Author Archives: Drew
The “tea party” vs. “establishment” civil war being waged in campaigns across the country raises a very interesting question…what’s disqualifying behavior for a want-to-be office holder who hasn’t spent their whole life in “public service”?
In the last week we’ve had two interesting case studies in insurgent vs. establishment primaries.
In Kentucky Matt Bevin, who is challenging Mitch McConnell, has had to deal with the fallout of a newsletter he put out praising the passage of TARP during the financial crisis. At the time Bevin was running an investment firm and noted that the program would be good news for his client. Unfortunately for Bevin, he’s made McConnell’s support for TARP a centerpiece of his challenge.
More annoyingly he made the seemingly obligatory stupid remark about gay marriage.
Meanwhile the challenger to longtime Kansas Republican Senator Pat Roberts has had to deal with some since deleted facebook posts that will strike many as…odd.
U.S. Senate candidate Milton Wolf posted a collection of gruesome X-ray images of gunshot fatalities and medical injuries to his Facebook page and participated in online commentary layered with macabre jokes and descriptions of carnage.
However, Wolf and others viewing these Facebook postings relentlessly poked fun at the dead or wounded. The gunshot victim, Wolf joked online, wasn’t going to complain about the awkward positioning of his head for an X-ray. In a separate Facebook comment, Wolf wrote that an X-ray of a man decapitated by gunfire resembled a wounded alien in a “Terminator” film and that the image offered evidence people “find beauty in different things.”
Naturally, Team GOP pronounced both of these events as more evidence that insurgents are simply incapable of producing serious challengers.
On Bevin the always reliable GOP transcriptionist Jennifer Rubin writes.
It should at least be obvious to incumbents that they have little to fear from the likes of Jim DeMint and FreedomWorks. Their idea of primarying a mainstream Republican seems to be to find any nutty radical and pour millions into his coffers, hoping to make up for the candidates’ lack of in-state support (and coherence). The elected Republicans can stop paying attention to them, as should the media who treat these challengers like serious foes to incumbents. It is a shame for the GOP that these groups don’t spend all that money and firepower attacking, say, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Kay Hagan (R-N.C.). If center-right Republicans can raise money and turn out a solid coalition of voters, then they can — and should — tell the kooks to take a hike.
The group that backed the likes of Charlie Crist, Arlen Specter and Lisa Murkowski, the National Republican Senatorial Campaign attacked Wolf.
“Once again, it is clear that there are a few select groups and organizations like the Senate Conservatives’ Fund that fail to properly research candidates or do the necessary work prior to endorsing them, which maximizes risk and hurts the conservative cause,” Dayspring said. “Time and again, it has been proven that the failure to research and vet candidates results in handing winnable seats to Democrats.”
I’ve said many times that the “tea party” has had a challenge in finding acceptable candidates in races above the House level. Once you move beyond relatively homogeneous local races like that, it’s hard to find someone who can mobilize true believers while being acceptable to a larger and politically diverse group of voters at the statewide levels.
But what Team GOP is trying to do is paint every incumbent as a Christine O’Donnell whack job or a Todd Akin/Richard Mourdoch moron (reminder, the latter two had been in office long before the creation of the “tea party”).
So are what Bevin and Wolf accused of more evidence that politics must be left to the professionals and that the “tea party” is simply incapable of producing reasonable challengers at the statewide level?
Looking at each of these situations (with the caveat there might be more to come) I’d say contrary to the GOP establishment’s best efforts, Bevin and Wolf do not fall within the realm of nutty candidates on par with the O’Donnells and Sharon Angles of the world.
Bevin’s TARP statement has the benefit of being accurate. It was good for his clients and as a fund manager he had a legal and moral obligation to say so. Whether or not he would have voted for that policy as a Senator, which would have entailed an entirely different set of calculations and obligations, is wholly unrelated to the situation he found himself in in 2009.
Is it understandable that McConnell’s team is spinning this seeming contradiction? Sure, that’s politics.
As for the gay marriage remarks, it’s a brave new world we suddenly find ourselves in. I understand why the left wants to rewrite history and insist that gender has always been irrelevant to marriage but they are lying. “Conservatives” can go along with this and act as if any departure from lefty talking points is heresy but I’m willing, to a point, cut candidates some slack in talking about this stuff. Conservative candidates want to reflect the values of conservative voters on issues like marriage. Their challenge is finding a way to that without running afoul of liberal enforced speech codes. If you’re a conservative this is a very fine line to walk and doubly so if you’re not a professional politician well versed in the ways of obfuscation. As long as a candidate stays away from the gay marriage = bestiality frame, I’m willing to give them a mulligan or two.
As for Wolf, gallows humor is nothing new to people who deal with gruesome injuries and death on a regular basis. It’s often a coping mechanism they employ. As a radiologist Wolf was working with material he sees every day. It’s not like he’s a lawyer who just happens to have a fetish for gruesome X-rays.
To me the most important things Wolf and Bevin share aren’t “gaffes” but successful careers prior to entering politics. Contrast that with what Mitch McConnell and Pat Roberts share in common…both men have has essentially worked their entire adult lives in politics and on the public payroll.
While Wolf was working to save lives and Bevin was helping people earn money and create jobs both McConnell and Roberts have been busy taxing and spending the fruits of their labors away. Two of these men have spent their lives in the private sector and two have spent decades learning how not to put a foot wrong while advancing up the political ladder.
As if to prove what a creature of the public behemoth Roberts is, he doesn’t even live in the state he purports to represent.
In the real world, what’s more duplicitous…Bevin’s different view of TARP as a fund manager than as a Senate candidate or McConnell’s ridiculous claim to have put the country first by voting for cloture on the debt ceiling to ensure it would pass while claiming it’s a terrible thing he opposes with his final vote?
It’s interesting that Team GOP claims to represent people like Bevin and Wolf, people who work hard, have success and make a positive difference in the lives of others but they are very quick to throw their human foibles back at them. Again, that’s politics. But politics should be about more than careerists who spend their days saying the right things but voting for an ever larger, more intrusive and more expensive federal government.
Yes, there are candidates that are too extreme and too nutty to be elected (especially in blue/purple states) but not every run of the mill “gaffe” marks a candidate as “extreme” and “unelectable”. You can’t claim to want “citizen legislators” if you insist that everyone running for office act the same as people who have never known a day in the private sector.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m on the record as being unenthusiastic about primarying McConnell and Roberts. My objection is to the effort by the “establishment” to paint all primary challenges to incumbents as loose cannons that are basically by definition kooks who hurt the conservative cause.
It’s understandable that the professional GOP class wants to prize the faux perfection of a career politician over the occasional rough edge of a citizen legislator. The real question is, will the people who claim to want to change the culture in DC and the country at large be willing to accept a few rough edges from their candidates or will they continue to insist on the conformity of the professional political class? You can’t have both, so be careful how you answer.
The world is always a mess but right now it looks like a particularly bad mess. Ukraine is burning, Venezuela is exploding and North Korea is a 6 plus decade stain on humanity.
Naturally there are people who think the US should be doing something about all of these problems and many others. I think those people are hopelessly naive.
The simple fact is other countries have internal problems and disorders and they really don’t care how it’s bothering us. Sure, they want us to do something but what?
You want trade sanctions on Ukraine for its repressive regime and the likely brutal crackdown that’s about to hit? Ok, tell me howour relatively limited trade relationship with them matters compared to the money and pressure Russia can bring from the other side?
It’s easy to say “we must lead and help the Ukrainians” it’s a bit harder to turn that rhetoric into action.
North Korea is a prison camp run by sadistic guards masquerading as a country. Everyone is horrified by the stories coming from there. That’s a given. Are you horrified enough to restart a war on the peninsula? Are you ready to go toe to toe with a rather frisky China over it? Is a 60 year long tragedy in North Korea suddenly so urgent that we are ready to kick over a hornet’s nest that could wind up stinging Taiwan and Japan?
John Boehner says the government shutdown was “a disaster“. Apparently “disaster” means the GOP is on pace to keep the House and win control of the Senate. Actually, that does sound like a disaster but I doubt it’s what he had in mind.
The only alleged fallout I’ve seem people claim resulted from the shutdown was it might have hurt the Cuccinelli campaign for Governor in Virginia. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t but even if it did, that’s pretty slim evidence of a “disaster”, especially compared to the actual disaster of ObamaCare.
But Team GOP will keep insisting that it was a disaster.
So what’s their plan to undo the supposed damage? New and unexciting plans to replace ObamaCare.
Naturally this will cause even bigger problems than the shutdown.
First of all, why do they need to have a plan at all? Harping on the actual problems ObamaCare is causing is by far the best strategy.
Worst of all, why are they proposing plans that amount to anything other than “Go back to where we were before this disaster happened”?
Team GOP is fond of telling conservatives that the reason conservatives don’t get what they want is they are on the wrong side of many 70/30 issues. Here’s the problem with that. Team GOP won’t engage when they are on the right side of 70/30.
Look at healthcare/ObamaCare. In 2009 the vast majority of people were happy with their health insurance and the healthcare.
Overall, 80% are satisfied with the quality of medical care available to them, including 39% who are very satisfied. Sixty-one percent are satisfied with the cost of their medical care, including 20% who are very satisfied.
There were plenty of other polls like this at the time. So why wouldn’t the GOP want to go to 80% and 61% of the people and say, “The Democrats really did a number on you but we’re going to make it right. Remember when you were happy with your plan and could keep your doctor? So do we and we’re going back there!”
What did Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers say about healthcare last night in the official GOP State of the Union Response?
“We’ve all talked to too many people who have received cancellation notices they didn’t expect or who can no longer see the doctors they always have,” she said. “No, we shouldn’t go back to the way things were, but the president’s health-care law is not working.”
So the GOP message on healthcare is, “Have no fear America, the GOP has no intention of going back to the time when most of you were happy with your coverage and healthcare choices. You’re welcome!”.
Instead they will push new and untried schemes of their own because…I don’t know. They just will.
Want another example. Here’s one…abortion. Women(!) support banning abortion after twenty weeks by a 60/40 margin (it’s about 50/50) with men. So here’s a chance for the GOP to get on the right side of an issue with women, the holy grail for them, and yet all we hear is, “the GOP needs to step back on social issues”.
It’s pretty obvious that the GOP only cares about polling when they can use it as an excuse not to do things. When the polling cuts against what they want, then it’s irrelevant.
Are there issues the GOP shouldn’t pursue that conservatives would like because of public opposition? Sure but if your preferred policy position is on the wrong side of voters, that’s not an excuse to do enact liberal policies. What you should be doing is slowing things down as much as possible and trying to swing voters to your side.
The real problem is the GOP doesn’t try and convince voters that conservative policies are the best. The reason for that is simple…the vast majority of them aren’t conservatives, “severe” or otherwise.
Mike Huckabee decided to talk about the “war on women” libidos and birth control. Just as surely as night follows day all hell broke loose.
My bottom line…MSNBC originally misreported what Huck said and what Huck said was stupid.
For me the biggest problem with Huckabee’s theme (and there are many) is that while he’s sort of right about how the Dems view/market to women, women themselves don’t see the Dems condescending to them, at least not women who aren’t already conservatives.
If the Democrats message is as condescending as Huckabee insists or is seen by women that way it wouldn’t work. But it is working.
What Republicans can’t do is win indy/lib women over by talking to them about a problem (the way Dems talk to them) that they don’t actually see. Republicans just sound like out of touch idiots.
The real question is, why is this ground Huck wants to attack on? Why libido and birth control, even in the guise of going after Democrats? Republicans should refute the “war on women and birth control” by saying, “it’s nonsense that we care about your sex life and birth control. What we really care about are….economics, opportunity, blah, blah. blah”.
The reason Huck went to libido and birth control is because that’s exactly the fight he and his supporters want to have. He’s just trying to find a better way to have it.
So yes, attack the media for their predictable distortions and lies but don’t let Huckabee off the hook.
I’m going to write this post assuming you have read the original story and are familiar with the ongoing discussion about it. It’s simply too…much to explain.
Today Grantland Editor In Chief Bill Simmons issued an extraordinary “note” on the story, the fallout and what he says he did wrong.
We made one massive mistake. I have thought about it for nearly three solid days, and I’ve run out of ways to kick myself about it. How did it never occur to any of us? How? How could we ALL blow it?
That mistake: Someone familiar with the transgender community should have read Caleb’s final draft. This never occurred to us. Nobody ever brought it up.
Allow me to offer a guess why Simmons, nor someone on his staff ,thought to run this story by “someone familiar with the transgender community”…reporters aren’t supposed to shape their coverage to reflect the desires of the people they are covering or their political goals.
Can you imagine an editor saying, “We should have consulted a conservative Republican before running a piece on the tea party”. Or “we should have consulted someone who served in the military to make sure we properly represented the views of veterans in this story about someone who was once in the Army?” Or “we should have consulted someone who has run a large multi-national corporation before running this piece by a communist about the evils of international capitalism to ensure the views of evil international capitalists were fully understood and represented in the piece”.
From now on when Grantland writes about professional athletes are we to assume that they have consulted with someone from the players union first? If not, why not?
Of course you can’t imagine such things because they are ridiculous and would never happen. But apparently there’s at least one group who is supposed to have a representative at the table when anyone of them is the focus of a story. Maybe there are others, I don’t know. Perhaps publications can have a section in their “About Us” section that lets the rest of us know which groups are approved for kid glove treatment and which groups don’t get a chance to affect how they are covered.
Simmons also says that in the future he will be using GLAAD’s stylebook on how to refer to transgender people. Again, what other activist groups get to incorporate their preferred style guide into news coverage? Why just GLAAD (assuming it is just GLAAD)? What makes them so special?
This isn’t about whether or not you like or disapprove of the transgendered. It’s a question of journalistic fairness. Some groups can’t be more equal than others simply because they are given some sort of protective status.
Journalists are supposed to be committed to the truth and to their audience. Giving some favored groups extra protections makes you wonder how fair a reporter is to any other group.
So many sports writers/broadcasters come off as arrogant assholes.
Skip Bayless is the nearly Platonic ideal of the genre. And the Seahawks Richard Sherman took him down a peg or six on Bayless’ own show.
But why do so many people who make their living covering sports and athletes seem to have such a love/hate relationship with both?
I think the reason so many sports writers/announcers come off as jerks is they get into the business young and think it’s cool (since they can’t actually play themselves). Pretty quickly they realize they are writing about people their own age or younger who play a game and make a ton of money doing it. This leads to a problem…these writers/broadcasters are very important and bright people who are covering a rather frivolous thing done by inferior (in their minds) people. To reconcile this disconnect, they must at once elevate sports to a higher societal meaning (since smart people like them are writing about it must be important) while at the same time diminishing the people who are doing the actual thing (jocks can’t be more important than someone with a Ivy League degree in English!).
They cover a world they simultaneously celebrate and despise. Worst of all, they will never truly be a part of it, they will never be “one of the boys”.
It really seems to drive them nuts.
Quick Hits: How Bridgegate Could Help Christie. Big Problem With Rubio’s Anti-Poverty Ideas. Schooling Economic Illiterates.
1. How Bridgegate Could Help Chris Christie:
So things are rapidly going from 10 to 11 on the MSM Freakout O Meter on Bridgegate.
Whether or not it’s true, Bridgegate now has a bodycount.
According to the NY Times, it also has a federal criminal probe.
So how the hell could this help Christie?
A lot of conservatives don’t like him but they like the MSM and Democrats less. If they overplay their hand going after Christie it may cause conservatives to rally to him, at least temporarily. One of Christie’s biggest virtues for conservatives has always been he has the right enemies. Like Rudy Giuliani before him, the fact that liberal activists, unions and assorted members of the Democrat coalition hate him, it makes him more attractive.
It’s not a permenant solution for Christie but it might buy him some grace from the right. The more the Democrats in government and in the media go after him, the more some on the right will either hold their fire on him or actively defend him.
If nothing else, having Obama’s DoJ investigating him will help elevate the image of Christie hugging Obama.
At his presser, Christie drew some very bright lines that he had nothing to do with this or prior knowledge. If that checks out, this will be a net plus for Christie. If there’s any crack in his story, he’s toast. It’s a binary thing at this point.
One thought on how this could really hurt Christie behind the scenes…he spoke of his betrayal by a close staff. If Christie wants to move onto a White House race, he’s going to do so without some of his inner circle (including his top political aide and campaign manager Bill Stepien) and with a distrust of the people left behind.
2. Marco Rubio’s Big Anti-Poverty Plan Has A Big Whole In It
If James Pethokoukis is right in describing Rubio’s plan and what it’s trying to accomplish there’s a giant and troubling hole in it….
Second, the income gap between work and non-work is too narrow or even non-existent in some cases. The higher that society defines a basic standard of living, the more rewarding entry level jobs need be.
It’s true the gap between working and not working is to close but there’s no way the government can artificially inflate entry level wages. Well, they can try but they will only fuck things up for low-end workers. And if you push up entry wages you put upward pressure on all other wages which has all sorts of other distorting effects on the workforce and greater economy. And if you did all of this the Democrats would simply come back and say, “look the safety net is to stingy! We need to increase benefits.” and then you start the whole cycle all over again.
If the gap between work and welfare is too narrow the only solution is lowering welfare. Liberals won’t acknowledge this and yet they appear to be driving the conversation as always.
BTW- Why is the GOP focusing on “the poor” and not “the middle class”?
I know the argument will be, “we need to do both”.
A-That’s not true
B- I’d like to see the GOP do one thing right before it starts multi-tasking.
3. Megan McArdle Schools Juicebox Economics Writers
It’s old (from last August) but I just saw it and it’s great.
Without naming names (too bad but we know who she’s talking about) McArdle takes the Barros and Yeglisass of the wold to the woodshed and beats them over the head with a 2 x 4 about Walmart and wages.
If you want Wal-Mart to have a labor force like Trader Joe’s and Costco, you probably want them to have a business model like Trader Joe’s and Costco — which is to say that you want them to have a customer demographic like Trader Joe’s and Costco. Obviously if you belong to that demographic — which is to say, if you’re a policy analyst, or a magazine writer — then this sounds like a splendid idea. To Wal-Mart’s actual customer base, however, it might sound like “take your business somewhere else.”
This is not actually just a piece on how Wal-Mart can only pay low wages — I don’t know how much more they could afford to pay before they started to lose customers (or the board kicked the CEO out), and neither does anyone else writing about this. I’m actually interested in the larger point: the way that things most people rarely think about — like the number of products that a store carries — have far-reaching effects on everything from labor, to location, to customer service and demographics. We tend to look at the most politically salient features of the stores where we shop: their size, their location, the wages that we pay. But these operations are not so simple. They are incredibly complex machines, and you can no more change one simple feature than you can pull out your car’s fuel injection system and replace it with the carburetor from a 1964 Bonneville.
Having a basic understanding of business and economics helps one in writing about business and economics? Sounds kind of racist to me.
Quick Hits: Christie’s Bridgegate, McConnell More Conciliatory To Democrats Than Conservatives. Corporatists For Amnesty.
1. Bridgegate Gets Closer To Christie
Senior Chris Christie aides are clearly tied to lane closures on the Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge that were ordered for purely political reasons. Why did Christie’s aides distrupt the lives of NJ commuters who were just trying to get to work? Because the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee didn’t endorse Christie.
If politicians want to play games with each other, well, that’s just a fact of life that many of the people drawn to politics are pathetic human beings. But abusing their power and making innocent citizens pawns in their games? That’s beyond the pale.
I doubt that this will seriously hurt Christie but it will lay the groundwork for future attacks on a guy I don’t want anywhere near the GOP nomination, let alone the White House.
Republicans and conservatives have spend years attacking Obama’s corrupt “Chicago politics” and “Gangster Government”. Only party hacks will defend this sort of abuse simply because the guy doing it has an “R” after his name.
Christie seems to embody the worst of the last two GOP nominees…McCain’s petty nastiness and Romney’s Northeast liberalism. What could go wrong with combing the two.
2. Mitch McConnell promises to respond to Harry Reid’s provocations with concessions to Democrats.
McConnell gave a big speech on the Senate floor today about how the Senate is broken and how he’d fix it as majority leader.
“If Republicans are fortunate enough to gain the majority next year,” McConnell says, more committee action, more debate, more amendments.
— David M. Drucker (@DavidMDrucker) January 8, 2014
So the sum total of the GOP’s retaliation to Reid is going to be a McConnell speech and a promise to Democrats that if they find themselves in the minority soon, not to worry, the GOP will be nice to them and let them gum up the works.
I’d like to think he’s lying but I don’t. There’s a strain of thinking that infects many in the GOP with the notion that if they are just nice to Democrats the Democrats will stop hitting them and the media will like them. In reality, Democrats are playing football and the GOP promises to play golf in a very gentlemanly way.
McConnell’s speech and willingness to be nicer to Democrats than he is to conservatives who cross him. That’s pretty telling.
No doubt today’s speech will be widely praised from one end of the Beltway to the other. After all who among us is not stirred by the fierce battle cry of: Elect More Republican Senators And Restore Comity To The Upper Chamber!
It’s not a question of tactics, it’s a question of priorities. Count me among the rabble on Team Cruz.
3. US Chamber Of Commerce Dedicated To Passing Amnesty
Not really news but a reminder that for all the talk from Obama, The Chamber of Commerce isn’t conservative, it’s the heart of corporatism.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will “pull out all the stops” to get immigration reform passed this year and oppose Tea Party Republicans in congressional primaries if they’re not sufficiently pro-business.
Those were the two takeaways from Wednesday’s State of American Businessaddress by Tom Donohue, the chamber’s president and CEO. This annual speech is the business community’s equivalent of the president’s State of the Union address, and a packed house was on hand to hear it at the chamber’s headquarters, which is located on other side of Lafayette Park from the White House.
The Chamber is donating heavily to “moderate” Republicans like the ones supported by the liberals at The Republican Main Street Partnership.
In the past the Chamber supported Obama’s so-called “stimulus” plan.
Business and labor may have their differences but they are more than happy to work together to screw over conservatives and enrich themselves with public money.