Saturday, December 5, 2009

Saturday Potpourri: Troubled Teabaggers edition

What's troubling teabaggers Dec. 4: Rachel Maddow is joined by David Shuster to talk about the origin of the word "teabagger," and conservative discomfort with that label.

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Former Bush Press Secretary Dana Perino played her usual role on Fox News yesterday, trashing economic recovery efforts. Most of her comments were easy to dismiss, but a couple of remarks stood out.

She noted, for example, that White House officials "try to claim that the stimulus bill worked and I just look at all the polling data and no one believes it." In other words, it doesn't matter what's true -- it matters whether people can be misled into believing things that aren't true. (That is, of course, why Fox News exists.)

As much as I'd like to think otherwise, there's probably something to this. We know the stimulus has been effective in rescuing the economy from collapse; we know the stimulus has helped create as many as 1.6 million jobs; we know the stimulus has produced economic growth for the first time in a year; and we know that if we'd listened to Republicans at the height of the crisis, there'd be no talk of recovery. But if "no one believes it," there are minimal political benefits.

Similarly, Perino called the notion of saving jobs that would have been eliminated a "cockamamie scheme," which "everyone knows" is "fake."

Now, those of us who've watched Perino over the years know that the poor thing is a few watts short of a light bulb. But, again, her larger point about perceptions is rather sound -- what's real matters less than what's believed.

With that in mind, I suspect Democratic leaders and officials would be wise to disseminate this report from ABC News last night far and wide.

Remember, as far as conservatives are concerned, none of these jobs should exist right now, and the smarter move would have been to impose a five-year spending freeze at the height of the economic crisis.

Indeed, to listen to Perino, the notion that some jobs were going to be eliminated, but the stimulus prevented the layoffs, is so complex a concept that it's literally unbelievable.

  • sgwhiteinfla adds:
    Really, if anything, that's just proof positive that it doesn't matter what reality is most of the time in this country, its all about perception. And of course its also points to the failure of our mainstream media to report the truth rather than employing horse race coverage.

    Its very very depressing.

Think Progress: Blue Cross Blue Shield Lobbyists Quietly Helping Extreme Effort To Declare Health Reform Unconstitutional

ThinkProgess has documented how the private health insurance industry is waging a duplicitous, “two-faced” campaign to kill health reform. Because the industry understands that the public views it in a largely negative light, the industry presents itself as proactively working hand-in-hand with legislators to produce reform. However, behind the scenes, the industry is coordinating a massive effort to kill all reform — employing attacks from front groups, allied politicians, think tanks, lobbyists, and right-wing media.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which is a lobbying group representing 39 independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, is also engaged in this two-faced campaign. Like most of industry, the BCBS Association says it fully supports the concept of health reform, but continually demands drastic changes to the bills in Congress. Some have begun to question the BCBS Association’s claim of support given its new study attacking reform legislation in the Senate. The criticism of BCBS is bolstered by a new revelation that BCBS Association lobbyists are helping to orchestrate a right-wing movement to invalidate all of health reform.

Yesterday, the BCBS Association released yet another industry-sponsored study to distort health reform and falsely claim that premiums will skyrocket because of the legislation. However, the nonpartisan CBO reported earlier this week that under the Senate health reform bill, “most Americans would pay the same or less in premiums.” A New York Times editorial yesterday criticized BCBS Association’s study, and noted correctly that it is yet another example of the private insurance industry doing whatever it can to frighten Americans.

But while the study certainly damages BCBS’ credibility, BCBS is involved in another anti-health reform ploy that they do not bother to promote on the BCBS website. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), founded in 1973 by conservative activist Paul Weyrich, is a DC-based front group which helps state lawmakers craft corporate-friendly legislation. As the Atlantic has noted, ALEC developed template health care “states’ rights,” legislation to declare aspects of health reform unconstitutional. ALEC has promoted this “tenther” legislation using its network of mostly far right Republican state lawmakers. The bills, which have been adopted in some form in 24 states so far, aim to invalidate federal regulations of health insurance, the public option and the individual mandate using the Tenther Amendment.

According to the ALEC website, the resolution was developed by a three member task force of industry representatives. One of the of the members is Joan Gardner, who is executive director of state services with the BCBS Association’s Office of Policy and Representation. In an interview with ThinkProgress, Christie Herrera, the director of ALEC’s health task force, confirmed that Gardner played a pivotal role in crafting this anti-health reform states’ rights initiative. Herrera told us that Gardner’s unique position at the BCBS Association brought “great knowledge” to the issue, and that Gardner voted to press forward with the campaign.

Part of the reason the BCBS Association has claimed that it opposes the reform bill in its current form is because of what it perceives as a weak individual mandate. However, the BCBS Association-supported ALEC campaign depicts the very notion of an individual mandate as “anti-freedom.” So either way the Senate acts, BCBS will be able to trash the bill and try to kill reform.

Private insurers have already been caught using a stealth lobbying firm to send employees to rowdy town halls (and radical tea party events), sharing lobbyists with slash-and-burn anti-health reform attack groups, and paying a number of conservative pundits who regularly appear in major media outlets to slam health reform. Now that it is clear that BCBS helped write the script for the radical tenther movement, any claim that the industry supports reform must be viewed with heightened skepticism.


Regular readers may have noticed that I've been keeping track of Joe Lieberman's evolving rationales for opposing a public option. The Connecticut senator is so opposed to letting some consumers choose between competing public and private plans that he's willing to kill the entire bill over this one issue, but his reasoning keeps changing.

Believe it or not, we're up to seven arguments over seven months, none of which makes sense.

In June, Lieberman said, "I don't favor a public option because I think there's plenty of competition in the private insurance market." That didn't make sense, and it was quickly dropped from his talking points.

In July, Lieberman said he opposes a public option because "the public is going to end up paying for it." No one could figure out exactly what that meant, and the senator moved on to other arguments.

In August, he said we'd have to wait "until the economy's out of recession," which is incoherent, since a public option, even if passed this year, still wouldn't kick in for quite a while.

In September, Lieberman said he opposes a public option because "the public doesn't support it." A wide variety of credible polling proved otherwise.

In October, Lieberman said the public option would mean "trouble ... for the national debt," by creating "a whole new government entitlement program." Soon after, Jon Chait explained that this "literally makes no sense whatsoever."

In November, Lieberman said creating a public plan along the lines of Medicare is antithetical to "the way we've responded to the market in America in the past." This, too, was quickly debunked.

And here we are in December, and the independent senator has a new explanation, which he explained to the Wall Street Journal:

Why is he adamant? Mr. Lieberman says that while he is not "a conspiratorial person," he believes the public option is intended as a way for the government to take over health care. "I've been working for health-care reform in different ways since I arrived here," he says. "It was always about how do we make the system more efficient and less costly, and how do we expand coverage to people who can't afford it, and how do we adopt some consumer protections from the insurance companies . . . So where did this public option come from?" It was barely a blip, he says, in last year's presidential campaign.

"I started to ask some of my colleagues in the Democratic caucus, privately, and two of them said 'some in our caucus, and some outside in interest groups, after the president won such a great victory and there were more Democrats in the Senate and the House, said this is the moment to go for single payer.'" So, I joke, the senator is, in fact, as big a "conspiracy theorist" as me. He laughingly rejoins: "But I have evidence!"

This really is incoherent. First, independent analyses, including reports from the CBO, have found that public and private plans can compete and co-exist without driving the other out of business. Lieberman may claim to have imaginary "evidence," but there is no conspiracy.

Second, this wasn't sprung on lawmakers after the election; it was part of all of the major Democratic candidates' plans as far back as mid-2007.

And third, if progressive lawmakers decided this is "the moment to go for single payer," they would have proposed single payer. As it stands, they're pushing for a watered-down public option with a state opt-out.

Lieberman's "conspiracy theory," in other words, is bunk.


Yesterday, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) chatted with crazed TV preacher Pat Robertson on "The 700 Club." The combined crazy quotient was enough to nearly cause a rift in the space-time continuum.

Most of the ensuing insanity was rather boilerplate -- you won't be surprised to hear that neither right-wing nutjob supports the president -- but there was one exchange worth highlighting. Bachmann shared her concerns about health care reform and its effect on the economy.

BACHMANN: This will be a job killer, which is why President Obama's chief economic adviser Christina Romer has said, if this health care bill goes through, Pat, an additional 5.5 million jobs will be lost because small business will have to shed more jobs -- they can't afford to have the jobs because they have to pay more tax to the government.

ROBERTSON: They know that when their facing 10.2 percent unemployment -- they know this is going to kill another 5 million jobs?

BACHMANN: They know this. This is their own numbers, and yet they're persisting forward.

Well, those administration officials sure are wacky, aren't they? They think addressing a dysfunctional health care system will cost 5.5 million jobs, but they're doing it anyway. The White House is obviously filled with history's greatest monsters.

Except, of course, none of this is even remotely true. Matt Finkelstein explained:

Romer has repeatedly argued that health reform is an economic necessity, and that the proposals under consideration would benefit small businesses while creating jobs. Bachmann is not only putting words in Romer's mouth but also completely misrepresenting her position. [...]

In reality, House Republicans arrived at the 5.5 million jobs estimate by making a faulty calculation based on a paper Romer published in 2007. Like they did during the stimulus debate, the Republicans misapplied Romer's previous work to suit their argument. Accordingly, the non-partisan examined the job loss claim and determined it was false.

But accuracy has no place in the debate over health care policy. What's more, it's not just the unhinged clowns repeating this bizarre claim -- House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) made the exact same argument yesterday, in print no less.

In other words, expect to hear to hear this baseless claim quite a bit in the coming weeks -- it's apparently at the top of the new set of GOP talking points.
Think Progress: Comcast: The Chamber Of Commerce Is Wrong On Health Care
In recent weeks, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been stepping up its campaign against health care reform, running ads in seven states fear-mongering that the public option will increase individual costs and threaten the system of employer-sponsored coverage. It has even been “collecting money to finance an economic study that could be used to portray the legislation as a job killer and threat to the nation’s economy.”

But on Thursday, Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider, came out and endorsed the Senate health care legislation. CEO Brian Roberts sent a letter to President Obama saying that the “enactment of comprehensive health care reform legislation is, in my judgment, critical to putting this country on a path of sustained growth and prosperity.”

Later that day, a small group of bloggers met with Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen, who discussed how important the company believes health care reform is to reinvigorating the economy. A Comcast spokesperson confirmed to ThinkProgress that the company is an annual contributor to the Chamber, but not a member of the board of directors. It is also active on a number of working groups, such as Technology and Regulatory Affairs, and a supporter of a recent broadband study commissioned by the Chamber.

However, when we asked Cohen about what the Chamber is doing on health care, he said that Comcast clearly disagrees. But Cohen gave no indication that the company was thinking of discontinuing its dues, stating that the members and national organization are bound to have disagreements:

We’re entitled to have our own opinion, and I think it’s impossible for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to only take positions that 100 percent of its members agree with 100 percent of the time.But we clearly don’t agree on health care. There may be other things we agree on, but on health care, we clearly don’t agree. [...]

You just can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the very good. Nobody wrote that you have to solve this problem in one piece of legislation at one time.

The Chamber of Commerce did not respond to ThinkProgress’ requests for comment.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


The Senate's first-ever floor debate on health care reform began yesterday afternoon. It went about as well as the debate has gone over the last several months.

Take the transparency angle, for example. If there's one thing Senate Republicans have demanded, it's more sunlight, especially when it comes to posting provisions online for the public to scrutinize. So, yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid probably thought it was a no-brainer when he asked for unanimous consent to have all health care reform amendments posted online before receiving a vote.

It was immediately rejected by Republicans.

A member of the erstwhile "Gang of Six" -- the three Republicans and three Democrats from the finance committee who spent months failing to come to agreement on a compromise bill -- Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wy.) objected to Reid's request.

A message left with Enzi wasn't immediately returned. But on the floor, Enzi said he didn't trust the other party enough to go along. "In light of some of the trust problems and transparency problems we have, while this appears to lead to greater transparency, we can also see ways that this can limit the ability for the minority to offer amendments. And, therefore, I object," he said.

The moral of the story is that Republicans have certain priorities, unless Democrats agree, in which case those priorities are objectionable.

And speaking of Enzi, in a floor speech yesterday, the far-right Wyoming senator complained bitterly that the reform bill isn't ... you guessed it ... "bipartisan" enough.

"I urge my colleagues to start with a blank piece of paper and develop a bipartisan bill that up to 80 members of the Senate could support. Unfortunately the majority leadership had other ambitions, because the bill being debated today is a testament to a partisan ideological division."

For crying out loud, if Enzi wants to trash reform, fine. But Enzi was courted repeatedly -- the entire reform effort was held up for months in a bid to make him happy -- and was offered a compromise that gave him basically everything he wanted.

And yet, in late August, in the midst of "Gang of Six" talks, Enzi delivered a weekly GOP address in which he told ridiculous lies about reform, even lending credence to the "death panel" garbage. It came the same week he told constituents he had no intention of compromising with Democrats -- all the while, assuring Democrats he was negotiating in good faith -- and was only engaged in talks so he can force concessions on a deal he's likely to oppose anyway.

It's going to be a long month.

GOP stands by war hypocrisy Nov. 30: Newsweek's Jonathan Alter talks about the contrast between reality and how the GOP perceives the situation on the ground in Afghanistan.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Our Failed Media

The lead Politico piece of the day highlights "7 stories Barack Obama doesn't want told." The idea, apparently, is to identify seven media narratives that have the potential to catch on -- especially if they're picked up and repeatedly tirelessly by outlets like Politico -- and undermine President Obama's standing.

It's not an especially enlightening list, and most of the seven are pretty predictable -- the president needs more fiscal discipline; he's too thoughtful and appreciative of nuance; his White House is too mean ("the Chicago Way"); his White House isn't mean enough ("pushover"); he's elevated Speaker Pelosi too much; and he's arrogant.

Of particular interest, though, was John Harris' observation about the president may not be enough of an "American exceptionalist."

Politicians of both parties have embraced the idea that this country -- because of its power and/or the hand of Providence -- should be a singular force in the world. It would be hugely unwelcome for Obama if the perception took root that he is comfortable with a relative decline in U.S. influence or position in the world.

On this score, the reviews of Obama's recent Asia trip were harsh.

His peculiar bow to the emperor of Japan was symbolic. But his lots-of-velvet, not-much-iron approach to China had substantive implications.

I don't doubt that a variety of pundits find all of this very compelling. It's not.

For one thing, the bow wasn't especially "peculiar," and no one outside beltway newsrooms seems to care. For another, the "reviews" of the Asia trip may have been "harsh," but the reality of the trip was far more encouraging. Just as important, the bulk of the Obama agenda seems focused on helping the United States regain its influence and position as the global leader -- which is the opposite of being "comfortable with a relative decline."

As Greg Sargent explained, Harris' assumptions about exceptionalism seem especially off-base.

There's been a general unwillingness [among some political reporters] to acknowledge how vastly the landscape of national security politics has shifted in the wake of Bush's catastrophic foreign policy experiments and the electorate's resounding rejection from 2006 onward of his vision of swaggering unilateralism. Multiple polls have shown that majorities support Obama's engagement of hostile foreign leaders.... The electorate even supported Obama's decision to journey to Berlin and promise a new era of engagement, which was widely ridiculed as an "apology."

Harris notes that Obama should fear a narrative holding that he is "comfortable with a relative decline in U.S. influence," but this formulation, too, is revealing. Obama in 2008 explicitly rejected the notion that pragmatic global engagement, and the willingness to compromise with other countries in order to tackle common challenges, is tantamount to risking a "decline in U.S. influence." He won resoundingly. Indeed, he was elected after insisting that it's in America's interests to carve out a new type of global leadership role built on a rejection of that world view.

Quite right. In fact, in April, the president was specifically asked about whether he subscribes "to the school of 'American exceptionalism' that sees America as uniquely qualified to lead the world." Obama offered what struck me as the perfect response: "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. I'm enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world.... I see no contradiction between believing that America has a continued extraordinary role in leading the world towards peace and prosperity and recognizing that that leadership is incumbent, depends on, our ability to create partnerships because we create partnerships because we can't solve these problems alone."

It's not how the right perceives American exceptionalism, and it's not how the wired-for-Republicans media perceives American exceptionalism, but it's a thoughtful, nuanced, mature approach to the issue.

That this might be a problematic "narrative" is absurd.

C&L: Heh. Howard Dean Calls David Broder Inside the Beltway Gossip Columnist, Villager Head Explodes

This is an instant classic. Scarborough asks Howard Dean what he thinks of David Broder's attack on Harry Reid.

See, Broder wrote a column that was, of course, harshly critical of the healthcare bills. (Wars? Go faster! Health care! Wait a minute there, young 'uns!)

Harry Reid (D-Nev.) replied that the Senate shouldn't "focus on a man who has been retired for many years and writes a column once in a while."

Dean launched into a spirited defense of Reid and dismissed Broder, calling him "sanctimonious." He compared the classic "inside the Beltway columnist" to a gossip columnist.

PBS's Martin Savidge, clearly a Very Serious Person, was so upset, he was practically sputtering, and retorted that Broder "a very serious writer." Dean said the Beltway was incestuous and talking to the same so-called "experts" all the time was like writing a gossip column.

Savidge responded indignantly, "We call it good journalism." Yep, just like it was good journalism when Broder was riding Obama for not taking a running leap into the Afghan war.

Classic Villager think. Take a look, it's a textbook example.

Benen: TORA BORA...

Towards the end of the 2004 presidential campaign, John Kerry tried to raise public awareness of an issue Americans hadn't heard much about. In December 2001, the U.S. had pinned down Osama bin Laden in the mountains of Tora Bora, but the Bush administration decided not to send additional troops.

George W. Bush, just two weeks before Election Day, was incensed by the criticism, and tried to characterize this as attacks on the military. "Now my opponent is throwing out the wild claim that he knows where bin Laden was in the fall of 2001 -- and that our military had a chance to get him in Tora Bora," the then-president said. "This is an unjustified and harsh criticism of our military commanders in the field."

It was an odd thing to say. Far from being a "wild claim," the Bush administration itself came to the same conclusion Kerry did -- two years beforehand.

Five years later, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Kerry now chairs, has completed a thorough analysis of the national security failure, documenting for history exactly what transpired.

The report, based in part on a little-noticed 2007 history of the Tora Bora episode by the military's Special Operations Command, asserts that the consequences of not sending American troops in 2001 to block Mr. bin Laden's escape into Pakistan are still being felt.

The report blames the lapse for "laying the foundation for today's protracted Afghan insurgency and inflaming the internal strife now endangering Pakistan." [...]

The showdown at Tora Bora, a mountainous area dotted with caves in eastern Afghanistan, pitted a modest force of American Special Operations and C.I.A. officers, along with allied Afghan fighters, against a force of about 1,000 Qaeda fighters led by Mr. bin Laden. [...]

The new report suggests that a larger troop commitment to Afghanistan might have resulted in the demise not only of Mr. bin Laden and his deputy but also of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban. Mullah Omar, who also fled to Pakistan in 2001, has overseen the resurgence of the Taliban.

Like several previous accounts, the committee's report blames Gen. Tommy R. Franks, then the top American commander, and Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, for not putting a large number of American troops there lest they fuel resentment among Afghans.

This is not to say that success at Tora Bora would have eliminated the threat posed by al Qaeda, but the fiasco allowed the terrorist network's top leaders to escape and continue with their efforts.

The events at Tora Bora was largely ignored by major media outlets -- perhaps because they were too embarrassing to the administration soon after 9/11 -- but for the record, Kerry was right, and Bush was wrong.

C&L: Matthews Finds Another Reason to Fawn Over Bush's Top Gun Moment

Just doing my best here to help Digby achieve her life's work.

I plan to make it my life's work to remind Chris Matthews of these little exchanges. It was the day that Matthews revealed that he and the other media whores were not just shilling for the GOP for professional reasons, but that they actually had a barely contained (and inexplicable) sexual attraction to George W. Bush.

Chris Matthews finds another excuse to praise W for his flight suit appearance on the USS Lincoln.

Matthews: Before we break, President Obama’s taken flack for his war time decision making—a little too much hand wringing some critics say—not enough snap to it. But no such knocks on the way the Commander in Chief gives his salute. The editor of Smithsonian Magazine, a former Marine himself recently decreed that Obama’s salute at Dover Air Force Base was impeccable in every way. He said it’s spot on as a mastery of standards as set by the armed services themselves.

Presidents have long taken salutes from the troops that attend them but Ronald Reagan, the movie star who made training films during his service in WWII was the first to actually return those salutes and boy did he get it right. Check out the sweep of his arm there. And then there was George H. W. Bush, the WWII fighter pilot, who kept up Reagan’s tradition. Bush’s salute as you can see was less dramatic than Reagan’s but did have a snap to it.

Bill Clinton who was as a candidate was best known for his youthful opposition to a war caused some flack for his solute which was, well, it was a bit uncertain when he first took office but after a while, he got it down pat.

As for George W. Bush, who could forget this moment on the deck of the U.S.S. Lincoln? That beats even Reagan when it comes to Commander in Chief performance art. But getting back to our current president, it does seem that the president’s salute isn’t the only one he’s mastered.

Remember Mr. Spock’s Vulcan salute in Star Trek? Obama showed that off at a black tie dinner earlier this year. Live long and prosper.

Matthews does these sort of segments week after week on his Sunday bobblehead show and I assume he thinks he's being either cute or funny. Generally they're neither with this week's addition being no exception.

Monday Potpourri: Spock imagery Edition

Atrios: People Don't Really Care About The Deficit
Yes when voters are unhappy it's something the opposition party can't point to which suggests that politicians are somehow being irresponsible, but if voters are happy it moves back into the "abstract concept I don't give a shit about" category. Congress needs to do something about jobs soon.

While states have various ways of getting around it, they're constrained by balanced budget requirements. Only the Feds really have the power to step in when there's declining state revenue.
DougJ: We are all Vulcans now

John Harris, in a list of ways to attack Obama that Republicans may find helpful:

Too much Leonard Nimoy


But his intellectuality has contributed to a growing critique that decisions are detached from rock-bottom principles.

Both Maureen Dowd in The New York Times and Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post have likened him to Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.

The Spock imagery has been especially strong during the extended review Obama has undertaken of Afghanistan policy. He’ll announce the results on Tuesday. The speech’s success will be judged not only on the logic of the presentation but on whether Obama communicates in a more visceral way what progress looks like and why it is worth achieving. No soldier wants to take a bullet in the name of nuance.

Are there other first-world countries where the media spends a lot of time worrying that its leaders are too rational?

The next two criticisms are, by the way, in order “The rap is that his West Wing is dominated by brass-knuckled pols” and “But some of the same insider circles that are starting to view Obama as a bully are also starting to whisper that he’s a patsy.”

The Village attacks on Obama are just as inconsistent as the winger attacks.

John Cole: Tell Me Sully is Wrong

Just tell me he is wrong about this:

As Obama appears to be intensifying the lost war in Afghanistan, with the same benchmark rubric that meant next-to-nothing in the end in Iraq, he does not seem to understand that he will either have to withdraw US troops from Iraq as it slides into new chaos, or he will have to keep the troops there for ever, as the neocons always intended. Or he will have to finance and run two hot wars simultaneously. If he ramps up Afghanistan and delays Iraq withdrawal, he will lose his base. If he does the full metal neocon as he is being urged to, he should not be deluded in believing the GOP will in any way support him. They will oppose him every step of every initiative. They will call him incompetent if Afghanistan deteriorates, they will call him a terrorist-lover if he withdraws, they will call him a traitor if he does not do everything they want, and they will eventually turn on him and demand withdrawal, just as they did in the Balkans with Clinton. Obama’s middle way, I fear, is deeper and deeper into a trap, and the abandonment of a historic opportunity to get out.

It appears sully has finally attained the appropriate level of cynicism required when discussing the modern Republican party and the principled “conservatives” running it.

  • from the comments:


    I think the important issue here is not Sully, but Barack Obama. Waist deep in the Big Muddy, the big fool said to push on.

Atrios: And Then Politics Could Finally Stop Forever

Aside from its link-trolling inanity, Meacham's column is another entry in the Villager genre of wishing for some final political throwdown which would finally end all politics and political disagreement so that we could all stop arguing with each other and get back to sipping brandy on the porch.

I don't know exactly why they're constantly dreaming of a world where all political disagreement ends, but they do.

Aravosis: Wash Post: Palin particularly popular among fans of Limbaugh and Beck

You think? This isn't news. What is interesting, however, is the fact that yet another poll shows that the remaining people left in the GOP are far more conservative than just a few years ago.

Those who identify as Republicans today see themselves as more conservative politically than those who said so during the last years of the presidency of George W. Bush.
This is the challenge for Republicans. How do you deal with the pressure in your own party to veer to the right, when by doing so, you risk alienating the very people who left your party because it veered too far to the right - people you need back in order to win elections?

Think Progress: Just one person in Washington Post poll says Cheney best reflects conservative principles.

Two new polls report that former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh are the most powerful conservatives in the country. According to a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair survey, 26 percent of Americans rate Limbaugh as the most influential conservative voice, followed by Fox News host Glenn Beck at 11 percent. In a Washington Post poll, a plurality of Republicans say Palin best reflects their “party’s core values,” and they would vote for her “if the presidential nomination battle were held today.” Two people who don’t fare as well in the Post poll are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney:

Just 1 percent pick George W. Bush as the best reflection of the party’s principles, and only a single person in the poll cites former vice president Richard B. Cheney. About seven in 10 say Bush bears at least “some” of the blame for the party’s problems.

The Post surveyed 804 “Republicans and Republican-leaning nonpartisans” for its sample. Palin is particularly popular amongst the “loyal followers of Limbaugh and Beck.” “Overall, 18 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents cited her as the person most representative of the party’s core values. … Among those who regularly listen to Limbaugh, however, Palin was cited by 48 percent, and among Beck’s viewers, it was 35 percent, far surpassing others.”

DougJ: Dickmentum

Jon Meacham:

But I think we should be taking the possibility of a Dick Cheney bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 more seriously, for a run would be good for the Republicans and good for the country. (The sound you just heard in the background was liberal readers spitting out their lattes.)

Why? Because Cheney is a man of conviction, has a record on which he can be judged, and whatever the result, there could be no ambiguity about the will of the people. The best way to settle arguments is by having what we used to call full and frank exchanges about the issues, and then voting. A contest between Dick Cheney and Barack Obama would offer us a bracing referendum on competing visions. One of the problems with governance since the election of Bill Clinton has been the resolute refusal of the opposition party (the GOP from 1993 to 2001, the Democrats from 2001 to 2009, and now the GOP again in the Obama years) to concede that the president, by virtue of his victory, has a mandate to take the country in a given direction. A Cheney victory would mean that America preferred a vigorous unilateralism to President Obama’s unapologetic multilateralism, and vice versa.

Didn’t we already have a referendum on the Bush years in 2008?

More to the point, the reason that Dick Cheney won’t be the Republican nominee in 2012 is that people don’t like him and he’d be guaranteed to lose in a general election. But why should we leave these political decisions up to primary voters? Wouldn’t it be better if Republicans just did what Jon Meacham told them to do?

The arrogance of articles like amazes me.


The Washington Post released a poll today on what Republican voters are thinking, and how satisfied they are with their party. The results were all over the place.

The Republican rank and file is largely in sync with GOP lawmakers in their staunch opposition to efforts by President Obama and Democrats to enact major health-care legislation, but a new Washington Post poll also reveals deep dissatisfaction among GOP voters with the party's leadership as well as ideological and generational differences that may prove big obstacles to the party's plans for reclaiming power.

What's tricky about all of this is trying to get a sense of direction. Rank-and-file Republicans aren't happy, but it's not altogether clear what they're looking for, either.

In 2005, 76% of Republicans were satisfied with the direction set by the party's leadership; now that number is 49%. About a third believes GOP leaders do not stand up for the party's "core values."

The next question, of course, is what Republican leaders should do in response, and that's where the poll offers few clues. It's one thing to learn that the party is off-track; it's another to know what to do about it.

It's not like there's a clamoring for an even more right-wing party -- 58% of Republicans want to see the party work with Democrats, and 69% said they approve of GOP candidates who take moderate positions on some issues.

There's also no real sense of what the party's priorities ought to be. About a third of Republicans believe the GOP should spend more time opposing gay marriage, but nearly as many believe the party should do the opposite. About a third of Republicans want to see more focus on abortion, and nearly as many prefer less. GOP voters expressed concern about taxes, spending, and the economy, but that's pretty much what the party leadership focuses on already.

This is not entirely unexpected -- when the party has a small congressional minority, no clear leadership, and no policy agenda to speak of, it stands to reason that rank-and-file attitudes would be all over the place. But the poll isn't much of a roadmap for what party supporters expect their representatives to do.