Posts Tagged ‘Mitch McConnell’

Whither the Grand Old Prevaricators?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

By Emily Theroux

Everyone’s carping about it on cable, retweeting it on Twitter, and regurgitating it on talk radio’s endless propaganda loop.

Is the Republican Party really undergoing a post-election “makeover”?

Will Southern-state “secession” incite spiritual intercession? Is “Grover over”? Will Mitch pull the switch on the filibuster? Can Cantor cease his banter over tax cuts? Will Jan call a ban on Arizona’s “papers capers”?

And will John McCain ever shut his cantankerous piehole about Susan Rice — and admit that the Vietnam War has been over for almost 38 years, the 2008 presidential campaign’s in the history books, and it’s way past time for him to retire from politics and join his fellow “ancient mariners” at the local VFW post, where he can park himself in a porch rocker and swaddle his voluminous bitterness, antipathy, and rancor in well-deserved oblivion.

Immediately after the election, Republicans seemed genuinely chastened by the expressed will of the people — at least the ones who would own up to it. But their policy prescriptions weren’t a lot more generous than I would have expected, incorrigible cynic that I am.

“Republicans must start over again,” declared George Will — with “a more likable candidate.” Charles Krauthammer ventured that “a single policy change” should fix what ails the Republican Party: Extending an olive branch to Latinos on immigration policy. “Border fence plus amnesty. Yes, amnesty. Use the word. Shock and awe — full legal normalization (just short of citizenship) in return for full border enforcement.”

Along came Louisiana Gov. Bobby”Jindal, shilling at warp speed. “Kenneth the Page,” who’s got his eye clearly affixed on his 2016 chances, told Politico the GOP “should stop being the stupid party.” Extremists within the ranks had made far too many “offensive, bizarre comments,” said Jindal. “We’ve also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism,” he added. “We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people, and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.”

Then former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour had to go and dump the party poohbahs back into the deep end of the latrine, declaring before the Republican Governors Association that the GOP’s “political organizational activity” needed “a very serious proctology exam.” (You’d think Watergate would have taught these good old boys never to excuse “organizational” flaws by blaming them on the plumbing.)

Even Rush Limbaugh was initially contrite (before lurching immediately afterward into a racist diatribe about “getting stuff,” redistribution of wealth, and what he called the lack of “a work ethic” among Obama voters). “This should have been a slam dunk,” Rush said, the day after Mitt Romney’s loss stunned a party that had convinced itself that Romney would win in a landslide. “But it wasn’t. There are reasons why. We’re gonna have to dig deep to find them, and we’re gonna have to be honest with ourselves when we find the answers to this.”

 

Rachel isn’t buying the ‘course correction’ crapola, either

If El Rushbo snorkeled back up from the depths of the sewer with answers of any kind, he hasn’t been letting on lately. For that matter, neither have many voices that aren’t quite as far right as he is on the wacko spectrum. And if you think about it, why didn’t Jindal, Barbour, Rupert Murdoch, Sean Hannity, or Erick Erickson experience their “epiphanies” on inclusiveness before Mitt Romney ran for the presidency and lost the brass ring for them?

Rachel Maddow says only the Beltway bobbleheads think the Republican Party has “learned its lesson” and is now genuinely following the pathway to reform.

“You know, it’s funny. If you listen to the Beltway talk about what’s going on in American politics right now, the major narrative … is about the sort of ‘course correction’ happening in the Republican Party, right? The Republican Party has ‘learned its lesson.’

“If only in the interest of self-preservation, Republicans are right
now giving up on these policy stances that cost them so much in the last election, that made their party seem essentially pre-modern — all of this stuff that alienated women and young people, and non-white people and gay people. I mean, if you listen to the Beltway media, the Republican course correction on this problem — post-election, a course correction is totally under way.”

But what are Indiana state legislators focusing on, now that they’ve “taken the proverbial post-election cold shower” that Maddow says a political party usually endures after it gets “shellacked” the way the GOP did on Nov. 6? Only three weeks after a stinging electoral rebuke of its culturally extreme Senate candidate, Richard Mourdock, the Hoosier State GOP resolved that “what they really need to do is doubly, triply, extra ban gay marriage,” she observed.

Never mind that same-sex marriage is already illegal in Indiana. The party has proposed a constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions — an amendment that may affect more than 600 existing provisions of the Indiana code, which currently grant numerous connubial rights and conflict-of-interest protections to unmarried, opposite-gender couples.

 

Will GOP mutineers really ditch Norquist’s sacred pledge?

“Mutiny! Dissension in the ranks! A break in vows to the almighty Norquist!” wrote Jena McGregor earlier this week in The Washington Post.

Four GOP stalwarts — Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Rep. Peter King of New York, Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, and Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee — stepped up over the weekend to declare that they aren’t afraid of Big Bad Grover and his hallowed Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a document he has brandished over the heads of elected Republicans since founding Americans for Tax Reform in 1986. The apostates say they’re willing to consider scuttling the pledge (whose signatories vow never to raise taxes, eliminate tax cuts, or even increase revenues) in order to reach a deal that would reform “entitlements” (at this point, defined as Medicare and Medicaid) and forestall the much-ballyhooed “fiscal cliff.”

Grover, who “dabbles in stand-up comedy,” isn’t laughing now, however, as more and more defectors swell the ranks of tax-policy renegades — even though he felt it necessary to point out that nobody has violated the pledge by actually voting for a tax increase. (Norquist studiously avoided uttering the word yet.) “We’ve got some people discussing impure thoughts on national television,” Norquist sniffed dismissively on CNN.

Will these trash-talking, inveterate obstructionists really deliver on their braggadocio about abandoning “self-deportation,” ditching the permanent 1 percent tax cut, and stooping to compromise with “the Democrat Party”?

I’m afraid I’ll believe that the day Mitch McConnell cashes in his chips and shuffles off to his old Kentucky home, and he doesn’t show signs of capitulating any time soon. Likewise with John Boehner — although I think he actually intends to follow through on his post-election concessions at the moments when he issues them. Things get prickly, though, when he returns to Congress to face those Tea Party dead-enders, who I’m almost certain give him ultimatums instead of the other way around.

This pack of “old, angry white guys” realizes that the GOP can’t win without the support of America’s fastest-growing demographic — but anyone who wants to give the Republicans  a second chance on immigration should beware their duplicity. (Please note that none of them is extending this sudden pro-Latino magnanimity to African-Americans.)

Right-wingers like Krauthammer and Hannity, who view amnesty for undocumented immigrants as both a palatable half-measure and “a Latino-winning electoral silver bullet,” in the words of conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, think they can sweep the 2016 election by “embrac(ing) amnesty and nominat(ing) Marco Rubio.”

Here’s the new, “reformed” GOP program thus far, in a nutshell: “Repeal and replace” the racially divisive talking points — and try to be a little more subtle about  ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, class inequality, and religious tolerance. (Don’t be so strident on issues like food stamps, “unwed” mothers, welfare cheats, speaking English, lesbian TV hosts, lapel flags, rap music, and birth certificates.)

Strive whenever possible to sound more engaged, charitable, affirming, and humane. Speak the language of empathy. Persuade Latinos and women how much you truly care about and champion their concerns; pretend that you, like Romney said of Obama, want to lavish them with “gifts.” Make your words as syrupy and ingratiating as you can stomach, and you just might find that Dubya’s old “compassionate conservative” ploy will work for you, too.

If the GOP actually learned anything from the defeat of Willard Romney, it wasn’t how to “listen better” to the hopes and dreams of ordinary people. It was how to tell an ever-more-convincing lie.

How the GOP Weathered the Fourth

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Mitt Romney ... blowing in the wind

By Emily Theroux

When it rains on the Republicans’ Fourth of July parade, it’s a monsoon!

I doubt seriously that the stars will ever again align against the GOP in the precise configuration they’ve achieved since the Supreme Court ruled that the individual health care mandate in the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. The deluge of dashed hopes, mixed messages, and wrong turns that has flooded the vast conservative echo chamber has expanded the right wing’s Independence Day celebration into a “terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad week,” to borrow a phrase from author Judith Viorst (and a meme from the Internet).

Never mind that “the mandate” was an idea that Republicans originally proposed but which they detest now against all reason and with vehement intensity. (President Obama is equally intent on furthering his inevitable goal of “bipartisan compromise,” which never gets him anywhere with these people.) Once Obama looks favorably upon such brainstorms of the right-wing think tanks and thereby gives them cooties, conservatives metamorphose into their own doctrines’ most fervent critics.

How many things went wrong for the Republicans in the short span of a week? I counted a dirty dozen:

1. The Supremes ruled against them, and “heads exploded,” as Dick Cheney once said, all over Washington.

2. Fox and CNN (trying to outfox Fox) both got the story horribly wrong at first, because whoever skimmed that ruling was either in too big a hurry for a scoop to read past the first paragraph or too “simple” to fathom what the ruling meant. They saw “individual mandate unconstitutional” and ran with it. (Even worse, Obama was tuned in to both channels and, at first, believed what he was hearing!)

3. The entire wingnut populace spent days massively freaking out, denouncing the treachery of Chief Justice John Roberts (who is supposed to be “an impartial guardian of the law,” not a right-wing tool), and proclaiming that “Obamacare” included “the biggest tax increase in the history of the world.” Roberts’ new critics invaded his Wikipedia biography and symbolically “repealed” him by “replacing” the title “Chief Justice” with “Chief Traitor.”

Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Michael Savage all tried to outdo each other’s bombast. “Our freedom of choice just met its death panel,” Limbaugh raged about SCOTUS. Beck hawked T-shirts depicting Roberts as a coward. Savage suggested that Roberts’ epilepsy meds had caused “cognitive disassociation (sic)” that affected his judgment. And Troy Newman of the militant anti-abortion group Operation Rescue compared the day the decision was announced to 9/11 and, appallingly, referenced Nazi Germany as well, warning that “we are all moving down the road toward complete annihilation.”

4. Some nut-job even proposed one of Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle’s “Second Amendment remedies.” In Michigan, former state GOP spokesman Matt Davis asked in a mass email whether “armed rebellion” might now be justified. An anonymous commenter responded to an online article about it: “I will not submit I will not buy something I don’t want I will not pay the fine (sic). And I will not be arrested peacefully. Your move Feds (double sic: punctuation needed desperately).”

5. Mitch McConnell appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” expecting his usual softball interview. Chris Wallace, however, grilled him relentlessly about the Republicans’ plan to “replace” Obamacare once they’ve repealed it. After Wallace asked him three times how the GOP planned to cover some 30 million uninsured Americans, McConnell finally blurted out in exasperation, “That’s not the issue!” Then, realizing what he was admitting, he clarified that the Republicans didn’t have a replacement plan for Obamacare’s most important provision.

6. After Republicans were proven wrong on how big the tax increase would be (the Great God Reagan passed a higher one), Romney’s campaign stooge, Eric Fehrnstrom the Etch a Sketch guy, made it clear that Romney didn’t consider the fine that “free riders” would have to pay for ignoring the mandate a “tax” but rather an “unconstitutional penalty.” If Romney were to call it a tax, it would mean that he had also “raised taxes” when Massachusetts passed Romneycare. Much wingnuttery ensued, including a snide tweet from Rupert Murdoch saying Mitt should “hire some real pros” for his campaign team.

On the “penalty” side of the debate were conservative think-tank analysts, The Wall Street Journal editorial board, and the four dissenting justices – all of whom warned that accepting as a tax what was written into law as a penalty would give big-government advocates “unlimited power to impose new purchase mandates.” The government could “legally tax our every breath,” Sen. Rand Paul warned.

7. Individual GOP lawmakers have a personal stake in one facet of the law they so fervently want to repeal: the provision that allows their own adult children to remain on their health insurance policies. Tea Party blowhard Joe Walsh (who also recently tried to “swiftboat” his Democratic opponent, a former Black Hawk pilot and double amputee, for “politicizing” her military service) explained that, while his 24-year-old son is covered by his mother’s plan, the freshman congressman doesn’t really support keeping the provision. “I don’t know where I am on that, and that’s a lousy thing to say,” he observed. “That doesn’t matter to me, though, irregardless (sic) of that.” (It’s “lousy” indeed, given that Walsh’s ex-wife has sued him for more than $100,000 in child support arrears that she claims he owes.)

8. Mother Jones magazine updated a story about Mitt and the Fabulous Bain Boys investing $75 million in Stericycle, a medical waste firm that disposed of aborted fetuses. This time, Mitt couldn’t weasel out of it by claiming he no longer worked there when the Stericycle deal went down. According to writer David Corn, an SEC document revealed that Mitt had held sole “voting and dispositive power” over Bain’s Stericycle shares when the investment was made. One pro-life blogger, along with Dan Primack of CNN Money, challenged Corn’s conclusion. Primack acknowledged that Bain asked Mitt to continue signing Stericycle fund documents after he “left” in February 1999 to salvage the Olympics in Utah. (Mitt had taken an earlier leave in 1994 to run for the Senate.) “Romney said he will stay on as a part-timer with Bain, providing input on investment and key personnel decisions,” The Boston Herald stated at the time. A July 1999 press release said Romney was “currently on a part-time leave of absence” and quoted him speaking for Bain Capital.

9. In a surprise move, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed three voter suppression bills. Needless to say, Republicans weren’t too happy about this unprecedented defection from their nationwide plot to disenfranchise likely Democratic voters.

10. Jonathan Krohn, the erstwhile wunderkind of CPAC’s 2009 conference as a precocious 13-year-old, has now emerged at 17 to denounce conservatism – and his own naivete. Movement bigwigs who once revered him are now calling him vile names and sniffing that they secretly thought all along that he was annoying, condescending, and mindless.

11. On the Fourth, Mittens caved to intense pressure from his puppeteers by revising his views on the “penalty vs. tax” issue yet again, now calling it “a tax” but offering no elaboration. Then a Wall Street Journal op-ed blasted Mitt and his bumbling campaign strategy for “slowly squandering an historic opportunity” by vacillating and obfuscating on issues like health care reform. Flip-Flopper-in-Chief, anyone?

12. And for the grand finale, the right’s wackiest characters genuinely “brought the crazy” during America’s 236th birthday week. El Rushbo dropped another misogynistic bombshell when he replied to a caller opining on the youth vote: “When women got the right to vote is when it all went downhill. Because that’s when votes started being cast with emotion and maternal instinct that government ought to reflect.” (Worry not, dittoheads: Beck’s got his back. The Blaze, Beck’s website, insisted that Rush was merely baiting liberal critics with an old saw written by Ann Coulter – who probably really believes it.) Meanwhile Florida’s favorite Mad Hatter, Rep. Allen “Wild, Wild” West, said at a campaign rally: “I have a great idea. I believe, for personal security, every American should have to go out and buy a Glock 9mm” – an obvious applause line, gun humor for the ideologically challenged. “And if you don’t do it, we’ll tax you,” he added, after his curtain call. (Col. West is not amused by the federal income tax.) “Now I wonder how the liberals will feel about that one.”

I have to hand it to him: That’s one hell of an “individual mandate.” The problem is that it’s about as thoughtless a possible provocation to trigger-happy whack jobs as Dubya jeering, “Bring ’em on!” at the citizens of a nation we had just occupied in a preemptive war. Or Sarah Palin exhorting the Tea Party faithful, “Don’t retreat, RELOAD!” and using a U.S. map festooned with figurative gun sights to target the districts of congressional Democrats who had voted for the Affordable Care Act – like Arizona’s Gabby Giffords, later shot and gravely injured by a deranged gunman who killed six other people during the same attack.

I’m not implying that the shooter had ever seen Palin’s provocative map; we have no way of knowing what set off his crazed shooting spree. But all we need in this polarized country is more wildly irresponsible NRA rhetoric – or everybody and his grandma packing heat.