As he nears the end of his first year in the U.S. Senate, John Kennedy is starting to get a reputation in the DC press corps as a good quote. His folksy quips may be old hat to his constituents, but they're new to Washington. Kennedy's willingness to talk, coupled with his colorful language, have earned him plenty of ink.
Journalists looking for signals on how the tax vote was shaping up this week turned to him repeatedly, first quoting him suggesting he'd never support a bill that included a trigger — a demand from some budget hawks to include automatic tax hikes should projections fall short — then noting that he walked that apparent hard line back.
“I am not going to vote to automatically implement tax increases on the American people,” Kennedy first said. “If I do that, consider me drunk.”
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Then came Part II: "I did say that. I said if I voted for it, consider me drunk. And I may have to get drunk to vote for the bill."
Kennedy also got plenty of play for becoming the first Republican to vote against a Trump judicial nominee and for hesitating to support the administration's choice for the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Kyle Duncan.
In the end, though, Kennedy's "no" vote on Gregory Katsas for the DC appeals court, on the grounds that he now works in the White House and would be ruling on policy he helped craft, didn't stop his confirmation. And after a long delay and testy hearing, Kennedy came around and said he'd back Duncan after all.
So as with the tax back-and-forth, Kennedy managed to talk like a maverick without putting any of his party's priorities at actual risk.
The real question is, would he ever? Or are all his cute quips just for show?