I’m old enough to remember when the number of statewide elected officials to back same-sex marriage was small enough to fit on one hand–Russ Feingold, Lincoln Chafee, and Ted Kennedy were just about it seven years ago. Nowadays, even red state Democrats are getting in on the action. It’s a pretty remarkable shift in so short a time, though it reflects partly changed political reality. Back then, the assumption was that Democrats needed to make nice with religious conservatives to have a path to a national majority, but the current estimation seems to be that getting more liberal Democrats to turn out in red states is worth the (presumably very small) cost in terms of turning off persuadable voters. This is occurring even among incumbents facing off-year elections, where the voters tilt more conservative–perhaps especially because of those off-year elections, since the reason the electorate is more conservative is because liberals turn out less frequently. This is a pretty easy way of persuading them to get out.
I’ve read a lot of analysis on how marriage is unambiguously helping Democrats politically at this point. It’s true. And it’s going to go on for another decade at least, since so much of the GOP base is simply immovable on this, and a lot of younger voters have the issue as a litmus test. That’s the irony of the Prop 8 case. It would be an extraordinarily easy way to neutralize the advantage Democrats will likely enjoy on this issue for the near future. One could imagine John Roberts, say, deciding to just rip off the band-aid and endorse a Constitutional right to marriage, regardless of gender, as a way of helping out his party in the long run. Admittedly, this would make Roberts even more hated by conservatives, but he’d be doing them a huge favor. Without that issue, Democrats would have a harder time raising money from gay donors. The issue would cease to be a millstone around their necks at the ballot box for younger voters (though it’s hardly the only millstone they’ve got). And we’d have marriage equality everywhere! From a purely political perspective, an expansive ruling would help Republicans and hurt Democrats. The former could have their cake and eat it too, rage against judges while rapidly dropping the issue and moving on, while the latter would lose the issue and campaign contributions. Not going to happen (though I’d gladly take the trade), but it ought to be noted.
I don’t know that I really have too much more to say about this, but it deserves some notice:
Obama has repeatedly championed a set of government investments that he argues would expand the economy and strengthen the middle class, including bolstering early-childhood education, spending more on research and development, and upgrading the nation’s roads and railways. He has said his comfortable reelection victory in November shows the country is with him.
But none of those policies have come close to being enacted. Instead, after returning this weekend from a trip to the Middle East, Obama is set to sign a government funding measure that leaves in place the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration — a policy that undermines many of the goals he laid out during the 2012 campaign.
Obama thinks the cuts are, in his words, “dumb,” and he says they will slow the economy and harm priorities by cutting spending on education, research and development, and many other programs. Yet Obama now finds himself enacting a broad domestic policy that he doesn’t support and that he believes will harm the country.
The article contains some Obama-ites saying that the sequester is eventually going to go, but at this point they’ve not exactly proven very shrewd when talking about what Republicans will do. Seems clear that we’re stuck with the dumb cuts that everybody was sure wouldn’t happen, except for me, sort of. I thought they’d roll much of it back later this month, and they rolled some of it back, which puts me closer to what happened than most people.
Barack Obama is not a bad president, and has improved palpably in many ways since his early days in office. There have been many positive accomplishments over the past four-plus years. But deficits and budget politics continue to be the Administration’s Achilles heel. The fiscal cliff/sequestration battle smacked of self-assuredness in this area that wasn’t warranted, since ultimately the Republicans did the most predictable thing imaginable–obstruct and do nothing–which apparently came as a complete shock to them, an incredible admission of out-of-touchiness. Anyway, for whatever reason, the president would rather have the sequestration cuts than nothing, so the most likely scenarios are either a indefinitely-starved public sector or a permanently-shrunk welfare state. That 2012 victory was sure worth it.
You might imagine I’m sympathetic to this perspective:
“I think they brought it on themselves to the extent that they validated the deficit issue,” Mishel said. “It was always the case that the actual budget policy being pursued contradicted the rhetoric in the campaign. Now it’s even worse.”
I highly doubt Obama’s support was what legitimized deficits as an issue, you can’t put the myopia of D.C. entirely on him. And it’s not like all that pressure isn’t part of the context in which he has to operate. But, yeah, while it’s hardly incoherent to support both stimulus and long-term deficit reduction, or increased discretionary spending and entitlement cuts, it’s also unsurprising that this nuanced, complicated position has failed to jam up the STOP THE SPENDING!!! buzzsaw. I’d really hoped Obama had learned this after the debt ceiling crisis, but it’s now clear to me that he can’t learn and won’t learn when it comes to this issue.
(h/t Political Wire)
Jack Kemp used to say, “No one cares what you know until they know you care.” … The perception, revealed in polling, that the GOP does not care about people is doing great harm to the Party and its candidates. …
Our policies and actions must take into account that the middle class has struggled mightily and that far too many of our citizens live in poverty.
Our job as Republicans is to champion private growth so people will not turn to the government in the first place. But we must make sure that the government works for those truly in need, helping them so they can quickly get back on their feet. We should be driven by reform, eliminating, and fixing what is broken, while making sure the government’s safety net is a trampoline, not a trap.
If it wasn’t so sad, you could almost be amused by the one-dimensional infantile thinking in there.
“Gee whiz, if we just go in there and (a) help plutocrats become more rich, and (b) reform [i.e., gut] some of that
hateful socialism safety net, all those capable, upwardly mobile wage-earners will bounce right off the public dole in a few weeks and go on to make enough middle class money to support a family.”
Oh right, I guess they forgot that the hyper-financialization of our economy over the past few decades has driven a huge share of corporate earnings into executive pay and gargantuan piles of hoarded cash that no one knows what to do with. In a period of never-ending record corporate profits, employment rolls remain frozen (or contracting) – driven largely by employers taking advantage of the financial crisis to squeeze existing workers even harder to make them do more work for the same (often inadequate) pay. Why hire more moochers when you can just add 5 more tasks to everyone else’s job description? After all, they should be thanking Jesus that they even HAVE a job, amirite??
Perhaps Republicans might want to ruminate on the millions of hard-working families who work three or more jobs and still have to collect food stamps because their wages, in real terms, have continued to decline year after year. Maybe they want to ponder the Sophie’s Choice millions of people have to make between relying on public assistance or going to work at a shitty job that pays hardly anything and (naturally) offers no health insurance – in many cases because someone in the family is sick, and the loss of health care coverage would be too financially devastating.
But no, Republicans. Keep on keeping on with your heartless “All people need is a kick in the ass to get them out of poverty and make them stop sucking off the government teat.” Never stop believing that larding up corporate balance sheets will trickle down largesse upon the little people. Continue to have faith that tearing down government will result in the private sector choosing to do the right thing all by themselves.
Because eventually even the idiots who don’t know it yet will catch on.
Hey, know what happened at CPAC this weekend? I sure do. Apparently a bunch of has-beens said the stuff they said back when we cared more about them, for the most part. Also we discovered for the first time that white supremacists in the movement long for the good ole days of Jim Crow and the Republican Party’s only problem is messaging. Clearly we need massive coverage of this phony news event, which up until a few years ago could come and go like the proverbial ghost in the night with only FOX News and a wisp of media attention.
Yeah, I’m a little bit cranky and it’s Monday, but somebody has to question all this attention. Now, I get that someone like Dave Weigel does this for a living, so he obviously should be there reporting. It’s his beat, his specialization. But dozens of discrete items in my RSS feed for days? Really? Quite a few sources find this blow-fest absolutely newsworthy with seemingly little pushback that I can see. So here’s the argument against all this attention.
- The CPAC audience isn’t representative of the conservative base.
- Their straw poll is pretty much worthless. Come on, Rand Paul is not going to be the 45th President of the United States. Neither was Mitt Romney in 2008, or Ron Paul in 2012. My guess is that Rand Paul’s campaign ends about when the filing deadline for his Senate re-election comes up, and he’ll maybe beat his dad’s numbers in the primaries before then. But, you know, it’s just not going to happen.
- Nobody really cares about the thoughs shared by Mitt Romney, Palin, Rick Santorum, or whatever other losers showed up to take a defeat lap this year. Santorum is the only one of these three who might conceivably run for president in three years, but the idea that he’d be well positioned in that contest is laughable. Santorum was so many choices removed from first or second in 2012, he was sort of the last other man standing by the time the primaries occurred. His second fifteen minutes are nearly done. 2016 will see him a decade out of public office, with that many more questionable utterances and sartorial choices inbetween. All three are merely trying to extend their time in the limelight, and there’s no reason to humor them.
- Any liberal who writes about Sarah Palin at this point in history would be better off just sitting in their chair for an hour playing internet Hearts. That would be a more productive use of time than writing about Sarah Palin. She’s like the Westboro Baptist Church at this point. The word is out, the verdict has been delivered, critical mass has long been attained in the fight against them, and liberals who “keep the pressure up” are merely helping feed the sense of controversy the shockingly small fan groups of these entities cherish. The Palins don’t even cut the mustard on cable reality television anymore. Either it’s lazy people writing stories or desperate people trying to find something, anything, interesting going on there. But really.
- Every speech–every speech–was chock full of boilerplate red-meat attacks. It wasn’t like we didn’t get enough of them over the last year, where there was this never-ending presidential election, now, right? It was deja-vu to such an extent that they probably just delivered the same ones they did five months ago.
- The two conservative Republicans who might actually have some strong appeal among non-rightwing voters weren’t even invited to participate. Given how focused the event was on the presidency, that is silly. Could you imagine a Democratic 2016 forum that didn’t invite Hillary Clinton or, let’s say, Andrew Cuomo to participate?
Admittedly, the Scott Terry white supremacy story is awful, and bizarre, and newsworthy in its own right. But this is my point. I have no objection to covering legitimately newsworthy events that happen at CPAC. But it doesn’t seem like very many actually newsworthy things actually happened at CPAC! But we got volumes of coverage because it’s CPAC!! It’s now a bona-fide press event like a party convention. Clearly this is because it’s been built up that way deliberately, but the reason why Scott Terry popped so much is probably because, well, it’s really just an event where the same people we always see say the same things they always say. Why don’t we just go back to the way it was?
Jeb Bush, speaking at CPAC about how Republicans are essentially backwards, racist, nutjob assholes:
“All too often we’re associated with being ‘anti’ everything,” Bush said. “Way too many people believe Republicans are anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay, anti-worker, and the list goes on and on and on [ed. couldn't have said it better myself]. Many voters are simply unwilling to choose our candidates even though they share our core beliefs [ed: um, didn't you just list the GOP's core beliefs?], because those voters feel unloved, unwanted and unwelcome in our party.”
And Bush also threw cold water in the face of conservatives who espouse a strict up-by-the-bootstraps doctrine of individual responsibility, and who ascribe failure only to personal failure. Life, he said, is increasingly more difficult for those who aren’t born with built-in advantages.
“It is not a validation of our conservative principles if we can only point to the increasingly rare individual who overcomes adversity and succeeds in America,” Bush said. “Here’s reality: if you’re fortunate enough to count yourself among the privileged, much of the rest of the nation is drowning.
“In our country today, if you’re born poor, if your parents didn’t go to college, if you don’t know your father, if English isn’t spoken at home, then the odds are stacked against you. You are more likely to stay poor today than at any other time since World War II,” he said.
Goodbye, dear Jeb, we hardly knew ye.
…that’s bringing this situation to a head.
Vietnam was winnable, but people in Washington decided we would not win it!
(Disclaimer: as much as I like giggling at Gohmert Pyle’s duh-ficiencies, he’s clumsily after making an argument for total commitment to a war once it’s been decided that a war is to be fought. So in context, while still bad, it’s not as bad as it sounds, armchair-quarterback-wise.)
Regardless of original intent, bringing up Vietnam in the same sentence as “winnable” reinforces the notion that the speaker is (and by serial association: CPAC attendees, conservatives, and the GOP) a) living 40 years in the past, and b) stupid.
Odd bit of synchronicity over t’American Conservative, with Rod Dreher quoting Dan McCarthy:
Although the party still sees Ronald Reagan when it looks in the mirror, what the rest of the country sees is George W. Bush — much as post-Vietnam Democrats continued to think of themselves as the party of Franklin Roosevelt when in the minds of most Americans they had become the party of Johnson and McGovern.
So, Republican opens mouth, “something” falls “splat” to the floor, his specific audience cheers, and everybody else points and laughs. Same ol’, same ol’.
The only thing missing here from the Bumper Fun Book of Republican Rebranding’s big list of things to avoid is “bigoted,” and that’s implied by the fact that Gohmert was rending garments over a missed chance to carpet bomb the Yellows and the Browns.
And, of course, fellow CPAC attendees gettin’ all white power and whatnot doesn’t help:
Scott Terry of North Carolina, accompanied by a Confederate-flag-clad attendee, Matthew Heimbach, rose to say he took offense to the event’s take on slavery. (Heimbach founded the White Students Union at Towson University and is described as a “white nationalist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.)
“It seems to be that you’re reaching out to voters at the expense of young white Southern males,” Terry said, adding he “came to love my people and culture” who were “being systematically disenfranchised.”
Smith responded that Douglass forgave his slavemaster.
“For giving him food? And shelter?” Terry said.
(More on slave days being grand from Metavirus.)
None of this is news, tho’ — it’s just one more week-long public meltdown in a years-long crisis of seeming and being. The party leaders, the seemers, think they just need to seem a little different, and all will be well, when in fact their glamours are transparent:
pithy-sounding statements backed up by nothing, meant to imply nothing, defended by nothing.
The party followers, the be-ers, the 27 percent, think they just have to be a little harder and all will be right — when in fact, what they are being is repulsive.
I’d like to have some kind of pithy resolution to this, but search me. We’re always going to have the former feeding off the latter; we just need to learn how to better manage the damage. From Lucretius, On the Nature of Things (transl. William Ellery Leonard, The Portable Roman Reader, ed. Basil Davenport, Penguin Books, New York, 1977, p.154):
For dolts are ever prone
That to bewonder and adore which hides
Beneath distorted words, holding the true
Which sweetly tickles in their stupid ears,
Or which is rouged in finely finished phrase.
So Republican Senator Rob Portman is now a big maverick because he’s doing a 180 and coming out in support of gay marriage (because, WHAM, his SON became a GAY!). Yet again, this is a stellar example of how Republican politicians don’t have a shred of empathy.
If you don’t understand how shitty it is to discriminate against gays until your flamer son one day belts out the riveting tune “I’m Coming Out, Miss Crawford” from the off-broadway hit Fabulous! The Musical, you’re an asshole without any ability to effectively consider how different groups of people experience hardship in their lives.
If — only after your daughter marries a kind, hard-working undocumented immigrant and bears you a wonderful grandchild that is in peril of losing its father because immigration is snooping around his neighborhood – you start to rethink your abhorrent reactionary brainfarts about building electric fences along the border to electrocute those swarthy job-stealing wetbacks, you are a stupendous asshole and should be kept at least 500 yards away from schools and playgrounds.
If you think you’re “down” with the Blacks and believe that racism against whites is now a MUCH bigger issue than racism against blacks (because “my friend who is black” [and also a self-hating Republican token] told you so), just kill yourself.
I know, I know – it’s great to have all sorts of mavericky Republicans coming out of the woodwork and helping to shift the Overton Window toward justice. But I’ll be damned if I ever stop heaping scorn on a bunch of stratospherically self-righteous assholes who only come to realize that they’re being gigantic assholes when the things they’re being assholes about come to affect their lives in some way.
Anyone still up for requiring Republican congresscritters to refuse their communist government-run healthcare? What about exempting their children from the ban on health insurance plans discriminating against people with preexisting conditions? Let’s see how quickly the conversation would change then…
Update: Also this:
Rob Portman on Civil Rights:
Voted YES on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage. (Sep 2004)
Voted YES on banning gay adoptions in DC. (Jul 1999)
Rated 7% by the ACLU, indicating an anti-civil rights voting record. (Dec 2002)
Supports Amendment to prevent same sex marriage. (Aug 2010)
Update 2: More:
If Will hadn’t come out, or if he’d been as straight as Nebraska highway, Portman wouldn’t have cared about the sons and daughters and brothers and sisters of all the other Dads who love them and want them to have the same opportunities? It’s not just the implied notion that discrimination is OK unless it inconveniences Sunday dinner with the Portmans. It’s also the relentless banality through which even “decent” Republicans struggle to come to simple humanity. Does any group of people have dark nights of the soul that are so endlessly boring and transparently insincere? It’s like listening to Kierkegaard sell flatware.
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- What if the Affordable Care Act Goes Down?
- Say Goodbye To Bob Turner
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