Posts Tagged ‘Rove’

The GOP Comes Up Dry on Candidates

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Sen. Marco Rubio ... reaching for the unattainable?

By Bob Gaydos

When last we saw the Republican Party, they were plunging, lemming-like, over the cliff of national debt and letting President Barack Obama snooker them into approving what they describe as tax increases on their most favorite of all kinds of Americans — the really, really rich ones.

Since then, the survivors of the GOP cliff dive have continued to display their self-destructive instincts in ways both ridiculous and sublime. The most recent example falls into both categories. That would be Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s dry-mouthed, Saturday Night Live-like response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address.

Hold on! you say. Rubio’s whole response wasn’t a joke, it was just the beginning that was comical. Fair enough, I reply, but do you remember anything about the speech other than Rubio’s farcical stretch for an off-camera water bottle while keeping his eyes trained straight ahead at the camera? I sure don’t. And it’s doubtful most Americans do, what with the incident being ridiculed all over TV by the likes of Jon Stewart, David Letterman and, indeed, Saturday Night Live itself.

Fair or unfair, a fact of life in politics today is that image shapes discussion. Perception becomes reality. So when the supposed Great Latino Hope of the Pretty Much Whites Only Republican Party — one of the few Republicans who sincerely wants an immigration reform bill because it’s the right thing to do rather than it being the correct political thing to do — comes off in his debut as potential presidential contender as so nervous he desperately needs a drink of water barely a minute into his TV address, well, people are bound to wonder.

Is this the best the GOP can do? Can a guy who gets choked up so fast reading a speech on TV be counted on to handle really tense situations, such as routinely confront the president of the United States? When Rubio took his swig of Poland Spring, why didn’t he at least have the presence of mind to simply set the bottle down calmly and move on, rather than stretching comically again to replace it off camera? Did he think no one could see him? How people respond, even in the seemingly most mundane of circumstances, can be telling. Rubio’s response tells me that he’s not quite ready for prime time. The good news for him is that he’s got a couple of years to work on it.

As it was, commentators noted that at least Rubio’s actual eventual speech was a lot better than the State of the Union reply delivered last year for the GOP by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, another minority voice who was billed then as the great southern conservative hope of the GOP. If Rubio was Plastic Man, Jindal proved to be Mr. Freeze, one of Batman’s nemeses. Jindal’s wooden delivery dropped him back in the pack among potential GOP presidential contenders, which may explain why he recently called out his fellow Republicans, saying they had to “stop being the stupid party.”

Now, them’s fighting words and, had he been a member of almost any other political party, they would have surely gotten some kind of respectful response: “Gee, do you think Gov. Jindal’s got a point? Maybe we should talk about it. Should we shun candidates with ridiculous, simplistic views on issues? Should we care about more than the rich? Would that get more of us elected?”

But stupid is as stupid does. And so, Karl Rove, the chief architect of last year’s disastrous GOP campaign, has decided to double down on his spend-as-much-as-necessary-to-defeat-Democrats policy by creating a super-PAC to knock off fringy candidates who might win a GOP primary, but would lose in a general election, as happened last year. Some might view that scenario and decide it was time for the party to reach out to a broader spectrum of voters, to establish a base more in line with the majority of Americans rather than with candidates who appeal to certain special interest groups.

Not Rove. His Conservative Victory Project is intended to bankroll already established GOP faithful with fistfuls of money so that they win the primaries. These would be, of course, candidates acceptable to Rove, which does not mean a majority of Americans would also like them.

Newt Gingrich, who has been both mainstream and fringy GOP candidate, is kind of going both ways this time. Having been buried by super-PAC money last year when he was rising in GOP presidential primaries, he calls Rove’s plan a form of political bossism, where the folks with the money pick the candidates. It’s destined to fail, Gingrich says, and the figures on Rove’s success in the last election bear this out. Rove’s big-money philosophy bought little last year, one estimate being he had a success rate of 1 percent on $103 million spent on PAC attack ads.

But Gingrich further says the GOP needs to reach out to a broader base of Americans — Latinos, blacks, women, Asians, young voters — to compete successfully with Democrats. Other Republicans have also criticized Rove’s new PAC, but the former top aide to President George W. Bush still has an influential voice among Republicans, last year‘s stunning failures notwithstanding.

What is striking and depressing in all this internal GOP fighting is that they so seldom talk about actually creating a better country through new, more enlightened policies, but simply about beating the Democrats by reaching out to groups who vote Democratic, whatever that means.

Maybe there’s a Republican who wants to run for president who thinks his or her party needs to review and actually change some standard GOP policies — on abortion, gay marriage, gun control, health care, education, immigration, a living wage, bank regulation, taxes, etc. — as a way to attract some of those voters who don’t pull the GOP levers. A candidate who can also deliver a major speech in a way that inspires confidence, not ridicule. So far, that person has yet to appear.

Wanted: One Soul, One Victory Tour Bus

Monday, November 5th, 2012

President Obama and family, celebrating victory.

By Bob Gaydos

After watching hours of election returns, skipping from channel to channel trying to get the latest results as quickly as possible, I have three lasting impressions:

  • Fox News consistently beat everyone else in calling states for a candidate (usually Barack Obama) and signaling a bad night for Mitt Romney. They called Pennsylvania and Ohio for the president while the other, “more reliable,” networks played it safe.
  • The “expert” talking heads spent an inordinate amount of time talking about the coming debate over the “soul” of the Republican Party. Again, Fox was out front.
  • Obama delivered a victory speech that came close to being classified as a “barn-burner.”

I don’t expect to watch much of Fox again, so I’ll chalk its surprisingly professional performance up to an anomaly and move on to the other observations.

For starters, will someone please define what they mean by the “soul” of the Republican Party? A party whose presidential candidate told Hispanic aliens to “self-deport” and dismissed 47 percent of the country as not his concern? A party that would deny gays and lesbians the rights guaranteed to all Americans? A party committed in its platform to denying women the right to an abortion under any circumstances? A party dominated by aging white men whose favorite pastime seems to be figuring ways to keep other kinds of people from voting? A party focused on maintaining every tax break possible for wealthy Americans, but making it tougher for college students to get loans? A party that treats science as a theory and global warming as a myth? A party that requires its ultimate presidential candidate to lie his way through primary campaigns in order to capture the votes of the whack job far right that dominated those campaigns, then backtrack on all those positions once he enters the general campaign and has to attract normal voters and then re-backtrack to some of the early positions in order to hang on to the Tea Partiers, ultimately leading millions of Americans to conclude he’s a liar?

That party? If there’s a soul in there, it must be in pretty sorry shape. Besides, just who is going to have this debate over the GOP’s soul? No elected Republican or party official said anything during the campaign about the GOP’s glaring position outside the mainstream of American thought on virtually every social issue or the fact that ever-increasing numbers of Latinos, blacks, gays, women and young people identified with Obama and the Democratic Party and that those are constituencies who are voting in ever-increasing numbers while old, white men are just getting older.

Who in the GOP will dare to defy Karl Rove, whose genius has now been trumped twice by Obama? Or Rush Limbaugh and the cadre of media blowhards that riled so many Americans up against Obama with a litany of half-truths and outright lies? Is there a leader in the GOP that dares to say the Tea Party, which cost the GOP several Senate seats as well, has no clothes, or at least no influence with a majority of Americans? The talking heads kept saying this debate was coming, but no one offered a name.

My advice to the Republicans who are fed up with the last two elections is to form a new party starting with all the sensible Republicans who have left the party.

Which brings me to Obama’s rousing 2 a.m. call to action. After the obligatory thank you’s to campaign workers and a promise to meet with leaders of all parties to end the Washington gridlock, and thanking supporters for their votes, he harkened back to a message delivered by another Democratic president 50 years ago.

“But that doesn’t mean your work is done‘” he said. “The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government.”

John F. Kennedy’s, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country” was more dramatic, but it had already been used. Obama’s message, however, was the same — you, the people need to be more involved. If you don’t like the way things are being done, change it. The election is not the end; it’s the beginning.

A reporter covering Obama said the president did plan to try to work with Republicans, but also intended to take his message directly to the people, to take his show on the road, so to speak.

The talking heads all said it would never work. But they were still convinced Republicans — who lost the election — were going to sit down and have a heart-to-heart over their party’s soul.

I suggest a search party.

The Real Facts and the GOP ‘Facts’

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Karl Rove, mastermind of the GOP disinformation campaign

By Emily Theroux

The GOP’s refusal in recent years to deal in the currency of facts has flown in the face of an edict widely credited to the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan: “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” The perspective of the entire Republican Party has been subsumed by a kind of mass denial of reality that relegates “facts” to the last millennium, the enlightened era before America’s own King George W. assumed the throne.

“Bush’s Brain,” diabolical conservative mastermind Karl Rove, first defined the new world order in 2004. During an interview with writer Ron Suskind, Rove stated cryptically and with appalling arrogance that people who lived in what Rove termed “the reality-based community” believed that “solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. … That’s not the way the world really works any more,” Rove opined. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study, too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Ever since Rove and his fellow neocons’ immense hubris inspired them to forsake empiricism in favor of empire, they gave loyal followers permission to reinvent themselves as players of “history’s bit parts,” existing in a bubble of misinformation, revisionism, creationism, nativism, and science denial. If the reactionaries aren’t satisfied with the “tangibles” that reality throws their way, they can always swaddle themselves in Karl Rove’s Orwellian cocoon, where black is white, lies are truth, conservatism is compassionate, corporations are people, and the world is 6,000 years old despite the extensive fossil record. When the conservative faithful feel cornered by reason or statistics or scientific evidence, they can opt out of “the reality-based community” any time they choose by flipping on Sean Hannity or streaming Glenn Beck, then retreating into a “fact-free zone” of philistinism and folly.

Sometimes, Republicans are confronted with the embarrassing truth about their stubborn ignorance or outright lies when an issue or policy suddenly proves politically inconvenient for them. Take, for example, the embarrassing necessity for Virginia’s “Governor Ultrasound,” Bob McDonnell (hoping to be drafted as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential candidate) to backtrack on his “principled” insistence that rape victims, too, must undergo mandatory ultrasounds and be forced to view the resulting fetal images, just like everyone else waiting in line to clear GOP hurdles to obtaining an abortion. When that kind of cosmic retribution occurs, Republican candidates can follow Rove’s dubious lead and choose one or more of the following five options:

1. Change the subject to some bogus controversy you can blame on the Democrats. “Reality-averse” pols like Mitt Romney, who is truly cynical – and fully aware that this ploy is a zero-sum game designed to obliterate his opponent – have deliberately set up these false constructs (the phony “mommy wars,” for example, designed to distract voters from the very real Republican “war on women”). Indeed, everything, to Romney, is a precisely calibrated political calculation. Like a twisted wingnut version of a Bob Dylan song scored by “Turdblossom” Rove, Mitt doesn’t even fart without first testing which way the wind is blowing.

2. Take credit for your opponents’ accomplishments. When President Obama mounts a successful operation to kill Osama bin Laden, tell voters that if it hadn’t been for Bush and Cheney’s meticulous planning (during all of those years after Dubya said he “wasn’t all that interested” in finding bin Laden), the coup of the century never would have happened. When 1.2 million jobs are created since June 2009 under Obama’s watch, count jobs lost before Obama’s stimulus bill took effect so you can say “he” lost 1.86 million jobs; then use phony-baloney numbers of jobs created by Staples long after Romney left Bain Capital so you can claim “he” created 100,000 jobs. When the American auto industry makes a startling comeback after you wrote an editorial titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” claim as much credit for it as your lying mouth can possibly fabricate.

3. Turn your own failures around and blame them on your political foes. Characterize the historic downgrading of America’s credit rating, which resulted from the refusal of congressional Republicans to raise the debt ceiling for months on end in 2011, as the result of “high unemployment, big government, and ‘unsustainable debt’” caused by President Obama’s fiscal policies.

4. Turn to any of the fraudulent “authoritative” foils you rely on to issue “expert” guidance, official policy positions, or “model” legislation – such dynamic, partisan think tanks and lobbying conglomerates as the Heritage Foundation (funded by those clever Koch boys, who are as rich as God) or the furtive American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), whose member corporations prefer to slink around in the shadows so they don’t jinx their cushy tax dodge. Another option: For your next campaign event, call the bogus “activist” operation, FreedomWorks, whose own Dick Armey can rustle up a cast of boisterous “rent-a-redneck” subcontractors before you can shake a stick.

5. Get your “talking points” from focus-group guru Frank Luntz – called the “mack daddy” (translation: biggest, pimpingest bad-ass) of GOP strategists by Current TV’s Cenk Uygur. Then annihilate those dirty Dems by bellowing the bull that every other Republican talking head is bellowing, on every media venue you can get yourselves booked onto for the next four days. You’ll find that you get particularly good mileage out of Faux News, where sympathetic hosts will toss you softball questions, and “low-information” target audiences (who never watch anything other than Fox’s regurgitated extremist pablum) will generally swallow every last disingenuous word you say.