Tag Archives: Democrat

Sex, Lies, & Videotape: Today’s Political Headlines

The two big scandal stories of the day, and let’s be clear, this is not an otherwise slow news day with the much-touted primaries, deal with lying about military service and adultery. Not too shabby. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut AG and Democratic senatorial candidate, was outed by an NYT article for saying that he served in Vietnam, when, in fact, he never left U.S. soil. On the Republican side of the aisle, Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) is stepping down from office after admitting that he had an affair with a female employee.

Souder and his lady friend even made a great sex tape!

The Blumenthal revelation is bad, no question, but he may survive, and in no small part thanks to the fact that while his story will undoubtedly garner a slew of media attention, it’ll be only half as much as it might have been thanks to Rep. Souder. Did Democrats pay him to resign today? It’s way too fortuitous for a party that seems to get political timing wrong with an accuracy that verges on the statistically improbable.

The fact that Souder had an affair neither shocks nor bothers me. I understand, though, that most expect and certainly prefer their elected leaders to actually practice what they preach (in this case quite literally). However, what does bother me in this case is the nature of Souder’s apology and resignation. Rather than simply saying, “I screwed up. I’m sorry,” Souder lamented to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, “It is a nightmare…Can’t believe it is happening.”

Really? You can’t believe it’s happening? It was you having the affair…right?

What is really unbelievable is the degree to which Rep. Souder’s statement makes it sound like his house was hit by the adultery natural disaster. Perhaps it was a sex volcano eruption, or a sex tsunami, or even a sex avalanche. Frankly, I don’t doubt that he’s repentant. There’s no question in my mind that he definitely regrets having the affair, and that he also regrets having to come clean about it, but the “nighmare” that Souder is dealing with is basically his own inability to actually follow the moral codes he claims to base his life upon. Souder is not Job. This is his fault.

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The Tea Party movement and why Liberals are so unhappy about it

I’m growing pretty tired of listening to Conservative politicians, surrogates, and commentators explain how elitist and arrogant Liberals are in their depictions and discussions of the Tea Party movement. Now, of course, the very nature of these arguments destroys their validity by constantly claiming that Liberals are elitist and arrogant, but I want to suggest that mainline conservatives are misreading what they see as snooty contempt.

Liberals aren’t “freaked out” by the Tea Party because they think it’s silly, regressive, and generally filled with rednecks (though many do believe this), but rather because the Tea Party has no ideological coherency. Clearly, the point can be made that the expectation of ideological coherency is, in itself, elitist or whatever, but what we are really looking at is the basic expectation of rationality in American public discourse. So far, Liberals have watched Tea Party members label Obama a socialist, communist, Maoist, Stalinist, Muslim, fascist Nazi, which for students of history makes no sense. How can somebody be both Stalinist and a Nazi? Anybody remember World War II (besides the clear ideological incompatibilities)?

Yes, Liberal sarcasm makes it sound like the Tea Party is being scolded for getting an ‘F’ in high school history, but what that masks is a legitimate fear that a movement has formed glorifying this sense that facts are irrelevant and actually elitist. What that world-view means is that I could claim absolutely anything, and not be held responsible for what I say. So, for instance, if I were to say that George Washington hated Communists that would be alright, regardless of the obvious problem with this statement. That’s a lie, but benign. And if I were to say that Republicans are attempting to pass legislation that will allow banks to accept children as payment, can you prove me wrong? Well, even if you could, it wouldn’t matter because trying to prove something through the use of facts shows that you are an “other.” Once you are an “other,” an insular group couldn’t care less what you think because you have been delegitimized.

The Tea Party is quite obviously made up of many people who are really more interested in fiscal responsibility than in holding up Hitler-Obama signs. Unfortunately, these are not the people who make it onto television or into news stories. Frankly, showing an ideologically coherent Tea Party limits the GOP and Conservative media’s ability to harness the movement for literally any purpose, regardless of how far it may be from the Tea Party’s original intent. Tea Party members become incensed when accused of across-the-board racism, as they should be, but do they really not see where Liberals are getting this from? This sense wasn’t born out of some memo written by radical Liberals living in a secret bunker underneath the streets of San Francisco, but rather from an inability to figure out what else could account for what appears to be a severe and irrational over-reaction to some fairly moderate reforms (Yes. Healthcare was moderate). Hearing the actual use of the N-word is not the impetus. Watching thousands of people across the country claim that Obama is a communist fascist, which again is ideologically impossible and thus perceived as disingenuous, is what gives Liberals cause to believe that there is really a different underlying sentiment.

Liberals don’t really believe that Tea Party members are just copying Glenn Beck’s talking points (which is actually giving them a lot more credit than Conservatives believe Liberals are even biologically capable of), but that Tea Party members themselves are purging facts and mixing up political and economic systems on purpose to dupe others at the behest of people like Glenn Back and the GOP. When Liberals see signs that depict Obama with a Hitler mustache, there is a general feeling that since Obama’s politics are so unlike Hitler’s as to make the comparison silly and deceptive, that what the sign must really be saying is that Obama, like Hitler, is again the “other,” the enemy, a foreigner in our midst. He’s unlike “us” and thus can’t represent “us.” That kind of tribalism would seem scary and un-American to ANY party that stands in opposition.

Right now, the Tea Party is ideologically incoherent because it a) contains many people with different foci, and b) because the Republican Party and popular Conservatives (as opposed to intellectual) have turned it into the fundraising and activist arm of the GOP. Knowing this, Liberals should expect this irrationality. The Republican platform is filled with inconsistency, as is the Democrats’, and thus turning it into quick three-word yells without the spin and gloss of seasoned politicos is inevitably problematic. This is not the Tea Party’s fault. This is the fault of Republicans who have convinced regular people to shill for absurd political positions (or oppositions) to help their 2010 chances.

Tea Party leaders need to sit down by themselves and hash out a list of coherent political goals. For example, they can’t both fiercely fight to preserve Medicare and Social Security and call HCR a government takeover of our healthcare system for which they want full repeal. They need to decide whether they want repeal more or less than they want Medicare and Social Security. The Tea Party won’t be seen as a legitimate player by the Left or independent lovers of ideological consistency until they get past things like this that just appear irrational, hypocritical, and self-serving. I believe there is indeed opportunity for the Tea Party activists to perhaps play a role in policy-making. They just need to decide if they would rather be “patriots” or Republicans first.

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McConnell: Message Is Fine, Messengers Not So Great

Washington Wire‘s Susan Davis reports this story:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t believe the Republican Party has the wrong message, just the wrong messengers.

“We don’t think it’s a flawed message as much as we haven’t had the right candidates out there to put these races in the win column and we’re working very hard to turn it around,” McConnell told reporters today at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

Senate Republicans have lost about a dozen seats in the previous two election cycles, and now control just 41 seats unless Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman scores an upset in the ongoing recount battle against Democrat Al Franken.

McConnell identified candidate recruitment as the biggest challenge the party has faced in recent years, noting that it was “really hard” to convince Republicans to run with an unpopular Republican president in office and a sour electorate.

He said he is working with Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who is running the campaign operation, to turn it around in 2010. “I’m optimistic that we’re going to do a lot better in candidate recruitment in this cycle than we have over the last two,” he said, “And it’s kind of a statement of the obvious that the better candidate you have the more likely you are to win. So I think that’s the starting place.”

McConnell likewise expressed frustration at the lack of diversity in the Senate Republican ranks. “I’m not happy with the fact that our only Hispanic member of the Republican Conference has retired,” he said of retiring Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, “We don’t have nearly as many women senators in the Republican Conference as we’d like to have. We’re working on all of those things.”

The minority leader was less candid, however, when asked about home state GOP Sen. Jim Bunning, who has publicly clashed with Cornyn and the press in recent weeks over his re-election bid. Some Republicans believe the party will have a better chance to hold on to the seat if Bunning, 77 years old, retires.

“I don’t have any observations on that,” McConnell said.

So…what’s the message? Low spending, low taxes? Was McCain unable to deliver this message? I thought I heard it loud and clear. If I’m wrong, if there’s a significantly more comprehensive and perhaps fresher message that I have yet to hear articulated, I think Senator McConnell should do the honors.

At the same time, I feel it odd that Senator McConnell seems to be stressing that the candidates his own party put up for election, candidates I want to assume the GOP thought would do a good job, were just…well…bad.

Perhaps the inability to recruit real talent  and the quality of the message are somehow related…

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Jim Leach: The GOP, Michael Steele, And That Big Tent Everybody Keeps Talking About

Remember Jim Leach? The moderate Republican Rep. from Iowa defeated in 2006 by Dave Loebsack in a major upset partially attributed to his refusal to allow Republican activists to distribute an anti-gay mailing? Phew. Had a lot to say there.

Today, on Politico’s The Arena, Leach posted a very thoughtful comment on where the GOP is today, how it moved there, and why everybody keeps talking about tents. The initial question asked was: “Is there room for Michael Steele in the GOP tent? How small can a tent get anyway?”

Jim Leach’s response:

If he doesn’t survive it will be a shame

Yes, this is all about the most overused metaphor in Republican politics – the tent. At issue is not only how big it is but how many doors it has. 

The pillars of Goldwater’s tent were decidedly of an individual rights, individual initiative nature. They were not considered strong or compassionate enough to hold a majority of the American people, at least at the time. The tent therefore got broadened with 1) a Southern strategy, based in part on Republican connivance but principally on a Democratic Party becoming philosophically committed to a Northern abolitionist soul, and 2) an appeal to fundamentalist pro-life values which gave a perceived moral legitimacy to a collectivist spectrum of issues beyond the realm of the traditional Rockefeller/Goldwater divisions within the party. 

What this meant was that the door to the Republican tent was opened to include two huge groups that had for most of the 20th Century been Democrats – Catholics and fundamentalist Christians. At the same time, however, as these new entrants came in the front door, traditional “country club” Republicans who had been comfortable with Taft, Eisenhower, Goldwater, Ford, and the gentler sides of Reagan and G.H.W. Bush began walking out the back of the tent. They – doctors, lawyers, business leaders – found their values and their leadership challenged. Understandably, the new entrants to the party determined that they didn’t simply want to be manipulated at the voting booth as “strategists” from Atwater to Rove may have wanted. They wanted to lead, to insist on more absolutist approaches to values, and abandon the tolerance and diversity which had been the progressive pinions of Republican philosophy from 1853 through much of the 20th Century. 

In this context it is impressive not that Michael Steele is proving controversial but that he was elected in the first place. If he doesn’t survive, it will be a shame; but the party should be given more than a little credit that he has been given a chance.

Interesting.

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Twitter Gains Legitimacy?

Interesting post from Glenn Thrush over at Politico dealing with Twitter and politics (two items that seem to go hand in hand more and more often these days):

George Stephanopoulos is grilling Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in a language she can understand — Tweet.

GS: @clairecmc Hey Senator, George here. On This Week, you signaled support for omnibus (great to have you btw) What changed?18 minutes ago from web in reply to clairecmc

CM: Ultimately just couldn’t do it. Not just earmrks tho, also increase in spendng(8%too much)& failure to reconcile $ with stimuls

McCaskill has about 15,000 Twitter followers; Stephanopoulos about 133,000.

[Shameless plug: I Tweet at GlennThrush]

But George’s query represents, it seems to me, a logical challenge for a technology that has created a new, novel and closely monitored semi-public space.

McCaskill has generated great publicity with her entertaining and often candid Tweets — clearly enhancing her political reputation (at least with reporters) through the medium. So doesn’t that give reporters the right to use the same space to pose hard-nosed questions?

Even more so, due to greater and greater use of the service by politicians like Sen. McCaskill in an attempt to create more general transparency for the media and constituents alike, has Twitter “accidentally” become a much more significant  journalistic tool than had ever been envisioned?

Thoughts?

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Heath Shuler Not Running In 2010. North Carolina Erupts Into Spontaneous Celebration.

According to Poltico’s The Scorecard, it has  been confirmed by a Shuler sposkesperson that Rep. Heath Shuler  (D-NC) will not be running against Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) in the 2010 NC Senate race.

Phew! As much as I would like to see a Democrat take that seat, I’m not entirely convinced that Heath Shuler would be a better representative for North Carolina than Burr…and that’s saying a lot. 

So who’s left?

In my mind, there are two potential Democratic candidates for that 2010 race, but only one viable one (sorry Brad Miller). I’ve prepared a short bio below:

Rep. Bob Etheridge– This guy is LITERALLY salt of the Earth. A Representative from NC’s 2nd district (essentially the area in the middle of the state slightly east and south of Raleigh), who has really put in his time:

  • Served in the U.S. Army
Exactly

Exactly

  • Small tobacco farmer and hardware store owner by trade
This may or may not be Etheridge and his wife.

This may or may not be Etheridge and his wife.

  • Served as Hartnett County Commissioner for 4 years
Trust me, it's a good one.

Trust me, it's a good one.

  • Served 4 terms in the NC House of Representatives
Mythical

Mythical

  • Elected North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction (2 terms)
I have not been able to confirm that Etheridge wrote this himself, but it's not entirely unlikely.

I have not been able to confirm that Etheridge wrote this himself, but it's not entirely unlikely.

  • Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996 and still there
And thus, Bob enters the big game.

And thus, Bob enters the big game.

  • Member of the New Democrat Coalition
(Need New Logo)

(Need New Logo)

Fun Fact: “Bob” is not short for Robert, but rather for “Bobby Ray.”  This is not a joke.

How can North Carolina not fall in love with this guy?

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