Opening Act: 26 Exchanges

U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) waits for the beginning of a news conference November 30, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The era of Sen. Mike Johanns will end next year. Johanns left the Bush cabinet to run for Chuck Hagel’s old Senate seat; in doing so he scared more ideological opposition out of the picture. Now Johanns, who’s young enough to be Frank Lautenberg’s son, is retiring, and Michael Falcone wonders if it’s because the job is boring.

Sarah Kliff reveals the great victory of the anti-Obamacare exchange campaigners: Most states will have exchanges run by Washington, not the states.

The Yid with a Lid calls it “birtherism” to mention that Ted Cruz was born in Canada. Seems unfair to me: He really was born in Canada, whereas birtherism was/is a patronizing conspiracy theory rooted in the disbelief that Barack Obama was actually born in Hawaii.

Brendan Nyhan asks why centrist reporters keep predicting a third-party movement that (in eight years of predictions) has never come closer to fruition.

Bret Stephens wants Republicans to filibuster Hagel, and to argue that he takes a paraphrase from one attendee’s memory of a 2007 Hagel speech (“the State Department is an adjunct of the Israeli foreign ministry”) and turns it into a quote.