Browsing the archives for the Republican party tag.

The Republican Senators who voted for the stimulus bill, Round II: The final bill

Economy, Politics, US Economy, US Politics

If you were in any suspense about which Republicans voted for the stimulus in the Senate, by the way, now that the previous Senate and House versions have been unified into a final bill, here’s a hint: they were the same ones as last time.

Four days ago, the Senate voted on its own version of the stimulus bil. All of three Republicans voted in favour: Olympia Snowe (ME), Susan Collins (ME) and Arlen Specter (PA). Judd Gregg (R-NH) abstained, and all other Republicans voted Nay, while all the Democrats voted Yea.

Then the bill went into the conference committee, where Senate and House bigwigs hammered out a compromise between the different versions of the bill the two chambers had passed. Yesterday the House passed the new version almost entirely along partisan lines, with not one Republican voting in favour and just seven Democrats voting against (see this post for the details). Which left it to the Senate to confirm the result and pass the new, unified bill as well.

They did so, and the vote was practically identical to last time. The only differences were that Ted Kennedy, battling brain cancer, wasn’t able to come now, and Gregg this time did not abstain but voted against. The result: 60 Yeas and 38 Nays, compared to 61-37 last time.

00064 13-Feb On the Conference Report Agreed to Conference Report; American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
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Stupid, stupid, stupid

Politics, US Politics

Joe Wurzelbacher aka the Plumber (via TNR The Plank):

Today I had one briefing, and that was at the Club for Growth, I spoke to Andy Roth. Now yesterday, I talked to the Heritage Foundation. I actually had the chance to talk to the Cato Institute as well, I guess you could call it a briefing, it was more of an interview. But all these bipartisan, or if you will neutral, think tanks are pretty much saying the same things.

Club for Growth, Heritage, Cato … “bipartisan, or if you will neutral, think tanks”. Words fail.

This, note, is a guy the conservative Republicans in Congress invited to star at their strategy meeting this week. As Obama said, back during the campaign: it’s like these guys take pride in their ignorance.

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You spin me right round, baby, like a record, baby, right round

Politics, US Politics
Image adapted from / shared by Bradley Allen under CC license

(Adapted from / shared by Bradley Allen / CC license)

Last week, Chris Bowers summarised the Republican strategy on the stimulus bill:

[T]he actual Republican strategy is not to offer an alternative, but to:

  1. Complain about one small aspect of the bill at a time, such as contraception funding, non-existent CBO reports, non-existent earmarks and, now, ACORN.
  2. Demand that, in the name of bi-partisanship, that small aspect of the stimulus be dropped.
  3. Secure meetings with Obama, in order for these complaints and demands to appear relevant to the national media.
  4. Hope that, as Digby notes, Democrats in Congress and / or liberal activists grow publicly angry with President Obama if / when he makes these concessions in order to secure more Republican votes. Thus, Republicans are fulfilling Obama’s vision (even though they oppose the stimulus) while Democrats are thwarting it (even though they are writing and supporting the stimulus).

Rinse, lather, repeat.

Quite.

The news yesterday features the latest ride on the merry-go-round:

Senate GOP leader criticizes auto provision in stimulus bill

The Senate’s top Republican criticized a key provision for automakers in an $819 billion House stimulus bill.

Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky., criticized a provision to give the federal government $600 million to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, calling it “wasteful spending.”

He told CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday that the provision shouldn’t be in the stimulus bill, and ridiculed it as “$600 million to buy new cars for government workers.”

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Will the grapes of the House GOP’s wrath turn out to be sweet for the Democrats?

Culture, Politics, US culture, US Economy, US Politics

I already noted that the significant dilution of the stimulus bill, when it was only going to be rejected unanimously by the House GOP anyway, drove some people up the wall. “Now that [Obama has] offered concrete concessions to the GOP only to have them publicly throw them back in his face, there simply isn’t any super-secret strategy that can [..] make it all make sense,” wrote Stephen Suh angrily at Cogitamus. Why bother even striving for compromise?

This question will get more acute by the day, as a recent post by Kevin Drum illustrates. He reports on the Obama administration’s push to extend the February 17 deadline for TV stations to switch from analog to digital transmissions. Not exactly a hotly partisan issue, right? The Senate promptly arrived at a bipartisan bill – which it passed unanimously. Every Republican agreed. But then the bill went to the House.

Only 22 House Republicans voted in favour. 155 voted against it. Drum: “100% of Senate Republicans voted in favor but 90% of House Republicans voted against. Shazam! Apparently the House GOP caucus really has decided to blindly stonewall everything Obama wants, no matter what.” He posits: “This is even more of a wakeup call than the vote on the stimulus bill.”

Right. The House GOP leadership is startlingly open about its intentions too, observes Dan at Bleakonomy. It will block and obstruct whatever comes its way, so Republicans can freely blame the Democrats for everything when the economy hasn’t recovered yet in six months. Yes, six months – if things haven’t improved in six months, the Republicans intend to say that it’s all the Dems’ fault and that the stimulus “didn’t work” because they “didn’t have the input in this”.

Of course, the current crisis is turning out to be the worst in almost three decades and is guaranteed to have an impact lasting (much) longer than six months, so … GOP profit!

Yet still there are valid reasons not to come down on Stephen’s side of the argument … yet. (I mean, apart from the stimulus bill not actually being all that bad.) The obvious one is the enormous contrast between House and Senate Republicans on the TV bill. If the Senate GOP shows any remotely similar divergence from the House Republicans’ obstruction course on the stimulus as well, Obama’s strategy may still come to “make sense”.

Then there’s the question of strategy. I already linked to Josh Marshall’s argument that offering the Republicans significant compromises, only for them to reject everything anyway, will help to brand them as the party of ‘no’. Which will marginalise them even further in 2010 so the Dems can go the long haul. Kevin Drum links to more evidence on that count too: a poll conducted by Democracy Corps on January 14-19.

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Janus face

Politics, US Politics
(Image shared under CC-license by Judith Green)

(Image shared under CC-license by Judith Green)

How odd that the election of the new chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) should end in a dead heat between a Southern, “true” conservative who had to admit only just having left a whites-only country club, and a black Republican from Maryland who stood accused of being too moderate.

Kudos to the Republicans for recognizing just in time which way political suicide laid, and turning the other way at the last moment. All the sordid details about Michael Steele’s narrow victory over Katon Dawson and the terminally slow drop-outs of all the other candidates in a surprisingly enjoyable Twitter feed from the WaPo’s Chris Cillizza.

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Damn right

US Economy, US Politics

Read John Judis on how the Republicans torpedoed the auto bailout.

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Unhappy Republicans pondering their choices for 2012

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

Gallup has a new poll up already about the presidential elections of 2012. Which will be sure to either make you run off screaming, or sigh contentedly at the brief respite from post-elections detox.

It asked Republicans and Republican-leaners, “Now, thinking ahead to the 2012 presidential election, please say whether you would, or would not like to see each of the following Republicans run for president in 2012”. I turned the results into this graph:

Poll: Which of these Republicans would you like to see run for President in 2012?

Poll: Which of these Republicans would you like to see run for President in 2012?

I don’t know about you, but what struck me most about these numbers is just how disgruntled Republicans are right now about the choices they have at hand. There’s not one person in this list that is not dismissed by at least about a third of Republicans. Of the ten potential wannabees, just three at least enjoy a reasonably significant positive balance. 

There seems to be a broad rejection of both the recent and further past of the party. Poor Jeb Bush faces the second largest deficit of all, presumably mostly because of the burden of his family name. Newt Gingrich, painful to his renowned ego it may be, is rejected by a plurality of Republicans. Congressional veteran and McCain sidekick Lindsey Graham is the least popular of the lot. Even General Petraeus, so passionately defended by conservatives against his MoveOn detractors, is rejected by almost 40%. Republicans love a military bigwig to defend, but apparently really want to move beyond the associations with Iraq.

It’s maybe no coincidence that the top three choices – Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee – are all very much newcomers to national Republican politics. Huckabee was derided by practically the entire Republican establishment, including the traditional leaders of the religious right, but there he is, the third most viable candidate on the shortlist. Hell, in this context Rudy Giuliani merits a fifth place, even after his disastrous crash-and-burn primary campaign.

Notably, two of the top three are conservative hardliners, with little appeal to the middle-ground of US politics. Democrats will be glad: it seems that the road back to power will be long and winding for the GOP.

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These two parts of the country count for equal shares of the vote

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

A propos of nothing in particular, an electoral map of sorts.

I selected all the states where McCain is currently leading, if even by the narrowest of margins, and painted them red (using the gadget at 270towin.com). To be generous and cautious, I actually used the pollster.com numbers from a week ago, when he was still leading in Missouri and North Dakota as well. And I selected the states that are absolutely foolproof safe for Obama and painted them blue.

These two selections count for almost exactly the same share of the Electoral College. These two selections represent roughly the same proportions of the US population.

A useful map, then, perhaps, to have at hand for two occasions:

a) Whenever someone harangues you about “the real America”, “heartland America” or “flyover country, where Joe Sixpack lives”.

Check: the Bos-Wash corridor with upstate NY and Vermont; Illinois; and the Pacific coast with Hawaii – together those states have as many Americans as all the even marginally red states together.

b) When you want to wonder at how unfavourable the underlying fundamentals of this race are for McCain.

Normally you start from a base level of reliable support, and then contest as many of the few remaining battleground states as you need to win. But this base level is just precariously low for McCain this year. Mostly because of a few givens: Bush’s unpopularity, the economic crisis and the loss of trust in the Republican brand on the economy, the unpopularity of the Iraq war. (And that’s not just “headwind”, as you’ll now find some conservatives describing it; it’s the result of Republican mismanagement.) But it’s also because of the Obama campaign’s willingness to reach far into red-state America and its access to the resources to do so, a testament of Democratic enthusiasm.

Either way, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado and Florida are not part of the base level of support that Republicans can build on like they were in 2004. Which means that the Republican base level is as low as 185 Electoral College votes, rather than 249. And just 185 EVs? That’s so little that it barely counterweighs even the safest of safest blue states.

Again, nothing particularly newsworthy about any of this, but I still found it a pretty telling map.

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Live by the bubble, die by the bubble

Media / journalism, Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

“The rise of the conservative media,” Isaac Chotiner notes at The Plank, “has obviously done the right a tremendous amount of good over the past generation.” Which is true of course. Through talk radio, Fox and its part of the blogosphere, the right aggressively staked out an expanding media territory devoted to its message. These media have honed a visceral appeal to people’s resentment and their lust for a good fight, which has allowed them to suck ever more people in and then ensure that they have always absorbed the talking points of the day. This has made for an aggressive fighting force, which could easily power its way to 50%+1 election victories.

But the fighting force remains a minority nevertheless, and there’s the rub this year.

(Image used under CC license from Flickr user DClemm)

(Image used under CC license from Flickr user DClemm)

There’s a large swathe of voters in the middle which cares little about liberal agendas (or politics at all for that matter), but would be too put off by all the shouting to listen to talk radio. They can be swayed into assent by those who do, however, if an overarching narrative like the War on Terror in 2004 or “bringing values back to Washington” in 2000 is:
a) brought forcefully enough;
b) based on immediate, high-profile events (9/11, Monica);
c) reasonably feasible; and
d) if there’s little effective counterpush.

They nevertheless remain distinctly un-sucked into the more immediate vortex of talking points inside the conservative media territory. They didn’t care about Vince Foster or Bill Clinton having once taken a hit on a joint. They dont fret over liberal indoctrination at universities – they just want their kids to go to a good school. Even the outrage over Monica Lewinsky was long a hard sell to this middle – just look at Bill’s consistently high approval rates.

Check in with the rightwing media now, however, and that’s all they have: a collection of narrow talking points with little relevance to life outside politics. They’re trapped inside the bubble, Chotiner says:

“Read the right’s blogs, listen to FOX News, turn on talk radio–all you hear (even right now, after the debate) is Ayers, ACORN, Reid, Pelosi, Barney Frank, and Chris Dodd (the last two being, duh, the sole villains behind our economic crisis). It’s as if the conservative movement has found itself mouthing talking points that no one outside of the bubble could possibly care about. Maybe it’s always like this when a political party faces an electoral catastrophe, but it sure is noticeable right now.”

The monocultural discipline which the conservative media territory offered made for a relentlessly on-message electoral fighting force in 2000 and 2004. Bolstered by Fox and talk radio on the airwaves, the movement conservatives were able to monopolise the party and push out moderates and independent thinkers, in a way MoveOn and the lefty blogosphere never succeeded in doing with the Democratic Party.

(Image used under CC license from Flickr user Chuckumentary)

(Image used under CC license from Flickr user Chuckumentary)

But the same monoculturalism now makes for a movement that’s largely unable to look at itself from the outside. They realise their message isnt resonating, but can’t understand whyever not. It’s living inside the bubble that made them such a cohesive machine. But it’s living in the same bubble that makes them unable to correct themselves and adapt now. All that’s left is anger and frustration.

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Nervous about Nixon Goldwater McCain?

Media / journalism, Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

Alex Massie at The Debatable Land has been digging through the video archives of the Museum of the Moving Image at The Living Room Candidate. It’s a website devoted to historical campaign commercials, and “contains more than 300 commercials, from every presidential election since 1952.” And he’s come up with some true gems.

There’s classics like the relentlessly cheerful, ferociously flirty lounge singer doing her thing for Adlai Stevenson: “I love the Gov!“. (Sarah Palin didn’t invent the polit-power of the wink, you know.) There’s a bit of scare-mongering anno 1992 that made Massie quip, “Verily, Arkansas is a land visited by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. There’s a Barry Goldwater ad that starts off with 30 seconds of cult mayhem that would suit the best of Russ Meyer movie trailers; any moment you expect a warning about She-Devils on Wheels.

A strong contender for the most amazing find is the surprisingly psychedelic, hippie-go-lucky sing-a-long “Nixon Now” from 1972. An eerie illustration of the ad world’s reality inversion … catchy, though. (Weirdly enough, Nixonnow.com now is the website of a watch brand.) That one is overwhelmed still in the cutesy stakes by “the jaunty music and the fab 70s kitsch” of a Ford commercial from four years later – and much of it could have been a seventies ad for the car brand. (Bonus feel-good points for the unabashed inclusion of sundry happy ugly people: no shame of the natural back then! It’s like walking into a remote Slovak village.)

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of relativation, too. You thought Hillary’s 3 AM ad was an outrageous bit of scare-mongering? Ha! Nixon would have shown her a thing or two. You think McCain’s panders to evangelical America are worrying? Carter offered the real thing. Imagine the outcry if Republicans would air ads like those today.

But two of the ads Massie dug up stand out. Two videos that evoke distant eras, and yet are as topical as ever before. In fact, the Obama campaign could run touched up versions of them right now.

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