Category Archives: Republicans

Joe Wilson couldn’t bring himself to be part of the solution

Lindsey Graham was pictured on the front of the WSJ this morning (at least, the iPad version), presumably because he was part of the solution. Joe Wilson was not.

Lindsey Graham was pictured on the front of the WSJ this morning (at least, the iPad version), presumably because he was part of the solution. Joe Wilson was not.

This release came in last night from Joe Wilson:

16169_200233014414_5107578_nPrior to and during the government shutdown, I voted in favor of multiple pieces of legislation to keep the government functioning and protect our fragile economy from default. I am disappointed that I could not support tonight’s legislation because it did not reflect my core beliefs of limited government and expanded freedom.  Congress has a long road ahead of us in the coming months and I remain committed to fighting for a better future for all of the constituents I have the privilege of representing in South Carolina’s Second Congressional District.

In other words, he happily voted for a number of purely symbolic pieces of legislation that had zero chance of becoming law, and which helped to precipitate this crisis which nearly threw the global economy down the stairs. But when he had the chance to vote for something that would end the crisis and move forward, he “could not support” it.

He just wanted to make sure you knew that…

Lee Bright attacking Lindsey Graham for making sense

… which is pretty much his whole campaign strategy, near as I can tell.

Anyway, here’s the release from the challenger:

Becoming Obama’s Top Spokesman on ObamaCare, Shutdown

Lindsey Graham went on Fox News yesterday to continue undercutting Ted Cruz and other conservatives on their strategy to defund and delay ObamaCare, and force the President’s hand on the budget. Graham stated that stopping ObamaCare was “unrealistic” and “a bridge too far”.

Lee Bright, the upstate Senator challenging Graham in the 2014 Primary, quickly responded, saying, “Lindsey Graham’s time in Washington is a career too far. He is so astonishingly out of touch with American conservatives, and he obviously has no idea how the leadership of Ted Cruz is playing outside the beltway. He and John McCain are the best friends of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda, and it’s time we bring Graham home, and leave McCain to surrender to the Democrats by himself.”

Bright went on to add that “Lindsey Graham really doesn’t understand what a train wreck and an abomination that ObamaCare really is. If he did, he wouldn’t have been on the wrong side of the cloture vote, wouldn’t have taken his office phone off the hook, and wouldn’t have advocated for preferential treatment for himself and his staff. His behavior is just shameful, and yet, I feel like every time he speaks he’s airing an attack ad against his own campaign.”

Bright predicted that there would be continued outrage and backlash against Graham as his Fox News quotes penetrate the internet and talk radio, saying, “Graham may be below 30% in the next re-elect poll. He may be so blinded by the beltway group-think that he believes South Carolina Republicans are like New York or Massachusetts Republicans, but he’s about to find out this is not the case.”

In criticizing Graham for distancing himself from Cruz and Lee, Bright is ignoring this:

Two prominent advocates of the GOP’s strategy to defund Obamacare in a government funding bill, Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, have seen their favorability numbers drop in separate new polls.

Lee’s favorability in his home state of Utah is down 10 points since June, according to a new poll from Brigham Young University. Overall, voters see Lee unfavorably, 51 percent to 40 percent. Broken down by degree, 40 percent had a “very unfavorable” view of Lee, and 11 percent had a “somewhat unfavorable” view of him.

In June, the same poll found almost the mirror image, with 50 percent of voters viewing him favorably and 41 percent viewing him unfavorably….

Cruz was the focus of another poll out Thursday from Gallup, which found since June, more Americans know Cruz but they think less of him.

In the poll, 62 percent of Americans knew the Republican enough to form an opinion, compared with 42 percent in June, but his unfavorability has gone up 18 points in the same time frame.

Cruz has gone from being viewed favorably, 24 percent to 18 percent, in June to being viewed 26 percent favorably and 36 percent unfavorably in the latest poll.

Of course, Lee doesn’t care about what the people of Utah, in the aggregate, think of him any more than Bright cares about what the South Carolinians overall think of him. They only care about what a plurality of GOP primary voters think. So they’re paying more attention to polls such as this one.

Amazing racial comments in House 93 special election


First, I want to apologize to y’all for not reporting this sooner. But apparently everyone else missed it, aside from the Orangeburg T&D.

I’ve been going back through emails I had set aside to look at later, when I found this one I should have looked at much sooner. It’s 11 days old:

House Democratic Leader Todd Rutherford Calls on GOP House Candidate to Apologize for Bigoted Remark


Columbia, SC – House Democratic Leader Representative Todd Rutherford called on Republican candidate for House District 93, Charlie Stoudemire, to apologize today for his incendiary and insensitive comments that were recently caught on tape. Representative Rutherford released the following statement:


“I wish we could get through one election in South Carolina without a Republican making a bigoted remark. Mr. Stoudemire got his facts wrong during his rant and insulted the millions of hard working South Carolinians fighting to find or keep their jobs while Nikki Haley and other Republicans stacks the deck against them. On October 29th voters will have a choice between a proven problem solver in Democrat Russell Ott who will support growing jobs from within, or extremist Charlie Stoudemire who wants to pull South Carolina back into the dark ages. I call on Mr. Stoudemire to immediately apologize for his remarks and SCGOP Chairman Matt Moore to do the same.”

VIDEO: District 93 Candidate Charlie Stoudemire’s comment

Transcript of GOP House candidate Charlie Stoudemire: “…Now the Democratic Party doesn’t want to do that. Why? Because as long as they’re sitting at home waiting on that paycheck, they’re going to vote Democrat. They put a chain around their leg, no worse chain than the chain when they were slaves. Okay? They put a chain around, and they’re holding them to the Democratic Party by giving them that paycheck.”

Suddenly, Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” remarks sound like they came from Mr. Sensitivity.

According to the T&D, Mr. Stoudemire was given a chance to walk that back a bit — a chance most politicians would leap at. Not Mr. Stoudemire:

In a phone interview Monday afternoon, Stoudemire said, “I’m sorry that they (Democratic Party) are offended by that, but that’s what entitlements do.”

Stoudemire said if he’s elected, he will support and create “programs that will cut those chains and make them less dependent on the government.”

Stoudemire said there are individuals who are mentally or physically not able to work and it’s one’s “Christian duty” to provide for those in need.

However, Stoudemire also said that there are individuals who “can do better but don’t do better” and are depending solely on income from government subsidies.

“I’m not talking about wiping out food stamps,” Stoudemire said.

He said “entitlements” take away a person’s initiative to better themselves.

“When you give, it binds that person to the person who’s giving,” Stoudemire said.

He said Monday that this is “enslavement.”…

So now you have both sides.

Mr. Stoudemire, a Republican, is seeking to replace Rep. Harry Ott, who is quitting the Legislature. He will face Rep. Ott’s son, Democrat Russell Ott. The vote is on Oct. 29.

Oh, and by the way, for anyone who wants to be obtuse and object to my headline and say that was not a “racial” comment — well, I’m not going to bother to explain to you who the “they” is who used to be “slaves” and is now “sitting at home waiting on that paycheck.” I’m gonna let you work it out.

No, Mr. Sanford, it’s YOU who chose to do this to us

I’m sure you’ve all seen coverage of our fellow South Carolinian Chris Cox, who took it upon himself to do yardwork at the Lincoln Memorial.

God bless him for his gesture, especially since he seems to have done so out of a generosity of heart, rather than as implied criticism of anyone:

He said he does not have a political position on the shutdown. “I’m not here to point fingers,” he said. “I only want to inspire people to come out and make a difference.”

“The building behind me serves as a moral compass, not only for our country but for the world.”

“And over my dead body are we going to find trash pouring out of these trash cans,” he said. “At the end of the day we are the stewards of these buildings that are memorials.”

“I want to encourage my friends and fellow Americans to go to their parks, and show up with a trash bag and a rake,” he said. “Show up with a good attitude and firm handshake for the U.S. Park Service.”…

With an attitude like that, I can even forgive him for seeming to be a super-visible example of a certain sort of neighbor. You know, the guy who gets up eagerly on Saturday morning and spends the whole day ostentatiously laboring over his lawn, and acting like he likes it, in an obvious attempt to make other husbands in the neighborhood look bad for wanting to take a nap like a sane person.

I don’t think Chris Cox is like that at all, and I appreciate him.

What I don’t appreciate is what Mark Sanford said in praising him:

“I’m impressed, Chris embodies what it means to be not just a South Carolinian, but an American,” added Sanford. “He saw a job that wasn’t getting done and decided to take care of it. We are not a nanny state, and when government in this case chooses not to do something it’s in keeping with the American tradition to ask, “What can I do to fix the problem?” Chris’s example is one we could all learn from in Washington, and accordingly, I applaud him.”

Let’s review the pertinent part of that. Going right by the nonsensical bleating about a “nanny state,” let’s focus on “when government in this case chooses not to do something.”

Let’s run that again, because it completely blows my mind: “when government in this case chooses not to do something.”

No, Mr. Sanford. Only in the sense that you are the government (because you insisted on running for Congress again) did government “choose not to do something.”

It was you, and your colleagues in the Congress. This is true, obvious, beyond question. Aside from the fact that, contrary to your beliefs, the government is not some alien entity “out there” separate from the people, “in this case,” the guilty parties are unquestionably you and your cohorts.

I’m flabbergasted. It’s just beyond belief that he said that…

Profile in Courage, 2013 edition: Boehner promises to do the right thing to avoid default

First, I want to applaud Speaker John Boehner for promising to do the right thing, at least with regard to a default that could devastate the world economy:

With a deadline for raising the debt limit fast-approaching, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has been telling colleagues in recent days that he will do whatever necessary to avoid defaulting on the federal debt, including relying on House Democrats to help pass an extension, according to GOP aides familiar with the conversations…

But after I’m done applauding the speaker for his courage, let’s have a moment of silence to mourn how low the “courage” bar is these days.

What that says is that the speaker of the House promises he will work with all of his willing colleagues, regardless of party, for the sake of the nation — to make sure that a terrible, needless thing does not happen to the country and the world.

That should be business as usual. Once upon a time, it would have been (in support of that statement, I submit the fact that the United States has never before defaulted in its 237-year history).

But today — and this just makes me sick — it’s extraordinary. In the U.S. House Republican caucus, it is seen as political suicide to work with Democrats, even on something of critical importance to the country.

So yay, Mr. Speaker. And here’s hoping and praying that we’ll live to see the day when this sort of behavior is once again sufficiently common that we have no reason to take note of it…

There’s no question: GOP will be to blame for shutdown

This morning on the radio, I heard reports that some Republicans in Congress are hoping they can shift blame for the likely government shutdown to the president and Senate Democrats.

Wow. Talk about your fantasies.

As you know, I love to blame both parties for everything (which drives Bud crazy).

But in this case, there is simply no question: The Republicans made this happen all by themselves. Some of the older, wiser heads in the party know this — they remember the Gingrich shutdown — and have a bad, bad feeling about now.

But the young innocents of the Tea Party charge blithely on — partly because on a certain level they really don’t care whether the government shuts down (their extreme ideology makes them feel, deep down, that that’s a consummation devoutly to be wished), but also because, in case it does turn out to be something less than a lark, it will be blamed on Democrats.

But no one whose thinking is not distorted by ideology can miss what has happened here.

First, there is the Tea partisans’ insistence on making every single raising of the debt limit some kind of showdown at the OK Corral, which meant we were doing to have a crisis this month anyway.

Then, there is this bizarre fixation on not funding a perfectly legitimate law that has stood up to every legitimate thing they could throw at it. It survived legal challenges. When they tried to run against it in an election, they lost. They have demonstrated 42 times that it is not in their power to repeal it. So now they want to defund it, or delay it — which would be patently illegitimate on its own — and have brought about an imminent shutdown of the whole government in their bid to stop the law from taking effect.

On the issue of Obamacare, they are an utterly defeated army that has turned guerrilla and has nothing left to fall back on but acts of sabotage.

What they have done is so obvious, and so obviously outrageously irresponsible, that there’s little chance that anyone outside of the more fervent parts of their base could dream of blaming anyone but them.

I just figured I might as well go ahead and say that, before the shutdown occurs…

Consensus starts to emerge: House GOP is loony

Even Paul Krugman — who is such a bitter, contemptuous partisan that I avoided running his columns at the newspaper — thought maybe he was going overboard a bit by calling the GOP’s maneuvers on funding Obamacare and the rest of government “crazy:”

In recent months, the G.O.P. seems to have transitioned from being the stupid party to being the crazy party.

I know, I’m being shrill. But as it grows increasingly hard to see how, in the face of Republican hysteria over health reform, we can avoid a government shutdown — and maybe the even more frightening prospect of a debt default — the time for euphemism is past…

But aside from the typically Krugmanesque assertion that the GOP was stupid before it was crazy (everyone who disagrees with Krugman is stupid — just ask him; he’ll tell you), the economist really wasn’t going out on much of a limb in this instance.

He was simply stating something that seems to be emerging as a consensus across the political spectrum. Among people who have clue, that is.

While his language is milder, Gerald Seib, writing in that wild-eyed liberal publication The Wall Street Journal, is similarly dismissive of the sanity of GOP House members’ actions:

The list of conservatives who didn’t want the House to do what it did late last week—that is, pass a bill trying to defund Obamacare, at the risk of shutting down the government—is long and distinguished: Karl Rove, Rep. Pete King, Sen. John McCain, the editorial page of this newspaper, even the House’s own Republican leadership.

But House Republicans went ahead anyway, passing a bill tying the financing of government operations starting Oct. 1 with the removal of money for implementing the new health law. The bill won’t pass the Senate, and it won’t be signed by the president, but it may lead to a partial closure of the government that many believe would be politically disastrous for the Republican Party.

Which raises again the question that animates much of the conversation in the capital: Why do House Republicans do the things they do?..

He goes on to answer himself with a primer on what most of us already understand about House Republicans. Basically, that these people’s experience of government doesn’t precede the existence of the Tea Party, and that they are elected from districts that are so safe for a Republican that a GOP member need only fear a primary challenge. Stuff, as I said, we knew already. Although he reminded me of a fact I had forgotten if I knew it: That these districts are SO grossly gerrymandered that Republican candidates in the aggregate “lost the popular vote for the House in 2012 by more than a million votes nationally, yet kept control of the House by 33 seats.” (Although I see this writer disagrees that redistricting was the culprit.)

Then there is Judd Gregg, a Republican and former senator from New Hampshire, who writes for The Hill:

Most Americans these days are simply ignoring Republicans. And they should.

The self-promotional babble of a few has become the mainstream of Republican political thought. It has marginalized the influence of the party to an appalling degree.

An approach to the debt ceiling that says one will not vote for its extension unless ObamaCare is defunded is the political equivalent of playing Russian roulette with all the chambers of the gun loaded. It is the ultimate no-win strategy….

… which almost makes Krugman sound temperate. Gregg continues:

You cannot in politics take a hostage you cannot shoot. That is what the debt ceiling is. At some point, the debt ceiling will have to be increased not because it is a good idea but because it is the only idea.

Defaulting on the nation’s obligations, which is the alternative to not increasing the debt ceiling, is not an option either substantively or politically…

He goes on to write about the destruction that defaulting on our debt would wreak on the world’s economy — something about which the babbling infants in the House (half of the GOP members have been there less than three years) and their fellow loony in the Senate, Ted Cruz, care not at all.

The people who elected them, and who will vote for someone crazier in a GOP primary if these individuals don’t act with gross irresponsibility, don’t know or care what sort of harm their actions could bring about, so they don’t know or care, either. This is apparently regarded, by at least one writer at RedState, as a good thing.

Here’s how James Taranto, whose standard tone in his Best of the Web Today column at the WSJ is every bit as dismissive of the left as Krugman is of the right, characterizes Ted Cruz’s effort to support the House GOP effort to defund Obamacare. After noting the commonsense fact that there is “no realistic prospect of enacting the House resolution,” he writes:

Instead of playing possum, a group of Senate Republicans led by Texas freshman Ted Cruz propose to play Otter: “I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!“…

Taranto then casts Sarah Palin in the role of Bluto, given her op-ed at in which she essentially said, “We’re just the guys to do it.”

OK, so from the left and the right, we’re seeing such modifiers as “crazy,” “futile,” stupid,” and “appalling.”

To all of those qualities, let us add disingenuousness. Here is the entire text of a release that Joe Wilson, my congressman, sent out on Friday:

Wilson: Senate and President Must Act


(Washington, DC) – Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02) released the following statement after the House passed the Continuing Resolution which funds the government through December 15, 2013.

“Today, House Republicans have acted responsibly by passing a solution to keep the government’s doors open.  Because of our efforts, American families are protected from the unworkable, unaffordable healthcare law and hardworking taxpayers can rest assured that our nation will stop spending beyond its means.


“It’s time for the Senate and the President to act.   Time is ticking. We have ten short days until the federal government’s funding will expire. Senate Democrats should follow our lead and join us in protecting the American people, rather than placing politics over policy and threatening a government shutdown,” Congressman Joe Wilson said.

Note that only a passing reference is made to the actual point of the resolution for House Republicans: “…American families are protected from the unworkable, unaffordable healthcare law…” What an odd choice of words: “protected from.” He avoids saying what the measure does, which is deny funding to a program that is set in place by law — a law which he and his allies have demonstrated, an amazing number of times, that they are utterly incapable of repealing.

Then there is the really, truly cheesy dodge of making like it’s all on the president and the Senate whether the government is funded or not. Who are the children that Joe and the other Republicans who voted for this think will be fooled by that? Who will think, if the government shuts down, that anything other than the GOP obsession with Obamacare is to blame?

These guys are far gone. And everyone, on left and right, except them, seems to know it.

Key Republicans line up behind action in Syria — but will the latter-day Robert Taft Republicans do so?

John Boehner and Eric Cantor have both joined Nancy Pelosi in lining up behind the president’s proposal to take limited military action in Syria.

There are reports that John McCain and Lindsey Graham are doing so as well, despite all the reservations they expressed the last couple of days.

That’s important, even impressive, given the problems Congress has had lining up behind anything in recent years.

But it doesn’t answer the big questions. A big reason why Congress has been so much more feckless than usual lately is that the leadership lining up behind a plan is not the same as Congress doing so.

One of the causes of the president’s highly disturbing indecision on this issue is attributable to the fact that his party has been drifting toward what has been its comfort zone since 1975 — reflexive opposition to any sort of military action.

But the real indecision is expected on the Republican side, where pre-1941 isolationism has been gaining a strong foothold in recent years.

In that vein, the WSJ had an interesting column today headlined, “The Robert Taft Republicans Return.” As Bret Stephens wrote,

Such faux-constitutional assertions—based on the notion that only direct attacks to the homeland constitute an actionable threat to national security—would have astonished Ronald Reagan, who invaded Grenada in 1983 without consulting a single member of Congress. It would have amazed George H.W. Bush, who gave Congress five hours notice before invading Panama. And it would have flabbergasted the Republican caucus of, say, 2002, which understood it was better to take care of threats over there rather than wait for them to arrive right here.

Then again, the views of Messrs. Paul, Lee and Amash would have sat well with Sen. Robert Taft of Ohio (1889-1953), son of a president, a man of unimpeachable integrity, high principles, probing intelligence—and unfailing bad judgment.

A history lesson: In April 1939, the man known as Mr. Republican charged that “every member of the government . . . is ballyhooing the foreign situation, trying to stir up prejudice against this country or that, and at all costs take the minds of the people off their trouble at home.” By “this country or that,” Taft meant Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The invasion of Poland was four months away.

Another history lesson: After World War II, Republicans under the leadership of Sen. Arthur Vandenberg joined Democrats to support the Truman Doctrine, the creation of NATO, and the Marshall Plan. But not Robert Taft. He opposed NATO as a threat to U.S. sovereignty, a provocation to Russia, and an undue burden on the federal fisc.

“Can we afford this new project of foreign assistance?” he asked in 1949. “I am as much against Communist aggression as anyone. . . but we can’t let them scare us into bankruptcy and the surrender of all liberty, or let them determine our foreign policies.” Substitute “Islamist” for “Communist” in that sentence, and you have a Rand Paul speech…

First, Vincent, you need a huge SC flag


Normally, I don’t go in for the big stage props in politics. I still recall the time, in a barn at the agricultural experiment station outside Jackson, TN, in the late ’70s (or was it early ’80s?), when some national political figure stood to make a speech in front of two symmetrically-stacked ziggurats of hay and a tractor. I also remember how hot it was, and how the runnels of sweat rolled off the beautiful young network camerawoman standing on a platform just above me, her thin garments saturated and clinging to her…

But that’s beside the point. The point is that I don’t usually go in for the big, fakey stage props in politics. I thought the hay and the tractor were kinda cheesy. It was the first of many experiences I would have with such cheesiness.

That said, Vincent Sheheen has little choice now. He must find a really, really big South Carolina state flag and launch his campaign standing in front of it. The opening handed him by his opponent is just too inviting.

With her announcement yesterday, Nikki Haley made it clear that if you thought she was running a cookie-cutter, national, ideological campaign with no bearing upon South Carolina at all back in 2010, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

First, she stands in front of a U.S. flag that must have been bought second-hand from the people who filmed “Patton.” (The State said it was “tennis court-sized.” I think maybe they were playing doubles.) Then, she stood not with South Carolinians, not with people who have anything at all to say about South Carolina or who care a fig about South Carolina, but with Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Rick Perry of Texas and Scott Walker of Wisconsin (which the New York Daily News calls her “blue-shirted band of merry men.”)

Oh, wait, Tim Scott was there — you know, the guy she elevated to the Senate, and who therefore owes her big-time.

The other governors were there to back her up as she said things such as this:

“When it came to Obamacare, we didn’t just say ‘no.’ We said ‘never.’ We are not expanding Medicaid just because President Obama thinks we should.”

Because, you know, that’s what it’s all about — fighting the big, national ideological fight. By the way, to fully understand that second sentence, you put a comma after Medicaid. Because the reason she’s saying “no” to expanding Medicaid is, of course, “just because President Obama thinks we should.”

Maybe the governor should talk with her former employers over at Lexington Medical Center about the jobs that will be lost there because of her standing in the way of Medicaid expansion. Not to mention the impact on South Carolinians’ health. But she’s not going to do that, and not only because she didn’t leave her old job under the best of terms. She’s not going to do that because she doesn’t care about the impact on South Carolina. It’s all about the national, ideological fight.

Which is something that Vincent Sheheen should seize on as a way to contrast himself to the current governor. He’s done that already, of course. He just needs to drive the point home a bit more firmly.

The big SC flag would be a good start. Not necessarily tennis court-sized. Just big enough to make the point — tastefully, which would be a nice change in and of itself.


SC GOP chairman doing what party chairmen do


That’s Matt Moore, second from right, with some other modern SC politicos and some fugitive from the early 19th century, at a political forum last fall.

You’ve probably seen this silliness:

COLUMBIA, SC — The chairman of South Carolina’s Republican Party says he will not allow CNN or NBC to broadcast debates of Republican presidential candidates in South Carolina unless the networks refuse to air a documentary on Hilary Clinton, a possible Democratic nominee for president.

NBC plans to broadcast a miniseries starring Diane Lane as Clinton, the former First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State. CNN has also announced plans for a feature-length documentary on Clinton’s career.

Monday, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, sent letters to NBC and CNN telling them he would ask the RNC to ban any Republican candidates from participating in presidential debates hosted by NBC or CNN unless the two networks agree to not air the programs.

Matt Moore, South Carolina’s newly elected Republican Party chairman, said he agreed with Priebus…

Matt Moore is doing what party chairmen do — inspiring ire toward the opposition (and, if you’re a Republican, toward media, which is perceived by the most ardent loyalists as the opposition), inspire the constituency to say “hell, yeah!,” and keep them giving money.

Making sense is not a job requirement.

It is extremely unlikely that I will watch either of those programs, mainly because the chief reason I have a TV is to have something to watch movies on. These programs do not seem to fit into the category of things I deem worth spending time on.

But it seems to me that given the far less interesting and compelling figures who have inspired docudramas in the past, Hillary Clinton certainly qualifies as legitimate fodder. I found it interesting to see what Emma Thompson did with the Hillary-inspired character in “Primary Colors” — a movie that, by the way, was far from laudatory.

People make too much of such things. And they ignore the fact that these things can do as much harm as good to candidates. I’m mindful of the how media overexposure (much of it on her terms) eliminated Sarah Palin from consideration for the presidential nomination in 2012, despite her popularity for a year or so after the 2008 contest.

People have always made too much of such things. I vividly recall the way full release of “The Right Stuff” was delayed to avoid charges that the filmmakers were boosting John Glenn’s chances in the 1984 Democratic nomination process.

If only they had been able to do so. If that awesome film (which never got the attention it should have, due in large part to its on-again, off-again release) could have gotten him elected or even nominated, I would have been much happier than I was with the choice available to us that November.

No, those House Republicans did NOT lose in 2012

It’s probably not fair to pick on this Andres Oppenheimer guy, because he’s just doing what political writers across the country do. But I’m going to anyway. He leads a recent column thusly:

Judging from Republican House leaders’ latest objections to an immigration bill that would legalize up to 11 million undocumented immigrants, it looks like the Republican Party has not learned the lesson from its 2012 electoral defeat — and that it won’t win a presidential election anytime soon.

Just as I forecast in this column early last year that Republicans would get clobbered in the November elections because of their anti-immigration, Hispanic-allergic rhetoric, it’s safe to predict that — once again — Republicans will kill their chances for the 2016 elections by continuing to sound like the “anti-Hispanic” party…

Yeah, OK — if you’re talking about the presidential election, failing to get on board with comprehensive immigration reform could hurt in 2016. Maybe.

What I object to, because it speaks with the central flaw in political coverage in this country, is when he asserts that “the Republican Party has not learned the lesson from its 2012 electoral defeat.”

To which I have to say, “What defeat?” We’re talking about House Republicans. Current House Republicans. Not people who used to be in the House, but were defeated, and therefore aren’t there anymore. Every current member of the House Republican Caucus is someone won election or re-election in 2012. I’m going to go out on a limb here (not knowing the details of each and every House member’s electoral strategy) and say that lots of them ran as the kind of guy (or gal) who would be against a path to citizenship for illegals. And I’ll go further and say that as they look forward to running for re-election from their gerrymandered districts (with minorities, including Hispanic minorities, carefully drawn out of them), their biggest worry is having a primary opponent who would come across as more against a path to citizenship than they are.

Who gets elected president in 2016 is not their problem. Who gets elected to their congressional seats in 2014 is. The Framers designed it this way — the House is set up to be concerned with narrower time frames and narrower constituencies, which of course have become even narrower as lines have been drawn according to ethnic and ideological considerations.

Too much political coverage and commentary is written as though each political party is some amorphous mass which the entire country is either for or against at a given moment. But the world isn’t that way. Each candidate may get some help from his party, perhaps a lot of help, but each race — whether it’s a House election or for the presidency — is decided based upon factors specific to the candidates, what happens during the time in which they are running, the way the district is drawn (in the case of district elections), who can raise the most money, who gets his message across most forcefully, and a lot of silly things such as who has the most name recognition, or who says the stupidest thing that gets reported on.

It would be nice if those House Republicans did look at a bigger picture. It would actually be good for the country. But if they don’t, don’t say they failed to learn the lesson from their 2012 defeat, because they did just fine in 2012.

I help shut down Pub Politics


Phil, me and Wesley — closing out the final show.

Last night, I was the very last guest on the very last show of Pub Politics. I was the big finale.

And that was fitting, since it was my ninth appearance on the show, and no one else has even come close to that record. For those of you struggling with the math, that’s almost twice the standard for SNL’s Five-Timers Club.

The show isn’t yet available for watching online, but I’ll give you a heads-up when it’s up.

The first guest was Matt Moore, the new chairman of the SC Republican Party. He was followed by Joel Sawyer (sometime host of the show) and Amanda Alpert Loveday, executive director of the SC Democratic Party.

At the very end, Wesley asked me whether I had any final words with which to close the show. I told him that I wanted to thank him and his Democratic opposite number (Wesley Donehue does work for the Senate Republicans, Phil Bailey for the Senate Democrats) for providing a forum in which people from the two camps can sit down, have a beer, and discuss politics in a lively, frank manner with (relative) civility. It may not sound like much, but there aren’t that many such forums these days.

I had no idea Boehner was such a jerk

There was an interesting piece yesterday in The Washington Post about how divided the House Republicans are these days, headlined, “House Republicans broken into fighting factions.”

It provided an in-the-room perspective of recent battles within the caucus, such as the meeting on New Year’s Day in which Speaker Boehner told the caucus he was going to vote for the tax deal with the Democrats, and his two top lieutenants said they would vote against it, and a representative from Tennessee shouted, “If you’re for this and they’re against, we’ve got problems.”

As I said, interesting piece. I’ve felt a good bit of sympathy for Mr. Boehner over the last couple of years as he has tried to lead the House despite the open opposition of the Tea Party faction. But I lost all sympathy when I got to this part of the story:

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, House Republicans filed into the same Capitol basement room, HC5, where they fought on New Year’s Day. They filtered past clearly marked NO SMOKING signs — which, as always, the Camel-smoking Boehner ignored — and settled into the same hard plastic chairs that have served as Washington’s toughest ideological fault line of the past 30 months.

OK, maybe I’m the last person in America to know this about Boehner, but I find that shocking.

I would think any member of the Congress who so blatantly ignored a rule in place for the health of other people to be beyond the pale. But for a leader to do it — for someone in chargeto demonstrate that he is entitled to indulge his own noxious habit to the detriment of the health of everyone around him, even though others have to follow the rules…

That’s just breathtaking. So to speak. I’m stunned.

No wonder nobody wants to follow that guy.

Jeff Duncan gets it caught in a big, fat wringer


One of our readers shared a link to the above in the comments thread of last night’s Virtual Front Page. I didn’t click on it until today, and lest you miss out entirely, here’s what she linked to.

(And yes, my headline is based on the famous John Mitchell quote about another powerful woman in Washington.)

You should follow the link yourself to check out the comments, some of which are pictured below:

duncan 2


Ethics, schmethics — what on Earth is really going on?

First, the good news is that maybe, just maybe, ethics reform did NOT die in the SC Senate yesterday.

And, on the whole, that’s a good thing. Because while the bill is far from perfect, it’s better than no ethics reform at all.

Vincent Sheheen and Wes Hayes made the bipartisan case for ethics reform in an op-ed today. It was more in the vein of why we need reform, period, than why we need this particular bill. For more of a breakdown on the good and bad qualities of both the House and Senate bills, see this piece by Cindi Scoppe from Sunday before last. After discussing inadequacies in the Senate bill, it concluded:

The good news is that there’s still a chance to add the missing provisions to the bill and shore up the shortcomings, and at least give us a fighting chance of a strong bill coming out of the final conference committee. But there’s a lot of work to be done. And the clock is ticking.

Oh, if only senators were as conscientious as Cindi, and I, and most sensible people, would like them to be.

Rather than worrying about whether the ethics bill had everything in it that it should have, half of the Senate (which is all it took) engaged yesterday in a bipartisan effort to kill such legislation altogether.

I had a terrible time figuring out why they were doing this, from the story in the paper this morning. This was not the reporter’s fault. The problem was that the senators had no reasons that made sense.

The Republicans of the Tea Party wing who voted against putting the bill on special order had a stated reason. But it was just “reason” as motive, not “reason” as logic. It was, in fact, completely batty. They said they didn’t want to spend the time on ethics reform because they wanted to spend it on their 1830s-style bill to nullify Obamacare. Really.

A big reason the bill WAS put on special order today, reversing yesterday’s vote, was because the more sensible Republicans agreed to go along with the demand that the nullification bill be considered, too. Again, really.

But at least there was a certain clarity to the Republicans’ lunacy. Here are the stated Democratic “reasons”:

State Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, said there is no urgency in passing the bill, adding its passage by the GOP-controlled House, only four weeks ago, left the Senate with too little time to consider ethics reform.

State Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, said Democrats still have concerns about the proposal that need to be worked out, including the composition of the committee that would oversee ethics complaints against lawmakers. Hutto held up getting to the ethics bill Wednesday by debating a bill that would direct money left over from the state’s budget year that ends June 30 to different projects.

Hutto criticized Haley and other lawmakers for saying that protecting taxpayers against the theft of their personal information — such as the hacking incident that happened last year at the state Department of Revenue — was a top priority when little, he said, has been done to address the problem…

Also, they don’t like the way Nikki Haley spells her name. And they don’t like to put bills on special order on days of the week that start with “W.” OK, I made those last two up, but they make about as much sense, in terms of relevance.

This caused me to dream up reasons. I thought that maybe this was some of the Democrats’ way of hurting Nikki Haley and helping Vincent Sheheen, whether he wants such help or not. (Sheheen was one of the four Democrats voting for special order yesterday.) The idea being to block Nikki Haley’s bid to get credit for ethics reform (in spite of, or perhaps because of, being a poster child for why we need ethics reform), while Vincent’s out there voting for it and writing op-eds in favor of it.

But that theory is a little over-elaborate. It requires voters to blame Nikki for something Democrats did. And even if that worked, they’d have to kill the bill next year, too.

I’m afraid the more likely explanation is simply that these guys are opposed to ethics reform. That’s the Occam’s razor version, and probably the right one.

Anyway, today’s action offers reform a chance this year. We’ll see.

Michele writes once more to me, her “cherished friend”

Not to mention, “immensely loyal supporter.” Which would come as a surprise to a lot of people.

I received this this morning from Michele Bachmann:

Dear Friend,

As a most cherished friend and an immensely loyal supporter, I’m writing you today to say THANK YOU for all you have done both for me and my campaigns.

As a special thank you, I have prepared a personal video just for you that I hope you will view right now. I’m excited to share this important breaking news about a decision I have made with you first.

After watching the video, I hope you will provide me your feedback or leave a comment.

Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your continued support. I look forward to working with you in my future endeavors.


As I’ve mentioned in the past, Rep. Bachmann has for some time assumed a certain intimacy with me. I was particularly disturbed when I would get those “Are you free to talk tonight?” emails. It was like she thought we were married, or at least seriously dating.

I suppose I got on the list from my contacts with Wesley Donehue’s outfit, since they worked with her presidential campaign.

Maybe it’s over now. Do you think? Surely I won’t hear from her any more. Will I?

Have you heard the one about McCain and the Syrian rebels?

I wasn’t watching the news all that closely yesterday, so, as sometimes happens with Twitter, I saw the jokes about John McCain sneaking into Syria to talk to the rebels before I knew he had gone. Here’s the first I saw:

Syrian rebels with McCain, probably: “I want to trust your judgment, but go over again why you thought she was qualified to be president.”

Later, someone brought my attention to this one from McCain pal Lindsey Graham:

Best wishes to @SenJohnMcCain in Syria today. If he doesn’t make it back calling dibs on his office.

Anyway, no doubt to Graham’s chagrin, McCain apparently made it back out of Syria OK (at least, that’s how I read this reference to Yemen). The White House has said today that yeah, they knew he was going, and no, they don’t have anything else to say about it, but look forward to hearing from the senator about his trip.

A few words about that landmark immigration bill

Yesterday, Bryan complained that I didn’t put the IRS official taking the Fifth on my Virtual Front Page. I explained that that had been big news the night before, not on Wednesday.

Which reminds me… There’s something else that sort of fell between the cracks — the Senate Judiciary Committee’s passage Tuesday night of the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill:

A Senate committee approved a sweeping immigration reform bill Tuesday that would provide a path to citizenship for up to 11 million illegal immigrants, setting the stage for the full Senate to consider the landmark legislation next month.

After five days of debate over dozens of amendments, the Judiciary Committee voted 13 to 5 in support of the bill, with three Republicans joining the committee’s 10 Democrats. The legislation emerged with its core provisions largely intact, including new visa programs for high-tech and low-skilled workers and new investments in strengthening border control…

Late as this is, I wanted to take note of it. Because it’s what Joe Biden would call a BFD. Or, in more polite language, “sweeping” and “landmark.”

Some notes about developments since Tuesday night:

  • John Boehner, with zampolit Eric Cantor’s concurrence, said today the House isn’t just going to pass the Senate bill, whatever emerges from the Senate. Because, you know, his caucus is et up with Tea Party types these days, which means the speaker can’t just say he’ll do the reasonable thing on immigration.
  •  Further complicating Boehner’s life is the fact that, according to a new poll, 58 percent of Americans favor a “path to citizenship” for current illegals. Of course, his Tea Party members couldn’t care less about what America as a whole wants; they only have to please the portions of their gerrymandered districts who vote in GOP primaries. This could present problems down the line for the Republican Party, if the Senate passes something like the current bill and the House doesn’t also pass something very like it.
  • Here’s a quick overview of the bill, from The Washington Post.

By the way, I should probably share with you this release that I got from Lindsey Graham a few hours before the bill passed Judiciary:

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed three amendments introduced by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).


The Graham Amendments to the bipartisan Senate immigration bill would:


  • ·         Require Extra Background Checks for Aliens from Dangerous Countries.  The Graham Amendment requires additional background checks be performed on aliens petitioning for legalization that come from countries or regions the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State determine represent a threat to the national security of the United States.


  • ·         Close a Potentially Dangerous Loophole in our Asylum and Refugee Program.  Another Graham Amendment would terminate an individual’s asylum or refugee status in most cases where the person returns to his or her home country.  The amendment would limit the ability of those seeking asylum in the United States to travel back to their home country without approval from the Secretary of Homeland Security or Attorney General.


  • ·         Toughen Up on Visa Overstays.  About 40 percent of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants did not illegally come across the border but simply overstayed their legal visas.  A third Graham Amendment requires visa overstay information collected under a new integrated mandatory exit system be shared with federal law enforcement, intelligence, and national security agencies and that the Secretary of DHS use that information to locate and remove aliens unlawfully present.




Lindsey is working hard to simultaneously accomplish his two conflicting purposes:

  1. To pass a rational comprehensive immigration bill.
  2. To persuade portions of his base that even though he is pushing a rational immigration bill, he’s still being really, really tough on them furriners.

The contemptible SC Senate kills Medicaid expansion

Of course, in the Senate’s defense, it is merely doing what the contemptible SC House and our contemptible governor did before them:

COLUMBIA, SC — The state Senate killed Medicaid expansion on Tuesday, the last hope for supporters who wanted to extend health insurance benefits to South Carolina’s working poor.

The vote was 23-19, with two Republicans – Ray Cleary of Georgetown and Paul Campbell of Berkeley County – joining all of the Senate’s 17 Democrats present in voting for the expansion. Four senators, one Democrat and three Republicans, were absent.

The proposal would have accepted $795.8 million in federal money to pay for health insurance for about 320,000 South Carolinians beginning Jan. 1. There would have been no direct cost to the state. Because the proposed Medicaid expansion was an amendment to the state budget, it would have expired after one year. Lawmakers would have had to vote to expand coverage again next year…

Congratulations to Sens. Ray Cleary and Paul Campbell for doing what is unquestionably, indubitably the right thing. I can’t say I know either of them, really, but I’ve heard Paul Campbell speak, and suspect that he’s one of the brightest people in the Legislature. The retired regional president of Alcoa, he’s a man of accomplishment who seems to have a good grasp of how the world actually works. This vote is consistent with that impression.

As for the rest, particularly those who voted against this for no better reason than the fact that it has the name “Obama” attached to it, and that’s what you’re expected to do if you’re a Republican in South Carolina… well, you’ve just demonstrated once again why I hold partythink in such low regard.

Yes, one can rationalize all day and all night about how there are better ways to achieve the goals of Obamacare, but when you’re all done, you haven’t changed the fact that this is the only plan in effect, or likely to come into effect. This is it. You either do it, or give the idea of significantly broadening access to health care the back of your hand.

An insider’s perspective on the Sanford campaign, Part II

Clare with Karen Tumulty.

Clare with Karen Tumulty.

Here’s the second installment of Clare Morris’ report on her brief stint working on the Mark Sanford campaign for the 1st Congressional District:

How I Spent the Fin­­al Days of Mark Sanford’s Congressional Campaign – Part Two

By Clare Morris

Monday Evening, May 6

That Monday evening, the campaign had a volunteer-appreciation cookout behind the raggedy headquarters for everyone, and media were invited. I was super stoked because I was hoping to meet some national reporters.

Well, I got to meet Karen Tumulty (see pic) who was with Time for many years and now is with The Washington Post. I’ve always been a big fan of Karen’s because she is so not shrill. Her low-key and measured manner is such a welcome addition to the Sunday morning news show clamor. I told her as much and she seemed pleased in her modest way. My friend Lauren FitzHugh and I chatted her up and complimented Karen on her sassy red jacket and found out that she’d gotten it on sale at Talbot’s.

Late in the afternoon before the reporters arrived, Joel Sawyer, Mark’s campaign spokesperson, pulled all the volunteers together and gave them the 411 about the festivities. He let everyone know that reporters were invited and that they might be asked to give comments. He told them that it was up to them if they felt comfortable doing interviews. Again, with more campaign Zen – Joel told them that under no circumstances should they say anything bad about the opponent.

That evening was a really fun time! Although I’m busting on the headquarters for being raggedy, the burgers and dogs at the cookout were really yummy. The atmosphere, which was the same the short time I was in Charleston, was one of youthful optimism.

One of the most fun things about my little stint at the end of the campaign was seeing old friends from my time in Washington in the mid-‘90’s. What a great surprise to see April [Derr], Paige [Herrin Stowell], and Marie [Dupree] when I walked into campaign headquarters on that Monday! Back in the day, April was Mark’s district director and then chief of staff and Paige and Marie shared his scheduling responsibilities. It was so fun to see them all seamlessly slip back into their old roles and hear their perky chatter as they worked on stuff together.

It’s no understatement to say that Mark has more than his share of detractors.

However, it’s a special person who evokes such loyalty in former staff and friends.

These former staffers of twenty-plus years rearranged their lives and in some instances, made sacrifices to come and support him. Now, that says something.

Tuesday, May 7 – Election Day!

There was a subdued sense of excitement at the campaign headquarters on Election Day. Game Day, right? Mark had a very aggressive schedule, just like he’d had all during the campaign. I’d heard that he had eleven different places to be that day, while his opponent had four.

More former staffers and volunteers kept streaming in. The atmosphere continued to be cautiously optimistic.

The Charleston Post and Courier did not endorse Mark, but no one seemed particularly surprised by that. In fact, no one on the campaign ever mentioned it to me. I just know because I read the paper one morning at breakfast. It makes me wonder whether newspaper endorsements are as important as they used to be.

Again, I wore a dress and heels so that no one would ask me to hold up signs. Ten years ago, I helped with the last days of his gubernatorial campaign and did more than my share of sign-holding.

This Election Day was so different for me than the one ten years ago. For one thing, then I’d drawn the short straw and had to help Jenny get ready for the victory party.

That consisted of Jenny sending me into different party stores to pick things up and then telling me that I wasn’t doing it right.

More to come…the results coming in, the victory party, and meeting Maria.