Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

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Thursday, April 30, 2009
Old Republicans behaving newly
Eric Cantor has come up with a bold, new idea: take the same old Republicans who got the party into this mess, and build a brand new organization around them to sell the public on putting them back in power ... with town halls! Brilliant...

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posted by JReid @ 10:10 AM  
Monday, February 02, 2009
Michael Steele's can't miss, surefire GOP rebuilding strategy
If he's true to his old form, he'll just smile a lot and pretend to be a Democrat... He could even send out deceptively cryptic voter guides to black people, and do commercials where he never says the word "Republican!"

Either that or he could just trot out the same tired Republican policies but start palling around with Sarah Palin...

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posted by JReid @ 4:16 PM  
Saturday, January 03, 2009
Dear RNC: Why not just pick Alan Keyes?

I mean ... he's black, right wing, and certifiably nuts! He's what you call "the package." The comedy circus that is the race for Republican National Committee chair rolls merrily along:
After Chip Saltsman, a candidate for chairman, sent party members a CD that included the song "Barack the Magic Negro," he received sharp criticism from former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and other Republicans who worry that the party is losing touch with the moderate, suburban voters who are key to winning national elections. But nearly all of the candidates are facing intense scrutiny from party factions, as GOP officials view the next chairman as a vital figure in the post-Bush era.

The hopefuls are campaigning as though they were running for president, bombarding RNC members with calls and e-mails, appearing on national cable shows, enlisting allies to rally support and, in Saltsman's case, piloting his Piper Arrow plane around the country to meet with committee members.
Sorry... "flies" along... so besides Chip the Magic Dumbass, who are the contenders?

A regional divide has emerged between North and South, with former Maryland lieutenant governor Michael S. Steele and Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis pitted against Saltsman of Tennessee and Katon Dawson, the South Carolina party chairman. While not criticizing the candidates or party members from the South, Steele and Anuzis have emphasized the importance of competing in states where the GOP has struggled in recent years.

"If we are a party that can speak to Utah, South Carolina and Kansas, but can't reach voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, we will be a losing party," Anuzis has said. "We must adopt a strategy that carries our message to every state." The Michigan leader has also tried to cast himself as a different kind of Republican, noting that he is a member of the Teamsters union and a rider of a Harley-Davidson Road King.

The two black candidates are perhaps the most ideologically divided. Former Ohio secretary of state J. Kenneth Blackwell has long been embraced by conservative groups such as the anti-tax Club for Growth, while Steele has faced criticism for being, until recently, a leader of the Republican Leadership Council, which urges party members to be more tolerant of candidates who support abortion rights.

Steele emphasizes the need for the GOP to appeal to African Americans and other minority groups, while Blackwell dismissed the Saltsman controversy as "hypersensitivity" and has stressed his experience as an elected official over concerns about diversity.

Dawson has spent weeks highlighting his efforts to get blacks involved in South Carolina politics, following revelations that until this fall he had belonged to an all-white country club.
I mean you really can't make this stuff up. Continuing:
And Kentucky's Mike Duncan, the current GOP chairman, is running for reelection despite sharp criticism from some party activists who wonder how he could be rewarded with another term after presiding over the November defeat. Gingrich has blasted what he believes are Duncan's overly aggressive efforts to link President-elect Barack Obama to the scandal surrounding Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), while DeLay, who is close to Blackwell, mocked Duncan's "horrible idea" of creating a think tank in party headquarters.

But Duncan has been emboldened by post-Election Day victories in congressional runoffs in Georgia and Louisiana, giving him a clear message: The party was defeated by an unusually strong Obama organization and appeal that cannot be replicated.

"Obama was a phenomenon," Duncan said in an interview. "We know how to win elections."

Several GOP officials said Duncan's strong relationships with GOP leaders, fundraising ability and competence running the party make him the favorite, despite the Election Day results.

I still like Alan Keyes, but if they pick Ken "Shady Elections" Blackwell, who is despised by black people in Clarence Thomas proportions, and who is best known for stealing Ohio by disenfranchising black voters in 2004, and who is a true religious nut, same difference.

Meanwhile, Politico reports La Blackwell is gaining support among the wingnuts.
Two dozen conservative luminaries will announce today their support for former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell for Republican Nation Committee chairman.

The group, which mixes leading economic conservatives, including Steve Forbes and Pat Toomey, and leading social conservatives, including James Dobson and Tony Perkins, had agreed to endorse and campaign together for a candidate based on a questionnaire assembled by veteran GOP activist Morton Blackwell (no relation).

"The conservative endorsers noted that there were other good candidates, but all agreed that Ken Blackwell is the best choice. They intend to contact grassroots conservatives across the country and ask them to urge the three RNC members from each state and U.S. territory to vote for Ken Blackwell for RNC chairman," they said in a press release going out shortly.

I can just see Steve Forbes, with that glassy-eyed look, telling fellow conservs that it's high time the party appeared in blackface, in order to appeal to the hip hoppers, and getting quite serious affirmation rather than gasps.

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posted by JReid @ 7:01 PM  
Saturday, December 06, 2008
The Black(well) card
More over Michael Steele: there's an even douchier black guy in the running for RNC chair:
Kenneth Blackwell -- who gained infamy as Ohio Secretary of State in 2004, when the state threw the presidential race to George W. Bush -- has officially jumped into the race for Republican National Committee chair, according to a letter he's circulating among committee members.

"After prayerful consideration, I have decided to become a candidate for Chairman of the Republican National Committee," Blackwell writes in the letter, which was forwarded to us by a Republican operative. "I write today to ask for your vote and endorsement."
And to make his case, Blackwell, who's more closely associated with the religious wing-nut faction of the party than Mr. "Drill Baby, Drill" is, lists his qualifications for all the right to peruse:
"I've survived interviews with Keith Olbermann, testified before Congress, prevented voter fraud from overturning the results of a U.S. presidential election and fought the left in federal court more times than you can imagine," Blackwell writes in the letter. "I have been tried and tested, though I'll admit that I've never been called `mavericky' by Tina Faye."
Well, let's see: he's obsessed with "voter fraud," stole Ohio in 2004 mainly by disenfranchising black people, and he's "tested," especially in matters of failure at running for office, just like Rudy Giuliani. And he can't spell "Tina Fey." Sold!

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posted by JReid @ 7:49 PM  
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Does listening to Sarah Palin talk make you dumber?

A Facebook commenter on CNN said she feels dumber every time she hears the Wasila Queen speak. Here, listen to the titular leader of the Republican Party (smirk) speaking to fellow GOP governors in Miami and see for yourself:

According to CNN's Rick Sanchez, netowork reporter Dana Bash was at the Intercontintal Hotel for the earlier, awkward press conference during which she was flanked by a smattering of unhappy looking conservative fellow governos and which was abruptly cut off after a few minutes by Rick Perry (heretofre to be referred to as Ellie Mae and the Socially Conservatie Pips.)

Not a lot of clapping went on during what sounded an awful lot like Sarah's campaign stump speech. Hell, she even mentioned Joe the Plumber, Tito the Builder, (What? No Bob???) Jack the Dishwasher, there, Pip the pit bull trainer, Jack the Janitor and not to be forgotten: Sweetie the laid off teacher turned call girl. Okay, maybe not ALL of those, also.


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posted by JReid @ 3:53 PM  
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
What good would it do for Steele to lead the RNC?
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."


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posted by JReid @ 1:39 PM  
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Midnight of the Obamacons

Chuck Hagel and Collin Powell at the Vietnam Veterans' memorial in D.C., photo from Reuters Pictures

The two that really worry the McCain team are Chuck Hagel and Collin Powell, who could provide Barack Obama with an October surprise of his own, by endorsing him, according to the Prince of Darkness, Robert Novak. He also adds a few nice broadsides at the prez:
Powell, Hagel and lesser-known Obamacons harbor no animosity toward McCain. Nor do they show much affection for the rigidly liberal Obama. The Obamacon syndrome is based on hostility to Bush and his administration and on revulsion over today's Republican Party. The danger for McCain is that desire for a therapeutic electoral bloodbath could get out of control.

That danger was highlighted in a June New Republic article on "The rise of the Obamacons" by supply-side economist Bruce Bartlett, who was a middle-level official in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. He expressed "disgust with a Republican Party that still does not see how badly George W. Bush has misgoverned this country" -- echoing his scathing 2006 book, "Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy." While Bartlett says "I'm not ready to join the other side," his anti-Bush furor characterizes the Obamacons.

The prototypal Obamacon may be Larry Hunter, recognized inside the Beltway as an ardent supply-sider. When it became known recently that Hunter supports Obama, fellow conservatives were stunned. Hunter was fired as U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief economist in 1993 when he would not swallow Clinton administration policy, and he later joined Jack Kemp at Empower America (ghostwriting Kemp's column). Explaining his support for the uncompromisingly liberal Obama, Hunter blogged on June 6: "The Republican Party is a dead rotting carcass with a few decrepit old leaders stumbling around like zombies in a horror version of 'Weekend With Bernie,' handcuffed to a corpse."



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posted by JReid @ 2:03 PM  
Friday, May 16, 2008
Peggy says...
The rather grand Peggy Noonan is out with another column. Here's an excerpt:
The Democrats aren't the ones falling apart, the Republicans are. The Democrats can see daylight ahead. For all their fractious fighting, they're finally resolving their central drama. Hillary Clinton will leave, and Barack Obama will deliver a stirring acceptance speech. Then hand-to-hand in the general, where they see their guy triumphing. You see it when you talk to them: They're busy being born.

The Republicans? Busy dying. The brightest of them see no immediate light. They're frozen, not like a deer in the headlights but a deer in the darkness, his ears stiff at the sound. Crunch. Twig. Hunting party.

The headline Wednesday on Drudge, from Politico, said, "Republicans Stunned by Loss in Mississippi." It was about the eight-point drubbing the Democrat gave the Republican in the special House election. My first thought was: You have to be stupid to be stunned by that. Second thought: Most party leaders in Washington are stupid – detached, played out, stuck in the wisdom they learned when they were coming up, in '78 or '82 or '94. Whatever they learned then, they think pertains now. In politics especially, the first lesson sticks. For Richard Nixon, everything came back to Alger Hiss.

They are also – Hill leaders, lobbyists, party speakers – successful, well-connected, busy and rich. They never guessed, back in '86, how government would pay off! They didn't know they'd stay! They came to make a difference and wound up with their butts in the butter. But affluence detaches, and in time skews thinking. It gives you the illusion you're safe, and that everyone else is. A party can lose its gut this way. ...
You really should read the whole thing. I don't agree with her ideologically, but the woman is brilliant.

One more telling clip from her column:
But this week a House Republican said publicly what many say privately, that there is another truth. "Members and pundits . . . fail to understand the deep seated antipathy toward the president, the war, gas prices, the economy, foreclosures," said Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia in a 20-page memo to House GOP leaders.

The party, Mr. Davis told me, is "an airplane flying right into a mountain." Analyses of its predicament reflect an "investment in the Bush presidency," but "the public has just moved so far past that." "Our leaders go up to the second floor of the White House and they get a case of White House-itis." Mr. Bush has left the party at a disadvantage in terms of communications: "He can't articulate. The only asset we have now is the big microphone, and he swallowed it."
Gulp. And yet they trod along behind him, exhibiting, in Noonan's words, "not leadership, but followership." That's the essential GOP problem. They have become so authoritarian in their mindset that, so long as he keeps fattening them up and enriching the corporate friends who feed them the lard, they will follow their leader, even off the cliff.


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posted by JReid @ 2:45 PM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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