GOP

GOP’s ’16 consolation vanishes: Suddenly, Democrats have the deep bench!

GOP's '16 consolation vanishes: Suddenly, Democrats have the deep bench!

Elizabeth Warren, Ted Cruz (Credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts/AP)

Salon

After Romney’s 2012 loss, pundits raved about the GOP’s new leaders. But two years later, Democrats have the edge

In the wake of President Obama’s re-election in 2012, reporters found one soothing source of solace for the GOP. “One race the Republicans appear to be winning is the one for the deepest bench of rising stars,” wrote the Washington Post, and plenty of folks followed up. Democrats, meanwhile, had nobody on the bench but Hillary Clinton – a formidable candidate if she were to run, but that wasn’t even certain.

Beyond Clinton, there seemed to be a wasteland populated by ambitious governors no one had ever heard of (Martin O’Malley), some who were well known but not widely liked (Andrew Cuomo). Oh, and Brian Schweitzer.

The Republican list, meanwhile, seemed almost infinite: blue and purple state governors like New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, Ohio’s John Kasich and Virginia’s Bob McConnell, and Tea Party senators like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Romney’s ambitious, “wonky” running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, had his fans, as did former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Even Texas Gov. Rick Perry, recovered from back surgery and sporting hot new glasses, could have another life in 2016.

But in two years, the situation has almost reversed itself. Promising GOP governors – McDonnell, Christie, Walker – find themselves dogged by scandal. The Tea Party trio of Paul, Cruz and Rubio still vies for media attention and right wing adoration, but Rubio’s immigration reform work doomed him on the right. Unbelievably, Paul is widely labeled the frontrunner (but don’t tell that to Cruz), while the party establishment and neocon hawks search for an alternative. Despite all that impressive talent, Mitt Romney leads the pack in New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, in what’s widely being reported as trouble for Hillary Clinton, because that’s the narrative the media know best, it turns out there are a bunch of popular and maybe even formidable Democrats. Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren wowed the crowd at Netroots Nation. (Check out this great New Yorker Biden profile if you want to know how the VP is keeping his options open). The Netroots buzz inspired the Washington Post’s Phillip Rucker and Robert Costa to survey the landscape of Democrats who’ve put a toe or more in the water for 2016.

We learned that Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is visiting Iowa (it is only one state away), while New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has a book coming out. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is said to be huddling with donors, believing the party could use a dose of red state common sense.

This is all framed as mildly ominous news for Hillary Clinton – the headline is “With liberals pining for a Clinton challenger, ambitious Democrats get in position” — but Klobuchar, Gillibrand and Nixon have all endorsed Clinton, and Warren has encouraged Clinton to run while insisting she won’t do so herself. The only Democrats listed who may still run even if Clinton does too are O’Malley and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders.

Regardless of the intent of the framing, the Rucker-Costa story actually pointed up the vitality in the Democratic Party, where lively debates over income inequality and foreign policy have so far fallen short of creating bitter divisions and factions, at least so far. Again, contrast that with the GOP, where Ted Cruz seems to be staking his 2016 hopes on his ability to humiliate every party leader and make sure Republicans will never make inroads with the Latino population. He’s blocking bipartisan emergency legislation to deal with the border crisis, and pushing to reverse President Obama’s deferred action on deportation for young people brought here by their parents.

Meanwhile Warren, the progressive elected the same time as Cruz, is touring the country campaigning for Democratic Senate candidates, even some who are more centrist than she is, like Kentucky’s Alison Lundergan Grimes and West Virginia’s Natalie Tennant.  She’s focused on growing the Democratic Party, not cutting down colleagues who are less progressive.

So: the GOP’s right wing firebrand is a loose cannon who is completely out for himself, while the Democrats’ left wing firebrand is working amiably with party leaders and deflecting talk of a primary challenge to Clinton. In the end, the rising number of possible alternatives to Hillary Clinton is a sign of Democratic strength, even if the media tends to bill it as weakness.

Kristol, Navarro: ‘Nobody of Relevance’ Is Talking Impeachment

Bill Kristol and GOP strategist Ana Navarro (Screen shots)

Mediaite

In an on-air subtweeting Sarah PalinWeekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and GOP strategistAna Navarro dismissed the talk of impeaching President Barack Obama bubbling up on the right, arguing that it was limited to the irrelevant fringes, while GOP leadership is focused on House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) lawsuit against the president.

“No responsible elected official has called for impeachment,” Kristol said. “The Republican task is to elect a Republican Senate and elect a Republican president in 2016, not create a phony issue which allows Democrats to make Republicans look extreme.”

“Nobody of responsibility, nobody in leadership, nobody of relevance has talked about impeachment,” Navarro said. “The lawsuit is about constitutional powers and separation of powers. So can we stick to talking about what people who actually can make something happen say, as opposed to what what folks who want to make headlines say?”

Besides, Kristol added, “One problem with [impeachment] is you’d just get Joe Biden as president.”

Watch the clip below, via ABC News:

Deranged Todd Akin is back — and steps in it again!

Deranged Todd Akin is back -- and steps in it again!

Todd Akin (Credit: Reuters/Sarah Conard)

I love it when these nutcases come out of the GOP woodwork…

Salon

The rape denialist now says he told the truth about those lying women in 2012. And it gets even worse

Just in time for a midterm election that could hinge on the votes of women, former GOP Senate hopeful Todd Akin is back, and he is pissed. In a new memoir previewed by Politico, Akin says he was telling the truth about lying women who claim they were raped to get out of the consequences of sex – but that he was strong-armed into apologizing by craven GOP bosses.

“My comment about a woman’s body shutting the pregnancy down was directed to the impact of stress of fertilization,” he writes in “Firing Back: Taking on the Party Bosses and Media Elite to Protect Our Faith and Freedom.” Akin, who is not a doctor, insists “this is something fertility doctors debate and discuss. Doubt me?”

Why yes, Todd, I do.

“Google ‘stress and infertility,’ and you will find a library of research on the subject.”

Well, that settles it.

With a forward by Mike Huckabee, “Firing Back” represents the far-right’s backlash against a party establishment that is trying to heal its rift with women by changing the way it talks, but not its policies. Huckabee made his own icky Akin-like foray into the realm of women’s biology by claiming earlier this year that Democrats are the party of women who “cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government.”

Far from apologizing, Huckabee went out and raised money off the crude comment. Now he’s championing Akin as a martyr to the cowardly GOP leadership that’s afraid of frank talk about slutty women who can’t control their libidos, and cry “rape” instead of taking the consequences of their sluttiness. “[W]e can sit on the bus (in the back!), but they don’t want us to drive the bus!,” Huckabee writes in the forward. The GOP establishment, he claims, was “still bruised that they didn’t beat Todd in the primary,” and used his comments “as their opportunity to take him out and select someone more palatable to their tastes.”

Who turned out to be Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill?

Akin won’t help the GOP project of outreach to African Americans any more than he will with women, calling abortion an “evil far worse than slavery” and insisting that President Obama’s supporters are the real racists. “Unfortunately, by yelling, ‘Racism!’ every time anyone criticized the president’s policies, Obama’s fellow Democrats and their allies in the media have only aggravated racial tensions.”

Continued below the fold…

Rand Paul: Trade Hillary Clinton To The Taliban, Not Guantanamo Detainees

Sen. Rand Paul (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Whatever happened to political correctness and decor?  The Tea Party, in my opinion has destroyed any semblance of comity(courtesy and considerate behavior toward others)  in politics.  The GOP as a whole has sanctioned this sort of thing and can’t speak out due to censure and blacklisting.   Not to mention the rich donors who would cut them off in a heartbeat.

It’s a strange world we live in…

The Huffington post

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) offered some red meat to the Texas GOP convention on Friday, suggesting that, instead of Guantanamo Bay detainees, President Barack Obama should use Democrats such as Hillary Clinton as a bargaining chip in any future dealings with the Taliban.

“Mr. President, you love to trade people,” he told a supportive crowd in Fort Worth, according to Politico.

“Why don’t we set up a trade? But this time, instead of five Taliban, how about five Democrats?” he joked. “I’m thinking John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi …”

The Kentucky Republican, who is making moves toward a presidential run in 2016, also criticized the administration for failing to properly notify Congress before the trade for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl on Saturday.

“I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve been a little bit annoyed with the president,” he added. “Releasing five Taliban senior officials is not only against the law, it’s illegal and wrong and he should never have done it.”

Paul skipped a classified briefing held by administration officials this week detailing the exchange and the reasons for the secrecy.

H/t: Ted

Ted Cruz Has a Message for GOP ‘Graybeards’ Who Opposed Gov’t Shutdown

Ted Cruz (Credit: Jeff Malet, maletphoto.com)

I think Ted Cruz is a bit too sure of himself.  Outside of his home state of Texas, no one can stomach him…

Mediaite

When Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) led the charge to shut down the United States government over the implementation of the Affordable Care Act last fall, the general consensus, including among many of his Republican colleagues, was that the move would be a disaster for the GOP. But during a speech at the Republican Leadership Conference on Saturday, Cruz attempted to recast the shutdown as the one thing that could help his party take back the Senate in this year’s midterm elections.

“Let me tell you right now, I am convinced we are going to retake the United States Senate in 2014,” Cruz told the crowd to raucous applause. But beyond just sharing that positive outlook, Cruz wanted to delve into the reasons behind Republicans’ increased political favor. “Why are so many Democrats running terrified?” he asked.

The “most compelling reason,” according to Cruz, is Obamacare. He then turned to the fight that he led last year to stop the “abomination” that is the Affordable Care Act, which, after a troubled rollout, hashelped more than 8 million Americans gain health insurance.

If you listen to Democrats and the media, which Cruz implied are the same thing, “they will tell you that fight last fall accomplished nothing.” He may have failed to stop Obamacare from becoming law, but as Cruz said, “Not every war is won in a single battle.”

By “elevating the national debate” over Obamacare, Cruz said he and his followers created an environment for conservatives to succeed in the midterms. “And somehow, all of the graybeards in Washington, who opposed fighting against Obamacare,” Cruz said of his GOP colleagues, “are now looking around and we’re winning Senate seats all over the country. They’re reaping the fruits of the battle.”

“We need to take a moment to acknowledge the lesson of the battle,” Cruz said. “How do you win elections? You don’t win it by standing for nothing.”

Watch video here…

Jon Stewart Slams GOP Hypocrisy Over VA Scandal

The Huffington Post

The GOP has been blasting the Obama administration for failing to give veterans timely care in the VA hospital scandal. But as Jon Stewart pointed out on Thursday’s “Daily Show,” the Republicans haven’t been helping, either.

Stewart played video clips of Republicans in the Senate undermining efforts to increase funding for veterans’ benefits, then took a trip down “Terrible Memory Lane” to show how U.S. veterans have gotten the shaft for much of the nation’s history no matter who’s in power.

“On this Memorial Day weekend eve, we can finally admit that America has had for over 200 years a great bipartisan tradition of honoring those who have fought for our freedom by fucking them over once they give their guns back,” Stewart said.

In the clip above, watch Stewart rip into the GOP for calling out the president while refusing to boost funding for veterans. Even Bill O’Reilly gets in on the act.

Then, in the clip below, take that trip down “Terrible Memory Lane.”

Sunday Show Round Up: The GOP Is Already Having a Meltdown over Hillary Clinton

Mediaite

With Bush and Obama Derangement Syndromes, the executive-turned-open wound had to actually take office before he festered. But presumed queen of 2016 Hillary Clinton is driving an over-primed GOP round the bend ahead of schedule.

From the moment Karl Rove was “caught” speculating on the structural integrity of Hillary Clinton’s brain, your humble scribe reasoned the gauche comment was intended to shimmy Clinton’s age into the national convo, even if it meant Rove had to make himself the butt of a news cycle or two. I still think that, but Rove’s doing such a frantic cleanup job that I wonder whether he underestimated the intensity of the reaction; the sputtering spinmeister below resembles the one that melted down on-air the night of the 2012 election, a specter that’s become shorthand for a party hack outliving his own narrative in real time. Fox’s leftist sentinels Juan Williams and Kirsten Powers spent this segment begging Rove to stop, for his own good:

See video here…

Meanwhile, Lynne Cheney still believes — still! — the Clintons machinated Monica Lewinsky’sVanity Fair piece to get it out of the ahead of the 2016 election. Still! Chris Wallace declined to ask her for any evidence that this happened, or even for a credible theory as to how it could have happened; that Cheney believed it to be plausible was good enough for Fox News Sunday. This is the essence of conspiratorial thinking, in which the slightest possibility of an event’s occurrence becomes irrefutable proof of its certainty. Look for Fox & Friends to report this as “some people are asking questions.”

But the right sounds unable to help itself. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, basically the GOP’s middle reliever, thinks this is all the Democrats’ fault for nominating Clinton in the first place, which they haven’t yet:

“My view, though, is given the month she just had, I actually doubt whether or not she will run for president in 2016. I know a lot of people around her want her to run, and I think that they’re purposely creating this environment around here which is causing us to talk about her today.”

“The Democrats are forcing us to criticize Hillary Clinton” is an odd defense, implying as it does that the Republican Party is so weak it can’t withstand a few Hardball segments. If that’s true, Hillary Clinton’s head should be the least of the GOP’s concerns.

The Weakness of the Tea-Party Movement

A woman at a May 2013 tea-party rally in Cherry Hill, N.J. Associated Press

This conservative author makes some valid points…

The Wall Street Journal - Think Tank

There’s been a fair amount of commentary, including on this site, about the tea party and its effect on the GOP. As someone who has written both sympathetically and critically of the tea party, I’d like to note a weakness of the movement.

The issue is not that the tea party embraces conservative policies. (I do as well.) It’s that some elements within the tea party seem almost completely uninterested in the details of policy. Calling for the dismantling of the modern state is easier than offering a serious governing agenda.

More fundamentally, some tea-party advocates misunderstand the Constitution. They can come across more like the anti-Federalists who opposed the Constitution than the Federalists who created it. (See this essay I co-authored with Michael Gerson for more.)

In addition, much of their criticism of the “establishment” isn’t because of where Republicans such as Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) stand on the issues or their voting records, which are indisputably conservative. It’s that members of the GOP “ruling class” aren’t angry and apocalyptic enough. They don’t frame every debate as an existential choice between liberty and tyranny. They aren’t eager to lead any more charges into fixed bayonets.

The differences between many tea-party groups and the GOP establishment, then, is more stylistic than substantive, more temperamental than policy-specific. The former tend to see politics through the prism of theater rather than through the prism of governing.  Which explains why the tea party is a diminishing force in American politics.

Peter Wehner

This Was The Week The GOP’s Anti-Obamacare Circus Came Crashing Down

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AP Photo | J. Scott Applewhite

TPMDC

Both incidents marked seismic shifts from the days of HealthCare.gov’s disastrous launch, when Republicans readily grilled Sebelius and other officials over the law, taking as many shots as they could while Obamacare’s future was uncertain.

The first Senate confirmation hearing Thursday for Sylvia Mathews Burwell, tapped to succeed Sebelius, would have seemed a natural opportunity for the Republican members to flex their opposition to the law. And while many of the usual talking points made appearances — canceled health plans, lost jobs and HealthCare.gov’s miserable launch — the tone itself was strikingly cordial.

Only ranking member Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) actually interrupted Burwell in an effort to pin her down on an answer to a question about the administration’s “keep your health plan” fix, while Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) made a guest appearance to introduce and endorse her to the committee.

“Regardless of my objections to the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services needs competent leadership,” McCain said.

A few GOP members, like Sens. Johnny Isakson (GA) and Richard Burr (NC), ignored Obamacare altogether. Isakson focused his questioning on a port project that he wants approved, while Burr inquired about public health preparedness. Burr then gave Burwell his full-throated support.

“I support her nomination and I will vote for it. She doesn’t come with a single experience that would make her a good secretary. She comes with a portfolio of experience,” Burr said. “I look forward to her confirmation being quick.”

That notably tame Senate hearing followed a House hearing the day earlier during which House Republicans became visibly agitated when the insurance executives they called to testify refused to deliver the bad news that they were hunting for.

It was easy to see coming. At least one industry source had already dismissed the Republican report that served as the basis for the meeting as “incredibly rigged,” and the testimony prepared by the hearing’s witnesses thoroughly debunked the GOP’s findings.

So committee members at the hearing went fishing for other bad headlines instead — perhaps the prospect of significant premium increases in 2015. “I can’t say for certain,” one of the witnesses said of next year’s rates. “I don’t have the exact numbers yet,” another offered.

Things got so bad that, at one point, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) effectively chastised industry executives for not producing any information on the 2015 rates, which Republicans have warned could skyrocket.

“You have done no internal analysis on what the trend line is for these premiums? None?” Blackburn said, clearly exasperated. “It is baffling that we could have some of our nation’s largest insurers, and you all don’t have any internal analysis of what these rates are going to be.”

It was that kind of week for the GOP.

Charlie Crist: ‘Intolerable’ racism and hate for Obama is why I left the GOP

Charlie Crist: ‘Intolerable’ racism and hate for Obama is why I left the GOP (via Raw Story )

In an interview with Jorge Ramos of Fusion TV, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist explained that he left the Republican Party because the racism toward President Obama was “intolerable.” Huffington Post reported that the now-Democratic candidate…

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