Once the world caught on to the sly, musical message that the "Late Show With Jimmy Fallon" backing band the Roots sent to Michele Bachmann during her appearance on the show last week, reaction was swift: some laughed, Bachmann was outraged and NBC apologized.
Now, the band's drummer and leader, Questlove, has revealed that he has been the target of a steady stream of hate speech and racial epithets from Bachmann supporters and tea party members in the wake of his band playing a few notes of "Lyin' Ass B*tch" by Fishbone.
"I've seen some really colorful epithets in the past four days, but 'n*gger f*ckhead ghetto stick' is probably the one that takes the cake. I'm still trying to get my head around that one," the musician told Pitchfork.com. "Blocking 3,500 tea party extremists [on Twitter] in a three day period is no fun, especially when you're a drummer dangerously close to carpal tunnel. In the end, was it worth it? Absolutely not."
Questlove insists that he is sorry over the incident, and didn't realize it would be quite so offensive.
"It deeply offended a lot of women's groups and non-Bachmann supporters, and for that I'm deeply sorry," he said. "I'm not parading like I'm the poster boy for the feminist movement, but those who truly know me know that that's not me. I was really just going with her whole revisionist history angle, I wasn't calling it out on her being a woman."
For more from Questlove on that topic and much more, click over to Pitchfork.
Islamists claimed a decisive victory on Wednesday as early election results put them on track to win a dominant majority in Egypt’s first Parliament since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, the most significant step yet in the religious movement’s rise since the start of the Arab Spring.The party formed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s mainstream Islamist group, appeared to have taken about 40 percent of the vote, as expected. But a big surprise was the strong showing of ultraconservative Islamists, called Salafis, many of whom see most popular entertainment as...
In the words of one long-time Republican, "The Republicans are making President Obama look good." Well, he makes a very good point about the Republican field of presidential candidates.
It appears that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is very frustrated. Despite his energetic campaign and strong debate performances, Romney cannot score more than 25% in polls of Republican voters. The problem is that he has changed positions on key issues in an effort to win more support in his party. And, just in case some Americans haven't noticed, the Democratic National Committee has been airing a political commercial called "Mitt vs. Mitt" that drives the point home.
Romney's campaign has recently resorted to airing a misleading political ad that shows President Barack Obama saying, "If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose." But then candidate Obama was merely quoting a statement that Senator John McCain had made. When the president's campaign cried foul, Romney responded, "We are obviously getting under their skin."
Romney has dutifully avoided doing any press interviews. That is until he agreed to do a Fox News interview on Tuesday. Fox News anchor Brett Baier asked Romney, "You have been on both sides of many issues." He then cited some flip-flops before asking Romney how voters can trust him. Romney responded, "Your list is just not accurate. We're going to have to be better informed about my views on issues." He then looked very defensive for the remainder of the interview.
But if Romney looks uncomfortable, businessman Herman Cain appears under siege. Cain has been repeatedly asked questions about allegations from Ginger White that he had had a thirteen-year affair with her. Cain has already had to defend himself against allegations of sexual harassment involving several other women.
Cain was defiant on Wednesday saying, "They have been trying to do a character assassination on me." He told a crowd of supporters in Ohio, "They are attacking my character, my reputation and my name in order to try and bring me down." Cain has even suggested that Democrats were behind the charges in an effort to help former House Speaker Newt Gingrich win the nomination. Cain has announced he is reevaluating his campaign and he would have an announcement on his future plans next week.
The big winner has been Newt Gingrich. He has surged to the front of the Republican field fueled in part by strong debate performances. But new revelations that Gingrich has earned millions of dollars since leaving office advising health care related companies and the mortgage company Freddie Mac have raised some serious questions. His personal life, a joint appearance with Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi in a global warming ad and ethics violations while in Congress are among issues that he will have to overcome.
Meanwhile, President Obama has been unrelenting in his campaign effort to get his jobs bill passed. His most recent focus has been on extending and expanding the payroll tax cut, which is set to expire at the end of the year. If the payroll tax cuts are not extended it will cost the average American family $1,000. The president has proposed paying for the tax cut by raising taxes by on Americans earning a million dollars or more. Republicans in Congress oppose him saying they want to fund the extension with budget cuts. A majority of Americans support additional taxes on high-income earners.
The president's stock is rising as he has stepped up his reelection efforts. And, barring another economic set back, his chances of winning a second term are improving. Meanwhile, with a month to go before the Iowa Caucuses, the Republicans are stumbling badly towards the starting gate.
What politician wants to be on the side of not extending the very populist payroll tax holiday at a time when many Americans with jobs are struggling to pay their bills?Certainly not congressional Republican leaders who realize that's a dangerous spot to be in as your party gets ready to defend its House majority and try to gain control of the Senate in 2012.
WASHINGTON -- Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele spoke Tuesday with embattled GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain and offered him this advice: "Think long and hard about what you do next and how you go about it."
"I said, I'm not going to go out here and blow you up and call on you to get out of the race," Steele recounted in a phone interview. "If you decide to stay in the voters are going to let you know how they feel about that."
He also told Cain: "It's not just about the presidential campaign anymore. It's about your wife and your family and your own credibility, and your opportunities and options beyond this moment."
"This is serious. There are impacts and ramifications not just for Herman and his family but for the party as a whole," Steele said.
Steele and Cain are two of the best-known black conservatives in the country, and have known one another for over a decade, Steele said. The two men talked on the phone Tuesday as Cain told senior aides that he was "reassessing" his candidacy after an Atlanta woman named Ginger White said Monday that she and Cain had a 13-year extramarital affair.
Steele, who came under immense pressure himself to resign from the RNC during his tenure there and is now a paid analyst for MSNBC, said he did not push Cain to make a decision one way or another.
"A lot of people want to pontificate and tell him what he should do and what he must do. And I don't know how many of those folks have actually said, 'I'm not here to tell you what to do but to let you know a friend is with you, and b, your heart will tell you what to do next,'" Steele said.
"You know the truth. You know the facts. You know the realities. And you've got to evaluate all of that, in toto, and say to [Cain's wife] Gloria, you know, 'We can do this.' Because she may say to you, 'No we can't.'"
Steele also said he thought race had, to some degree, colored the Republican party's response to the numerous allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct lodged against Cain by several different women.
"Race is not involved to the extent that decisions and choices are made by an individual. They don't do it along the lines of race. How you're perceived and how you then take those decisions and choices gets colored, maybe, through a racial lens," Steele said.
But when asked to clarify whether he thinks Cain has been treated differently than a white politician would be if he were in the same situation, Steele indicated he did not think so.
"I don't think that Congressman [Anthony] Weiner's time was any easier or harder than Herman Cain's at this moment," Steele said. "In fact I think Herman's would be a little bit worse because he is running for president of the United States. It's not like he's a congressman who can't keep his fingers off of his Twitter buttons."
Without Mike Huckabee in the presidential race, evangelical Christian voters in Iowa are still searching for a candidate to embrace just five weeks before the caucuses.The Hawkeye State remains a free-for-all. Republican leaders there continue to chastise Mitt Romney for not committing to the state, and many religious voters find him intolerable in part for his more moderate social stances and because he is a Mormon. The Christian base also isn't stoked about newly minted front-runner, Newt Gingrich, and the fading Herman Cain has long been more attractive to the Tea Party than to the...
By Charles Hurt Tuesday, November 29, 2011 Login to VoteView resultsANALYSIS/OPINION:Getting Republicans to line up behind Mitt Romney, it turns out, is like trying to stuff a cat into a trash can. No matter how you present the feline to the receptacle, at least one claw always manages to reach out at the last second and cling desperately to the rim.Romney has been the anointed front-runner for four years now in a party that likes its front-runners. Nothing contents Republicans more than an orderly transition of power.But not this time. The long list of slain or surrendered...
For more than a generation, the Republican party has stood for cutting tax rates and opposing increased tax rates. That commitment has, on balance, well served the causes of limited government, economic growth, and conservative political success. (We are not among those who imagine that we would somehow be a freer society if we still had 70 percent tax rates.)
In recent weeks, however, some Republicans have put themselves in the odd position of opposing a cut in tax rates that Democrats are proposing. They risk eroding the party’s traditional advantage on taxes, and for no good reason. Sen. Mitch McConnell, we are happy to note, said yesterday that more and more Republicans are coming around, and he expects the payroll-tax relief to be extended.
Keep reading this post . . .
In Florida four years ago, Mitt Romney failed to persuade Republicans that he should be the party's nominee for president. This year, he hopes not to let that happen again. Romney made two quick campaign stops in the state Tuesday, and he made a special effort to appeal to Latino voters.
Sunday on "Meet the Press" Colin Powell blamed divisive, poisonous Washington politics on the media and the Tea Party. The essence of Powell's argument was: "Republicans and Democrats are focusing more and more on their extreme left and extreme right. And we have to come back toward the center in order to compromise. ... The media has to help us. The media loves this game, where everybody is on the extreme. It makes for great television. ... So what we have to do is sort of take some of the heat out of our political life in terms of the coverage of it, so these folks...
Let me say upfront that I have always been a Democrat. However, I also vote my conscience and have supported independent candidates. Today, energy policy is one area where I think my party is wrong. I wasn't always a disillusioned Democrat. For decades, the party's policies ensured that the United States had adequate supplies of domestic oil, natural gas, coal, hydroelectric power and uranium to fuel our growing economy while providing good-paying jobs to the men and women who produced our energy and transported it. These policies helped create America's affluence of the...
WASHINGTON -- Herman Cain's rise in the Republican primary polls several months ago was always viewed warily by the GOP establishment. Many believed the longtime businessman was more engaged in his book tour than his presidential bid. And so while the crowds on the campaign trail may have liked what they heard, at some point, the thinking went, the fad would fade.
At this point, it can't fade quickly enough. On Monday, Ginger White, a longtime friend of Cain's, told an Atlanta-based Fox affiliate that they had engaged in a consensual, 13-year-long extramarital affair. Jumping in front of the story, Cain denied the allegation in an interview with CNN before the Fox report aired. But as White becomes the third woman to level accusations of sexually inappropriate behavior at Cain, some inside the GOP tent -- worried about the side effects the "circus" is having on the party at large -- are no longer willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
"Cain is irrelevant, and the quicker he gets out of the race the better it will be," said Ed Rollins, a longtime Republican strategist. "My fear is that he marches to the beat of his own drum and he may try to drag it on and deny and deny and deny. And my sense is that it will likely be a pattern here. But there is no way he can be the nominee of our party. The quicker he gets out, the better for him and for us."
"As people freeze their impressions going into the holidays and early voting events, the impressions right now of all politicians, and not just ours, are not good," he added.
Rollins is not an impartial voice. In the earlier stages of this presidential primary campaign, he served as Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-Minn.) campaign manager and chief political adviser.
Since leaving that post late this summer, he has been a ubiquitous presence on cable news, generally offering a fairly sober analysis of the primary and even subtly suggesting that his former client is, herself, a flash in the Republican primary pan. Rollins is not the only top Republican suggesting that Cain's candidacy could cause harm to the GOP's brand.
When the first round of harassment allegations occurred, Republican lawmakers and strategists alike said they would withhold criticism of Cain until more information was revealed. But even then, some expressed unease -- and in some cases, disdain -- toward the image he was projecting onto the rest of the field.
âI am deeply skeptical about Cainâs candidacy on the substance and policy level,â Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, told The New York Times. âHeâs gotten a free pass from his peers and the press until very recently â call it the soft bigotry of low expectations â because no one took him seriously or considered him a threat.â
Now, with a third woman going public, even Cain's defenders have grown tired.
"As someone who has been for Cain since he was an asterik this is all getting tough to handle," tweeted Chris Barron, a GOP strategist and board chair of the Republican gay-rights group GOProud.
The idea that the time has come for Cain to bow out of the GOP race is not one the candidate himself seems willing to accept. He told CNN Monday he was "not dropping out of this race" so "long as my wife is behind me, and as long as my wife believes that I should stay in this race."
Certainly, there is enough buzz surrounding his candidacy to keep him going. While the former Godfather's Pizza CEO has fallen in the polls since the first round of allegations surfaced, he remains the preference of a decent chunk of primary voters.
Whether those numbers deteriorate further seems tied, in part, to the impact the latest allegations will have. But even if they prove damaging, not everyone thinks the GOP suffers from having Cain around.
"I don't think it taints the party at large," said Larry Farnsworth, a GOP consultant and former aide to former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). "I do think it distracts from having an actual conversation on issues."
Others were more eager to rally to Cain's defense. Dick Morris, the longtime political operative who has been paid by the Cain campaign in the past, told a skeptical Sean Hannity on Fox News that the whole thing was "an old-time vanilla scandal" while accusing White of being a "serial litigator." (In 2001, White filed a sexual harassment claim against an employer.)
Morris is certainly aware of the political perils involved in allegations of sexual misconduct. So too is the man he often advised, Bill Clinton, who managed to navigate a presidential primary while dealing with questions and accusations on par with those Cain faces. But it's not the 42nd president who may inspire Cain to stay in the race; rather, it's the Republican candidate who has benefited most from his downfall.
"Look, Herman Cain is a joke," said one top Republican operative. "Obviously, where there is smoke there is fire, and he needs to make a decision about whether or not he stays in the race. But I do find this extremely interesting, that Cain might get pushed from the race but Newt Gingrich is one of the top frontrunners."
"I don't know how his past [with multiple divorces and extramarital affairs] is not a distraction," the operative continued. "I guess " target="_hplink">Gingrich's story is pretty much of the public record. Everyone knows it. But since [Cain's problem] is obviously something that happening currently, that makes it not presidential?"
Have the Republicans in Congress painted themselves into a corner on taxes? They seem to be in the position of choosing between a number of courses of action, most of which would normally be seen as going against their principles. They may have dealt themselves a losing hand, to put it another way.
Metaphors aside, though, it's hard to see how Republicans are going to escape this dilemma. First, the history: President Barack Obama got a "tax holiday" declared, which cut everyone's payroll (Social Security) taxes by hundreds of dollars. The White House says this amounts to a $1,500 tax cut for an average family, while others use the metric of saving $1,000 for an average worker making $50,000 per year. By any measure, all year long all workers have been getting more money in their paychecks. This tax holiday is about to expire, at the end of this year.
What this means is that, if Congress does not act, taxes are going up substantially for "the 99 percent," starting with the first paycheck everyone gets in January. Republicans -- supposedly the party which never saw a tax cut it didn't love -- have the power to block this action.
Here's where their three losing choices come into play. The Democrats are going to move first, most likely in the Senate. Democrats are going to introduce an extension of the payroll tax holiday for next year, and pay for it with a small surcharge on people making over a million dollars a year. Taxes stay down for everyone not making a cool million, but millionaires will have to pay a tiny bit more, to put it another way.
Republicans can vote this down, if they wish. They will do so by decrying "raising taxes" on "job creators," but Democrats will be out there asking Republicans why they are in favor of a big tax hike on 99.9 percent of American workers, to keep millionaires' taxes low. The dichotomy will be stark: you're either for lower taxes on just about everybody, or you're for lower taxes on the richest of the rich. "Republicans are raising taxes on the middle class by over a thousand bucks a year!" will be the rallying cry for the Democrats. This is bad choice number one for Republicans.
Of course, the Republicans could go along with the Democrats. If enough frightened Republicans cross the aisle, the Democratic plan could pass both the Senate and the House by the Christmas break. The tax cut would be saved, and everyone could go home happy. Except, of course, for all the Republicans who just voted to raise taxes and therefore will be in Grover Norquist's doghouse forevermore. The Tea Party has already shown it is a force to be reckoned with in Republican primaries, and there will still be enough time (in most states) for a primary challenger to take on any apostate Republican senator or representative who "just voted to raise taxes." Bad choice number two for Republicans.
The third bad choice Republicans would have would be to introduce their own legislation which continued the payroll tax holiday, but didn't pay for it. Now, in normal times, this wouldn't be all that contentious. Running a short-term deficit for long-term benefits used to be voted through Congress all the time, even when Republicans were running the place. But these are not normal times, and so if Republicans take this route, then they leave themselves open to attacks from both Democrats and the Tea Party that they are for "increasing the deficit" or "deficit spending."
The only way around this conundrum for Republicans would be to introduce their own bill which extends the payroll tax cut but pays for it by cutting spending elsewhere. But this is going to be pretty tough for them to put together in the next week or so, because they'd have to make up over $100 billion in spending cuts over the next year -- not off in some ten-year distance. Finding that much to cut is going to hurt, to be blunt. It is impossible to cut that much from one year's federal budget without some serious pain. Democrats will likely point this out, and refuse to go along with this plan.
Which brings up a final choice, which is even worse for Republicans -- not doing anything. The effects of this will be immediate. Not only will everyone's taxes go up in January, but unemployment payments will also run out for 2 million people in that month alone (the secondary part of the bill). Democrats will not be shy about letting America know why their taxes are going up, either. It will be such delicious irony for Democrats to hammer Republicans with "Republicans just raised your taxes!" and "Republicans are trying to cause another recession for political reasons!" Which is why this option isn't even in the "bad" category for Republicans, it's truly in the "unthinkable" category.
Republicans have a tough decision to make. They can either fight for millionaires to have low taxes, and by doing so raise taxes on everyone else; fight to raise millionaires' taxes to redistribute this wealth downward; fight to raise the deficit and indulge in deficit spending; fight to slash funding by $100 billion next year for programs Americans like; or do nothing and be blamed for raising taxes.
Democrats, meanwhile, just have to make their case to the American people. Of course, being Democrats, they may fail at attempting to do so. But heading into this legislative tug-of-war, it certainly seems like Democrats have been dealt a much better hand than Republicans. If they do manage to get out there and explain what is going on to the American people in clear and forceful terms, Democrats will have a good shot at making some excellent political hay over the issue, and by doing so, force the Republican Party to splinter enough to get a bill passed by Christmas. Whatever happens, December is going to be an interesting month in Washington, that's for sure.
Herman Cain, please stop. Cease and desist with this claim of yours that you can win one third of the black vote if you were the Republican presidential nominee.Cain has made the claim frequently, the latest in a mailing he sent out to Iowa voters. According to news reports, Cain said "as a descendant of slaves, I can lead the Republican Party to victory by garnering a large share of the black vote, something that has not been done since Dwight Eisenhower garnered 41 percent of the black vote in 1956."
For decades, Democrats have suffered continuous and increasingly severe losses among white voters. But preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class.All pretence of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment "” professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers,...
As we try to raise our spirits with thoughts of another holiday season of parties, family gatherings and frenzied shopping, our collective rage mounts as we are brought back to stark reality with yet another example of just how dysfunctional our government has become -- the abject failure of the Super (or should it be called "Stupor?") Committee to come to an agreement on $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts and how to achieve them. The continued irrationality of the GOP's steadfast rejection of any tax increases on the wealthiest among us continues to be the major sticking point. Of course, if the GOP had its way, the Bush tax cuts would go on into perpetuity, which is what this dance has always been about, despite their wild-eyed squawking about the deficit. Thankfully, the Dems -- for once -- refused to take the GOP's bait, and balked at cutting our safety nets of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid without tax increases, resulting in another standoff and the failure of the Committee.
Every sane person in this country understands that the tax code needs a major overhaul to address our desperate need for revenue, yet only a massive outcry from the public helped to prevent another cave-in from the Dem members on the Committee. Who are these people that we've sent to Washington to represent us? Do they live in this country? Do they see the same news reports, pass the same shuttered businesses, hear the same desperate stories from their friends and family? One has to wonder.
Another unaddressed crisis continues to be the over 24 million unemployed and under-employed across America. All of our energies must be directed to getting those people back to work in real, living-wage jobs, which will go a long way towards helping to address the deficit. It should be the first lesson taught in Common Sense 101, Mr. President (and all of you out-of-touch Congressmembers): more jobs plus fair taxation equals a stronger economy, while fewer jobs plus unfair taxation minus Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid
We watched last week as the campaigner in chief headed to New Hampshire to sell the continuation of the payroll tax cut to an ever-dwindling number of middle-class workers, who will otherwise see $1,000 more snatched from their paychecks next year if this tax break expires. Here is a winning plank in your re-election platform, Mr. President, going into the holiday season during this still-weak economy. Where, however, were you and your bully pulpit during the Super Committee's heated negotiations? Why were our safety nets even a part of this Committee's purview? Such obvious failures in leadership are a major reason why you are doing so poorly in the polls, Mr. President. Now, because of the Super Committee's failure, 2013 will trigger automatic cuts in national defense and in our safety nets. There is still time to work on a resolution, but it does not bode well for us if our so-called "leaders" are willing to kick these incredibly important issues down the road until after this election cycle -- a telling example of whose interests they are really looking after.
We, the voters, must take on the task of extricating our government from this morass of selfishness and ideo-illogical behavior that is destroying our democracy and our country. For those of us who consider ourselves to be true Progressives, it can no longer be good enough to just vote the Democratic line on our ballots. We need to find, support and vote for bold, truly Progressive Democrats with sturdy backbones and spotless ethics.
Unfortunately, if you check the DCCC's website, you will be shocked to find that there is no message stating what they stand for, nor is there any information on what candidates they are supporting, or the positions their chosen candidates are taking on a host of issues. Of course, if you look at the Obama re-election campaign's website, you won't see much in the way of substance, either (surprise, surprise), instead only seeing solicitation after solicitation for "da money," with the vaguest of complaints thrown in about those "evil" GOP-ers. The only clear message on both fronts is obvious: "Just give, baby, no questions asked."
The DCCC's mission appears to be only to fill its fat coffers further so they can continue to deliver tepid Blue Dog Dems who are fiscal (and in some cases social) conservatives and, more importantly, mega-fundraisers, like DCCC Chair and former Blue Dog Steve Israel and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. It is painfully obvious that the Democratic party has become a "members-only" affair, open to "pay-for-play" candidates and electeds who bring in big donations to the machine in exchange for committee seats, which enable them to return legislative favors to the high-roller donors of their campaigns. And who are these big donors? The same special and corporate "interests" who give generously to both parties to keep the cycle of graft and gridlock spinning, increasing the ever-widening gap between the haves and have-nots.
Where is the change you promised, Mr. President? Will we have to wait for your second term before you'll deliver on your promise to clean out our bought-and-paid-for political system in DC? When will you rebuild the Democratic party and make it actually work for the 99%? After all, you are supposed to be the leader of the People's Party, Mr. President; it's time to show it. The special interests already have the GOP, so there's no point in trying to curry their favor anymore. If you really want to set yourself apart and give voters something to "believe" in again, you must come out in support of an amendment overturning the Citizens United decision, and support the Fair Elections Now Act. These would show not only that you "get it," but also that you are serious about fixing the dysfunction in DC and giving the People's government back to the People.
Sadly, such bold moves by this President and the current Democratic party are highly unlikely, as Dems continue to shoot themselves in their own collective foot and butt by only seeking and supporting candidates who can raise big bucks for their campaigns and the party. Being a "conservative" also seems to be an extra bonus in their eyes, which is interpreted to mean that they have access to donors with deep pockets. After all, if the DCCC doesn't have to supply candidates with campaign funding (which is their job, isn't it?), so much the better. A truly Progressive candidate will clearly not have ties to corporate interests -- and therefore not have access to big money donors -- and so is actively discouraged from running by the party elders, even if they are clearly the better candidate.
Last month in DC, at a DCCC gathering of 107 invited candidates -- no doubt a significant number from key states in 2012 presidential election -- House candidate Dr. David Gill (Illinois 13th CD) was told he was not a viable candidate, since he did not raise at least $100,000 in the last quarter. Even though Dr. Gill's campaign raised $52,000, including $3,500 left over from last year's run for Congress with a strictly People-driven, grassroots campaign. There is no corporate special interest money being given to this dyed-in-the-wool Progressive candidate, mostly because Dr. Gill won't accept it. Even though Nancy Pelosi noted upon meeting Dr. Gill that she had "heard about" him, and even though any Dem candidate is now polling at 53% against 40-year GOP Congressman Tim Johnson's 33% in a new District 13 that is clearly trending Democratic, the DCCC still did not consider Dr. Gill a "viable" candidate. Instead, all of a sudden, Illinois State Attorney Matt Goetten -- a conservative with big money ties from a family with a longtime connection to Illinois politics -- has "parachuted" into the race. One wonders where his "inspiration" to seek higher office came from.
Other examples of how the party involves itself in primary races against Progressives can be seen just by looking around our President's own home state of Illinois. There is a high profile race in the Illinois 8th CD, where Blue Dog Iraq Veteran Tammy Duckworth -- a former Department of Veteran Affairs official, DC insider and darling of the DCCC, who is also supported by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin -- is running against Progressive Raja Krishnamoorthi, who lost a narrow race for Illinois State Comptroller last year. In the Illinois 10th, another interesting race is developing in the Democratic primary fight to take on Republican freshman Bob Dold between John Tree, a Reserve Air Force Colonel and conservative businessman, and Progressive Dem llya Sheyman, who is endorsed by Democracy For America. And not to be overlooked is the race between incumbent Jesse Jackson Jr. in the Illinois 2nd, running against Blue Dog Debbie Halvorson. Meanwhile, back in Florida, great news has come out that super-Progressive Alan Grayson is seeking to win back his lost seat in Congress. His colorful, in-your-face style of taking on Republicans and issues is an embarrassment to the otherwise weak-armed Dem party, so he will most surely not be embraced by them. These stories are repeated from state to state, with Democratic party support going to Blue Dog conservatives who can gin up "da money" for the party, while also toeing the party line.
The Democratic party has lost its way following its malfunctioning moral compass. Indeed, does it even remember why it exists? That once-great party of labor and hard-working Americans is but a distant memory. Much thanks for this case of collective amnesia can be given to former DCCC chair Rahm Emanuel, who recruited Blue Dogs and built the Blue Dog Coalition in a misguided attempt to drive the Democratic party more towards "the middle" (obviously following the lead of his former boss, the original "Blue Dog" Bill Clinton). Emmanuel was bad news from the day President Obama appointed him as Chief of Staff, making clear what the O administration would really be about. A soulless weasel who cut loose from his donkey roots long ago, Rahm is now imposing his brand of ugly, conservative Democratic politics on Chicago as its Mayor. Good luck to the Windy City as they endure the hopefully brief reign of this ruthless thug.
In the 2010 election, the Blue Dogs lost a whopping 22 members in the House, as the People spoke out against politics as usual. Unfortunately, they were replaced by a pack of raving loons from the Tea Party, who now control the House. But do you think the DCCC or DNC has learned anything? I doubt it. My hope is that the Occupy-ers will come to understand that they can wield a big stick if they work with other true Progressive organizations to build a movement and support Progressive candidates for Congress and the White House. OWS has successfully brought attention back to true Progressive issues and core democratic, People-centered values, and they can have a major role in reconstructing our government, but only if they help bring the right people in to govern.
- with Jonathan Stone
I have never begun a column with more misgivings.
Foreign and domestic, President Obama has accomplished far more than his critics allow. In some ways -- the way he took out Osama bin Laden, for instance -- he's shown a fine, if cerebral, executive ability.
But I can't avoid a shudder when I look over the coming election. The premises of the president's campaign -- "Can you really want to put guys who got us into this mess back in power?" and "It could have been worse" -- are somewhat less than inspiring.
About the only thing those of us not of the right wing have to look forward to, aside from one of the dirtiest low-road campaigns in memory, is that the right wing seems determined to take its ball and go home if it can't be quarterback.
Instead of their behaving like grownups, in fact, the country has been treated to the spectacle of the Republican base acting like Scarlett O'Hara and desperately throwing itself into the arms of every suitor who isn't Mitt Romney.
The depths of said desperation? As things stand, most in the GOP would rather nominate thrice-divorced Newt Gingrich, who was fined $300,000 for lying to Congress and resigned after leading his party to its worst defeat in 64 years, than Mitt Romney, a successful if uninspiring governor most famous for strapping his dog to the roof of his car and driving to Canada.
Given choices like that, few would begrudge Republicans for abandoning their usual enthusiasm for going door to door with lawn signs and manning phone banks, and sitting this one out. I myself am all for it.
The problem? The same goes for the Democratic base, which elected Barack Obama as if he were FDR and promptly contracted a horrible case of buyer's remorse.
And since it's the base that mans the phone banks and the entire electoral process is in the hands of registered independents, those phone banks and neighborhood workers are going to be how President Obama gets re-elected, absent a third-party run by, say, Ron Paul.
And getting the base willing to go to work won't be easy. The country, after all, needs an FDR to put things on track, and I doubt even the West Wing staff would claim that mantle fits this president.
It's probably true, of course, that people voted for the president because of unrealistic hopes, and that 30 years of daily beatings by Republicans helped create them. The problem was we wanted to elect somebody who would give us some revenge -- who'd stand up to what we've come to consider Republican politics and break some bones in the process.
But, we got a reasonable man inclined to meet his opponent in the middle and get on to what's next, instead of giving us five bloody rounds and a knockout.
But you'd like to think that doesn't apply to the adults inside the party, which brings us to my old and dear friends J and M. They probably wouldn't care if I used their names, but I'm choosing not to. I'll just say that J is a long-time and substantial contributor to the Democratic Party, and M is a bundler.
About a month ago J forwarded an email he'd sent to Andrew Tobias, the Democratic Party treasurer, that started this way:
"I had reached a point last few days where I thought it was time to send you the money for the good guys, but Andy I think I just can't do that.
I don't mind that I will never get my pizza and diet coke in the WH kitchen for more than a million of Democratic donations over the last 35 years; I was just thinking that he, Our President, knows better and does so little of great moral importance. I have come to think that may make him a worse man at heart and more culpable than Bush who was a foolish, stupid and lesser man in all ways. President Obama has begun to remind me of some essentially decent Men who brought us Vietnam."
Then J set down a long list of what amounted to the sins of omission few Democrats of any stripe could quibble with, from taking troops out of Iraq only to put them in Kuwait, to allowing what caused the '08 crash to live on and prosper, and called President Obama "a weak leader when we needed a Powerful one, a Man without the courage to do those things that so clearly needed doing for our Nation, for our People and for the Peoples of the World."
This was intriguing, coming from a man habituated to the upper realms, so I sent it to my friend M., an heiress who grew up in the world of money and power. Her response: "I agree with him."
Will sentiments like that doom the Obama candidacy? No. The Democratic PACs and Super PACs created by the Citizens United ruling dwarf anything my two friends could possibly contribute. We're talking about a billion-dollar campaign, after all.
And with the amount of money about to flood the airwaves with relentlessly negative ads -- all sludge, all the time -- any advice from the intelligent, well-meaning sorts who used to influence Democratic politics would be lost in the day-to-day rush to respond to the latest round of Republican assertions anyway.
No. The damage isn't to the election. It's to the American Idea. The biggest complaint at all points of the political spectrum is that government has lost touch with the American People and only responds to its contributors. And when people like my friends begin to feel that way -- and I'm assuming there's nothing special about their opinions, however remarkable they are otherwise -- then the break between the American People and the government of by and for the people is almost complete.
The result next year is likely to be a low-turnout, base-driven election that will set the stage for some of the most fateful decisions about this country's future ever made in the Oval Office. And that's worth thinking about.
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