change. He worked with the Gang of 6 to try to find a middle ground on the deficit and the Conservatives led by Erick Erickson started to call him a RINO and Taxby (but then these folks aren’t looking for solutions, they are looking to hold on to an ideology that is bankrupting America).
My hope is that Saxby becomes independent over the next 2 years and truly keeps looking for solutions. For instance, if he led on the Defense Budget, trying to cut spending logically, he might be able to influence positive changes and even help the realignment with the interests of Georgia bases considered and really look at the programs that are good for the U S Military in the 21st Century rather than just keeping Defense jobs.
i may be wrong but Mr. Chambliss if you can withstand the hateful criticism that will come from both sides, the next 2 years can make your legacy (but don’t just listen to me, sit down with Sam Nunn and see what he says).

TBone

January 26th, 2013
10:49 am

God forbid Perdue enters the race. Whatta bubbling, bubba, buffoon………The State of Georgia is doomed.

GAGOPGottaGo

January 26th, 2013
10:51 am

Thanks for your service, but it is time to go. Far too many old, conservative, nasty, mean, ‘red’ folks in office here in Georgia. The GOP is tanking for a reason. Throwing up a ’stonewall’ one after the other is not politics, its political suicide. Now there are GOP sheriffs saying they won’t back the gun law? Fine. When those same folks shoot folks in your county (you know, the ones you saw with guns in their yard but ignored – I saw YOU on the news), you have no right to arrest them and have only yourself to hold accountable – you absolutely can’t have it both ways. Since you declare so much freedom, why don’t we all declare not to pay any bills or taxes ‘because we don’t wanna’. Go ride your GOP wambulance elsewhere. The Democrats are rising for a number of reasons – it isn’t rocket science.

Jethro from Honest Atlanta

January 26th, 2013
10:52 am

Really, honested? The bunker has the internet connection to the real facts. Life in USA under political Georgia, icon “Saxby Chambliss:”

- #1 highest rate of people in prisons per capita in the world. USA! #1!

-one trillion dollars of existent education debt – system of debt slavery. that’s about $300. per every man woman child and baby per year for interest-only right now. Meanwhile, most of the world does not charge college tuition. They charge registration fees.

-health care for the rich. the rest of you peasants go to hell and give us your house. USA health care cost 4x the rest of the rich world, covers half as many people at twice the aggregate price. only country in the world with medical bill bankruptcies.

–very low rate of social (economic) mobility. At the very top of the ad list. In the USA, work hard does not mean get ahead.

-very high rate of income inequality between rich and poor. At the very top of the bad list.
____________

Meanwhile, most U. S. peasants are so brainwashed, they view themselves as slightly inconvenienced millionaires. Is that you, honested? Because anyone who goes to college knows differently. Well, that depends on the college, ha ha. In Georgia, half the state colleges, you’ll get callouses on your hands from organised clapping on demand so much to “celebrate the idea.” But the facts are the facts. Work hard? Go backwards. Get educated? Debt slavery. Get sick? Sign over house. Enjoy driving? $500. ticket for only God knows what. Get into peasant trouble? Heavy sentence served in for-profit prison. Go to vote? One party on the ballot, and it has two names. Turn on the radio? Choose between Rush ($500 million contract) and O’Reilly, because of concentrated ownership. The laws were changed for that, don’t you know. Maybe you don’t.

yuzeyurbrane

January 26th, 2013
11:05 am

GOP—get in a circle, face each other, ready, aim, fire.

td

January 26th, 2013
11:11 am

honested

January 26th, 2013
10:17 am

I guess saxby heard bobby jindal’s speech and realized the choices….

Democrats, or the Stupid Party!

Lord you progressives are so delusional and only hear what you want to hear. Bobby was telling Republicans it is STUPID to continue to play of the Democratic field of name calling and public assassination because they can not win on that field. Conservatism is ideologically a superior philosophy to being progressive. The only way progressives win is to keep the discussion in the gutter.

td

January 26th, 2013
11:23 am

GAGOPGottaGo

January 26th, 2013
10:51 am

Thanks for your service, but it is time to go. Far too many old, conservative, nasty, mean, ‘red’ folks in office here in Georgia. The GOP is tanking for a reason.

Obama is the only President in history to receive less votes in a re election then any other incumbent President.

Republicans now control 30 governorships (largest amount anytime in the history of the party)

Republicans now totally control both chambers in state legislatures of 19 states (largest amount of anytime in the history of the party)

Republicans control at least one chamber in 6 additional states.

Democrats totally control 13 states.

Republicans gains 56 seats in the US House of Reps in 2010 and now have a 33 seat advantage. According to Nate Silver they can not lose this advantage until at least the 2022 election cycle.

Yes, I can see where Republicans are going into the tank. Only in the media propaganda and we wonder why the LSM is losing viewership and readership each and everyday.

Voter

January 26th, 2013
11:33 am

@Lynnie Gal @td – It’s not just Republican’s, it’s time for most of the old men and women to retire. Too many men and women have been there for too long, this is why there should be term limits again. Like it was originally before Congress voted themselves permanent jobs. We need new blood.

bluecoat

January 26th, 2013
11:34 am

Saxby sounds as if it’s time to switch parties.You are resigning as should be done.Not at a time requiring a special election.(not like most costing the tax payer for special elections)You have shown you put the country first.Now come on over to the number one party.

Voter

January 26th, 2013
11:37 am

@bluecoat – Dream on. He said retiring not betrayal.

Jethro from Honest Atlanta

January 26th, 2013
11:39 am

td, the “LSM” “Lame Stream Media” is losing viewership because they’ve changed the laws that require a market environment for broadcast media. Currently, one company can own several radio stations, tv, and newspaper in one market. It’s called “centralised ownership” and it is the death bell to freedom and vitality. Why even produce news? Producing news costs money. It’s cheaper to produce coordinated propaganda and present it as news. The best is part is the script is paid for with tax dollars. And Wolf Blitzer will chuckle during every report.

bluecoat

January 26th, 2013
11:40 am

Won by a nose or by half length,as long as you win you are the winner.Now whiner stop whining.At least the courts did not have to be involved.Remember whiner?

GAGOPGottaGo

January 26th, 2013
11:40 am

td – well, that’s funny. I seem to remember someone named Mitt Romney and a sure bet that he and the Republicans would win the White House. I wouldn’t double down on your party.

bluecoat

January 26th, 2013
11:41 am

Voter you mean like our Gov.

Voter

January 26th, 2013
11:42 am

@Jethro – Don’t forget “Current TV” from Al Gore or Al Jazeera. Now we have Muslims controlling some air waves here.

Voter

January 26th, 2013
11:44 am

@bluecoat – Deal? I thought the subject was Saxby Chambliss?

bluecoat

January 26th, 2013
11:48 am

I thought retiring/resigning(subject)You made an intelligent statement Term Limits.

Voter

January 26th, 2013
11:55 am

@bluecoat – I missed it I guess. Did Gov. Deal switch party’s?

bluecoat

January 26th, 2013
12:07 pm

Sack cloth and ashes,come into town riding on a donkey,left town riding an elephant.Voter that is not all you have missed.

td

January 26th, 2013
12:09 pm

GAGOPGottaGo

January 26th, 2013
11:40 am

I posted this last night on another blog as to why Romney lost. I think it is pretty fair and accurate view.

1: The establishment Republicans still think the conservatives will be excited and come out and vote for anyone they place on the top of the ticket. 8 million (tea party and social conservatives stayed home).

2: The social conservatives took the bait of the liberal media and said stupid stuff about abortion. The media played there stupid statements over and over again and lowered turnout of potential swing republican voters because they said the h3ll with both parties.

3: The Dems did a great (yes this conservative said great) job at maximizing their turnout. They used lawsuits to make sure places like DFCS maximized their voters registration and they used intensive (technology) data mining to find every potential voter. They then called, harassed, lied too, shamed them into agreeing to vote and then they used the extended voting time to knock on their door everyday or picked them up to make sure they got them to the polls.

liberalefty

January 26th, 2013
12:11 pm

another rich repub who preached about the evils of government and DC while getting rich off the government and DC..

clem

January 26th, 2013
12:16 pm

how could dems use dfcs in ga when it run by repubs who likely promulgate more conservative policies? same for rest of the republican controlled southern states? in ten years of republican control in ga, surely by now progressives in state agencies have been purged or neutered.

bluecoat

January 26th, 2013
12:20 pm

TD why complicate the simple.Romney lost because Obama had more votes.Keep it simple ——.

Cherokee

January 26th, 2013
12:21 pm

they can not lose this advantage until at least the 2022 election cycle.

Yeah, likely right, ’cause they cheated. When a majority of Americans vote for Democrats, yet the
Republicans still win, that’s called ’stacking the deck’, td.

And when the only way your party can win is by cheating, td, you’re in trouble.

liberalefty

January 26th, 2013
12:22 pm

white conservatives here in georgia love affirmative action when it comes to college sports, because without it 90% of the football team at UGA would be ineligible. But cheeing on these muscled black athletes make the rightwingers feel good about themselves, while at the same time they loathe black people…lol

Old South

January 26th, 2013
12:23 pm

It’s tough for me to really believe the thought that Washington DC is broken would cause him to leave. These folks, 90%, of them run their campagins saying things that aren’t true, smearing the other candidates, and constantly practicing sophistry.

The AJC should really find out why. Maybe he’s really just ready for a change. But I can’t think anyone would be surprised that DC is broken. We can’t even stop mass murders in our country, let alone tackle something abstract like the debt.

td

January 26th, 2013
12:23 pm

bluecoat

January 26th, 2013
12:20 pm

TD why complicate the simple.Romney lost because Obama had more votes.Keep it simple ——.

That is kind of like telling a football coach after a lose to just line up and run the same plays next week. Do not watch game film and breakdown the reasons why you lost that way you do not have the make any adjustments.

liberalefty

January 26th, 2013
12:24 pm

@cherokee

td dont care how repubs win , hes a racist birther..

liberalefty

January 26th, 2013
12:29 pm

td

ROMNUTS lost because he’s selling 1950’s America in 2013….abortion is a losing proposition yet the repubs cling to making a sure a woman in america has the same reproductive rights as a woman in IRAN… no matter how u say it, its the same old bs…

GUTRAKE

January 26th, 2013
12:29 pm

Actually, having to do battle against demagogues and liars who fool their ill-informed constituency is what probably ground Saxby down. He, like myself, may see the writing on the wall and doesn’t want to be there when the **** hits the fan. Our nation is going down because we believe everything they tell us. We suck on their talking points and vote accordingly. We have become a lazy society and we are doomed.

td

January 26th, 2013
12:31 pm

Cherokee

January 26th, 2013
12:21 pm

they can not lose this advantage until at least the 2022 election cycle.

Yeah, likely right, ’cause they cheated. When a majority of Americans vote for Democrats, yet the
Republicans still win, that’s called ’stacking the deck’, td.

And when the only way your party can win is by cheating, td, you’re in trouble.

So tell us all how it was not cheating when in 1984, Reagan won 49 states and 58% of the vote (not the 51% that Obama won) and democrats still held a House by a large majority?

td

January 26th, 2013
12:33 pm

liberalefty

January 26th, 2013
12:24 pm

@cherokee

td dont care how repubs win , hes a racist birther..

Nice for you to make an appearance Representative Johnson.

td

January 26th, 2013
12:39 pm

clem

January 26th, 2013
12:16 pm

how could dems use dfcs in ga when it run by repubs who likely promulgate more conservative policies? same for rest of the republican controlled southern states? in ten years of republican control in ga, surely by now progressives in state agencies have been purged or neutered.

It is called a lawsuit. This paper ran a story on the progressive groups that filed the suit

Appointing Chip Rodgers is the first step that I can see from Deal to start to purge progressives from the bureaucracy. A great deal more Rodgers needs to be appointed to run them out.

liberalefty

January 26th, 2013
12:43 pm

SAXBY’S been on the government tit for decades…yet he “hates” the government…lol

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 26th, 2013
12:45 pm

Tom Harkin, Iowa’s powerful Democratic U.S. senator, won’t seek re-election in two years, he told The Des Moines Register this morning.

A broken dummycrat party finally grinds down Harkin.

clem

January 26th, 2013
12:45 pm

you think it has not been going on since barnres left?