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Category Archives: 2012 elections

TIME Watches So We Don’t Have to

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Time’s Michael Scherer writes up the GOP debate, and it’s a hoot.   A sample:

 

–2 minutes. The debate hasn’t started yet, but the crowd is already restless. A mutiny is afoot. CNN may host this thing, but can CNN’s John King control it? “Let’s do the pledge,” shouts out someone in the audience, and then it happens, a spontaneous eruption of patriotism. The candidates hold their hearts onstage. This bodes well for America but poorly for the debate’s orchestrators. Note to cable producers: If you want to calm the GOP rabble in the future, plan for pre-broadcast patriotic odes.

And,

8 minutes. Pawlenty says President Obama is a “declinist,” which interestingly enough became a word in 1988, according to Merriam-Webster, right before a few years of U.S. decline. But Pawlenty is an optimist. “This idea that we can’t have 5% growth in America is hogwash. It’s a defeatist attitude,” he says. In other words, he calls out anyone who calls his hogwash “hogwash” for being full of “hogwash,” which is a strategy familiar to those who remember saying, “I know you are, but what am I?,” on the playground.

 

Sounds like Scherer nicely judged the participants’ tone and maturity levels.  But read it for yourself and laugh out loud (which is more than you did if you watched the actual debate).

 

 

h/t: Jonathan Chait, TNR

 

The Sarah Palin He Knows

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Documentarian John Ziegler writes about his experiences with the Palin campaign here.  Incredibly, after listing all the horrible and embarrassing confusions that befell him during his time defending Palin, Ziegler comes to this conclusion:

 

After all, contrary to popular belief, she is incredibly smart. Maybe she’s just getting bad advice from within her increasingly tiny and dysfunctional circle. Or perhaps she thinks it’s all good for her brand—which it probably is.

John: that’s why it’s called judgment.  Hers is poor.  It’s that simple.

Gingrich is Dead Man Walking

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Newt’s top aides quit, including his Iowa staff.  How do you define “dead man walking”?

Kabuki America

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Peeps, the Bitch was on the road over the holiday weekend, and you can read about it here, and check out our sister blog, A Bitchy Traveler, up top in the header for further Bitchy adventures.

Speaking of kabuki, let your attention wander over to this excellent piece by Dan Balz of the Washington Post, where he sums up the Palin Family Vacation so far, pointing out the challenges the matriarch faces, should she decide to do something of true substance and run.  At this point, let us banish the Palin sideshow to the wings (Lord, Lord, let it stay there) and get on with other important concerns.

The Prez and the GOP chatted this morning about the debt ceiling limit proposals, which the House GOP voted down yesterday.  This is more kabuki, allowing the GOP (and far too many Dems — shame on you, you spineless cretins) to say they voted against raising the debt limit, before they raised it…at some point before, on or immediately after August 2, the date the government runs out of money.  More kabuki, and on our tax dollars.  Look: we are going to have to raise the debt ceiling one way or another.  Call your Rep. and tell him/her to grow a pair and make the hard vote.  That’s what we pay them approximately $176,000 for.  Do you make that much?  Didn’t think so.  Nor does the B.  Yes, Dem members do need to worry, as Minority Leader Steny Hoyer said, “about 30-second political ads and attacks,” but what the heck happened to going out to the districts and educating people about why the debt ceiling needs to be raised, and what happens if it isn’t?

Thank God for Charlie Cook, truth-teller to the Suits of all political stripes:

But you don’t have to look far to sense that congressional Republicans have stepped in a deep pile of manure with their embrace of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s proposal to convert Medicare into a voucher program. Yet they seem to want to avoid looking at their shoes.

***

But tossing the [Ryan] plan on the table with little groundwork, with the public not prepped for the fight, amounted to a political self-indulgence that the GOP could not afford, exposing GOP members to attack and handing Democrats an issue when they really didn’t have one before.

Charlie goes on to point out that, après NY-26, the Dem and the Green candidates together polled only 48%, with the GOP and Tea Party candidates taking 52%.  That may have reflected a refutation of Ryancare, but it ain’t no ringing endorsement of the Democrats, much as it pains the Bitch to admit it, and why it is always unwise to read too much into special elections.

Peeps, it’s the first day of Hurricane Season.  Enjoy.

Palin “Reintroduction” Tour

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The Bitch is trying to get worked up over Sarah Palin’s new house, national tour and movie, but she just can’t.  It’s not that she thinks Palin won’t run.  It doesn’t matter how prepared — or unprepared — a Palin Presidential is — it’s still Palin, and she is a rotten candidate: wacky conservatism aside, she doesn’t bone up on issues, she isn’t disciplined, she wastes time obsessing over slights real or imagined.  You can put lipstick on the pig, and all that.

Chris Cillizza reports:

“There has been zero outreach, zero effort,” said one senior South Carolina strategist of Palin. “Even when she was here for the [Gov. Nikki] Haley endorsement and the book signing, she swooped in [and] swooped out.”

An Iowa operative closely monitoring the 2012 race in the state although unaligned with any candidate echoed that sentiment. “If [Palin] is doing any outreach at all, it would have to be totally under the radar and not with the traditional activist crowd.”

Cillizza also tells us she hasn’t been in New Hampshire since 2008.

The Bitch suspects Palin, if she’s running at all and not just drumming up publicity for her movie, may be counting on the strength of her reinvigorated grassroots, using the movie as her facilitator and the ‘Net as her organizer.  Kinda breakin’ the mold there, breakin’ new ground.  Kinda rogue-ey.  Kinda not. Iowa and New Hampshire voters, especially, view themselves as entitled to kick the candidates’ tires.  They can’t do that if the candidate doesn’t show up.

Walkin’ My Baby Back Home

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Earlier today the Bitch posted another comment on John Boehner’s dependence on the Ultra conservative wing of his party, and at various other times wondered why, in the name of God, the Grand Old Party kept doubling down on economic nuttiness.  Now of course, by definition progressives think Republicans are nutty, so nothing new there.  However, some stories circulating today imply that cracks are appearing in the GOP unity.  (YAY!)

First up, we have the Ryan Plan, which is possibly the defining issue of the NY-26 special election.  As Nate Silver points out, it’s hard (and dumb) to pin too much on a special election with a 3rd party candidate variable, but the Bitch argues that all Silver’s evidence just points toward Medicare  as a deal-breaker.  Specifically, the D messaging of the GOP vision for Medicare.

However,

“The tea party itch has definitely not been scratched, so the voices who were saying, ‘Let’s do this in a way that’s politically survivable,’ got drowned out by a kind of panic,” a top GOP consultant involved in the debate said, on condition of anonymity.

“The feeling among leadership was, we have to be true to the people who put us here. We don’t know what to do, but it has to be bold.”

Another GOP insider involved to the process was more morbid: “Jumping off a bridge is bold, too.”

We’ll know how this turns out tomorrow, won’t we?  (Hint: one goes “splat” when one jumps off a bridge…)

Next, we have this radio interview with Alvin Brown, the first African-American mayor of Jacksonville, FL; and the first Democratic mayor in 20 years.  Michele Martin talks with Mayor-Elect Brown, who said he’d take a pay cut, among other things to move Jax to “the next level.”   Check out minute 2:45, when Martin asks the Mayor-Elect to discuss his tri-partisan coalition.  Clearly he had local, “Main Street” GOP support, given his focus on jobs and putting Jax back to work.  Key takeaway: “You can’t cut your way out of the situation.”  So true; but more to the point, Republicans chose to support him.  The Bitch asks why, and suspects it’s because of his “jobs” focus, which includes accepting (The Evil) federal support.  Proving that some “Main Street” Republicans are smarter about stupid purity tests than the national party….

Then we have the GOP Human Bellwether himself, the Junior Senator from Massachusetts, The Honorable Scott Brown.  First, he beat out Martha Coakley for the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, presaging the 2010 GOP sweep.  Then in a first-blush-o’-love, Senator Brown embraced the Ryan Plan… until he encountered pushback from the Good Folks at Home (the Bitch must assume) and changed his mind.  Ooopsies!

In point of fact, the GOP had been warned that the Ryan Budget (which depends upon Ryan’s proposed cuts to Medicare) was a non-starter, but they went along because, as quoted above, they “didn’t know what to do, but it [had] to be bold.

And now they’re stuck.  [Cue canned applause.]

While one should never discount the Dem ability to turn a lead into a loss, the Bitch must ask, what ABOUT that GOP House majority?

Freudian Slip?

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T-Paw’s hometown newspaper filed The Announcement on the obits page….

(h/t Political Wire)

The Unbearable Lightness of Newt

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Or maybe he’s just unbearable.

The kind (if naive) Ezra Klein believes the pushback about Newt’s first divorce. That pushback, by the way, comes via Newt’s daughter Jackie Gingrich Cushman, who works with her father in (at?) Newt, Inc., as Gingrich’s various endeavors are called.

Except for the fact that the story, first reported in 1984 in Mother Jones, is substantially true, according to what the First Mrs. Newt told the MoJo reporter.  The First Mrs. Newt is Jackie Gingrich Cushman’s mother.  Oooopsies.

Now, the weekend’s Newt News is chock-full of Newt Nuggets.  Nugget #1 is Newt’s statement on “Meet the Press” characterizing Paul Ryan’s budget as “right-wing social engineering,” and wrong for the country, even though several weeks ago he happily admitted to Time that were he still in Congress, he’d have voted for the…Ryan budget.  O-kay.

In that same interview — David Gregory got a Trifecta O’Fun yesterday, fer shure — Newt uttered Newt nugget #2, when he reiterated his support for the Peachy-Keen and Entirely Constitutional Individual Mandate found in Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health insurance reforms and the Affordable Care Act.

Now, today, Newt asks us all to ignore those comments about the Evil Incarnate Individual Mandate; he was just messin’ with our heads!  (To which Rachel Weiner, writing over at The Fix, asks readers to rate how badly Newt hurt himself.  Options included indicate that The Fix is still, as a creature of the establishmentarian Washington Post, taking Gingrich seriously as a GOP leader.  The Bitch can tell this because her preferred option, “Are You Effing Kidding Me??? This is A Mortal Wound,” is not included in the roundup, which you can read here.)

Newt Nugget #3 occurred when Gingrich took a moment to comment on his recent depiction of President Obama as a “food stamp president.”   Just so you know, here’s the full quote, courtesy of Ta-Nehesi Coates at the Atlantic and the Washington Post:

“President Obama is the most successful food stamp president in American history, Gingrich said.  “I want to be the most successful paycheck president.”

(Gee, the Bitch feels so much better now. But to resume.)

Getting back to the “Meet” interview and Nugget #3, Gregory referenced the speech, calling it “coded racially tinged language,” and asked Newt to explain what he meant.  Newt came over all coy confusion:

That’s, that’s bizarre. That — this kind of automatic reference to racism, this is the president of the United States. The president of the United States has to be held accountable. Now, the idea that — and what I said is factually true. Forty-seven million Americans are on food stamps. One out of every six Americans is on food stamps. And to hide behind the charge of racism? I have — I have never said anything about President Obama which is racist.

Probably true, since that’s the point of using coded language.  However, in the same “food stamp” speech (given incidentally in the enlightened city of Macon, Georgia), Newt endorsed using “history tests” as a precursor to bestowing voting rights.  Unfortunately, those “tests” sound an awful lot like the literacy tests outlawed by the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  You can read about literacy tests here; Newt’s endorsement is below.

You know, folks often talk about immigration. I always say that to become an American citizen, immigrants ought to have to learn American history. But maybe we should also have a voting standard that says to vote, as a native-born American, you should have to learn American history. You realize how many of our high school graduates because of the decay of the educational system, couldn’t pass a citizenship test. [Emphasis added.]

Greg Sargent reminds us (as if we could forget) that this kind of race-baiting will be typical of GOP attacks on the president throughout the rest of the cycle:

It’s not really all that surprising that conservatives would settle on a strategy of stoking white racial resentment, There’s a black president in the White House, and a growing perception among whites that anti-white bias is actually a bigger social problem than anti-black racial bias.

As usual, the GOP consternation isn’t over the endorsement of literacy tests, it’s over the pre-endorsement of the individual mandate.  Jonathan Bernstein has no sympathy whatsoever.

Newt Gingrich has a long record of saying outrageous things, worded in every case as if the demise of American civilization was at stake if we didn’t immediately drop everything and do whatever Newt thought was necessary today, and never mind it had nothing to do with whatever he was all worked up about last time. But instead of relegating him to wherever Democrats hid Jim Wright after his aborted Speakership, Republicans set Newt up in a highly visible Washington perch, pretended that his nonsense constituted Serious Ideas and made him an Intellectual, and enjoyed the benefits of his eagerness to use extremist language against the Democrats.

Bernstein concludes,

They propped him up. Now — for a while, at least — they’re going to have to live with him.

Well said, Mr. Bernstein, well said.

What Cheri Daniels Ought to Say

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Cheri Daniels is the wife of Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, probably the one GOP leader who can meet and beat Barack Obama at his own game of smarts and politics.  Problem is, Daniels isn’t a candidate for 2012 yet, and might never be.

You can read about Governor Daniels here; you should know that the combination of his experience and temperament — plus his Midwest base — make him the chief Adult in the GOP field of whining toddlers and preschoolers.  He is not without flaws: he’s a Republican, first of all; and despite his early suggestion to declare a “truce” over social issues, he just signed an Indiana bill stripping Planned Parenthood of funding.  But he’s smart; he thinks, and he’s not an ideologue.

Governor Daniels is taking quite a time to declare himself, and he’s running out of it — he needs to get in the race or risk losing prime staff to other campaigns; more importantly, he needs to lock down the big GOP donors before they all head off to back Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty.  Daniels has said in the past that he’ll announce one way or the other in May; well, it’s May, Governor.  What’s the word?

Now, the Bitch doesn’t know what’s going on in the Daniels camp, but having read this story just the other day, she imagines that the Governor is waiting for his wife to make up her mind whether she wants to be First Lady; and if she does, the question is, can she handle a nasty, nasty primary season?  As the Governor himself lamented in 2009:

“The level of not just scrutiny but savagery … that has attached itself to national politics is pretty sobering,” Daniels said. “I mean, we’ve not just seen people’s own personal backgrounds but their spouses and even their children get dragged into this.”

Indeed we are seeing that — and while a man with no less a complicated marital history than Newt Gingrich is running for president in 2012 (3 wives living; he dumps them when they get sick) — the Daniels’ complicated relationship involves a wife leaving her husband and four young daughters, remarrying, divorcing husband #2, and returning to her first husband.  As the Governor says, “If you like happy endings, you’ll love our story…Love and the love of children overcame any problems.”

Yeah, but she left the kids.  For three years.

Americans — even GOP primary voters — are not children.  They know marriage is complicated and people, even the nicest, most well-intentioned people, screw up.  Americans are almost always willing to forgive someone who makes an honest confession, who works to put things right, as the Daniels have done.  But a mother who leaves her children for another relationship is going to be viewed with distrust, if not outright hostility.  So the Daniels’ relationship can’t be dismissed, as the Governor has tried to do, with a sunny reference to happy endings.  Someone — mostly likely the Governor but preferably his wife — is going to have to offer some explanation that makes palatable Mrs. Daniels’ decision to leave her daughters behind when she moved to California.  Otherwise the thing will fester, before spilling out as an ugly attack.  This happened in 2000, when South Carolina Republicans received last-minute “mysterious” robo-calls alleging that John McCain had a (bastard) black daughter…and so he did; she was adopted from Mother Theresa’s orphanage in Bangladesh in 1993.  George W. Bush, you might recall, won the 2000 South Carolina GOP primary.

So it’s not if something needs to be said; it’s who says it; and how soon they say get it out there.  Because these kinds of stories aren’t going away.  If Daniels declares he’s in and starts to attract the big money donors who don’t like Romney and find Pawlenty too vanilla, look for more, nastier stories about Cheri Daniels and her three years in La-La-Land.

The GOP Field, Considered

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(One in an occasional series, or when the various candidates prove irksome…)

Nate Silver considers the odds of the GOP field via regression analysis and polling magic.  No matter how he slices it, Mitt Romney comes out on top for the GOP nomination in 2012.

Let’s take a moment and look at Romney’s record:

  1. Venture Capitalist;
  2. GOP nominee for US Senate v. Ted Kennedy 1994;
  3. Salvaged, reorganized and successfully managed 2002 Winter Olympics, Salt Lake City, UT;
  4. One-term Governor of Massachusetts;
  5. Drafted, passed single payer health plan for MA;
  6. GOP candidate for US President 2008, 2012.
None too shoddy, one has to admit.
However:
  1. Romney is a Mormon, a denomination considered by some Christians (especially Evangelicals) as cultists and/or non-Christian;
  2. In the 1994 Senate race he affirmed to the Log Cabin Republicans that he’d be better for gay rights than Ted Kennedy would be; and then backtracked in 2002 and 2008;
  3. he is personally pro-life but believes abortion should be safe and legal; until he doesn’t….
  4. Drafted,passed single payer health plan for MA;
  5. See #1.
Note: The Bitch does not hold Governor Romney’s religion against him.  Certain evangelicals have done, and some figure prominently in their states’ nominating processes.
What does Mitt Romney believe?  Well, it depends what he’s running for.  In the 90s, when he ran for the US Senate seat from Massachusetts, he believed in gay rights and abortion.  Romney, from one of his Senate debates with Ted Kennedy:
I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I have since the time that my mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a US Senate candidate. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it, and I sustain and support that law, and the right of a woman to make that choice, and my personal beliefs, like the personal beliefs of other people, should not be brought into a political campaign.
Sounds pretty unambiguous, doesn’t it?  However, once he was running for President, his tune changed:
On January 29, 2007, in a visit to South Carolina, Romney stated, “Over the last multiple years, as you know, I have been effectively pro-choice, I never called myself that as a label but I was effectively pro-choice and that followed a personal experience in my extended family that led to that conclusion.” Romney continued saying every decision he made as governor, “in a very liberal state has been on the side of favoring life, I am firmly pro-life.”
Well, Governor, aren’t we all?  Currently, the Governor believes that life begins at conception, that Roe v. Wade should be overturned, with the states making the decisions on abortion legality, and that partial birth abortion should be banned.  He’s not too partial to stem cell research, either.
On gay rights, well….”varied” is the term of art used most often to describe the Romney worldview.  In 1994 he sent his infamous letter to the Log Cabin Club of Massachusetts, claiming he’d be a better advocate for gay rights in the US Senate than Ted Kennedy had been:
If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern.  My opponent cannot do this. I can and will.
Boys and girls, that’s a declarative statement.  However, Mitt Romney lost the 1994 US Senate race.
He continued to support domestic partnership rights, including health care coverage and rights of survivorship through the 2002 gubernatorial election, but couldn’t bring himself to support civil unions or, Heaven Forfend, gay marriage, despite his commitment to equality for gays and lesbians in 1994.
And then there’s health care…as usual, Greg Sargent nails it:

Let’s get one thing straight: No matter what Mitt Romney says in his big health care speech tomorrow, it won’t solve the huge political problem he faces with conservatives unless he flatly repudiates the individual mandate at the center of Romneycare.

Finally, there’s the Mormon question…

In 2008, Romney’s religion cost him the Vice-Presidency, and possibly even the Presidential nomination itself.  He didn’t have much of a chance at winning that one, but evangelical leaders made it very clear to GOP nominee John McCain that they wouldn’t support Romney as his running mate.  Thus we got Sarah Palin.

Fast-forward to 2011:  It’s not at all clear that evangelicals continue to hold Romney’s religion against him.  They may have learned something about Mormonism in the three years since 2008, or they may have just decided that a Mormon is better than any Democrat…Then again, the sticking point may not be his religion at all.  It may all come down to his refudiation of single payer.  Or it may come down to his track record of trying to have it both ways on contentious issues near and dear to GOP hearts.

What does Mitt Romney believe?  Who knows?

ADDENDUM:

The Bitch’s two favorite headlines on the Mitt Matter:

Mitt Romney Continues to be Haunted by Past Reasonableness; and,

Mitt Romney Haunted by Past of Trying to Help Uninsured Sick People.  Enjoy!

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