Republicans Eating Their Own, Michigan Edition

Polls show them that social issues don’t work and that the GOP is on the wrong side of nearly every issue with voters, but when the Michigan GOP hires a consultant who tells them that, they stick their fingers in their ears and sing “God Bless the USA,” firing the consultant before the second verse. I’m thinking they don’t care about winning anymore.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

In Michigan the Republican Party is just not too swift. Earlier this week they snubbed Governor Jon Huntsman, who was scheduled to speak in Grand Rapids, because he wasn’t conservative enough. Well, I suppose Sarah Palin is always available, if she’s finished solving the political problems of all the stillborn citizens in Alaska. Oh, the GOP in Michigan is so screwed that they hired a consultant to report on how to solve the political problem they have, of losing not just the Governor’s office or the registration advantage to Dems, but the State House and virtually every other meaningful political measure. So they hired Dennis Darnoi, long a Michigan strategist, to give them pointers. Then they fired him because he didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear. From Susan J. Dimas at Huffpo:

The message of tax cuts and social issues isn’t resonating anymore with voters, who have fled the party in droves, especially in big swing counties like Oakland and Kent. Demographics aren’t in Republicans’ favor in Michigan or nationally, with the fast-growing groups of Asians, Hispanics and young people all voting Democratic by scary margins.

So what’s the solution? Darnoi didn’t suggest anything radical like bowing at Obama’s feet and hoisting the Communist flag. No, he said Republicans should run on accountability and transparency while big government is OK with voters, as a recent Gallup/USA Today poll shows. He notes that moderate GOP candidates have enjoyed some success even in areas where the president won handily, like Kalamazoo.

He also believes that the GOP needs an image makeover, stat, as it’s perceived as wanting gays to stay in the closet and being on the wrong side of environmental regulations and alternative energy.

No kidding. The overarching view of Democrats used to be that they were limp-wristed, liberal weenies. But the ’80s and ’90s are over. What Republicans fail to realize is that their party is now tagged as being one of mean, bigoted blowhards. Of course, many are too busy self-medicating with the primal screams of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to notice that the ground has shifted beneath them.

The story here is that the Republicans in Michigan think they ought to recruit candidates who are even more extremist than before. A common sense guy like Darnoi had no chance with these folks. He’s not extremist enough.

It’s not the social issues, stupid. Of course, we could shout that loudly to the Republicans in Michiagan and the still wouldn’t dent their psyches. These people are evidently stupid. I guess they think if they can slam gays hard enough even more extremists Christians will vote. Two problems with that. Fewer people are identifying themselves as either fundamentalist or evangelical Christians, for one. Perhaps more significantly, Obama is winning the whole lot of the demographic groups when it comes to religion, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Agnostic, Athiest, etc. They get a consultant who tells them to ease off the social issues and they kick him out, exactly the wrong strategic move. Hey, the heartland of Iowa also needs to give up on the social issues, according to a poll commisioned by the GOP, and I’m betting they ignore the results and try to gain seats by slamming the gays again.

I think we’ll see more of this myopia on the part of Republicans for some time. It is an extension of what Richard wrote about the other day, that nationally the Republicans are seeing themselves in worse shape than in years. The GOP brand is completely broken now, far worse than when Goldwater screwed up so badly. There’s hardly a Republican out there who doesn’t owe his job to a dwindling and extremist power base, with the rest of the country considering them hateful, incompetent and simply wrong on everything. I’m thinking this is a fine situation for Democrats to be in.

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

GOP Surprised by Specter Announcement, NYTimes Headline

The GOP leadership in the Senate was caught by surprise by Arlen Specter’s becoming a Democrat. That shows how out of touch the GOP leadersip is. They will be surprised this morning that the New York Times sees signs of change in the GOP on the gay marriage issue. No, the Times is wrong on this one. The GOP will remain bigoted.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The GOP Senate leadership was surprised by Arlen Specter’s defection from the Republican Party yesterday. Considering the failures and incompetence demonstrated by Republicans over the last eight years or so, a picture of a bunch of befuddled GOP Senators seems appropriate to me. One thing I don’t expect is any immediate change in the Republican platform in order to create a “big tent.” (Scarborough this morning noted that the GOP is suffering from a “small tent,” and there’s no sign of a wonder drug to help with that.) But the New York Times, in a journalistic coup, has spotted signs that the GOP is softening its stance on gay marriage. Really, here’s the New York Times headline: “Signs G.O.P. Is Rethinking Stance on Gay Marriage.” This may be the stupidest story of the year from American print journalism in the “not in WingNutDaily” category.

The Times story is based on a couple factors. First there was former McCain campaign staffer Steven Schmidt who wrote about how the GOP should de-emphasize the issue of gay marriage. Hey, NYTimes, that’s the opinion of one guy, and if you look around at the GOP reaction to Steven Schmidt’s opinion you’ll see that the rank and file think he should just shut up. Then the Times cites the Specter defection as a sign the GOP is thinking of changing its tune on gay marriage. Hey, even if GOP outlier Olympia Snowe shows regret for Arlen Specter leaving the GOP, that just isn’t a sign that the GOP is softening its anti-gay stance. Good God, the big headlines all over the right side of the blogosphere was “Swine Flew” in response to Arlen Specter’s defection yesterday – and while I’m unsure that the headline is anti-semitic, it can’t be denied that there’s just one Republican JEw now in Congress, Eric Cantor. The GOP is alienating both Jews and gays.

The New York Times here is right to note that demographics are not in favor of the GOP on the gay marriage issue, and that those demographics are getting worse everyday. Here’s a snippet fromt eh Times article:

Consider this: In the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, released on Monday, 31 percent of respondents over the age of 40 said they supported gay marriage. By contrast, 57 percent under age 40 said they supported it, a 26-point difference. Among the older respondents, 35 percent said they opposed any legal recognition of same-sex couples, be it marriage or civil unions. Among the younger crowd, just 19 percent held that view.

. . .

This does not mean, Republicans said, that most Americans are suddenly embracing the idea of same-sex couples going to the chapel. It is more that, for a lot of these Americans, gay marriage is not something they spend a lot of time worrying about, or even thinking about.

For younger respondents, this shift may in part be cultural: the result of coming of age in an era when openly gay people have become increasingly common in popular entertainment and in public life, not to mention in their own families or social circles. Familiarity in this case breeds relative comfort, or perhaps just lack of interest.

Again, this may be reality on the ground, but nowhere here is there evidence that the GOP is recognizing that reality and changing as a result. I suppose I expect them to recognize that their virulent opposition to gay marriage, and their close ties with a religious right wing that is bigoted on the issue, is harmful to the GOP, but that recognition is a long way off. For the Times to crow in a headline about how they’ve read tea leaves that show there are portents of change int he GOP – HOGWASH!

The big stories here are that the GOP is blind to the future. They couldn’t see that Specter was ripe to switch parties and were supposedly stunned by the development. They can’t see that such divisive and extremist views such as they hold on gay marriage are only going to further alienate Americans who believe in offering, as Olympia Snowe notes, “individual opportunity” to Americans. Heck, the Dems sure knew Specter was ripe to switch parties, with Biden, Casey and Rendell all recruiting Specter for the Dems for a month or two prior to this announcement. There’s your stark difference there between the parties. The GOP is not only “just say no,” but also a bit of an ostrich with its head in the sand concerning political reality, especially on issues like gay marriage. The Dems, on the other hand, are bringing about change, in Vermont and DC and Iowa, for sure, but also in PA with the gain of a Democrat in the Senate.

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Following Specter, Two More Republicans to Leave the GOP?

It’s just a rumor at the moment, fueled by the abuse the Republican Party is showering on two of its biggest names, Michael Steele and Jon Huntsman. But this rumor will grow. Huntsman evidently isn’t conservative enough, and the RNC doesn’t want to trust Steele with its money. So why wouldn’t they defect to the Democratic Party?


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The GOP rank and file has been generally celebrating Arlen Specter’s departure from the party for the Democratic Party. Arlen gave them gravitas, seniority, and a big name. Sure, Specter was reviled by the Republicans for being too liberal, and he was reviled by the Democrats for selling out on principled issues like the US Attorney scandal, the NSA wiretapping scandal, and the Torture Regime of the Bush Administration. So Specter isn’t well-liked except by his moderate constituents in PA. But surely the calls of “Swine Flew” when Specter left the now extremist Republican Party are a bit whacked out. But that’s OK. That attitude will result in a couple other defections, and I’ve got some bold predictions about a couple Republicans who just might get fed up with the GOP and take off.

The first of my predictions is a supposed rising star in the GOP. Even though Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is young and hip and rich, the GOP doesn’t seem to appreciate his electability. Wait, let me make sure I’ve got that right. Huntsman, a Mormon, isn’t conservative enough. At least that’s what they think in Grand Rapids, MI. You see, Jon Huntsman supports civil unions for gay citizens in this country. Not gay marriage, mind you, but civil unions. And the Republicans in Grand Rapids, dominated by the extremists on the religious wing of the party, think Huntsman is a not sufficiently a supporter of traditional marriage. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.’s appearance at a Michigan county Republican Party event was scrapped this week after the county chairwoman said that hosting the moderate Utah governor would mean abandoning the party’s conservative principles.

Kent County Republican Party Chairwoman Joanne Voorhees abruptly canceled the party fundraiser scheduled for Saturday.

“The voters want and expect us to stand on principle and return to our roots. Unfortunately, by holding an event with Governor Huntsman, we would be doing the exact opposite,” Voorhees wrote in an e-mail quoted in The Grand Rapids Press .

Voorhees did not specify which issues she felt were contrary to the party’s principles and did not return messages left at the party headquarters and on her cell phone.

The group Campaign for Michigan Families praised the cancellation, attributing it to Huntsman’s support of civil unions, and urged the Oakland and Kalamazoo county parties, where Huntsman is also scheduled to speak this weekend, to do the same.

Now I’ve not heard from Huntsman that he might actually leave the Republican Party, but getting disinvited to an event is pretty big stuff. And Huntsman certainly doesn’t seem all that excited by Republican prospects in the next couple years.

Asked last week about the future of the GOP, Huntsman said “I don’t know where the party is moving. The party isn’t going anywhere.”

Well, Huntsman isn’t going much of anywhere, either, and especially not to Grand Rapids, MI. It may behoove Huntsman, who isn’t conservative enough for the extremist Republicans in Michigan, to think about joining a more inclusive political party, such as the Democrats. And he’s not the only big name Republican to be abused by his own party this week.

Michael Steele? The Republicans have been pretending Michael Steele is the GOP Chair for some time now, while taking turns kissing Rush Limbaugh’s ring. (Is ring kissing a sexual act on the order of teabagging?) Even though the RNC elected Michael Steele to the pretend position of RNC Chair, they don’t seem to quite trust him. You see, the Chair has control over spending some of that hundreds of millions of dollars the Republicans raise yearly. The members of the NC have decided they don’t want Michael Steele to have his paws on all that money. Really, they elect a black man as pretend RNC Chair, and now they want to make sure he doesn’t have the power to spend RNC funds. Let’s just say they never took that power away from any of their previous white pretend RNC Chairs. From the Washington Times:

A battle over control of the party’s purse strings has erupted at the troubled Republican National Committee, with defenders of Chairman Michael S. Steele accusing dissident RNC members of trying to “embarrass and neuter” the party’s new leader.

Randy Pullen, the RNC’s elected treasurer, former RNC General Counsel David Norcross and three other former top RNC officers have presented Mr. Steele with a resolution, calling for a new set of checks and balances on the chairman’s power to dole out money.

The powers include new controls on awarding contracts and spending money on outside legal and other services.

I’m simply amazed at the audacity of these folks. Michael Steele as the face of the Republican Party is about the only sign left of any diversity in the GOP. They’ve lost the Latino vote, the African American vote, the gay vote, the oyuht vote and the woman vote. It appears now that the middle aged white men who actually run the GOP are not about to let a black man spend their money. My goodness but there’s tons of room for a few tasteless jokes here, but I’m not going to go there. Nope, not a little bit.

I will say that Michale Steele and Jon Huntsman should look to Arlen Specter as an example. Were they to convert themselves to Democrats, as Specter has done, these guys could . . . be ridiculed openly by the GOP? But, wait, they’re already being ridiculed openly by members of the GOP. OK, ok, I’m not seeing much advantage of these two moving to the Democratic Party, but they sure are being abused by their own, and while the Democratic Party could always use another Governor and more influence in Utah, I’m not sure what we would do with Micheal Steele. Maybe we could put him in charge or redecorating or something?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Arlen Specter (D-Pa) Switches Parties

BREAKING: Arlen Specter is reportedly switching his party allegiances to the Democratic Party.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Wow.

This is huge news. MS-NBC is running the story that Arlen Specter is switching to the Democratic Party. Given that Al Franken is almost sure to be eventually declared the Senate winner in Minnesota, it’s likely that the Dems now have their 60 seat majority in the Senate.

While I don’t expect Specter to vote in lockstep with the Dem party (actually, he’ll probably be closer to Joe Lieberman in terms of philosophy), this is seismic.

Speaking of Lieberman, does the GOP now step up its efforts to get Lieberman to switch?

Discuss while this story is breaking…

Adding: CNN is reporting that Specter made the decision because of a significant GOP challenge in next year’s primary from uber wingnut Pat Toomey. There’s little question that Toomey would have been rough competition for Specter. The question remains: who will challenge Specter in the Dem primary?? Or have promises been made by the Dems in Pennsylvania?

Adding: I’m watching a quick photo op on CNN from outside of Specter’s office, and the crowd of constituents from Pa. is clapping and whooping it up. There will be a news conference later this afternoon.

Adding: I really like the chances of true healthcare reform now.

Update, 2:30PM – In Specter’s press conference, he aligned himself with the Lieberman wing of the Democratic Party. Oh, wait. Joe isn’t a Dem. Hmmm.

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 by Richard Blair |

Cage Match to Decide Republican Budget Proposals?

Infighting in the GOP in the House made a ludicrous spectacle of the GOP as they rolled out an alternative budget this week that had no numbers. This is Republican incompetence at its finest, and it was thrilling to see there was back room infighting, too. So let’™s arrange a steel cage match, Cantor and Ryan v. Boehner and Pence.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Certainly the Republicans in the House stubbed their collective toes this week when they put forth a plan that had no dollar figures within it and no specific proposals. Politico had noted that the plan was being prepared to counter accusations that the GOP has become the ‘œParty of No.’ Politico describes the Republican train wreck:

Even before Barack Obama double-dared them to cough up their own budget, House Republican leaders were quietly drafting a set of conservative budget principles to convince voters ‘“ and their own rank-and-file ‘“ that they aren’™t just The Party of No.

Minority Leader John Boehner, Minority Whip Eric Cantor, GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence and Rep. Paul Ryan worked for weeks on a plan, staffers say, without any serious philosophical disagreements.

But over time, Cantor-Ryan and Boehner-Pence camps split over questions of tactics and timing.

Pence, with Boehner’™s blessing, wanted to unveil an abbreviated ‘œblueprint’ Thursday to counter Obama’™s criticism and arm members with new talking points heading into this weekend ‘“ even if it meant that their plan wouldn’™t have much in the way of details.

Cantor and Ryan wanted to wait until Ryan’™s staff produced a fully-fleshed-out alternative to Obama’™s $3.6 trillion spending plan, with specific numbers on spending and tax cuts ‘“ even if it meant waiting a few more days to get it out.

Cantor and Ryan ultimately caved in, and what they got was the worst of both worlds: a thin, glossy ‘œblueprint’ that was ridiculed by Democrats and cable news anchors, and a nasty internecine scrap that culminated with one GOP aide telling POLITICO that Pence had thrown Ryan ‘œunder the bus’ in an ‘œegocentric rush’ to grab the spotlight.

Privately, some Republicans are worried that the split over the budget blueprint portends the kind of internal squabbling that afflicted the party during the height of its power at the beginning of the Bush administration.

First Republican whine? ‘œBut Politico is biased!’ Hey, guys, the freaking right wing Washington Times also makes fun of your proposed budget. As a Republican you know you’™ve really screwed the pooch when the Times is making fun of you. It is going to be harder to weasel out of this one than to merely crawl back under the partition at the airport restroom. Boehner offers the ‘œbudget,’ but it has no substance, which to most Americans seems perfectly consistent with Republican performance over the last eight years or so.

This time there seems to be infighting among the Republicans. That’™s brilliant. Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan caved in to the old guard, as represented by John Boehner (rhymes with ‘œloner’) and Mike Pence. From my outsiders perspective, rising stars in the Republican Party are its only chance of suvival over the cruxial next few years. Sanford and Jindal and Palin are rising stars bumbling around on their own, without significant help from the incompetent Republican powers that be. Now the old guard is abusing young guns Cantor and Ryan. In short, the GOP is showing itself to be disfunctional on the level of Greek tragedy. No, wait, formal definitions of ‘œtragedy’ imply a fall from greatness, and not about to imply greatness for the GOP anytime in the last 50 years. Umm, it sounds like a WWE cage match. Yeah, that’™s the metaphor!

And what’™s a meta for, anyway? It’™s just a handy thing to use to make fun of Republicans who, as usual, can’™t get their shit together. I propose a tag team cage match between Eric Cantor/Paul Ryan vs. John Boehner/Mike Pence. The winning team gets to make decisions for the GOP in the House, and more importantly, I’™ll donate a whole slew of tanning products. Sound good?

Saturday, March 28th, 2009 by Richard Blair |

Hey, GOP, Try Exorcism Next

Surprise, surprise! GOP House members are having a problem with Dick Cheney speaking up and getting in the way of their supposed remaking of their party. They’re crying “get off my lawn!” in unison, but it doesn’t seem to help. Maybe they should try exorcism. . . or, did somebody say “The Spanish Inquisition?”


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

There’s evidently a sizable number of Members of Congress on the GOP side of the aisle who would like Dick Cheney to go back to his undisclosed location. They are not a bit happy that Cheney decided to take on Barack Obama the other day. Evidently they have figured out that huge numbers of Americans think Dick Cheney took this country down the most disastrous path we’ve been down in a long time. From The Hill:

Congressional Republicans are telling Dick Cheney to go back to his undisclosed location and leave them alone to rebuild the Republican Party without his input.

Displeased with the former vice-president’s recent media appearances, Republican lawmakers say he’s hurting GOP efforts to reinvent itself after back-to-back electoral drubbings.

The veep, who showed a penchant for secrecy during eight years in the White House,has popped up in media interviews to defend the Bush-Cheney record while suggesting that the country is not as safe under President Obama.

Rep. John Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.) said, “He became so unpopular while he was in the White House that it would probably be better for us politically if he wouldn’t be so public…But he has the right to speak out since he’s a private citizen.”

Another House Republican lawmaker who requested anonymity said he wasn’t surprised that Cheney has strongly criticized Obama early in his term, but argued that it’s not helping the GOP cause.

The legislator said Cheney, whose approval ratings were lower than President Bush’s during the last Congress, didn’t think through the political implications of going after Obama.

Cheney did “House Republicans no favors,” the lawmaker said, adding, “I could never understand him anyway.”

As everyone knows, the problem here is that these same GOP Congressmen were all supportive of Mr. Cheney through some really ugly times, including torture, selling out our own CIA agents, renditions, etc. They can’t run and hide from what they actively enabled, except in their dreams.

Of course, they could try exorcism.

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

The Violent, Bitter GOP Fringe, Free Republic, and Arlen Specter

It is not uncommon for Free Republic whack jobs to call for Obama’s head, but it is odd that the founder of the web site warns those extremists to be cautious lest they attract the Secret Service. Isolated whack jobs on one hand, surely, but in PA the whack jobs are gunning for one of the last GOP moderates, Arlen Specter.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

It is not news that there are violent whack jobs on the fringe of the Republican Party. The last Presidential campaign gave us plenty of evidence, and we don’t really need Alexandra Pelosi’s film to tell us not only that there are extremist whack jobs out there on the Republican fringe, but that those whack jobs can be pretty disturbing in their use of language. It is easy to slough it off and imaging that these whackjobby fringe types are not a factor in Republican politics, that they might lionize Ann Coulter, but the GOP does not in fact listen to the whackjobbiness in any serious way. But the violent speech gives one pause.

It isn’t just the hanging of Obama in effigy that we’re talking about here, an act evidently perpetrated a few times among the GOP fringe last fall. It isn’t just the persistence in GOP whack jobs believing Obama is a communist, that he is a Muslim, that he is not a citizen, etc. All that is whackjobby enough, but the threats of violence on perhaps the most popular place for Republicans to vent is becoming disturbing. That place is Free Republic, and this weekend the founder of Free Republic had to go online and warn his people about how they used the threatening language against Obama. According to a report on DailyKos, here’s Jim Robinson, founder of Free Republic:

Unfortunately, we are saddled with a communist sympathizer in the White House. I don’t know whether or not he’s an actual card carrying commie, but he’s definitely an America-hating, anti-capitalist Marxist leftist who thinks communism is the way to go. Now I remember when America used to fight against communism. It wasn’t that long ago. Many of us on FR are veterans of wars against communism and some of us believe that American citizens who are communists are the enemy within, ie, the domestic enemy we’ve sworn to defend against. American citizen? hmmmm… that may be a loophole for Obama.

At any rate, the oath is to defend our constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. I can imagine that this places an enormous strain on our Secret Service agents. It’s obvious to anyone with a brain that Obama is an enemy of the constitution. So should the SS defend the constitution or defend the anti-constitution commie?

So now comes the problem. If you feel it’s your duty to call Obama a traitor and use salty language in your proposed resolution, ie, suggest the commie be keelhauled, walked off the plank, run up the yardarm, tarred and feathered and run out of Dodge, etc, etc, etc, you may be facing a visit from your friendly Secret Service. And even though your visiting agent may agree politically, and may take his oath to the constitution seriously, he’s still sworn to protect the officeholder and it’s his duty to take all threats seriously. And that may include serving me with a subpoena to turn over your IP address. Now I’m duty bound to protect your privacy to the best of my ability, but I cannot defend against stupidity.

Best advice I can give is to keep it to yourself. Don’t post anything that may embarrass you later, or end you up in the slammer.

Ever vigilant.

Keep your powder dry.

For those of you not on the NRA bandwagon, “keep your powder dry” means that you should make sure those firearms work well, just in case you have to use them. Some might characterize the above as Jim Robinson warning his users not to bandy about violent threats against Barack Obama, but I’m thinking he’s warning these folks that they might be caught. That’s not all that subtle a distinction, really. It isn’t that he thinks people should believe in something other than violence, but that he doesn’t want to be in the way when the Secret Service comes.

Hey, this could be an internet thing. the folks at DailyKos just love to take off on the violent tendencies of the right wing whack jobs over at Free Republic. They do it here and here in addition to the link from above. And, no, I do not want to minimize the violent threats as just “salty talk,” as Jim Robinson does, but I’m thinking this tit for tat, back and forth about violent imagery on web sites isn’t constructive unless we show how it applies to a real election. To that end, the plight of Senator Arlen Specter, here in the land of God, guns and bitterness, might show how the extremists here represent a shift in the GOP.

Arlen Specter has been a stalwart member of the GOP in the Senate for a long time. Some would say he is a moderate, and some would say he is the last moderate Republican out there. They’d say he is an endangered species, and one that may soon become extinct. Hey, Spector was challenged in the 2004 primary by Pat Toomey, of the extremist Club for Growth, and he won by 2% in that race, and Toomey is thinking of another challenge to Specter. The notion among Republicans is that Specter’s support of Barack Obama’s stimulus plan makes Specter a traitor to the God, guns and bitterness crowd here in PA, and that puts Arlen Specter in some deep trouble. Dick Polman of the Philadelphia Inquirer goes so far as to advise Specter that he may as well just become a Democrat, if he is to succeed in being elected to another term.

It was not that ugly language of the whack jobs on Free Republic that got me thinking this weekend, not really. It wasn’t that they seemed to follow the lead of Limbaugh and Coulter rather than the saner heads purporting to lead the Republican Party (though I’ll admit it seems impossible to find Republican leaders who do not bow down to Limbaugh). I began thinking this weekend about Specter. I attended a party Saturday where there were several big Specter donors in the crowd, but even they seemed to have moved towards Obama, wondering perhaps whether Specter can weather the storm among his own Republicans here in PA. Polman of the Inquirer yesterday put the issue starkly:

Like magic, the target on your backside would disappear. Pennsylvania’s increasingly conservative Republican electorate is gunning for you – thanks to your support for the Obama-Democratic stimulus plan, your other perceived heresies, and for any heresies yet to come (including your potential support for a hot-button bill that would make it easier for workers to unionize). They want to take you down in an expensive primary next spring, and perhaps Toomey will be their instrument.

You did beat him in a primary in 2004, by a mere two points, but I doubt that would happen again, if only because so many moderate Pennsylvanians in recent years have left the GOP and signed up with the Democrats. Hundreds of thousands have switched teams. Those were your people; in 2010, they won’t be eligible to participate in the primary and help you survive another blood feud.

You spoke recently about that dilemma, saying, “I’m going to deal with it as best I can. I’m trying to get people to change back and be Republicans.” Face it, senator, they’re not changing back. Not as long as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are cracking the whip; not as long as their most visible strategic guru is Newt Gingrich, the polarizer who was forced out of power more than 10 years ago.

Senator, most of the remaining Pennsylvania primary voters lean strongly rightward. Last month, 66 percent of statewide Republicans told a pollster that they want you gone. They think of you as “Benedict Arlen,” and one top conservative group, mindful of your vote on the economic-stimulus package, dubbed it “the ultimate act of treason” and named you “Comrade of the Month” – a nickname that demonstrates that Red-baiting has survived the fall of the Soviet Union.

So perhaps you should consider whether it’s worthwhile to drain your campaign coffers and put up with this grief. The Republicans seem determined to reduce themselves to a state of powerless purity, so, fine – let them nominate a conservative Senate candidate who would get waxed statewide. And you’d do the waxing, buoyed by the fact that Democrats in Pennsylvania now outnumber Republicans by 1.23 million, more than double the margin of 2004, when you last ran.

Now I do not expect Arlen Specter to abandon the Republican Party. It is in his blood. And I’ll not mourn much if Specter loses a primary fight to Pat Toomey, for that will surely ensure that whoever the Democrats nominate here in PA for the Senate will win. I am confident that the God, guns and bitterness segment of the PA electorate, and of the American electorate as a whole, are marginalizing themsleves, led by Limbaugh and Hannity and Coulter and a whole slew of rabid extremists. No, I’ll not mourn Arlen Specter much. But I wonder, as I think we all do, when the Republican Party begins to understand that extremism is not the cup of tea from which the American electorate wishes to sip. There are few moderates left in the GOP, and they will need those moderates if they have hopes of ever righting their skewed ship. It will be all the more difficult for the Republican Party if they chase away every moderate still loyal before they get that message.

Meanwhile, the whack job element still screeches. They believe in the conspiracy theories, toss around words like “socialist” and “communist,” veil their threats against Obama with little art, and are egged on by FauxNews, Limbaugh and the rest of the “let America fail” set. It is becoming increasingly clear that the ship they are steering onto the rocks is not the American ship with Obama at the tiller, but the GOP ship, with no clear captain to take the blame for the pending disaster.

Monday, March 9th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Yo Repubs? How’s that “Do Nothing” Strategery Working Out?

The polls are in and the Republican strategery of doing nothing about the economy is proving to be wildly unpopular with the people, while Obama remains popular. Hey, and bipartisanship is something the public seems to want as well. Gosh, that means a total of three Republicans are going to get some credit! Massive GOP FAIL!

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I just can’™t get over this New York Times poll this morning. Obama is getting the backing of the people of America in far higher numbers than just those who voted for him, and by far they are optimistic about the stimulus. How do they favor the Repubs and their ‘œdo nothing‘ and ‘œknow nothing‘ strategeries? Not so much. From the New York Times:

A majority of people surveyed in both parties said Mr. Obama was striving to work in a bipartisan way, but most faulted Republicans for their response to the president, saying the party had objected to the $787 billion economic stimulus plan for political reasons. Most said Mr. Obama should pursue the priorities he campaigned on, the poll found, rather than seek middle ground with Republicans.

. . .

Americans are under no illusions that the country’™s problems will be resolved quickly, but the poll suggested that they will be patient when it comes to the economy, with most saying it would be years before significant improvement.

A month into Mr. Obama’™s term, with his first big accomplishments, setbacks and political battles behind him, more than three-quarters of the people polled said they were optimistic about the next four years with him as president. Similar percentages said that they thought he was bringing real change to the way things were done in Washington and that they had confidence in his ability to make the right decisions about the economy.

The aura of good will surrounding Mr. Obama at this stage of his presidency is similar to the one that benefited Ronald Reagan as he led the nation out of economic gloom.

With a job approval rating of 63 percent, Mr. Obama is in a strong position to sell his economic policies. Yet the poll also captured skepticism about how effective his plans will prove to be in addressing the deep recession, as well as a strain of populism that could test his ability to retain public support for efforts to prop up key sectors of the economy.

I’™m thinking there is a bandwagon concerning bipartisanship that the Republicans would do well to get aboard. I do not expect them to do so, though. I think they are hard wired right now to oppose anything a Democrat proposes, whether that is the Democratic Congress or Barack Obama. They ignore Obama’™s popularity at their peril.

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 by Richard Blair |

Upon Further Review: Excessive Whackjobbery and Whining By GOP

Sometimes you’ve got to stop and chronicle the GOP whackjobbery, which has hit a high point since the Republicans tried to vote down the largest middle class tax cut in history. From the Washington Times to the FoxNews whack jobs to Rush Limbaugh, the GOP whackjobbery is as ripe as a landfill full of diapers. Smells like Republicans.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Every once in a while you’ve got to stop and smell the manure the Republicans are spreading and just wonder if anyone on their side believes any of their crap. It’s insane. Here’s a party that has fought for every single tax cut since Reagan was in office. We’re talking just under thirty years that the Republicans have identified themselves as the party of tax cuts. Indeed, under Presidnt George W. Bush the Republicans fought for income tax cuts and captial gains tax cuts, largely benefiting the biggest wage earners in the country.

As thereisnospoon at DailyKos notes, The Republicans recently showed what they really think of tax cuts when faced with the biggest middle class tax cut in history. Get it straight. They supported tax cuts for the wealthiest in our society, but only three Republicans in all of the Congress and Senate stuck to their guns and supposed beliefs and supported the Obama tax cut. It appears the GOP has replaced tax cutting with obstruction as the core of its value system. That is clear, perfectly clear, when you see the articles all over the place about how the GOP is planning to punish those Senators, Specter, Snowe and Collins, who voted for the largest middle class tax cut in history. Their crime was supporting a Democrat. That was their only crime, but it is the only crime important to Republicans anymore.

More whackjobbery? How about from the right wing newspaper the Washington Times. Sadly No, as stylish as ever, has the scoop. Seems the Times decided to go all Godwin on its readers and compare Democratic plans for healthcare to Hitler. I know, that sounds completely whack, and it is, but here’s the editorial from the Washington Times, complete with the photo of Hitler. You be the judge.

You want more whackjobbery? Will it satisfy you if I note that the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, newly elected and making the Republicans proud, recently said that, and I quote, from RawStory:

“I’m not going to soft pedal this with you,” Steele said. “The reality of it is, you are absolutely right. You have absolutely no reason, none, to trust our word or our actions at this point.”

Oh, sure, there’s more context. The guy said it on the Glenn Beck Show. Glenn Beck kept pitching batting practice, trying to entice Micheal Steele to play Home Run Derby, slam the Dems, and instead Steele slams the ball into the dugout striking the GOP and injuring it. He said his own team isn’t to be trusted. The big shock here, I suppose, is a Republican uttering the truth.

Want even more GOP whackjobbery? We’ll close this segment of GOP Whackjobbery with Glenn Beck. Evidently he was frustrated at dealing with Michael Steele, so he took out his frustrations on his audience. The video is here, where Beck predicts the end of the world as we know it, all caused by the Obama tax cuts combined with the Obama stimulus spending. It’s funny to see such desperate right wing pundits as Beck. Almost as funny as reading Ann Coulter’s desperate screeds, or hearing Rush Limbaugh whine while at the same time showing his utter stupidity. But that’s the way GOP whackjobbery goes. Whether it is from GOP office holders, GOP supporters, their media supporters, GOP pundits, it’s all good, for the Dems in 2010.

Sunday, February 15th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

GOP Catfight Brewing In TX: Palin v. Hutchinson

Is there a cat fight brewing between two of the most prominent Republican women in the country, Kay Bailey Hitchinson and Sarah Palin? If so, Palin has scratched first, endorsing Rick Perry for Texas Governor over Hutchinson. This could be a very interesting race that pits GOP Christian conservatives against old guard Republicans.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I suppose someone might have seen this coming back in the fall, when Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson was passed over the nomination as John McCain’s VP nominee in favor of Sarah Palin. Well they were both in TV news at one point, and they are both of huge value to the NRA, but it seems this cat fight is about abortion.

One thing is sure concerning the Palin nomination over Hutchinson – if Kay Bailey wasn’t pissed, she sure was channelling that feeling to at least one reporter. From NewsMax, the transcript of some candid comments on MSNBC last September:

Peggy Noonan: Yeah.

Mike Murphy: You know, because I come out of the blue swing state governor world: Engler, Whitman, Tommy Thompson, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush. I mean, these guys – this is how you win a Texas race, just run it up. And it’s not gonna work. And…

Noonan: It’s over.

Murphy: Still McCain can give a version of the Lieberman speech to do himself some good.

Todd: I also think the Palin pick is insulting to Kay Bailey Hutchinson, too.

Noonan: Saw Kay this morning.

Todd: Yeah, she’s never looked comfortable about this.

Murphy: They’re all bummed out.

Todd: Yeah, I mean is she really the most qualified woman they could have turned to?

Noonan: The most qualified? No! I think they went for this – excuse me – political bullshit about narratives…

Todd: Yeah, they went to a narrative.

Murphy: I totally agree.

Noonan: Every time the Republicans do that, because that’s not where they live and it’s not what they’re good at, they blow it.

I’m thinking Noonan and Murphy were wrong. Hutchinson and Palin are alike in several hard core Republican issues, such as gun control, and they are both women. Good candidates, except, of course, that Hutchinson can put together a sentence and Palin needs some help with that difficult task. There’s too big differences between the two. Hutchinson is older by 20 years, and thus couldn’t have balanced out McCain’s age on the ticket, and the kicker. Hutchinson supports Roe v. Wade, with restrictions. Palin is banking on the virulent anti-abortion extremist Christian vote in four years. So what does Sarah Palin do the other day? Palin endorses Rick Perry, despite that he’s rumored to be gay, because Rick Perry is the darling of the extremist right wing Christian conservatives down there in Texas. (Reports on Palin’s endorsement of Perry can be found in both the Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal.) Here’s a few quips about Perry from Palin from the Monitor:

“He walks the walk of a true conservative,” she said of Perry. “And he sticks by his guns – and you know how I feel about guns.”

. . .

“Not every child is born into ideal circumstances, but every life is sacred,” Palin wrote. “Rick Perry knows this – it is at the core of his being.”

There’s the ticket. Sarah Palin is beginning her 2012 Presidential run in Texas appealing to the extremist right wing Christian crowd by backing Rick Perry over Kay Bailey Hutchinson in the Governor’s race. Texas has a lot of delegates, so it seems a smart political move for Palin, but time will tell on that, of course. One wonders, of course, if her backing of Perry also has to do with Hutchinson’s luke warm response to Palin’s Vice Presidential candidacy. Is this a form of payback? Now that’s old fashioned politics we all know and love, isn’t it?

Well, it cannot be denied that Hutchinson was luke warm to Palin last fall. An article in the Dallas Morning News on September 4, 2008 shows Hutchinson as a bit less than inspired by Palin, and lots of folks last fall were wondering why McCain picked Palin over Hutchinson (like here) if he wanted a woman on the ticket. But I’m thinking this is not Sarah Palin playing hardball and getting back at Hutchinson, who for the most part played the good GOP soldier after McCain picked Palin. This is simply a case of Sarah Palin snubbing the woman in a shrewd poltiical move to enegrize the extremist right wing Christians she will need if she decides to run for President.

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |
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