Generalissimo Rush Limbaugh is right. Colin Powell should be the new head of the Republican Party, if for no other reason than the fact that he's just about the only Republican left who's man enough to stand up to Rush Limbaugh. Here's the "Face the Nation" interview in full.
By the way, isn't it ironic that the GOP's so-called "moderates" are reasonable, intelligent men, who also have served their country in war (both Powell and Tom Ridge served in Vietnam) while their haters, namely Cheney and Limbaugh, were among the quizzling cowards who ducked the draft when it was their time to serve? Coincidence?
The goal of the GOP attacks on Nancy Pelosi, which have succeeded in leading the credulous media down a pointless path, is clear: to kill any real investigation into Bush-Cheney-era torture, because such an investigation would inevitably lead to the conclusion that torture was not employed to save Americans from a "ticking time bomb," but rather, to produce false confessions tying Iraq to al-Qaida, to back fill a justification for the war. Watch Fox News work the plan:
It's no secret that there hasn't been much love lost over the years between Colin Powell and Dick Cheney. When it comes to the moderate military man, the chickenhawk cabal who hijacked George W. Bush's presidency and crashed it into the ground (sorry, couldn't resist the 20th hijacker reference...) no likey. In fact Cheney, who opted out of Vietnam himself, doesn't seem to have much use for people who actually serve. But fellow Vietnam service dodgers like Rush Limbaugh? Them, he likes:
And if you look at the latest Gallup Poll, it appears the Republican Party will soon be made up only of draft dodgers, pill heads and wacked out talk show hosts (and Michael "Fo Sheezy" Steele.) Wow.
Who's picking the Republican leadership of tomorrow? Why, it's the unsexy of today. You remember the unsexy don't you? It's El Rushbo, who topped the Boston Phoenix's unsexy list already this year, with three quarters of the year still to go!
JABBA THE NUT America’s ugliest moment of 2009? Rush Limbaugh, his man-boobs a-jiggle, bouncing at the CPAC podium to bask in the sickly glow of conservatism’s orgy of greed, avarice, and arrogance. Here, at last, was the shining image of the 21st century Republican Party: a leeringly rich Baby Boomer squatting at the top of the mountain, reaping his jollies from the suffering of those at the bottom, praying for the failure of hope. If this hypocritical and morally repugnant reformed Oxy junkie wants to discuss “failure,” maybe we should talk about his career as an NFL commentator — or the last time he detoxed off prescription smack.
For all Powell's continuing respectability, and I am one who still respects him -- if less so than I did before he held up those vials of sand at the United Nations -- the quite well done Maddow interview highlights, once again, the fact that as a man of the military, and a man of principal, General Powell had many, many reasons to resign from the Bush cabinet, and would have raised the level of respect many of us have for him had he done so.
And speaking of torture, Doug Feith calls Spain's investigation of him and 5 other Bush administration torture proponents "outrageous!!!" I've met Doug Feith, and I can tell you that he's one arrogant S.O.B. I wish him happy travels ... just maybe keep those travels domestic, brother.
Judge Garzon, however, has built an international reputation by bringing high-profile cases against human-rights violators as well as international terrorist networks like Al Qaeda. The arrest warrant for General Pinochet led to his detention in Britain, although he never faced a trial. The judge has also been outspoken about the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
Spain can claim jurisdiction in the case because five citizens or residents of Spain who were prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have said they were tortured there. The five had been indicted in Spain, but their cases were dismissed after the Spanish Supreme Court ruled that evidence obtained under torture was not admissible.
BTW, Pat Leahy has now said his idea for a "truth commission" in lieu of legal proceedings here in the U.S., is D.O.A.
What an inauspicious day to unveil your plans for America. However in this case, I think they're actually serious. From the CSM, we discover that the fresh, new ideas contained in the Republican budgetfudge-it consist of tax cuts, tax reductions, and then opening your arms to heaven, throwing your head back with a hearty grin and waiting for the rainbows!
Compared with the Obama administration’s 10-year budget projection, House Republicans propose spending $4.8 trillion less, borrowing $3.6 trillion less, and zeroing out $1.5 trillion in proposed tax increases over the next 10 years.
To get there, the GOP alternative would rescind the Obama administration’s $787 billion stimulus package, beginning in fiscal year 2010 – with the exception of unemployment insurance for those who have already lost their jobs.
It would also repeal the omnibus spending bill for FY 2009, thus rolling back spending – with the exception of defense and veterans spending, “our nation’s primary discretionary responsibilities” – to the levels of FY 2008.
Looking forward, the GOP plan proposes freezing nondefense, nonveteran spending for five years, followed by a “modest annual increase” for the next five years.
Instead of scheduled tax increases in 2010, the Republican budget would permanently extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and permanently fix the alternative minimum tax.
And did I mention there's tax cuts? There's a whole bucket-load of tax cuts in there! Says the DNC:
"If House Republicans had their way and the budget they outlined today were adopted, President Obama's economic recovery program, which is already saving and creating jobs throughout the country, would be gutted, Medicare as we know it would all but be eliminated, Social Security checks would be slashed and a proposed spending freeze on discretionary programs would cut essential services - from health care and support for veterans to education to job training - that Americans most depend on when the economy is in crisis.
"Not surprisingly, while House Republicans are proposing to cut essential initiatives in the areas of health care, education, energy, medical research and economic recovery, they are proposing to make permanent the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans and expand those tax breaks even further. It's just these type of failed, trickle down economic policies that led to the current economic downturn and led Americans to vote in overwhelming numbers against GOP candidates in the last two elections.
"If you expected a GOP alternative to the failed policies of the past that got our country into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, then I have two words for you: April Fool's," said Kenneth Baer, OMB communications director.
Put forward by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, the 10-year plan seeks to trim $3.6 trillion altogether from the accumulated deficits projected for Obama’s budget by the end of the decade. But given the generous tax cuts, deficits would still be large, and debt as a percentage of the gross domestic product would grow to 62.5 percent compared to 40.8 percent in 2008.
Has anybody ever explained to these guys that when you eliminate the federal government's revenue via massive tax cuts, the government runs an even bigger deficit because it ... has ... so ... much ... less ... revenue...??? Oh, and they privatize Medicare, as ThinkP explains:
Republicans are taking Americans under 54 out of Medicare and leaving them in the hands of private insurers. Americans under 54 would chose a new private insurance plan that provides a standard Medicare benefits package or some other managed care option.
Which should work out well, especially if they can get that great company AIG to get into the health insurance biz! Old, sick people derivatives for everybody!
In the Michael Steele flameout, a peek under the curtain
A passage from the Politico top story (until they switch to the Cramer beat-down by Jon Stewart) offers a glimpse into the hall of mirrors that is the right wing of the Republican Party. As we all now know, Steele stepped in it again, this time in a GQ interview in which he seemed to express disturbingly tolerant, mildly pro-life views on abortion (and gays). Well, the abortion comments are sending the religious right into full-on revolt, according to Politico. Among the complaints:
"Michael Steele has just walked away from the Reaganesque position of strong moral clarity on abortion to personify why the Republican Party continues to be in a 'free fall',” said another activist, Jenn Giroux, the executive director of the conservative group Women Influencing the Nation. “It is amazing that he cannot see and learn from the fact that Sarah Palin's position on abortion and her unapologetic defense of every conceived child drew crowds by the thousands on that issue alone.”
Hm. So Sarah P's special needs baby, and the fact that her having him demonstrates her pro-lifeyness, is the real reason wingers are so ga-ga about Sarah? It really is all about abortion in the end? That would certainly explain why the wingerati are even gung ho (no pun intended...) on her preggers teenage daughter (who isn't marrying her "f-in redneck" baby daddy anymore, now that ma ain't gonna be vahce president...) And speaking of Bristol, you've got to love this:
The story first emerged in the tabloid Star magazine, which quoted Mr Johnston’s sister Mercedes saying that Ms Palin and her mother were to blame for the break-up. The couple had been due to marry this summer.
“Levi tries to see Tripp every single day, but Bristol makes it nearly impossible,” Mercedes Johnston is quoted as saying.
“She tells him he can’t take the baby to our house because she doesn’t want him around ‘white trash’. The worst part, Ms Johnston tells the magazine, is that Governor Palin supports her daughter’s treatment of Mr Johnston.
Ms Palin said in a statement issued through her mother’s political action committee that she was devastated by the report in Star. “Unfortunately, my family has seen many people say and do things to ‘cash in’ on the Palin name. Sometimes that greed clouds good judgment and the truth.”
Jesus, his sister's name is Mercedes? Yeah. That IS ghetto...
Okay, so Michael Steele is pro choice now? His GQ interview might be the nail in the RNC leadership coffin for Steele, who might want to reconsider the priesthood. Per ThinkP:
GQ: Are you saying you think women have the right to choose abortion?
STEELE: Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice. […]
GQ: Are you saying you don’t want to overturn Roe v. Wade?
STEELE: I think Roe v. Wade—as a legal matter, Roe v. Wade was a wrongly decided matter.
GQ: Okay, but if you overturn Roe v. Wade, how do women have the choice you just said they should have?
STEELE: The states should make that choice. That’s what the choice is. The individual choice rests in the states. Let them decide.
Huh? Wha??? And wait til Boss Limbaugh and company get a load of this:
On whether homosexuality is a choice: "Oh, no. I don't think I've ever really subscribed to that view, that you can turn it on and off like a water tap. Um, you know, I think that there's a whole lot that goes into the makeup of an individual that, uh, you just can't simply say, oh, like, 'Tomorrow morning I'm gonna stop being gay.' It's like saying, 'Tomorrow morning I'm gonna stop being black.'"
Can this guy possibly survive another week? Signs point to maybe not... and he might want to take out a restraining order against one Katon Dawson...
UPDATE: Surprise! After taking incoming fire since Hardball and other media outed the GQ interview yesterday, Steele has now reversed himself on abortion ... per Politico:
Steele said in a statement through an RNC spokesman:
I am pro-life, always have been, always will be.
I tried to present why I am pro life while recognizing that my mother had a "choice" before deciding to put me up for adoption. I thank her every day for supporting life. The strength of the pro life movement lies in choosing life and sharing the wisdom of that choice with those who face difficult circumstances. They did that for my mother and I am here today because they did. In my view Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided and should be repealed. I realize that there are good people in our party who disagree with me on this issue.
But the Republican Party is and will continue to be the party of life. I support our platform and its call for a Human Life Amendment. It is important that we stand up for the defenseless and that we continue to work to change the hearts and minds of our fellow countrymen so that we can welcome all children and protect them under the law.
Steele has also been reaching out to anti-abortion leaders to damp down the controversy, a source said.
Could this guy be more embarrassing? The New York Times spins a tale of near failure, turned into very close to success:
For decades, top Republican officials have looked at Mr. Steele and seen the promise of minority votes. He was recruited in the 1980s by Lee Atwater, a strategist who was the first of many excited by the charismatic, black Roman Catholic.
Outside politics, Mr. Steele struggled. He tried the priesthood but left as a novice. Later he practiced law for seven years in Washington (after passing the Pennsylvania state bar, he said), then started a consulting firm that made so little money that he almost lost his home.
But in the weak Maryland Republican Party, in a state that is 30 percent black, Mr. Steele was an instant hero. (The moment she saw him, said Joyce Terhes, the former state party chairwoman, she knew he was a keeper.) He zoomed from volunteer to state chairman to running mate in a race for governor.
Before the 2002 election, The Baltimore Sun published an editorial saying that because of his lack of experience, Mr. Steele brought “little to the team but the color of his skin,” outraging him and his supporters.
When Mr. Steele became lieutenant governor, he found himself among the highest-ranking black Republicans in the country, instantly embraced by President George W. Bush and his allies. Speaking to black groups, he was often the only Republican in the room, and in some Republican gatherings, the only African-American.
More than other black Republicans, “he has this unique capacity to connect with black audiences in a pretty soulful way,” said the talk show host Tavis Smiley. When Mr. Steele ran for the Senate in 2006, Russell Simmons, the hip-hop music executive and a Democrat, went to Maryland to endorse him.
Running in an unpopular year and state for Republicans, Mr. Steele tried to shed ties to his party. He called the “R” in Republican a “scarlet letter” and omitted his affiliation from advertisements: instead he talked about his love for puppies, his mother and the music of Frank Sinatra. On Election Day, campaign workers passed out sample ballots that listed him as a Democrat.
And that's the guy they chose as chairman...
Meanwhile, the Steele hip-hop fiasco continues to provide comedy gold (hat tip to Matt Ortega)
And don't forget the original "U Down wit GOP?" (Sorry, SNL, I thought of it first...)
For more wincing at Michael Steele's antics, check out:
It's not easy watching a black guy stumble around in the dark, but really, I'm trying.
And they wonder why most black people (well, those with an ounce of dignity, anyway...) wouldn't be caught anywhere near the GOP. Hat tip to SmirkingChimp, whose post of an article by Max Blumenthal also points out that Russell Simmons is, or was, a Steele supporter (he supported him during the 2006 Senate campaign, too.) Blumenthal takes us down memory lane:
The first African American elected to the position, Steele triumphed over a candidate who once belonged to a whites-only country club, and another who had distributed a CD that included the song, "Barack, the Magic Negro." Days after taking over the party's moribund infrastructure, Steele promised an "off the hook" PR campaign to apply conservative principles to "urban-suburban hip-hop settings"--offering the GOP a much-needed image makeover for the dawning of the age of Obama.
Meanwhile, Steele's mea culpa probably pretty much dooms him as a credible spokesman for the GOP, and:
... given Limbaugh's well-documented history of racial controversy, and Steele's position as the Republican Party's first African American chairman, his apology is more significant than Gingrey's. Limbaugh has, for example, mocked Obama as a "Halfrican-American" who should "become white;" he has called for a "posthumous Medal of Honor" for the assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr., James Earl Ray, and told an African American caller, "Take that bone out of your nose and call me back." Steele's "off the hook" PR campaign is now off the rails. Within days, he has gone from being "da man" to just another "Dittohead."
Update: as reported on Rachel Maddow's show tonight, Steele's got other problems to worry about.
The pain without gain keeps coming for the GOP, and this time, it's coming to Florida, home of the fat one with the golden microphone...From Jen O'Malley Dillon, the new executive director of the DNC:
If you're anything like me, then you've had the urge to talk back to a right-wing talk radio host more than a few times. Now you can.
Rush Limbaugh has made waves lately about his desire to see President Obama fail. And he's unapologetic, even though Americans voted in November for the very kind of change the President is bringing to Washington. As even Limbaugh must know, if the President fails, America fails.
Incredibly, Republican leaders have yet to condemn Limbaugh for his destructive comments. In fact, Republicans like Congressman Eric Cantor, a leader in the House, have adopted the Limbaugh strategy, telling the Washington Post recently that their strategy on the President's jobs plan was "just saying no."
The only Republican leader to challenge Limbaugh -- the chairman of the Republican National Committee -- even called Rush to apologize just a few days later.
But we have no apologies for Rush, just a message. We need you to come up with a slogan, in ten words or less, that we'll put on a billboard where he can't miss it -- in his hometown of West Palm Beach, Florida.
Meanwhile, a Dem party source points out that Florida Republican Party chair Jim Greer was a big supporter of Steele's going into the RNC leadership showdown (he also strongly opposed the whole "Barack the magic negro" thing...) So does Greer feel good about his guy having to bend over and grab the ankles, as Rush would say? Who can tell... Perhaps it's time to ask Mr. Greer whose side he's on: the side of "failure"/Rush, or the side of the American people...
If you'd like to suggest a slogan for the billboard, go here.
Michael Steele's first 30 days as RNC chair have been an unmitigated disaster. But I suspect that there would be grumbling about him as "head of the party" whether he's referenced one armed midgets or not. Steele is not the fire breathing right winger that the "base" wants him to be, and he comes to the job with little proof that he has the organizational skills to fix the party's other problem: a lack of infrastructure outside a handful of southern and western states.
In an e-mail to fellow RNC members obtained by The Hill, Dr. Ada Fisher, North Carolina's national committeewoman, said Steele is "eroding confidence" in the GOP and that members of his transition team should encourage him to step aside. Fisher added Steele's personal e-mail address to the e-mail.
Oh and before you even go there, Ms. Fisher is black...
UPDATE: Dr. Fisher appeared on Rachel Maddow's show tonight. Here's the video courtesy of "the Youtubes":
Conservative direct mail guru Richard Viguerie spells out the bottom line for the GOP and its many, many problems:
"The 'Rushification' of the GOP is the natural and inevitable result of the fact that those who are supposed to provide leadership -- Republican elected officials and party officers -- are doing little to bring the party back," said Viguerie, Chairman of ConservativeHQ.com. "Nature abhors a vacuum, and there is no vacuum in nature as empty as the leadership of the Republican Party today."
Ouch. And the air head currently standing at the mouth of the vacuum is none other than our good friend Michael Steele, who is quickly turning out to be almost as golden for Democrats as El Rushbo himself. Steele has quickly gone from the Great Brown Hope of the GOP (oh, sorry, that was Bobby Jindal...) the Great Black Hope of the GOP, to a national punch line (even Morning Joe got at him on Wednesday.) And Politico reports that besides providing endless hilarious sound bites for the ankle biters online, such as myself, and on late night TV, Steele isn't even getting his organization together. So much for the logic in making him RNC chair just because he's not white ...
I actually caught the Rush Limbaugh dressing down of Michael Steele on the radio today. And given the GOP's sorry track record on trying (ever so briefly) to stand up to the right's $400 million radio bully, it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that within about a New York minute of Rush's smackdown, the Notorious RNC would punk out. To refresh: here's Michael Steele Saturday night, trying to man up:
And here's Rush Limbaugh slapping him down like a skinny puppy:
Mr. Steele called Mr. Limbaugh after the radio host belittled Mr. Steele on his show, questioning his authority and saying the new Republican leader was off “to a shaky start.”
... Mr. Steele told Politico on Monday that he had called Mr. Limbaugh to apologize.
“My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh,” Mr. Steele told The Politico. “I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.”
Democrats reacted with glee to the exchange. “Michael Steele has denounced himself for renouncing Rush,” said Paul Begala, an ally of Mr. Emanuel and one of the Democrats presenting Mr. Limbaugh as the face of the G.O.P. “Can anyone seriously argue now that Rush is not the unchallenged leader of the Republican Party?”
Um ... no. But that's not the best part. For that, let's go to Politico:
“I went back at that tape and I realized words that I said weren’t what I was thinking,” Steele said. "It was one of those things where I thinking I was saying one thing, and it came out differently. What I was trying to say was a lot of people … want to make Rush the scapegoat, the bogeyman, and he’s not."
“I’m not going to engage these guys and sit back and provide them the popcorn for a fight between me and Rush Limbaugh,” Steele added. “No such thing is going to happen. … I wasn’t trying to slam him or anything.”
Michael ... do you understand the words that are coming out of your mouth?
Want to feel even more uncomfortable for Michael Steele? Check out the ReidBlog Michael Steele page!
UPDATE: Best response to the Great Steele Capitulation, from Andrew Sullivan:
Comrade Steele dutifully apologizes to the Great Leader and offer his regrets to his fellow comrades in the movement. Re-education camp will follow shortly.This climb-down marks the end of establishment Republican resistance to the Poujadist pontificator. It's Rush's party now. So why shouldn't he run for president in 2012? Make Palin his veep - and be done with it.
My most recent memory of Mr. "Drill baby, drill!" was a rather testy conference call he held on behalf of John McCain with two or three other Black Republicans, in which he rebuked me for asking about GOP attempts to keep foreclosure victims from voting in Detroit. Natch. Now, disenfranchising black voters will be HIS job. By the way did you catch the number of black and brown folk at the RNC confab, where it took what, half a dozen ballots to give Steele the win? The answer is two: Steele and Blackwell, although the guy from the Virgin Islands may or may not make it three, and he also nabs the best quote from the confab:
“The party has got to turn from vanilla to butterscotch,” said Holland Redfield, a committeeman from the U.S. Virgin Islands. Steele is also a break with tradition because he isn’t a member of the committee, which usually elevates chairmen from within its ranks.
One of the things I used to hate about the right during the Bush years was their demand that everyone in the country give total fealty and obeisance to the president. Sites like the Free Republic and RedState routinely banned users who did not express complete, utter and rapturous affection for George W. Bush, or who dared to disagree with his policies, particularly when it came to the "war on terror." Democrats would do well to avoid that kind of totalitarian nonsense when it comes to Barack Obama, although the temptation to worship is there, given the historic nature of his candidacy, his command of the media and personal magnetism. That said, Democrats must also avoid trying so hard to appear indpendent that they wind up nit picking every little thing Obama does (as happened with his selection of Rick Warren to give what turned out to be a perfectly nice opening prayer at his inauguration.) [Photo at left: House Minority Leader John Boehner tees off.]
That said, I'm worried about my friends on the right.
It seems that with every passing day, they are fading more and more into irrelevancy. My Friday column in the South Florida Times will address this, but in a nutshell, the problem is this: Republicans haven't figured out how to oppose a popular president, any more than Democrats did during the years when Bush worship was the order of the day (from 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina.) And Republicans have invested in what surely is a losing strategy: opposing the very thing Americans want most: an economic recovery package -- a big one.
Worse, Republicans are opposing the Obama plan without offering a credible alternative. All they've got is all they've ever had: an almost manic obsession with tax cuts -- for wealthy individuals and corporations. That's it. That's the entire Republican economic platform -- oh, that and more deregulation. In other words, the Republican Party is demanding that the new president pursue the exact same policies as the old president; you know, the ones that have failed miserably, sunk the U.S. and global economy, and caused the Republican Party to lose the last two national elections.
If that doesn't make sense to you, you must not be a Republican.
The inherent risk in this strategy for the GOP is that it could somehow work -- the Republicans despite their paltry numbers on the Hill could find a way to obstruct or water down the plan. And then what? If the economy continues to sink, as it inevitably would, they would get the blame. On the other hand, if and when the plan passes -- and let's face it, the plan can pass without them -- the GOP has stood so firmly against it, they can't hope to get any credit for any economic improvements that follow. How that strategy makes sense is beyond me. Meanwhile, Republicans look postively foolish, going around demanding more tax cuts, when Americans have long since rejected trickle down economics and all its related calamities. It's like stumping for Herbert Hoover in the age of FDR.
And then there are the chatterers, like Rush Limbaugh, who was dumb enough to admit this week that he really does want Obama to fail -- something we all knew, but which few thought anyone would be bone headed enough to say out loud. Even Glenn Beck, as dim as he is, isn't dumb enough to admit that he hopes for Obama's failure (and by extension, the failure of the U.S. economy.) Beck has resorted to utter foolishness of his own, however, this week moaning about Che Guevara T-shirts and Mao handbags, and something about a "Drunken Negro cookie" in Greenwich Village, New York. How the hell does he even know about that?
I suppose eventually, Republicans will find their way, and strike a balance between obstruction and intelligent opposition (and then, maybe they'll let John McCain in on it.) But for now, the party of Hoover is looking for all the world like irrelevant, sapped Tories, lost in a Laborite America.
Now that he's married to a girl, Charlie Crist is being sought out for all KINDS of good stuff! The latest: the GOP is so starved for talent in the wake of the Jeb Bush withdrawal, some in the party are wooing Miss Charlie to run for Sideshow Mel's soon-to-be vacated Senate seat. From The Hill:
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) on Wednesday said efforts are ongoing to persuade Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) to run for his state’s open Senate seat.
“We’re going to continue to visit. It’s very early in the game, but recruitment is important and the ability to be competitive on the financial front is very important too. We’re working on both of those fronts,” Cornyn told The Hill.
Few Florida politicians can match Crist’s popularity and fundraising potential. The governor, a centrist who was elected in 2006, has denied any interest in running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Mel Martinez (R), but Cornyn, who has spoken to the governor about the race, suggested Crist may be open to persuasion.
Cornyn said he's also talked to Marco Rubio, and Florida's Senatorial Don Quixote, Bill "Kookoo" McCollum. Still to be seen: whether Kendrick Meek's Washington friends, including his newly minted campaign guru, Steve Hildebrand, can talk Alex Sink out of making a run on the D side. Of course, if she doesn't run, and Meek rolls over smaller fries like Dan Gelber, that will make it 12 consecutive years of his political life without an actual opponent or difficult race. Not exactly a good thing if you're about to take on a desperate Republican Party for seat #60 in the Senate...
Consider this my official endorsement of Chip Saltsman to be the new RNC Chairman. Why? Because in my opinion, despite all the furor he's creating over his song choices, Saltsman best exemplifies the values of today's GOP. Why?
For starters, he's doesn't seem to be a serious person. And for decades now, the Republican Party has become more and more anti-intellectual, retrograde and unserious. Example: during the recent presidential campaign, rather than taking on Barack Obama on issues of substance (economic policy, foreign policy, etc.) Steve Schmidt and company accused Obama of being ... golly! ... a celebrity ... (well duh...) and of "palling around with terrorists," something no serious person believed. And the lack of seriousness from the opposition party could be further summed up in two words: Sarah Palin.
So Saltsman, with his silly CD full of screwball comedy bits like "Barack the Magic Negro," fits the bill. In fact, the Barack song is a great example of conservatism today. The Los Angeles Times column that it's based on, titled "Obama the 'Magic Negro,'" was written in March 2007 by a black guy (actually, a mixed race guy like Obama,) and media critic named David Ehrenstein, who was making serious and interesting points about Obama's candidacy and race in America. A clip:
The Magic Negro is a figure of postmodern folk culture, coined by snarky 20th century sociologists, to explain a cultural figure who emerged in the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education. "He has no past, he simply appears one day to help the white protagonist," reads the description on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_Negro .
He's there to assuage white "guilt" (i.e., the minimal discomfort they feel) over the role of slavery and racial segregation in American history, while replacing stereotypes of a dangerous, highly sexualized black man with a benign figure for whom interracial sexual congress holds no interest.
As might be expected, this figure is chiefly cinematic — embodied by such noted performers as Sidney Poitier, Morgan Freeman, Scatman Crothers, Michael Clarke Duncan, Will Smith and, most recently, Don Cheadle. And that's not to mention a certain basketball player whose very nickname is "Magic."
Poitier really poured on the "magic" in "Lilies of the Field" (for which he won a best actor Oscar) and "To Sir, With Love" (which, along with "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," made him a No. 1 box-office attraction). In these films, Poitier triumphs through yeoman service to his white benefactors. "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" is particularly striking in this regard, as it posits miscegenation without evoking sex. (Talk about magic!)
... And what does the white man get out of the bargain? That's a question asked by John Guare in "Six Degrees of Separation," his brilliant retelling of the true saga of David Hampton — a young, personable gay con man who in the 1980s passed himself off as the son of none other than the real Sidney Poitier. Though he started small, using the ruse to get into Studio 54, Hampton discovered that countless gullible, well-heeled New Yorkers, vulnerable to the Magic Negro myth, were only too eager to believe in his baroque fantasy. (One of the few who wasn't fooled was Andy Warhol, who was astonished his underlings believed Hampton's whoppers. Clearly Warhol had no need for the accouterment of interracial "goodwill.")
But the same can't be said of most white Americans, whose desire for a noble, healing Negro hasn't faded. That's where Obama comes in: as Poitier's "real" fake son.
The parody, on the other hand, was written and performed by a white guy and conservative comedian named Paul Shanklin. It tackles the deep, existential question of whether Al Sharpton thought Obama is really black. let's compare Shanklin's lyrics:
Yeah, the guy from the L.A. paper Said he makes guilty whites feel good They’ll vote for him, and not for me ‘Cause he’s not from the hood.
See, real black men, like Snoop Dog, Or me, or Farrakhan Have talked the talk, and walked the walk. Not come in late and won!
The only mud that momentarily stuck was criticism (white and black alike) concerning Obama's alleged "inauthenticty," as compared to such sterling examples of "genuine" blackness as Al Sharpton and Snoop Dogg. Speaking as an African American whose last name has led to his racial "credentials" being challenged — often several times a day — I know how pesky this sort of thing can be.
Sorry, but aren't good parodies supposed to be at least half as interesting as the things they mock? There are other reasons think our friend Chip should become RNC chair. Here are a few:
1. He's not black. The GOP can only have one black spokesmodel at a time. Michael Steele and Ken Blackwell cancel each other out. Besides, the Republican Party has become so racially polarizing, and so tinged with scary, racist rallies, generic race-baiters, Alaskan secessionists and creepy bald guys, I doubt that either Steele or Blackwell would have much credibility with the rank and file. Even if they were accepted as party leader, either man would appear to all the world like a token, and the GOP needs genuine outreach to people of color, and much better ideas, not tokens.
2. He's from the South. At this point, the Republican Party is essentially a southern party, down to their decided preference for foreign automakers who locate south of the Maxon Dixon with an eye toward tanking American wages. A regional party should have a regional chairman, from a representative state (sorry, Jim Greer. Florida is a bit too cosmopolitan at the lower geographic end. And a state with so many prominent Latinos just won't fit in with the Dixiefide party you belong to.)
3. He ran Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign. Ergo, he's both evangelical-friendly and prone to losing national elections. At this point, everyone in the GOP is one or the other (or both.)
4. He's clueless. This was his response to the hubbub over his holiday CD:
"Liberal Democrats and their allies in the media didn't utter a word about David Ehrenstein's irresponsible column in the Los Angeles Times last March. But now, of course, they're shocked and appalled by its parody on the 'Rush Limbaugh Show.'
Um ... if you thought that the column was "irresponsible," what makes you think the parody isn't?
and last but not least:
5. He's an equal opportunity offender (just like his pal Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the GOP.) After all, the Grand Old Party has not just turned off black folk. They've also spurned Hispanics, young voters, the middle class, smart people, scientists, non-xenophobes and anyone who opposes the Iraq War or doesn't worship George W. Bush. In short: everybody except the Palinites. So is it any wonder that while "Barack the Magic Negro" is getting all the attention, the rest of the CD is no great shakes either:
The CD, called "We Hate the U.S.A," blasts liberals with such musical greats as “Barack the Magic Negro,” first played on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, "John Edwards' Poverty Tour," "Wright Place, Wrong Pastor," "The Star Spanglish Banner" and "Love Client #9."
Great work, Chip. You've done your party a great service. You'll make a mighty fine chair.
The 1992 redistricting piled up non-white voters into congressional districts dubbed "minority-majority," to increase non-white representation in Congress. Republicans eagerly embraced the new take on voting rights, as they felt it would make dozens of white-majority districts less competitive for Democrats. There was also much hand-wringing among Democrats for the same reason, and some even argued that there was no point in increasing non-white representation in Congress if it meant that the party would never again regain power. Obviously, things have turned out quite differently for the Democrats, whose Congressional majority is now as strong as it has been in decades, thanks in part to its robust diversity, and to a growing indifference to race and ethnicity.
It is no coincidence that at the same time, the GOP has shriveled into a more uniform party than at most times since the 1960s. Like a restricted country club that would rather die than change, the Republican Party is marginalizing itself for the sake of the white men who run it. "Barack The Magic Negro" and Palm Beach aryanists are just the more bizarre manifestations of a party that has wallowed for so long in the privileges of its white male supremacy that it does not even realize that everyone has left the plantation, and they are not coming back.
But the whole thing is worth your time. Check it out.
Chip should have been more careful in his selection of Christmas gifts, but no one who knows him would ever suggest that he in any way would purposely disparage other people. Chip knows how sensitive such issues are. It shouldn’t be the main factor in the RNC race.
I mean some of his best friends are Magic Negroes...
Consider it a foregone conclusion that Mitt Romney no longer believes he can carry Michigan in 2012 (that election may be a throwaway for Republicans anyway.) His recent op-ed on the virtues of sending Detroit automakers into bankruptcy won't help him in the state where he was born and where his dad used to govern.
Even more instructive is this poll, from our leading local right wing station, WIOD, two days ago. It was put up, and followed up, during the morning news show, hosted by longtime journalist (and loyal Republican) Jimmy Cefalo. Asked why they think the U.S. auto industry is in such bad shape, WIOD viewers had this to say:
Mismanagement - 20.00 % Concessions to Unions - 59.17 % Failure to change with the times - 10.42 % American cars aren’t as good as imports - 7.08 % Its the economy stupid - 3.33 %
Now, the webmaster was clever enough not to mention how many people voted. It could be 150 people, or 15,000, but the point is the same: three times more "conservative" talk radio listeners believe that concessions to the United Auto Workers Union, meaning high wages, health benefits, and retiree pensions, are the biggest problem for U.S. automakers, than the number who believe the problem is poor management. And six times more, in this poll, fault the workers than target the industry's inability to change its products to suit the times. That's a stunning conclusion, and bad news for the GOP.
Why? Because Republicans will never again be a national party with real viability outside of Appalachia if they continue to push, via their politicians, their talk radio hosts and Fox News, that the problem in the American manufacturing economy isn't a lack of innovation or piss-poor management -- it's American workers, who are "greedy" for wanting high wages and decent benefits for themselves and their families, and the wicked unions who force American manufacturers to offer such evil, horrible things to "lazy" unionists. The GOP has become the party, not just of big business, but more directly, of the scornful rich. Fabulously wealthy talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, who lives in a lavish Palm Beach manse next door to the old Kennedy compound, and Sean Hannity, who travels only by private jet -- just like a Big Three auto executive -- feed middle and lower-middle class listeners a steady harangue of fake "Joe the Plumber" populism, anti-elitism and "don't envy people like me, worship people like me, and work hard to keep people like me rich...!" diatribes, convincing them to rail in favor of tax cuts and government handouts for people of Hannity and Limbaugh's economic class, and to disdain the strivings of people in their own class. It's one hell of a magic trick -- sort of like Marie Antoinette convincing the rabble to revolt on her behalf, against the other peasants.
The wizardry is so powerful, bling worship has infected the Christian church -- so thorough that you can have a guy like Joe Wurzelbacher look into a camera and say, with a perfectly straight face, that he doesn't want Social Security "forced on him," even though at $40,000 a year and no plumbing license, unless that's one hell of a book he's coming out with next month, or he's a damned good country singer, he'll need Social Security just to keep from having to live on dog food if and when he ever gets to retire.
The Reupblican party, and so-called "conservatives," actually believe -- or at least they have taught their followers to believe -- that the rich are better than the rest of us. They should receive the full benefit of the wealth they earn off the labor of others, and even get a tax cut, while those whose labor makes them rich should suck it up and take whatever pay "trickles down to them." Of course that pay must be as low as possible, to improve the profit margins, and since there shall be no unions involved, their betters can turn them out the door at will, and cut off their benefits -- if they bother to give them any -- whenever the stock price dips. Call it the Wal-Mart ethic, because in turn, the rich give us low, low prices, that after all, are all the idiot, low-wage working stiff can afford.
I don't begrudge Limbaugh and others the right to be damned good negotiators. I say get the most money you can. More power to you! But shouldn't regular wage earners have that right too?
Nope. In the Wal-Mart ethic of the GOP, which echoes the ethos of the 19th Century robber barons, who thought it good and proper to employ children for 12 hours a day at pennies per hour, employees should use their "right to work" wages to purchase whatever healthcare they can afford on the free market, just like the rich people do -- only we all know the rabble have no business in Cleveland Clinic -- a plain old clinic will do.
The right believes that CEOs who make 400 times the wages of their employees should get a tax cut, while the "greedy" workers should take a pay cut, for the team. The spectacle has become so maddening, that it has touched off a kind of regional "race to the bottom warfare," whereby a Republican Congressman actually bragged on "Hardball" today that auto workers in Kentucky make half the wages of auto workers in Detroit (something that isn't even true anymore,) and ordinary righties insist that the "greedy" unionized Detroit workers should bring their wages down to the level that the Japanese automakers pay people with no union strictures down South -- which, by the way, is the poorest region in America. That way, American cars will cost less, see? "My state's wages are lower than your state's wages" is a hell of a thing for an elected official to brag about, but that's where we are with today's "conservatives." (By the way, if Japanese automakers are the truth, then why is Toyota laying Americans off, too?) It might be worth asking that Congressman, and the other wingers, just how low would you like to see American working stiff's wages go? To the levels of Japanese workers? Or workers in Singapore, or Bhopal?
We're in sorry shape as a nation if we are willing to do a blind bailout, to the tune of $700 billion, for a white collar banking industry whose employment figures we don't even know, but whose malfeasance we surely do, but hard hearted when it comes to saving the jobs of 3 million Americans who toil in the Detroit-based, U.S. auto industry. The Big Three screwed up, no doubt. But it was management who decided to fight against seatbelts, airbags, better feul economy, green fuels and electric cars. It was management -- the ones for whom Jimmy Cefalo's and Rush Limbaugh's and "private jet only" Hannity's listeners are willing to fight for endless tax cuts -- that made those decisions, not the working stiffs whose union was good enough at negotiations to get them $70 an hour.
Besides, I haven't yet seen the poll that finds that any of those wingers would believe that they themselves are overpaid for the work they do, or that the radio jocks feeding them cake are, either. As Pat Buchanan, an actual, living, breathing, old fashioned conservative, separate from the neocons, kleptocrats and "boogedy-boogedy" types (kudos, Kathleen Parker, and John Cole, too...) currently torching the Republican Party, eloquently explains:
By the choices we make, we define ourselves and reveal what we truly care about. Thus, consider:
We bail out the New York and D.C. governments of Abe Beame and Marion Barry. We bail out a corrupt Mexico. We bail out public schools that have failed us for 40 years.
We bail out with International Monetary Fund and World Bank loans and foreign aid worthless Third World regimes.
We bail out Wall Street plutocrats and big banks.
But the most magnificent industry, the auto industry that was the pride of America and envy of the world, we surrender to predator-traders from Asia and Europe, lest we violate the tenets of some 19th-century ideological scribblers that the old Republicans considered the apogee of British stupidity.
Amen. And good luck every winning Ohio, Michigan or Pennsylvania in my lifetime if you keep telling working men and women that it is they, and not the fat cats flying to Washington on private jets with their hands out for taxpayer money, who are greedy. 51 percent of voting Americans have figured you out. More are finally getting the picture every day.
He got a roar of approval both inside the convention hall and across Red America for his "drill baby, drill" chant, but former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele would make an awkward -- at best -- choice to head the Republican National Committee, something the Washington Times reports he is vying with Newt Gingrich for (there's also a Draft Steele for RNC site up. Hat tip to Jonathan Martin at Politico.) Writes the Times' Ralph Hallow:
Neither man will acknowledge his interest in the post, but Republicans close to each are burning up the phone lines and firing off e-mails to fellow party members in an effort to oust RNC Chairman Mike Duncan in the wake of the second consecutive drubbing of Republican candidates at the polls.
A bevy of backers for each man, neither of whom is an RNC member, say the committee needs a leader who can formulate a counter-agenda to President-elect Barack Obama's administration and articulate it on the national stage.
"The Republican National Committee has to ask itself if it wants someone who has successfully led a revolution," Randy Evans, Gingrich confidant and personal attorney based in Atlanta, told The Washington Times on Monday. "If it does, Newt's the one."
As a Democrat, and thus a thoroughly disinterested party, I question whether either man is right for the job. As I lay out in this post, the present iteration of the Republican Party is a narrow, regional one, which is almost completely white (90 percent of John McCain's voters were white, and the Republican National Convention in September featured just 3 percent black delegates...) southern/Appalachian, and so culturally conservative that it's hard to imagine Steele having anyone to lead. At best, he'd be seen as the ultimate visual token -- a black guy to counter the Democrats' black president, and as such they'd be committing the Sarah Palin mistake twice: choosing someone for their biological charicteristics without regard to their actual potential impact on the party. At worst, he'd be looked upon as yet another George Bush -- a phony conservative in a media-friendly package, designed to lure the salt of the earth hayseeds down a dangerous path. Actually at really worst, he'd be dismissed by the base as just another city n***er they don't need to listen to.
At the end of the day, if Steele (and Bobby Jindal, or even a moderate northerner like the ousted Senator John Sununu,) represent the future, it is, at least for now, a distant one. I can no more see the hard-bitten, obsessive Palinites cottoning to Michael Steele than I can see them cheering for Barack Obama. Steele would have to fight uphill just to get respect from the base. Selecting him to lead the RNC would scream: "Hey look! We've got an articulate black guy, too!" And how sad would that be?
Gingrich, on the other hand, is both a southerner and a, dare I say, radical conservative, more aligned to who the core of the party is. But his history of failure and scandal should give the party pause. After all, if Newt is the future, then the past is prologue -- and the p0st-Gingrich past is littered with failed impeachment, felons, elected felons, commuted felons, Enron felons and massive, repeated, escalating, electoral defeat.
And yet, he'd be a better choice than Steele, if only because at least the base would listen to him.
Before I jumped into the campaign, I sat in as a reporter on a conference call held by the RNC and the McCain campaign, on which Steele was the headliner (my story from that call is here.) Steele was peevish and defensive, responding sharply to questions about why African-Americans would have any interest whatsoever in his party or candidate, given the atmospherics coming out of the conventions, and the now infamous Sarah Palin rallies. If he is the future leader of the GOP, I didn't hear any whiff of it on that phonecall.
Of course, Steele, who failed to win a Maryland Senate seat in 2006, and attracted little African-American support outside of fading Republican media honcho Cathy Hughes, might have greatness in him. It's just that it's been wasted, so far, on a party that is indifferent-to-hostile to his "type."
TALLAHASSEE — Florida Republican leaders hastily convened a top secret meeting this week to grapple with Sen. John McCain's sagging performance in this must-win state.
The inner workings of turmoil sound a lot like what you normally hear about Florida Democrats...
One of the concerns has been the relationship between grass roots volunteers across the state and far fewer paid campaign staffers. Complaints range from not getting yard signs quickly enough to knowing who will speak at events and overall manpower coordination.
"The biggest challenge is communication," said state Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, who is involved in the campaign but was not at the meeting. She said the Broward County effort is running smoothly but that her overall impression is that state campaign officials are somewhat limited due to national directives.
This friction and fretting goes on all the time in stressful campaigns, and especially when one side's candidate has hit a rough patch, as McCain has. Buzz Jacobs, the campaign's Southeast regional director, who sat in on the meeting, denied any tension and declined comment.
McCain supporter and former Republican Party of Florida chairman Tom Slade said he's been hearing rumblings over the past few weeks that the campaign is not fully utilizing volunteers, though he said that was not the case in Jacksonville.
"I get the sense that on the statewide basis, the grass roots Republicans don't quite feel like they have a natural fit within the McCain organization," Slade said.
As for the polls, they are alarming for Republicans both because they represent a reversal of just a month ago, and because the GOP goes into this election with 1) a housing crisis in which Florida is Ground Zero, and 2) a growing registration gap with Democrats. The offending numbers:
• Real Clear Politics average of all Florida polls: Obama up by 3 percentage points.
Pollsters are blaming the Wall Street meltdown, which Qpac called a "dagger in McCain's heart," and the seeping of the air out of the Sarah Palin balloon. But unless McCain has a fix for Florida's careening housing crisis up his sleeve, it's going to be a long 33 or so days.
Wall Street Journal columnist and former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan and former John McCain adviser, Time columnist, and MSNBC contributor Mike Murphy were caught on tape disparaging John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate.
"It's over," Noonan said.
When Chuck Todd asked her if this was the most qualified woman the Republicans could nominate, Noonan responded, "The most qualified? No. I think they went for this, excuse me, political bullshit about narratives. Every time the Republicans do that, because that's not where they live and that's not what they're good at, they blow it."
Murphy characterized the choices as "cynical" and "gimmicky."
UPDATE: Noonan apologizes for the potty mouth, but makes this point:
When the segment was over and MSNBC was in commercial, Todd, Murphy and I continued our conversation, talking about the Palin choice overall. We were speaking informally, with some passion -- and into live mics. An audio tape of that conversation was sent, how or by whom I don't know, onto the internet. And within three hours I was receiving it from friends far and wide, asking me why I thought the McCain campaign is "over", as it says in the transcript of the conversation. Here I must plead some confusion. In our off-air conversation, I got on the subject of the leaders of the Republican party assuming, now, that whatever the base of the Republican party thinks is what America thinks. I made the case that this is no longer true, that party leaders seem to me stuck in the assumptions of 1988 and 1994, the assumptions that reigned when they were young and coming up. "The first lesson they learned is the one they remember," I said to Todd -- and I'm pretty certain that is a direct quote. But, I argued, that's over, those assumptions are yesterday, the party can no longer assume that its base is utterly in line with the thinking of the American people. And when I said, "It's over!" -- and I said it more than once -- that is what I was referring to.
Senator Obama is blaming the news media — and especially FOX News — for Michelle Obama's high negative ratings. Just under 30 percent of those polled had an unfavorable view of Michelle Obama in our last FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll. A Rasmussen Reports poll last month put her unfavorable rating at 42 percent.
Obama tells Glamour magazine that political spouses should be off-limits. He says the "conservative press — FOX News... went fairly deliberately at her in a pretty systematic way... spouses are civilians. They didn't sign up for this."
Though Obama failed to mention it, his wife has made a number of official campaign stops with him and has even campaigned for him on her own.
Obama then added, "If you start being subjected to rants by Sean Hannity and the like, day in day out, that'll drive up your negatives."
On his upcoming overseas trip, Barack Obama will be met along the way by the anchors of the three network evening newscasts. About 200 other journalists have also asked to join Obama during his trip.
But Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post reports that John McCain has taken three foreign trips in the past four months — all unaccompanied by a single network anchor and with little fanfare. The Tyndall Report, which monitors news coverage, says that since June the nightly newscasts on the three networks spent a combined 114 minutes covering Obama while devoting just 48 minutes to McCain.
Hume and Kurtz fail to mention that the McCain camp never made the ask of the networks. Don't hate on Team Obama because they were sharp enough to do so ...
The magazine is sticking its finger in the eye of every bigot who hates the Obamas because they're African-Americans, every racist who seeks to polarize the electorate and every ignoramus who mistrusts the senator from Illinois without examining his record and background.
Something else is going on here as well. This criticism centers on conservatives' strong dislike -- "hatred" is such a nasty word, no? -- of both Obama and the New Yorker, two of the most visible and successful symbols of liberal America. While there was also carping in some liberal quarters, the most vocal anger seemed to come from the other side.
The liberals' opponents are jumping on the bandwagon partly in the hope of making the New Yorker look bad (i.e. unpatriotic). The magazine has written many stories blasting the Bush administration's policies, especially its handling of Iraq.
If Obama were to choose Powell, 42% of likely voters nationwide said it would make them more likely to support the Democratic candidate - as did 42% of Democrats and 43% of political independents. The Zogby International telephone poll of 1,039 likely voters nationwide was conducted July 9-13, 2008, and asked respondents how the selection of certain vice presidential candidates would affect their likelihood to vote for the two leading presidential candidates. It carries a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.
Watch right wing heads exploding everywhere... oh God, there go some Democratic head explosions in West Virginia! Zogby provides the doubters with a helpful table:
Likelihood to vote for Barack Obama if he chooses ... as his Vice President
What? Not much help from "Bayh Bayh Bayh"? Meanqhile, the pollster says McCain's best bets are Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Now I think that Romney will ultimately be the running mate (supporting evidence here), no matter how much Mac may still secretly hate his guts, but me thinks the pollster doth miss name recognition too much. Not that name recog doesn't count in a veep selection. Just sayin. I doubt that the respondents to the poll really sat down and thought about the idea of TWO black men running together for president.
Anyway, just to be fair, here's the GOP chart:
Likelihood to vote for John McCain if he chooses ... as his Vice President
And would ya look at Miss Charlie, getting 5 percent! |
Three things that are certain in the current election cycle:
The GOP will fight dirty (and their candidate will condone it, quietly)
Dirty means accusing Barack Obama of being a Muslim terrorist, mostly because they can't directly call him the n-word. And dirty means viciously going after his wife, using the Internet, radio and any other available means.
Wherever possible, the Bush administration will use government power to try and take Obama down.
A sleazy GOP operation called the National Campaign Fund has launched a website called ExposeObama.com, along with a commercial that they don't have to get paid airtime for, because they know that winger blogs and talk radio shows will help them make it viral. The ad, surprise, surprise, accuses Barack of being a closet Muslim:
The PAC, founded by a guy named James V. Lacy, isn't very well funded, so far (its donors can be found here) but they don't need money. They need talk radio and Internet hacks to do the dirty work for them, and there are plenty of those.
Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger leveled the first blow, introducing Republican John McCain’s wife at a fundraiser this week as someone who is “proud of her country, not just once but always.” Obama wasn’t mentioned by name, but the audience got it.
The dig signaled the start of what Democrats expect will be a concerted effort to cast Michelle Obama — and, by extension, Barack Obama — as an unpatriotic radical. It also pointed out the urgency to define Michelle Obama to general election voters before the opposition goes too far in doing it for her, strategists said.
“We live now in an era where everything and everyone is fair game,” said Douglas E. Schoen, who was a pollster and adviser to former President Bill Clinton from 1994 to 2000. “It is certainly the case that Teresa Heinz Kerry was probably not an asset in John Kerry’s campaign, at least publicly, and the jury is still out on how the public will view Michelle Obama.”
Imprisoned Chicago businessman Antoin “Tony” Rezko has accused federal prosecutors of improperly pressuring him to implicate Barack Obama in a corruption case.
In a letter to the U.S. District judge who presided over his trial, Rezko, who was convicted this month of 16 corruption-related counts, including fraud and money laundering, called prosecutors “overzealous.” And he singled out what he said were their efforts to get him to turn on Obama, an Illinois senator and the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and Illinois Gov. Rod Bagojevich.
“They are pressuring me to tell them the ‘wrong’ things that I supposedly know about Gov. Bagojevich and Sen. Obama,” Rezko wrote in an undated letter released by the court this week. “I have never been party to any wrongdoing that involved the governor or the senator. I will never fabricate lies about anyone else for selfish purposes. I will take what comes my way, but I will never hurt innocent people.”
Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago, wouldn't comment on Rezko's allegation.
Shades of Susan McDougal, no? And the U.S. attorneys scandal. I guess not much has changed over at Justice...
Make no mistake, the GOP is going to go to war to keep control of the White House, and to keep the money flowing from the Iraq war, and the various money-pumping schemes involving turning everything from war to mortgages into a sellable commodity. They aren't going to let a little thing like voters get in the way.
Keeping in mind that Senator Larry Craig of Ida-ho is so totally, seriously not gay ...
It's interesting the back story that's surfacing about him. Not just the stories of his bathroom stall mackadociousness, or his allegedly propositioning various men for sex over the years, but also his rather Mark Foley-esque implication in a 1982 congressional paige sexual solicitation scandal. Step into the wayback machine with me, will you? Let's go back to the Reagan era, and check out this ABC News report:
Well good thing Larry Craig isn't gay, because otherwise that denial might not sound so credible... And just to refresh your memory a bit more, here's TIME Magazine's reportage of that 80s sexual scandal:
These are serious charges," declared Ohio Congressman Louis Stokes, chairman of the House Ethics Committee. "I am deeply disturbed," said House Speaker Tip O'Neill. "This is the last thing Congress needs," agreed Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker, who added, "I'm flabbergasted."
The source of their consternation was an FBI investigation into charges that perhaps three Congressmen may have had homosexual relations with teen-age boys who serve as pages on Capitol Hill. An unspecified number of the pages, who run errands for members of Congress, supposedly felt they would lose their jobs if they did not agree to have sex with the Congressmen involved. Claims that female pages were solicited were also being probed. There were vague allegations in a separate investigation by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration that some Congressmen used cocaine supplied by pages.
So far, the sex scandal rests on shaky ground. One 16-year-old page told CBS News that he had once been propositioned by a Congressman and that pages had told him that they had been invited to parties at which Congressmen asked for sex in return for continued employment. CBS put the frightened page on its Evening News program, using silhouetted settings to obscure his features. An 18-year-old former page, who has been accused of car theft and writing bad checks, told CBS he had had sex with three Congressmen.
There are, of course, even more selacious allegations of past sexual scandal
Meanwhile, Republicans are just praying that Mr. Craig will just quietly go away... his seat, however, is up in 2008.
Update: Senators McCain and Coleman call for Craig to resign. I predict he will do so sooner rather than later, the better to spare the GOP further humiliation. Then, Idaho's Republican governor, C.L. "Butch" Otter could appoint a suitable, read "not gay" ... replacement.
Semi-relevant question: Why would gay rights groups get pissed that someone, even Tucker Carlson, would physically fight off the unwanted advances of another man in a restroom. Are straight people supposed to welcome such advances? Greet them politely? Or what? If a woman fought off the unwanted physical advances of a man, she would be applauded by my friends on the left. But a man? He's supposed to do what, thank the aggressor kindly or give him a high five? Give me a break.
Update: Check out the police report on The Smoking Gun. Keith Olbermann gave it an hilarious read on "Countdown" last night... Roger, Friday.
...life can be pure hell, and not just because deep down in your inner man you know that your party has f----d the country... Sayeth the Grey Lady:
WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 — Scott Reed, a Republican strategist, was at a dinner in Philadelphia on Monday night when his cellphone and Internet pager began beeping like crazy. Only later did he learn why. His party was buzzing with news of a sex scandal involving a Republican United States senator — again.
Just when Republicans thought things could not get any worse, Senator Larry E. Craig of Idaho confirmed that he had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct after an undercover police officer accused him of soliciting sex in June in a Minneapolis airport restroom. On Tuesday, Mr. Craig, 62, held a news conference to defend himself, calling the guilty plea “a mistake” and declaring, “I am not gay” — even as the Senate Republican leadership asked for an Ethics Committee review.
It was a bizarre spectacle, and only the latest in a string of accusations of sexual foibles and financial misdeeds that have landed Republicans in the political equivalent of purgatory, the realm of late-night comic television.
Forget Mark Foley of Florida, who quit the House last year after exchanging sexually explicit e-mail messages with under-age male pages, or Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist whose dealings with the old Republican Congress landed him in prison. They are old news, replaced by a fresh crop of scandal-plagued Republicans, men like Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, whose phone number turned up on the list of the so-called D.C. Madam, or Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska and Representative Rick Renzi of Arizona, both caught up in F.B.I. corruption investigations.
It is enough to make a self-respecting Republican want to tear his hair out in frustration, especially as the party is trying to defend an unpopular war, contain the power of the new Democratic majority on Capitol Hill and generate some enthusiasm among voters heading toward the presidential election in 2008.
“The real question for Republicans in Washington is how low can you go, because we are approaching a level of ridiculousness,” said Mr. Reed, sounding exasperated in an interview on Tuesday morning. “You can’t make this stuff up. And the impact this is having on the grass-roots around the country is devastating. Republicans think the governing class in Washington are a bunch of buffoons who have total disregard for the principles of the party, the law of the land and the future of the country.”
Then again, Washington does not have a monopoly on the latest trend among Republicans. Just ask Thomas Ravenel, the state treasurer of South Carolina, who had to step down as state chairman of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s presidential campaign after he was indicted on cocaine charges in June.
Or Bob Allen, a state representative in Florida who was jettisoned from the John McCain campaign last month after he was arrested on charges of soliciting sex in a public restroom.
Mr. Craig, for his part, has severed ties with the Mitt Romney campaign, despite his public declaration on Tuesday that “I did nothing wrong.”
In an interview Tuesday on “Kudlow and Company” on CNBC, Mr. Romney could not distance himself fast enough. “Once again, we’ve found people in Washington have not lived up to the level of respect and dignity that we would expect for somebody that gets elected to a position of high influence,” Mr. Romney said. “Very disappointing. He’s no longer associated with my campaign, as you can imagine.” ...
Yeesh. Good thing Craig isn't gay ... er ... that guilty plea to soliciting sex in the loo notwithstanding ... and those persistent rumors and claims by men that he had sexual encounters with them also notwithstanding ... Um, CUE THE ETHICS PROBE! And perhaps some nice, relaxing rehab!
Meanwhile, the Craig situation is playing havoc with the GOP's plans to dike it's Senate seat slippage. Okay, maybe "dike" was a poor choice of words...
Update: Mitt to Larry: "Under the bus you go!" ... Romney called his former campaign co-chair "disgusting," which should go over really well with the Log Cabin Republicans ... and he cancelled a trip to Idaho by one of his war campaign veteran sons ...
Just in case you had any remaining doubt that the leading right wing bloggers are little more than stenographers for the White House and the GOP, dutifully tapping out talking points garnished to look like original thoughts, RawStory cops a link that utterly clears the fog:
At the urging of top conservative bloggers, the White House set up a Friday morning conference call to promote its message on the subject of executive privilege, RAW STORY has found.
"The White House hosted a blogger conference call to discuss the issues surrounding the Bush administration's use of executive privilege in the probe of the firings of eight federal prosecutors," wrote Ed Morrissey, who produces the blog Captains Quarters. "The White House arranged the call based on a recommendation by this blog, in order to familiarize the blogosphere with the legal and political arguments on which the administration will rely to prevail in the upcoming fight regarding the contempt citations Congress seems likely to approve." ...
Morrisey did not name any other participants in the call or identify the administration official who spoke to the assembled bloggers. But he showed that the message being delivered by the White House was short and to the point.
"The power to hire and fire federal prosecutors belongs exclusively to the executive branch," Morrissey wrote. "Congress has no particular oversight in these matters, and so the executive privilege claim is very compelling in this instance."
At least one commenter was critical of Morrissey's efforts.
"Thanks for reporting the administration's talking points, Captain Steno," wrote the posts only commenter. "You have a reputation for being a rational thinker, so how's about a little more in-depth analysis of the legal merit of the points?"
The offending post can be found here. Some of the commenters appear to be rightfully appalled at Captain's new job as Tony Snow's virtual lieutenant, but many of the BushBots are circling the wagons around the president and his lackey attorney general. Typical of the lap-dog commenters is someone called "Skywatch":
We are at war.
That does not forgive everything. I was and still am very worried about some of the patriot act (tho some concernces have been addressed).Like a Dem commentor said above would you want Hillary having this power? I would not. I trust the Bush toadies to use the powers to protect me. To listen and collect data on folks that wish harm on the country but I think Hillary would use those same powers to collect data on political foes.
Do you, now? Well that'll do, then, donkey, that'll do...
But there are also some lucid commenters over at Ed's, including someone called "Shieldvulf":
Lying to Congress and the people, politicizing law enforcement, and ignoring Congressional subpoenas are not at issue at all! The only question to be asked is, which side is someone on? Them over there? They are bad! It doesn't matter how well documented their outrage may be. All that matters is whether or not they get in line.
As if I needed yet another reason to detest Uncle Rudy... Greg Palast has the latest dirt on "Mr. 9/11" and his nefarious friends. Reports Palast:
Paul Singer is a vulture. And a billionaire. And, with his underlings at Elliott Associates, the number one sugar-daddy donor to the presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani, dropping $168,400 so far and, according to secret campaign documents, committed to raise $10 million for Rudolf the Great, Emperor of 9/11.
So who is this bird of prey Singer who holds Rudy in his beak?
Unlike feathered predators, Singer preys on the living. Singer figured out a way to siphon off funds intended for debt relief to some of the poorest countries in the world. Nice guy.
And by the way, I didn't come up with the moniker "vulture." Just about everyone, from the new Prime Minister of Britain to the World Bank, calls Singer and his ilk "vultures."
Here's how a vulture operation works. The vulture fund buys up the debt of poor nations cheaply when it is about to be written off and then sue for the full value of the debt plus interest -- sometimes more than ten times what they paid for it. Singer, for example, paid just $10 million for Congo Brazzaville's debt and is now suing for over $400 million.
Singer knew he'd turn a 1000%-plus profit on his $10 million investment with George Bush's help.
Bush convinced the US Congress to forgive the money Congo owes the US taxpayer, but once the US taxpayer forgives Congo's debt, the vulture, Singer, swoops in with lawyers to claim, "Congo now has the money to pay ME."
But wait a minute - the debt money given up by US taxpayers wasn't supposed to go to Rudy's predator Singer. In fact, the US Constitution provides power to the President to stop vultures from suing a foreign country in a US court if the President states such a private lawsuit interferes with America's foreign policy.
Singer, by suing Congo for the taxpayer money meant for debt relief and medicine, is interfering with US foreign policy. Yet Bush has done nothing.
While the President has made big speeches about debt relief for Africa and has even had his picture taken with a Bono, he won't get in the way of Singer's talons. One wonders if the President is influenced by Mr. Singer's strong support for debt relief, that is, debt relief for the Republican Party. The world's top vulture has become top donor to the GOP in New York.
Singer's not alone. He's joined in tearing at the flesh of the Congo's poor by a Washington operator named Michael Francis Sheehan. Sheehan is also known as "Goldfinger."
Besides joining Singer in attacking Congo, Goldfinger has also taken a piece of the debt relief earmarked for AIDS medicine for Zambia. Goldfinger paid $4 million for the right to collect on Zambia's debt - and just won $22 million from Zambia in a UK court, half that nation's debt relief. Goldfinger was able to seize that money because, he boasts in an email, he secretly paid $2 million to the "favorite charity" of Zambia's president. (That former President, Frederick Chiluba, is now under arrest for taking bribes ... but Goldfinger can still collect his pound of flesh.) ...
Hear Palast's report on the Rhandi Rhodes show here. More on our friendly neighborhood Bush pioneer and Rudy 'raisin vulture, Paul Singer, from Public Citizen here. Apparently, he has the hots for Peru's debt, too...
One wonders whether Rudy -- who has made fear and 9/11 his carrion just as sure as his fundraisers have done with Africa's poor -- should add a thirteenth "commitment" (not one on his marriage, because we all know how much he values commitments of that sort...) to his presidential "to do" list: this one to hedge fund managers everywhere: "I will help you to get even richer, probably at the expense of some black or brown kid with flies in his eyes... just as I have enriched myself on the graves 9/11."
Michael Bloomberg, former Democrat, today became a former Republican. In other words, he's running for president. From the competition, a back and forth over who a Bloomberg (with Chuck Hagel?) candidacy would hurt:
"If he runs, this guarantees a Republican will be the next president of the United States. The Democrats have to be shaking in their boots," said Greg Strimple, a Republican strategist in New York who is unaligned in the race.
The belief among some operatives is that Bloomberg's moderate positions would siphon votes from the Democratic nominee. Others say it's not clear and his impact would depend on the nominees.
Former Democratic Party Chairman Donald Fowler said Bloomberg would be "a disturbing factor to both parties," but the mayor would probably draw more Republican votes simply because "Republicans are more disenchanted than Democrats."
"Democrats are pretty happy with their candidates," Fowler said. "The Republicans are absolutely in disarray."
He called Bloomberg "an exceptionally capable guy" who is "hard-nosed and accomplished," but argued that the obstacles for a third-party candidate are so daunting that it would be nearly impossible for Bloomberg to win.
I haven't had a chance to watch the Monica Goodling testimony yet, but I have figured out the bombshell. And it is this:
A former Justice Department official told House investigators Wednesday that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales tried to review his version of the prosecutor firings with her at a time when lawmakers were homing in on conflicting accounts.
"It made me a little uncomfortable," Monica Goodling, Gonzales' former White House liaison, said of her conversation with the attorney general just before she took a leave of absence in March. "I just did not know if it was appropriate for us to both be discussing our recollections of what had happened."
In a daylong appearance before the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee, Goodling, 33, also acknowledged crossing a legal line herself by considering the party affiliations of candidates for career prosecutor jobs - a violation of law.
No, not that... let's try again:
A former Justice Department official told House investigators Wednesday that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales tried to review his version of the prosecutor firings with her at a time when lawmakers were homing in on conflicting accounts.
"It made me a little uncomfortable," Monica Goodling, Gonzales' former White House liaison, said of her conversation with the attorney general just before she took a leave of absence in March. "I just did not know if it was appropriate for us to both be discussing our recollections of what had happened."
In a daylong appearance before the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee, Goodling, 33, also acknowledged crossing a legal line herself by considering the party affiliations of candidates for career prosecutor jobs - a violation of law.
Um, nope. Try it one more time:
Goodling's dramatic story about her final conversation with Gonzales brought questions from panel members about whether he had tried to align her story with his and whether he was truthful in his own congressional testimony.
Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee last month that he didn't know the answers to some questions about the firings because he was steering clear of aides - such as Goodling - who were likely to be questioned.
"I haven't talked to witnesses because of the fact that I haven't wanted to interfere with this investigation and department investigations," Gonzales told the panel.
Goodling said for the first time Wednesday that Gonzales did review the story of the firings with her at an impromptu meeting she requested in his office a few days before she took a leave of absence.
"I was somewhat paralyzed. I was distraught, and I felt like I wanted to make a transfer," Goodling recalled during a packed hearing of the House Judiciary Committee.
Gonzales, she said, indicated he would think about Goodling's request.
"He then proceeded to say, 'Let me tell you what I can remember,' and he laid out for me his general recollection ... of some of the process" of the firings, Goodling added. When Gonzales finished, "he asked me if I had any reaction to his iteration."
Goodling said the conversation made her uncomfortable because she was aware that she, Gonzales and others would be called by Congress to testify.
"Was the attorney general trying to shake your recollection?" asked Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala.
"I just did not know if it was a conversation we should be having and so I just didn't say anything," she replied. She added that she thought Gonzales was trying to be kind.
Read Ms. Goodling's opening statement to the House Judiciary Committee here.
It's pretty hilarious watching the major presidential candidates scurry away from Ted Kennedy and John McCain's immigration compromise with the president. The vibe I'm getting online is that McCain is finished, as far as the right is concerned, and Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter are looking like aging rock stars -- beloved by the masses but with no shot at getting to number one. Mitt Romney has flopped himself onto the politically "right" side regarding the bill (surprise, surprise) and Giuliani is very quietly for it. As for the Dems?
Hil hasn't read it ...
Obama's carefully studying it ...
Edwards is somewhat troubled ...
Richardson hasn't said...
You get the picture. Nobody with any political ambition beyond their current job wants to touch this.
As for other elected Dems: so far, they're cool to the proposal. Maybe they're just wary of doing anything further with the president.
Meanwhile: Fred Thompson is running for president. How do I know? Because like Hillary in the first debate regarding how to respond to a terror attack, he nailed the answer on the immigration compromise, as far as the GOP base is concerned:
“We should scrap this bill and the whole debate until we can convince the American people that we have secured the borders or at least have made great headway.”
"Rudy's top priority and main objective is to ensure our borders are secure and to stop potential terrorists and criminals from coming in. The recent Fort Dix plot is a stark reminder that the threat of terrorism has made immigration an important matter of national security. We need to know who is coming in and who is going out of this country if we are going to deal with those who are here illegally.”
I think it's hard to come away from tonight's GOP debate with any other conclusion but that Mitt Romney emerged as the strongest, most articulate and confident candidate on the stage. Coupled with his impressive fundraising (with the caveat that most of it was from Utah, so he'll have to broaden that out), I think Romney should, all other things being equal, get the biggest bounce from the debate. (Gilmore did well, too, but he lacks the charisma that Romney has.)
I think it's also clear that Rudy Giuliani failed to live up to expectations. He was flat, emphasized at least three times his pro-choice stance on abortion, repeated his New York City record so many times it became annoying, and made a point of tagging himself as the guy who can work with Democrats -- not a good look in a primary fueled by people who loathe Democrats.
Going into tonight, Giuliani was already losing momentum in the polls. I wouldn't be suprised if he continues to drift downward. Going in, Quinnipiac had his lead down significantly:
27% said they support Giuliani, down from 40% who said than in early February.
14% said they support Thompson, who wasn't included in the February survey.
19% said they support Sen. John McCain, vs. 18% in February.
Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich were tied for third. Each had the support of 8%.
McCain came off a bit desperate for me, like an old man trying really, really hard to sound young and tough. I don't think he hurt himself, but I don't think he helped himself either.
Outside the top tier, I think the most interesting person on stage was clearly Ron Paul. He'll probably enjoy a brief love affair with Democrats who will then be let down terribly when they find out exactly what a Libertarian thinks. Next to Paul, who upheld good old fashioned Goldwater Republican values quite well, I think Governor Jim Gilmore came off as the most impressive, from a policy standpoint. He will probably get a serious look as a secretary of state, no matter who wins the White House. Gilmore is now in the spin room saying that to his mind, neither Giuliani nor McCain are true conservatives, and Rudy, says Gilmore, hasn't represented himself as such.
Chris is now justifying his Hillary and Bill question, saying he thinks it would be the unifying principle of the GOP in the presidential campaign. But the answer elevated Hillary on the Democratic side, which has to piss of her Democratic rivals. None of the respondents took Chris' bait and attacked Bill. They all went after Hillary. I'll repeat my statement that the question was a waste of time, and an indulgence of Chris' Clinton hating fetish at the expense of serious voters who wanted to hear about issues tonight.
No surprise, Chris began by pitching Rudy a softball, asking how we get this country back to Reagan's "morning in America." Rudy stuffed in as much conservative boilerplate as he could.
McCain came out of the blocks charging on Iraq, taking on Harry Reid on his statement that the war is lost.
Tommy Thompson says the Iraqis should be required to vote if they want us in their countries, and if they vote no, we get out. He also suggests dividing Iraq into the 50 states of Iraq, split the oil reserves between federal, state and individual Iraqis.
Hunter: Bush boilerplate: "the key to winning in Iraq is standing up the Iraqi military."
To Romney, Politico's reporter asks why Americans shouldn't have a president who'll listen to them on Iraq. Romney says if we want a president who governs by polls, "we can just plug in the TVs and have them govern the country." Romney says he wants to get the troops out, but in a way that's not precipitous, and doesn't cause larger chaos. Initial impression: Romney seems very prepared, very polished, very smooth. That he has going for him.
Brownback: Chris asks him about polls showing increasing hostility in the Arab world against the U.S. Brownback: "I think we win the war by standing up for our values." Then he goes into how many people are really with us. Okay, tuning him out now... This guy is Bush lite...
Update 1: Least presidential so far: Tom Tancredo. He just hummed and hawed his way through an answer about what he would do if Israel said it would be attacking Iran soon.
Giuliani, meanwhile, has used the words Ronald Reagan in each of his answers.
Ron Paul is making the most sense, having said that non-intervention is both an American and a traditional Republican principle. Note he didn't say "practice," because that isn't true.
Most coherent so far: Jim Gilmore. He has made the point twice now that America must re-exert leadership around the world, by working with our allies. He just said "we can't allow a situation where people from Morocco to the Phillippines don't believe America has their best interests at heart. ... We have to represent the aspirations of people of good faith."
Most blow-dried: Romney.
Least interesting so far: Giuliani.
That's the end of the first round.
Now, the interactive round. McCain is asked if he would be comfortable with Tom Tancredo as the head of the INS. McCain's answer: "in a word, no." Then he zigged back to tracking Bin Laden, saying "I'd follow him to the gates of hell..."
McCain now asks a patented pander question. Should we change the Constitution to allow foreign born citizens like Arnold Schwarzenegger the chance to run for president. So far, it's all no's. Tommy Thompson says yes, after he serves his eight years. McCain said he'd consider it if Ahnold endorses him. Giuliani gave an odd answer about being afraid to say no to him, so yes.
Giuliani is asked if he learned or regretted anything about his tenure in NYC regarding race. So far, Giuliani says he learned much and regretted much, but that he worked hard to reduce crime, move people out of welfare, etc. Says "moved 660,000 people off welfare and that's the reason crime is down."
Romney is asked what he dislikes most about America. Romney played it like a job candidate, turning it around to how great America is. And he got in a kiss up to Nancy Reagan. I'm telling you, this guy is a used car salesman.
Huckabee gets a question from Boca about global warming. I find myself looking at the way Huckabee's suit fits ... sorry, back to his answer. He says God says we must be good stewards of the earth. Didn't really answer the question though.
Tancredo is asked about selling organs for transplants. Huh?
Duncan Hunter just answered a question about whether he's a compassionate conservative like George W. Bush with a yes, and a call for the U.S. to take military action against Iran.
Ron Paul says if he was president, he would abolish the IRS,
Next up: values.
Update 2: Would repeal of Roe be a good day for America? Yesses all the way around, except for Rudy, who says "it would be okay." He adds that "if a court ruled that it was precedent, that would be okay too." Tancredo goes one further, saying it would be "the greatest day." Gilmore says that his convictions on abortion 'have never changed throughout his public life. He then adds his record in VA about passing parental notification and 24 hour waiting period."
Thompson says Roe should be up to the states. First impression: Thompson is very, very boring.
Romney is called on the carpet for being "always for life" and "always pro-choice." Romney says he ran on a platform of upholding the law as is, though he is "personally pro life" and that he changed his mind on the road to Damascus ... er, stem cell research. Politically convenient, Mitt? He says cloning convinced him that "we have gone too far."
Brownback: could you support a nominee who is not pro-life? Brownback says yes, because the GOP is a 'big coalition party.' That might not have been the right answer for his base.
Giuliani gets a second shot, courtesy of his friend kiss, I mean Chris. Why do you support the use of public funds for abortion? Giuliani says "I don't. I support the Hyde amendment." In other words, it's up to each state. Chris gets out of him that he supported public funding for abortions in New York. I think that's Giuliani's second mistake tonight. His drawn out answer on abortion was mistake 1.
McCain's line of the night: "I may not be the youngest candidate up here, but I'm the most prepared." The question was about every cab driver knowing what Reagan stood for. "I don't want to be president of a failed nation, or a sad nation or a nation that thinks our best years are behind us. I want to be president of a proud nation."
Hunter jumps in saying me too on having and armed services background. You know what Duncan Hunter reminds me of? A mean school principal.
Huckabee has given us our second "city on a hill" reference. "We are a great nation because we are a culture of life. We celebrate life." We go search for people lost on Mount Hood, etc.
How to reconcile this moral leadership role of conservatism with libertarian, Goldwater conservatism, Ron Paul? "if the goal of government is to be the policeman of the world, you lose liberty. If the goal of government is liberty you unite people." ... "the moral principle is that of protecting liberty."
Thompson is asked whther an employer should be allowed to fire a gay worker. Thompson says it should be up to the employer. In other words, yes.
Romney is asked what he'd say to Roman Catholic bishops who would deny communion to a politician who supports abortion rights. Romney: "I wouldn't say anything to a Catholic bishop. They can do anything they want." This was Romney's opening to say we don't choose leaders based on their faith, and he seized it. Again, very smooth.
Huckabee is called on whether he criticizes Romney's saying his faith wouldn't affect his decision making. Huckabee says his faith does inform his politics.
Update 3: Governor Gilmore is asked by Chris if he would employ Karl Rove, whom he knows. Gilmore's answer was a good one: "what's important is not Karl Rove. What's important is how this government is run." Gilmore gets in the line that he's a "consistent conservative." Tancredo says Karl Rove would certainly not be in his White House, mainly because of their differences on immigration.
Chris asks Rudy if the influx of Christian conservatives has been good for the GOP. He says yes, then parries to say that neither party has a lock on virtue or vice, and that we have to bring in Democrats and Independents. He's reading his record again. Is saying we need to reach out to Democrats a good move in a primary debate? I think not. If it is in a mistake, Thompson just made it too. And he added that Republicans went wrong by going to Wahington to change it, but being changed by it. And he just gave us another Reagan big-up.
Brownback is asked about corruption and goes right to the one Democrat involved. Now he's saying we need to build stronger families and a stronger culture. Oh, here comes the conservative nanny state. Brownback just played the Imus card and said we've got music being sold with the same words. Sound like he's running for vice cop.
Tancredo on the same questions says the corruption thing is about individuals, not the party. Now he's going off track. He says regarding whether a centrist is the only way to go in order to win, Tancredo reminds that Reagan was no centrist and won California twice.
McCain is asked about the shots he took at Giuliani regarding incompetence and first responders. McCain says he was talking about special interests, not New York City. He immediately left that topic to say the GOP went off track by spending too much. Interesting that he didn't want to take that bait.
Jim Vandehei asks McCain what specific programs he'd cut. McCain says yes to the line item veto, yes to reducing costs for military spending cost overruns. No programs yet, but he says each unnamed program should justify its existence every year.
Huckabee asked to give the Bush administration a grade on its handling of the war. He says it's too early to give a grade.
Giuliani is put back in the spotlight on abortion. He says he "hates" abortion, encouraged adoption as mayor of New York City, but says "since it's an issue of conscience," he would "support a woman's right to make a different choice."
Thompson is asked if racism is still a problem in our society and can a president do anything about it. Thompson says a president has to unite, Ronald Reagan was a uniter...
Tancredo is asked beside himself, who should be the nominee. Tancredo says if he thought there should be another one, he wouldn't be there. Tancredo is stumbling around verbally, but he's sticking to his talking points on illegal immigration, plugging them into all of his answers.
McCain is now defending he and the president's plan on immigration, saying we must secure our borders but we also need a guest worker program and a plan to sort out the 12 million illegal immigrants in the country.
Duncan Hunter says he hasn't seen "An Inconvenient Truth" but he sees the issue of global warming as an opportunity and challenge to remove energy dependence on the Middle East and create new technologies. Good answer.
Gilmore was asked about mothers behind bars. He says the law must be applied, but he got in a plug for himself as governor during the 9/11 attacks.
Down the line: Nancy Reagan wants the government to expand embryonic stem cell research. Are you for it? Romney says no, Browanback: only adult stem cells. Gilmore: no. Huckabee: no. Hunter: no. Thompson: can't answer yes or no, there's so much research that will allow adult stem cells to do. McCain thanks Nancy Reagan for her kindness to him and other POWs. He says we need to fund this research, because these embryos will be discarded or perpetual funding. That's a yes. Paul: programs like this are not authorized under the Constitution. Let the markets and states handle it. Giuliani: if no creation of embryos created for that purpose, then yes. Tancredo: no.
Romney called on not touting his version of Hillary care. His answer: "I love it! It's affordable and portable. We won it 198 to 2. It's bipartisan!" I'm telling you, this guy should sell cars.
To all: name a tax you'd like to cut Romney - zero tax on capital gains Brownbax - alternative flat tax Gilmore - I eliminated the car tax in VA. Current tax: the AMT Huckabee - pass the "Fair Tax", get rid of the IRS, all capital gains taxes, etc. Hunter - trade deals suck. we need to eliminate all taxes on manufacturing Thompson - Alternative Minimum Tax. let's have a flat tax choice McCain - give the president the line item veto, repeal the AMT. Give tax credit to purchase health insurance (sounds like Bush), flatter Fair Tax Paul - get rid of the IRS, dump these entitlement programs and foreign adventures. Get rid of the "inflation tax" with sound money Giuliani - get rid of the AMT, the "death tax", and make the Bush tax cuts permanent. "Regularize the rates" whatever that means Tancredo - Repeal the 16th Amendment. And you can veto all the spending you want and you won't touch the deficit until you deal with mandatory spending.
McCain is asked what Democrats he's appoint, besides Joe Lieberman. He can't name one that's elected. Okay, he just named a businessman named John Chambers. McCain is running in the general election already, not the primary.
Update 4 - lightning round: Hunter is asked what the government does
McCain: believes in evolution. Anyone who doesn't? Tancredo, Brownback and Huckabee raised their hands (though Tancredo seemed to be looking to see who else would first.)
Romney wouldn't carry any of Bush's cabinet over.
Giuliani is quizzed on Sunni vs. Shia Islam. He looked like he was trying to remember it from his debate prep.
Gilmore declines to uphold his previous statement about being the only conservative in the pack.
Ron Paul trusts the Internet more than the mainstream media.
Giuliani is asked what is his biggest weakness is. His quip that it's "the fact that they're not all endorsing me" fell absolutely flat. Instead of answering the question, he reracked his New York City record yet again, and threw in a gratuitous Reagan.
Sidebar: I'm struck at how much alike these guys look. Very different from the multiethnic, multi-sex Democrat debate...
Thompson is asked how many Americans have been killed and injured in Iraq. His answer was "over three thousand killed and several thousand injured." Not too specific.
Giuliani says he's for a "tamper proof national I.D. card" -- oh, lord, he's back to talking about crime in New York again. He wants every American in a database. Please, God, let Ron Paul answer that. Romney is for the national I.D. card, too. He just got in a USOC plug. Brownback is against a national I.D. card. He says secure the border with a fence, and make the Social Security number mean something. "We don't need a new system." McCain says he's for a national I.D. card. Dr. Paul finally gets his chance. "This a total contradiction of what a free society is all about. The purpose of government is to protect the secrecy and privacy of Americans." Tancredo agrees. Clarification: Romney and Giuliani say their card is only for immigrants.
To all: Pardon Scooter Libby? Romney: candidates shouldn't make that decision, but outrageous for prosecutor to go after Libby knowing he wasn't the leaker. Brownback: it's up to the president. Gilmore: president should go to the American people to make the case if he wants to do it. Anyone for pardoning Libby? Tancredo says yes, but pardon Ramos and Campeon, the two border patrolmen (he gets the Lou Dobbs vote.) Paul points out that Libby was part of the misinformation that got us into the war. Good going, Ron.
Now, to the Schiavo case. Should Congress have acted or let the family make the decision? Romney: Congress' intervention was a mistake. Leave it at the state level. Brownback: Congress was right. Stand for life. McCain: difficult issue, all of us were moved, but in retrospect, we were too hasty. Giuliani: that's what we have courts for. Not a good answer for a GOP primary, where they distrust the courts...
Would it be good for America to have Bill Clinton back in the White House.
Romney: "You've got to be kidding..." Brownback says "no" because Hillary's not pro-life. Gilmore: no. McCain got in a shot about activist judges. Matthews couldn't resist the opportunity to give these guys a chance to Clinton bash. What an asshole.
I have half a mind to turn this off at this point.
Anyway, the next question from the GOP lackey from MSNBC is how the candidates would differ from Dubya. Romney says he respects Bush but would change the way we operate at home and abroad. McCain would manage the war better and cut spending. Gilmore: we need to be vigorous on the GWOT, draw the world in, improve homeland security, and energy independence. Huckabee: more power to the states. Hunter: bring back our industrial base, enforce trade laws. Brownback: break up Iraq, push a political solution there. Tancredo: Bush has done many good things, but on No Child Left Behind and prescription drugs, he overreached, and on Iraq... he ran out of time. Thompson: change healthcare system, settle Iraq, better foreign relations. Giuliani: oh, lord, remind ourselves every day about 9/11. Paul: change foreign policy, protect privacy of Americans, caution on warrantless searches and never abuse habeas corpus.
Overall score: C. Not much excitement. No headlines. Romney looked good, and smooth. I can see why the establishment favors him. He'll either be received as a liberator, or written off as far too slick -- the candidate you build from a kit. If Gilmore was smoother, he'd probably have won the debate on substance. McCain came off very forced. Tommy Thompson looked like he should be working on his papers and research in a basement somewhere -rumpled fellow, that. Giuliani didn't come off well, in my opinion, and he didn't appear strong or presidential, and he fumbled the ball on the abortion question. Ron Paul impressed me, I have to say. Too bad he has no shot at getting further media coverage. Duncan Hunter wasn't as nutty as I expected, and Tancredo seemed nervous and a bit shaky. Huckabee made very little impression on me, and Brownback came off as a religious nutter.
Was it just me, or was it kind of weird the way Politico's John Harris kept rolling up on the candidaes when he asked them a question...? Sorry, total sidebar...
So who was the winner? I think it's clear: Ronald Reagan. He got the most props tonight, along with his wife, and he was the man everyone up there wanted to be (sorry, George.)
The big loser? Chris Matthews. His chopping off of the second tier candidates and largesse toward his favorites was embarassing. And the fact that he wasted the audience's time on questions about Bill Clinton -- as if anyone on the stage would dispute that his wife shouldn't be president -- was a disservice to the voters who care about this race. Next time, MSNBC should give the job to Brian Williams, or even Tim Russert. Chris really was a let down tonight.
The Reidblog handy dandy guide to the first GOP presidential debate
The GOPers debate tonight, (and in so doing, they attempt to find their souls...) so in case you're not in the know, let's handicap the ten declared candidates, shall we? Here we go:
1. Rudy Giuliani Best known for saying, after 9/11, that the first thing he did after the attacks leveled the buildings where he had moved the command centers for the police and fire departments right after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was to turn to his crimie Bernard Kerik and say, "thank God George Bush and Dick Cheney are in the White House." Likes: gun control, wearing frilly dresses, gay civil unions (unless he's campaigning in the South) and public funding for abortion (see previous "like"). Dislikes: wives (once he finds a better one). Southern strategy: publicize the fact that he was once married to his cousin.
2. John McCain Also known as "Baghdad Johnnie". Best known for taking a stroll through an Iraqi market with 100 of his closest military friends, 2 Apache helicopters, 2 Blackhawk helicopters
3. Mitt Romney Best known for: Running the U.S. Olympic Committee, being a Mormon, and yet, having only one wife, and for looking exactly like Guy Smiley...
4. Sam Brownback Dubbed “God’s Senator” by Rolling Stone Magazine. Voted NO on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives. Voted NO on repealing tax subsidy for companies which move US jobs offshore. Voted NO on $1.15 billion per year to continue the COPS program to put more police officers on the street. And says Stare decisis would have upheld separate-but-equal! What would Jesus do, indeed.
5. Mike Huckabee Former governor of Arkansas. Most famous for: losing a busload of weight (over 110 pounds). Biggest problem for the GOP: as governor, he raised taxes, a big no-no.
6. Duncan Hunter Most famous for: promoting the Gitmo diet, and saying that the food at the Guantanamo detention facility is to die for! Perhaps no one briefed the California congressman about the suicides...
7. Tom Tancredo Most famous for: calling Miami a Third World country. Southern strategy: don't campaign in Miami.
8. Tommy Thompson Former governor of Wisconsin and Bush's onetime Health and Human Services secretary. As secretary, he helped create Bush's stem cell research compromise, which legalized federal funding for the use of ... well ... compromised, old and mainly useless stem cell lines for research. Researchers, were mostly not interested.
9. Jim Gilmore Former governor of Virginia during the Clinton era, and was governor during the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. Stole Howard Dean's line by saying he represents "the Republican wing of the Republican Party." Negatives: not many. Biggest problem: no one outside of Virginia knows who he is.
10. Ron Paul 10-term Congressman, medical doctor (M.D.) and two-time and current presidential candidate from the U.S. state of Texas. Wants to abolish both Social Security and the Federal Reserve. Chances of becoming president: 0. Look for him to be the Mike Gravel of tonight's debates.
"Rudy's arrogance has gotten the best of him," said Karen Finney, communications director for the Democratic National Committee.
"How can the man who failed to prepare NYC for a second attack after the first one, quit the 9/11 commission because he was too busy raking in money from sketchy business deals, can't assess if the surge is working or if Iran and North Korea have nuclear weapons claim that he will keep America safe?"
Dusting off his best FReeper imitation, Giuliani told an enthralled crowd of fear-addled, rage addicted New Hampshire GOPers:
"This war ends when they stop coming here to kill us!" Giuliani said in his speech. "Never, ever again will this country ever be on defense waiting for (terrorists) to attack us if I have anything to say about it. And make no mistake, the Democrats want to put us back on defense!"
Is this a political campaign, or an audition to be a fill in host for Michael Savage? Moving right along:
"Rudy Giuliani today has taken the politics of fear to a new low and I believe Americans are ready to reject those kind of politics," said Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) "America's mayor should know that when it comes to 9/11 and fighting terrorists, America is united."
"There are people right now in the world, not just wishing us harm but actively planning and plotting to cause us harm," said New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"If the last six years of the Bush Administration have taught us anything, it's that political rhetoric won't do anything to quell those threats. And that America is ready for a change."
I give Barack a B+ for his response. Hillary's, with the me-too-FReeper opening? I give a C, with the caveat that she has to play Margaret Thatcher in this movie in order for it to get green lighted.
"Rudy Giuliani's suggestion that there is some superior 'Republican' way to fight terrorism is both divisive and plain wrong. He knows better. That's not the kind of leadership he offered in the days immediately after 9/11, and it's not the kind of leadership any American should be offering now.
"As far as the facts are concerned, the current Republican administration led us into a war in Iraq that has made us less safe and undermined the fight against al Qaeda. If that's the 'Republican' way to fight terror, Giuliani should know that the American people are looking for a better plan. That's just one more reason why this election is so important; we need to elect a Democratic president who will end the disastrous diversion of the war in Iraq."
Meanwhile, John McCain did his big announce today, complete with a nice little dig at Rudy:
[The American people] ...won't accept that firemen and policemen are unable to communicate with each other in an emergency because they don't have the same radio frequency.
And the latest NBC News poll reads as follows:
Just before Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina, a new poll by NBC affiliate WIS-TV shows Clinton and Obama virtually tied (24%-23%), with Edwards (who won the state in 2004) in third at 16%. On the GOP side, meanwhile, a new Zogby poll has McCain leading Giuliani in South Carolina (22%-19%), with Fred Thompson in third and Romney in fourth.
There's also an NBC News poll that comes out this evening that will show Giuliani losing support, down from 38% to 33%, McCain losing two points, down frmo 24% a month ago to 22% and Fred Thompson going to zero to 17%.
It was a given that Hillary was going to raise more money than God ... but who knew Mitt Romney was such a pistol? Romney didn't just win the GOP money primary, he whipped its tail, raising a surprise $23 million -- just $3 million shy of Hillary's mark -- to demolish the Republican field. Rudy "Third Time's the Charm" Giuliani took in around $15 million (he's out there boasting that he can raise $100 million -- and he's telling the media to "lay off his third / hussy/dog-harming wife!", and poor, addled John McCain, who has self-immolated over Iraq, took in just $12.5 million. Meanwhile, a new poll shows that a non-candidate/television actor/former Senator, Fred Thompson, goes from zero to third place among Republican voters, sucking most of his 12% polling numbers from Rudy, who's now down in the 30s, after hovering around 44 percent in USAT/Gallup. The caveat with Romney is that he was an investment banker at one point in his life, and made a lot of big money contacts as head of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and as Chris Matthews just pointed out on Hardball, when you marry Romney's fundraising to his low poll numbers, you get one hell of a high per capita rate (meaning Romney is the candidate of the very rich, and not much more...)
There clearly is no Republican front runner right now, and a lot of dissatisfaction is in evidence on the right side of the dial. That leads me to believe that Thompson, despite a stunning lack of substance that even some RedStaters have noticed, as evidenced in this surprisingly lucid post (once you look past the strained attempt not to call Dubya a failed president), could still emerge as a front runner in this rather pitiable field.
On the Dem side, Bill Richardson did better than expected at $6 million, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden should just hang it up, and Edwards did pretty well. The big question is how much did Barack Obama raise, which we'll find out probably tomorrow. The Hillary people are already trying to raise expectations, putting out the buzz that Barack's haul could be as much as $21 million. We'll see.
Meanwhile, here are the latest poll numbers from Florida:
THE NUMBERS - DEMOCRATS
Hillary Clinton 36 percent Al Gore, 16 percent Barack Obama 13 percent John Edwards 11 percent (all other candidates below 5 percent)
Hillary and Giuliani are in roughly the same position, while poor Baghdad John is in the shitter, with Newt Gingrich, of all people, trailing him by just 4 percentage points. The Al Gore number is interesting, as Dems still haven't let go of their Gore nostalgia. I maintain that if he ran, he couldn't win, but that's just me. Once Dem voters finally get over it (rent his climate change movie and call it a day, folks...) I think Hillary will put some distance between herself and her competitors, with Obama ticking up a little, too.
Alberto Gonzales just might be getting advice from counsel, as they say, since as of today, his operative phrase has gone from "I wasn't involved" in the purge of eight U.S. attorneys (and an apparent scheme to get rid of Patrick Fitzgerald too) to "I don't recall..."
At the same time, it's becoming clear that Gonzales cares more about himself, at the end of the day, and about preserving his position, than he does about either the credibility, mission and personnel of the Justice Department, or about the image and reputation of the White House and the President, all of which his continued presence is seriously harming. It's long past time for Gonzales to put an end to this drama by resigning, or being fired. I still maintain that he will be gone in a matter of weeks. Time will tell if I'm right. For now, Gonzales will have a couple of weeks to ponder his testimony before Congress, as the legislative branch takes a spring break recess until April 10th. He is scheduled to go before the Senate and/or House on April 17th, although apparently he's seeking a way to move things up, perhaps to spare himself and his political party the long drawn out waiting game ... but then again, it's probably mainly to spare himself.
Rudy Giuliani -- thrice married (to a thrice married, man stealing hussy who, if God truly hates America and he is elected persident, could be running policy from an office in the West Wing), liberal on issues dear to the religious right and GOP gun nuts, and running on 9/11. But here's the problem: firefighters hate him, and the real story of his incompetence before and his callousness after the terror attacks on the Twin Towers is now coming to light, anecdotally today, in "Swift Boat" style TV and radio ads, inevitably. From this week's TIME:
"If Rudolph Giuliani was running on anything but 9/11, I would not speak out," said Sally Regenhard, whose firefighter son was among the 343 FDNY members killed in the terrorist attack. "If he ran on cleaning up Times Square, getting rid of squeegee men, lowering crime — that's indisputable.
"But when he runs on 9/11, I want the American people to know he was part of the problem."
Such comments contradict Giuliani's post-Sept. 11 profile as a hero and symbol of the city's resilience — the steadfast leader who calmed the nerves of a rattled nation. But as the presidential campaign intensifies, criticisms of his 2001 performance are resurfacing.
Giuliani, the leader in polls of Republican voters for his party's nomination, has been faulted on two major issues:
— His administration's failure to provide the World Trade Center's first responders with adequate radios, a long-standing complaint from relatives of the firefighters killed when the twin towers collapsed. The Sept. 11 Commission noted the firefighters at the World Trade Center were using the same ineffective radios employed by the first responders to the 1993 terrorist attack on the trade center.
Regenhard, at a 2004 commission hearing in Manhattan, screamed at Giuliani, "My son was murdered because of your incompetence!" The hearing was a perfect example of the 9/11 duality: Commission members universally praised Giuliani at the same event.
— A November 2001 decision to step up removal of the massive rubble pile at ground zero. The firefighters were angered when the then-mayor reduced their numbers among the group searching for remains of their lost "brothers," focusing instead on what they derided as a "scoop and dump" approach. Giuliani agreed to increase the number of firefighters at ground zero just days after ordering the cutback.
More than 5 1/2 years later, body parts are still turning up in the World Trade Center site.
"We want America to know what this guy meant to New York City firefighters," said Peter Gorman, head of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. "In our experiences with this man, he disrespected us in the most horrific way."
The two-term mayor, in his appearance before the Sept. 11 Commission, said the blame for the death and destruction of Sept. 11 belonged solely with the terrorists. "There was not a problem of coordination on Sept. 11," he testified. ...
Sounds a bit like Baghdad Bob.
Newt Gingrich -- dumped his wife while she was in a hospital bed recovering from cancer, so he could marry his mistress, left Congress in disgrace, but hey, he's conservative!
And then there are the wee also-rans, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, libertarian Ron Paul and such-like, but really, is it worth the blogspace to do more than mention their names?
So at this point, I'm thinking the GOPers had better lean hard on Fred Thompson to run. He may not have the "fire in the belly," but damnit, at least he's a celebrity. And to my knowledge, he never egregiously left a wife, botched the response to a terror attack, or pissed off the Cubans in Miami.
Congressional inquiries into conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center are taking a political turn as Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), a member of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, investigates whether high-profile Republicans used their influence to help a firm win a private maintenance contract.
Former Vice President Dan Quayle, former Treasury Secretary John Snow and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld all have some connection to the firm, IAP Worldwide Services. The company's board is also populated with former top military officials.
IAP won the maintenance contract after a protracted competition with a group of former federal civil service employees who also bid for the work that was targeted for privatization during the Clinton administration.
In an interview, Kaptur said IAP's corporate connections "look like a Republican parking lot. Was the outsourcing a matter of favoritism with people with the right connections?"
With the White House doing the opposite of damage control by insisting that the president will hang on to Alberto no matter what, I'm finding it more and more interesting to start looking at the supporting cast in the Gonzogate melodrama. So while we're looking, we might as well start with the Lee Harvey Oswald of this tawdry tale...
So who is Kyle Sampson, and what is his strange relationship to the obscure Patriot Act provision that got us into this mess in the first place?
Sampson, a Utah Mormon, had been John Ashcroft's deputy when he was attorney general. He has been friends since law school (at the University of Chicago) with Dick Cheney's daughter Elizabeth (the straight one...) After Ashcroft stepped down following the 2004 election, Gonzales helped guide nominee Alberto Gonzales through Senate confirmation, and would later do the same for President Bush's SupCo nominees. And while he is now the administration's designated scapegoat, Sampson's hometown paper, the Salt Lake Tribune, and other news outlets report the following about his role in Gonzogate, picking up from the time of Ashcroft's post-election exit:
About that time, the suggestion was floated that a number of U.S. attorneys could be replaced with Bush loyalists. Sampson opposed wholesale change but by March 2005 sent a list of targeted prosecutors to White House Counsel Harriet Miers.
And then it gets interesting...
Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney for Utah Paul Warner announced in January 2006 he would become a federal magistrate, opening a spot Sampson had long sought. An e-mail released Thursday suggests that Sampson may have tried to push Warner out of the job in early 2005 but was rebuffed by Hatch.
With Warner stepping aside in 2006, Sampson lined up the support of Gonzales and others, but Hatch recommended Brett Tolman, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Utah who was working for the Judiciary Committee at the time for Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter.
Tolman, who ultimately got the job, had in March 2006 added language to the Patriot Act renewal, at the Justice Department's request, to allow the White House to replace U.S. attorneys without Senate consent.
So Tolman wrote the provision that allowed Gonzo to mount his political purge of U.S. attorneys, and then Tolman became one of the newly minted U.S. attorneys... interesting...
As for Sampson, he could be giving voluntary sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee as early as this week.
Meanwhile, Hill Republicans are continuing to walk away from Alberto, and the right wing blogosphere is starting to skate on Gonzo as well. The Carpetbagger ferrets out a few good examples, including the very succinct Ed Morrissey:
Have we had enough yet? I understand the argument that if we allow the Democrats to bounce Gonzales, they’ll just aim for more, but Gonzales made himself the target here with what looks like blatant deception. I don’t think we do ourselves any good by defending the serially changing stories coming out of Gonzales’ inept administration at Justice. One cannot support an Attorney General who misleads Congress, allows his staffers to mislead Congress, and deceives the American people, regardless of whether an R or a D follows his name or the majority control of Congress.
I will brook no excuses by commenters that Gonzalez “misspoke,” or “forgot,” or “got a note from his mother” that gave him permission to lie, or other excuses from the ever dwindling number of Bush diehards who visit this site . He is the frickin’ Attorney General of the United States fer crissakes! If there is anybody in government who needs to tell the truth, it is the guy responsible for enforcing the laws of land.
I give these righties credit for intellectual honesty. Maybe one of them will wrestle the Kool-Aid out of the hot little hands of the die-hard Bushies at Wizbang. Hell, even Michelle has gone south on Gonzo, (I'd hate to think it was because he's so suspiciously Mexican, Mizz Malkin) though she hasn't seen fit to blog about the controversy in a week ... and Miss Twit is positively apoplectic over the dropped P.R. ball (but of course, not about the lying...)
Back to the 'Bagger, who asks the right pertinent questions:
* A Republican leadership staffer told Roll Call this week, “We are not throwing ourselves on the grenade for them anymore. There’s now an attitude of ‘you created this mess, you’ve got to get yourself out of it.’”
After watching conservatives back Bush on everything from Iraq to Plame to illegal NSA wiretaps to Katrina, have we finally found the one thing the right isn’t willing to defend? And if so, isn’t it safe to assume the political pressure on the White House will be even more intense?
And if that’s so, exactly how bad is this going to get for the Bush gang?
I'd say rather worse, until they learn the central lesson of public relatons: when you're caught in a crisis in which you don't control the variables (i.e., there's more information out there that could come out to bite you, and you don't control it,) the best way to stanch the bleeding is to stop fighting, apologize, and give your critics something big. In this case, the thing to give the critics would be Gonzales' head, and the more the White House resists, the more protracted this scandal will become. I suspect that before the White House has to relent to allowing Bush's Brain to be put under oath (which will further escalate this scandal) they'll throw Alberto overboard.
Subprime lender New Century Financial is on the brink of bankruptcy, as the housing bubble keeps leaking and ARM loans begin imploding...
The announcement about the announcement. One word to Chuck Hagel: "Huh???" I await the dirt on what REALLY happened to make him back down today. Desperate call from a fellow Vietnam vet, perhaps from the bathroom of the Straight Talk Express... perhaps...?
Meanwhile, Fred Thompson could bring something different to the party ... let's see... he's anti gay marriage, anti-abortion, and for Bush's escalation in Iraq, so it's not that ... hm ... oh, that's right, he's an actor! ... he's on "Law and Order," you know ... and he was that hillarious judge in "My Cousin Vinny!"
Meanwhile, the vigorousness of the Draft Fred movement ... okay, maybe "vigorousness" isn't a word, or an accurate description ... could be rooted in the fact that GOPers currently have no good choices in the primary beauty pageant. I mean, three adulterers, two nobodies and a Mormon flip-flopper isn't exactly a field of dreams...
Is it just about abortion, gay marriage, and conservative economics (and membership in the GOP)? Or would Jesus have commanded true Christians to care for the poor, for the environmetn, and for the victims of war? The debate is on.
Meanwhile, other Christian conservatives are asking whether the lionization of men who not only leave their wives, but who also humiliate them, is a bridge too far.
''He's probably the most famous, least known candidate for president we've had in a long time,'' said Warfield. ''This exposes a side of Giuliani most voters would have no idea about.''
Southern Baptist Convention leader Richard Land, for example, described Giuliani's breakup with Hanover as ''divorce on steroids.'' Hanover learned her husband was seeking a divorce from television after he announced the decision at a press conference.
''To publicly humiliate your wife in that way, and your children -- that's rough,'' said Land. ''I think that's going to be an awfully hard sell, even if he weren't pro-choice and pro-gun control.'' Marital history and family values have been bubbling just below the surface of the Republican campaign for months.
At a GOP dinner in Missouri last month, Ann Romney said the biggest difference between her husband, Mitt, and his rivals was that ''he's had only one wife.''
As I've said numerous times before, once these people get to know Rudy Giuliani, I predict his popularity won't last.
But let's not give Romney a free pass yet. Evangelicals may also have to ask themselves whether they feel comfortable with a new convert to conservatism who for the last few years has been buying his way into respectability in their circles.
And that's not even to mention that cheating, lying, rank hypocrite, Newt Gingrich.
With all of that, and the corruption and scandals of both the administration and the formerly GOP-led congress, it's baffling to me why evangelicals can still credibly argue that being a Republican is a basic requirement for being a good Christian.
Rudy Giuliani dumped his second wife, Donna Hanover, via press conference. Before that, he cheated on her brazenly with Judy Nathan, the woman who would become his third wife (after Donna and Rudy's second cousin, who was also his first wife) -- even getting taxpayer-funded security for Judy when he wasn't whisking her around town to fetes and Broadway shows while Donna sat home and stewed. All of this took place as Rudy's then- 12-year-old son was forced to watch the spectacle from inside Gracie Mansion, where Rudy would bring Judy -- in full view of his little boy.
Is this the hero conservatives and Chris Matthews have been pining away for? Hm?
Campaigning in Southern California, Giuliani faced questions about his family after his son, Andrew, publicly said their relationship had become distant after Giuliani's messy divorce from Andrew's mother, Donna Hanover, and his later marriage to Judith Nathan.
"My wife Judith is a very loving and caring … mother and stepmother. She has done everything she can. The responsibility is mine," the former New York mayor told reporters gathered outside the Los Angeles County Sheriff's headquarters.
"I believe that these problems with blended families, you know, are challenges sometimes they are," he said. "The more privacy I can have for my family, the better we are going to be able to deal with all these difficulties."
The New York Times reported Saturday that Andrew Giuliani and his father have recently tried to reconcile after not speaking "for a decent amount of time." In the Times article, Andrew said, "There's obviously a little problem that exists between me and his wife."
He told the newspaper he would not participate in his father's campaign, saying he intended to concentrate on becoming a professional golfer. The 21-year-old Duke University student told ABC News' "Good Morning America," "I got my values from my mother. She's a strong influence in my life. She's a strong woman. I have problems with my father, but that doesn't mean he won't make a good president."
On to that NYT Saturday article... in it, we learned that Rudy isn't exactly chummy with his daughter Caroline, either.