Category Archives: Republicans

Yeah, Parliament’s vote about Trump IS embarrassing

I got this release from the DNC today:

Today, the governing body of one of the United States’ closest allies will debate whether to bar the Republican Party’s frontrunner from their country for “Hate Speech.” Setting aside the serious diplomatic implications of the United Kingdom barring a potential U.S. president from their shores, this shameful and embarrassing spectacle shines a light on the Republican candidates’ vitriolic rhetoric and discriminatory policies that undermine our values, alienate partners we need to prosecute the war on terror, and make our country and our people less safe. Today’s debate underscores just how far Republicans have moved to the extreme right and how out-of-touch they are….

Of course, I could do my usual thing and deconstruct that piece as typical overblown rhetoric from one side making generalizations about the other (as though all Republicans were Trump).

But you know what? They do have a point here: This really is embarrassing, and not just for Republicans. It’s embarrassing to America that someone who would attract this kind of attention is doing so well in the run-up to our presidential election.

All of our faces should be red. Because Trump’s supporters are unlikely to feel the embarrassment. We have to do it for them…

This was the only picture of Parliament I could find in my files. That's me in late 2010.

This was the only picture of Parliament I could find in my files. That’s me in late 2010.

In the studio with Todd and Joel on Cynthia Hardy’s show

Studio

Just sharing this shot of Rep. Todd Atwater, Sen. Joel Lourie and me in the studio during Cynthia Hardy’s On Point radio show on the Big DM this evening.

Note that Todd is alert and looking around, Joel is playing the nerd studying the notes he had brought with him about the SOTU and Gov. Haley’s response, and I’m staring at my phone, probably writing this Tweet:

Which prompted Rob Godfrey from the governor’s office to respond:

Yes, this is a very self-referential blog post. But then, blogs tend to be that way as a medium — they are to journalism what selfies are to photography.

We had a good discussion, with everyone on board with agreeing with both the president and the governor in their calls for greater civility and less negativity. In fact, if our Legislature consisted entirely of Joel Louries and Todd Atwaters, we’d get a lot more done at the State House.

Not that there wasn’t sincere disagreement. Todd and Joel had a pretty good back-and-forth about Obamacare and Medicaid expansion. At one point I almost jumped in on Joel’s side, when Todd said it was a shame the president didn’t meet Republicans halfway on the issue.

Hey, I was about to say, the president and the Democrats did meet Republicans halfway and more from the get-go — before the debate on the Act was joined, before the president was even elected.

That happened when Obama didn’t run advocating for single-payer, which is the one really rational approach to healthcare. And he backed away from that in deference to the wall of Republican resistance that already existed against it. So he and the other Dems started out with a compromise position.

But then the subject changed, and we didn’t return to it. Just as well. I was being presented to listeners as the guy in the middle between Joel the Democrat and Todd the Republican, and it would have just confused everybody if I had jumped out on the one issue where I’m to the left of Bernie Sanders. That is, that’s where my position has been cast popularly — mostly by Republican resistance that has made Democrats afraid to embrace it. I don’t consider it to be to the left of anything. To me, it’s the commonsense, nonideological, pragmatic option. And a lot simpler than the ACA.

Speaking of Bernie… He and the author of Hillarycare will be on the tube in awhile, so I think I’ll stop and rest up to get ready to Tweet during that. Join me @BradWarthen if you’re so inclined.

 

Graham endorses Bush, which makes sense for him

You’ve probably heard about this by now:

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – Sen. Lindsey Graham on Friday endorsed Jeb Bush for president, a major get for the former Florida governor who has struggled to gain traction in the contest.

In a press conference here, where the two stood side-by-side, Graham praised Bush, calling him a thoughtful and pragmatic figure who, unlike many of his rivals, had the experience to be president. At one point, Graham offered harsh criticism of Sen. Marco Rubio, saying that he wasn’t ready for the White House.

“I think Marco Rubio will be president of the United States someday,” Graham said. “I like him. But I wasn’t ready to be president at 44.”

Bush, Graham said, “is ready to be a commander-in-chief on Day One.”…

Umm… that doesn’t sound all that “harsh” to me. It’s not even inconsistent with the big pat on the head he gave Rubio last year, calling him a “son of Ronald Reagan.” That spurred speculation that he might back Rubio. But sons are not necessarily always ready to fill the roles of their fathers.

This makes sense for Graham. The only choices for him were Bush, Rubio, Christie and maybe Kasich. And of them all, Bush comes closest to the kind of traditional conservatism that would appeal to Graham and to South Carolina Republicans — or would have, before they lost their collective mind when Donald Trump started running.graham mug

It’s like Graham is saying to fellow Republicans — this is the guy I prefer, and he’s the one y’all would prefer if you weren’t under the influence of red kryptonite, or whatever’s gotten into you.

As for the first objection most people will have — But Bush can’t win! He’s out of it! He’s missed his chance! — that wouldn’t bother Graham. As he said at his availability in Columbia last week, there are two ways to approach choosing someone to endorse, or vote for — getting onto the bandwagon of someone with momentum, or choosing the person you honestly think would do the best job if he did get elected.

And I was thinking during the debate last night, as Bush failed yet again to get the sort of traction that would help him gain lost ground, he was the one guy on the stage who didn’t say anything really strongly objectionable. He plays the quiet, Father Knows Best role in the crowd — maybe not the most fun guy, but somebody you could trust to run the government while you’re busy living your life. The sober, stolid type who may be boring but isn’t alarming.

Which is saying something these days.

I can’t believe we’re voting next month (this just doesn’t feel right)

Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., responds to a warm welcome from the audience as he approaches the microphone during a South Carolina victory party in Columbia, S.C. Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Dimly remembered: 8 years ago, there was actual excitement.

I started to say this in a comment earlier, but decided it was worth a post…

You know, this year doesn’t feel like either 2012 or 2008 — which are the only presidential years since I’ve been blogging (which affects my perception). By now, there should be a fever pitch of interest, on my part and on the parts of my readers. January 2008 was by far my biggest month for blog traffic when I was at the paper. January 2012 was huge on the blog’s post-MSM iteration.

But that absorbing interest just doesn’t seem to be there, on anyone’s part. After a high last summer with the Emanuel AME shootings and the flag coming down, my traffic has been ticking along at, if anything, a slower pace than usual. And it hasn’t picked up since Christmas, the way it usually would.

A huge part of this is me — I’m not feeling charged up, and my level and frequency of posting reflects that. But I sense that I’m not alone in feeling this way. I’m not picking up on any excitement on anyone’s part. (Please tell me if I’m wrong.) And it’s not just on the blog — I’m just not hearing all that much interest out on the street, either.

And I think a big part of is that the choices are so dispiriting.

There just doesn’t seem to be any likely good outcome from the GOP contest, which makes a sensible person want to go to sleep and leave instructions to be awakened when there’s a whole other slate of options to choose from.

But every night for what — six months or so — we’ve gone to bed each night and waked up to see Trump leading the polls. Some days, we might think we see something else on the horizon — look, somebody else is catching up to him! But then that somebody else turns out to be Ben Carson, or Ted Cruz, and you just want to give up.

Then, on the Democratic side…

It looks like, when it’s all said and done, it will be Hillary. But by the time that happens, she will be so battered and shopworn that no one will feel any enthusiasm about that outcome. There will just be a sort of weary acceptance. In fact, it feels like we reached that point some time back. Years ago, even.

Sure, there have been moments of almost-hopefulness on that side, too:

  • Joe Biden might run! Oh, no… he won’t…
  • Look, someone’s catching up to her! Dang, it’s just Bernie Sanders…
  • Hey, she did great in that debate! Maybe it won’t be so bad if she’s the nominee… but then you are soon reminded of the things, big and small, that keep you from being enthusiastic, and make you feel like you’re being marched to the inevitable by a Vogon guard who is shouting “Resistance is useless!

You tell yourself, there are some decent options on the Republican side — Jeb Bush or Mario Rubio on their good days, maybe Chris Christie when he’s not blustering or John Kasich when he’s not being crabby.

But then you think, none of them seems likely to win here. And even if one of them is the eventual nominee, it seems increasingly likely that that will be decided quite some time after our primary.

And hey, you tell yourself: You may be tired of her, but don’t you like her views on foreign policy better than any Democrat since Joe Lieberman? (OK, maybe you don’t think that; but I do.) Isn’t this a chance to revive the Third Way, or at least to take a step in that direction? Wasn’t Bill Clinton a pretty sound policy guy, despite all the drama, and doesn’t she have a lot of the same characteristics?

But then you remember that with the Clintons there is always the endlessly wearying drama, the feelings of persecution, the scores to settle with the vast right-wing conspiracy, and you wonder, Am I really up for more of this?

Maybe I’m just blowing smoke here. Maybe I’m totally off-base. But this just all feels really low-energy for a month before the primaries. Maybe y’all disagree with that. Or maybe you have a better explanation for it.

Or maybe no one will comment on this, which seems to happen too often these days. Which means, maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m losing my touch…

Naaaahhh…

Lindsey Graham, back from the campaign trail

Graham availability

You may already have read Andy Shain’s piece on Lindsey Graham’s press availability in Columbia yesterday. It began:

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Friday that he quit the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination last month because he saw no clear path to the upper tier of candidates, some of whom — Donald Trump and Ted Cruz — he sees as toxic to the GOP.

The Seneca Republican regularly was named the winner of the GOP race’s “undercard” debates, which featured lower-polling candidates. But not getting on the main debate stage killed his chances to win greater support, Graham said.

Graham thought that if he could make the top three in the New Hampshire primary polls, he could have won the next GOP contest, in his home state of South Carolina….

And so forth. I won’t repeat anything Andy already said. But here are a few points Graham made that Andy didn’t touch on:

  • Asked whether he was interested in serving in the Cabinet of the eventual winner, he said he didn’t think so. He sees it as too important to stay in the Senate. He’s one of the few who can work across the aisle, and he’s convinced that none of the actual challenges that face the country — dealing with entitlement reform, dealing comprehensively with immigration — can be dealt with by one party or the other. It’s going to take coalition-building. It’s going to take people who can “get to ‘yes’.”
  • “This is a religious war” that the West is engaged in, and winning will require working with Muslims — the 99 percent who “are non-radical Islamists.” That’s why the approach of a Trump will never work.
  • Is Christianity under attack in this country — with laws forcing employers to provide birth control, or a court ruling creating the institution of same-sex marriage? No, he says. Not in this country. Democracy has outlets for people to express their views, and sometimes they win and sometimes they lose. There is a war against Christianity, though, and everything else about Western culture — but it’s happening in the Mideast.
  • Did he like running for president enough to do it again? As Andy wrote, he’d consider it. And the reason why is that he thinks there’s a market for what he offers. “I think people are looking around for somebody like me,” if not actually him. Somebody who will be “tough on our enemies,” but who believes in pluralism, in the principles of a liberal democracy and land of opportunity.
  • On the campaign trail, John McCain “worked harder for me than he did for himself,” and Graham deeply appreciates it. Noting that politicians are a little too quick to call everyone their friend, but in this case, it applies: “John McCain is my friend.”
  • Reminiscing about the campaign trail, he asked whether anyone had heard the story of his encounter with an out-and-out racist in a pool hall. No one said yes, so he told the story, which recognized before he was done. The voter in question muttered some ethnic slurs, including the “N-word.” Graham said “I totally dissociate myself from this guy,” and answered a few more questions before taking the bigot on in a game of pool — and winning. “It was fun to beat his ass,” Graham said Friday.
  • Speaking of pool halls, Graham said anyone who grew up in a bar — as Graham did, the one his parents owned — is very familiar with people like Donald Trump, and knows how to deal with them.
  • Touching on fellow South Carolina Republicans, he said Nikki Haley being chosen to deliver the GOP response to the State of the Union is “a big honor” for our state, Tim Scott is “a rock star,” and Trey Gowdy has done well with the tough hand he was dealt. “South Carolina is hitting above her weight” on the national political scene.

Earlier, I had asked him another SC question. I wondered whether, with Newt Gingrich having won here in 2012 and Trump and Cruz doing so well here this time, South Carolina’s losing its touch on picking eventual nominees, and presidents. In other words, is South Carolina becoming irrelevant?

He didn’t think so. His answer is on the video clip that follows…

How is Tim Scott like Strom Thurmond?

Well, I’ll tell you…

Did you see this item in The State over the weekend?

Tim ScottSCOTT SEEKS HIS OWN TERM

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-Charleston, is expected to run for re-election in 2016. The only African-American Republican in the U.S. Senate, Scott was appointed to the seat in late 2012 after Jim De-Mint resigned to run a conservative think tank. Scott, the state’s most popular pol, won a special election in 2014 to complete DeMint’s six-year term. Now, he must seek his own term on Nov. 8. Do S.C. Democrats even field a candidate?

Catch that? Scott is “the state’s most popular pol”?

Think about that for a moment. What is Tim Scott known for? How has he distinguished himself? What has he done in office, for good or ill?

Not much, near as I can recall.

And South Carolina voters love that. That’s why they loved Strom Thurmond, at least for the last three or four decades of his career. During my adult life, Strom never did much of anything. OK, he did one thing: He had warning labels put on bottles of alcohol. He worked on that one from 1971 to 1988. After 1988, he kicked back let constituent service occupy him — or at least, occupy his staff — for the rest of his time in office.

Floyd Spence followed pretty much the same approach. He provided constituent service, identified himself with a strong national defense, and kept his head down. Except for that brief “You lie!” eruption, his successor, Joe Wilson, has followed a similar pattern.

And if Strom were still in office today, he probably wouldn’t even have messed with the warning-labels thing, since the surging libertarian wing of his party would probably regard it as nanny-state meddling.

Anyway, Tim Scott is sticking with that formula, and it works for him. Our other senator, Lindsey Graham, tries to do stuff, and that just gets him into trouble with the base.

In fact, in a sense he’s more like Strom than Strom’s own son is. Paul Thurmond is retiring from the SC Senate after this year — after only a single term! That boy fell a long way from the tree…

Thoughts on the Las Vegas debate?

No, I’m not going to embed my dozens of Tweets, or the 60 or 70 interactions they attracted on Twitter. (Twitter isn’t deep, but it’s way livelier than blogging.)

But I’ll show you this one, which makes a good point I’d like to elaborate on:

Now, I don’t know what that means in terms of the horse race. It should move him a bit toward front, but the GOP electorate has been so extremely irrational this year that things that should give a guy a bump don’t deliver, while things that should finish him for good send him soaring.

Elsewhere, I lamented — on Jeb Bush’s account — the sad disconnect between what it takes to govern and the talents needed to shine in debates. There’s some overlap, but they’re not the same things. Jeb did better this time, but not better enough.

I felt bad for Christie, too, as another candidate who deserves a serious look who just can’t get the crowd to turn away from the sideshows and check him out.

That said, Christie and Kasich made themselves look pretty bad with their plans for dealing with Russia. I thought Kasich had gone off the reservation wanting to punch them in the nose, but then Christie wanted to shoot their planes down. Christie even managed to set up Rand Paul to sound more rational on foreign affairs, which is a hard thing to do.

So that kind of left Rubio and Bush as… well, here’s another Tweet:

Maybe that’s too harsh. Carly Fiorina didn’t really say anything extraordinarily foolish, although her assertion that people have said “no” to her all her life rang a bit empty coming from someone who was CEO of HP. But wait — come to think of it, they did say “no” to her later, and I know how that feels, so… In any case, she didn’t say much that impressed. Nobody really impressed, except the razzle-dazzle kid Rubio, who was playing the part of Lindsey Graham in the big-table debate, standing up for national defense.

Well, no, someone else impressed: Cruz did. We’re all starting to focus more on Cruz. Trump has been so distracting that few people have focused on the fact that Cruz is the real, dyed-in-the-wool, right-wing ideological extremist in the bunch — with a dollop or two of let’s-disarm-ourselves, Rand Paul-style libertarianism, which doesn’t endear me either.

Which makes Rubio look even better.

Speaking of Lindsey Graham: Philip Bump of The Fix made a strong argument for why Graham, who has dominated most of the undercard debates, should be allowed into the big ones, regardless of his poll numbers. In short, no one else could possibly be such an effective foil for Trump — and that’s something most of us would like to see:

Including Trump. Graham and Trump differ on issues, but Graham also seems to have a sense for Trump’s Achilles heel. The tycoon’s only demonstrated weakness against his opponents is when he’s the butt of someone else’s zinger — which we saw in the second debate after Carly Fiorina put him in his place. So far, the only significant on-going challenge to Trump in the debates has been questions he didn’t want to answer. He can’t be used to dealing with people who are able to spar as well as he can. Wouldn’t that be fun to watch?

 

Polls: South Carolina, Trump, Republicans and Muslims

These three polls just in:

Bad News: Donald Trump favorite of SC Republicans — again — This is Winthop Poll. The only reassurance I can give you is that it was mostly taken before Trump spoke of banning Muslims from our shores.

Good News: Majority Opposes Trump Plan to Ban Muslims, Poll Finds — Unfortunately, the WSJ/NBC poll finds that Republicans are more evenly split on the matter.

Bad News: Trump’s Lead Solidifies in Poll, but Many Are Nervous — This one’s from the NYT and CBS. Again, this was largely taken before Trump’s latest bad craziness.

All of which leads to this story from The Washington Post:

As Trump surges, GOP prepares for a contested convention — Time to crank up the ol’ smoke-filled room, boys. Your phony-baloney party is on the line. Harrumph, harrumph, harrumph….

Let’s look at an excerpt from that:

Republican officials and leading figures in the party’s establishment are now preparing for the possibility of a brokered convention as Donald Trump continues sit atop the polls and the presidential race.

More than 20 of them convened Monday for a dinner held by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, where the prospect of Trump nearing next year’s nominating convention in Cleveland with a significant number of delegates dominated the discussion, according to five people familiar with the meeting.

Considering that scenario as Priebus and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) listened, several longtime power brokers argued that if the controversial billionaire storms through the primaries, the party’s establishment must lay the groundwork for a floor fight, in which the GOP’s mainstream wing could coalesce around an alternative, the people said….

May you live in interesting times, Reince Priebus…

Lawmakers hope to see more cooperation, building upon the summer

panel

Reps. Nathan Ballentine and Joe Neal; Sens. Joel Lourie, Katrina Shealy and Ronnie Cromer

This morning, ADCO had a table at the latest Columbia Regional Business Report’s Power Breakfast. This one was about looking ahead to the coming legislative session, and featured a panel of lawmakers — Reps. Nathan Ballentine and Joe Neal, and Sens. Joel Lourie, Katrina Shealy and Ronnie Cromer.

(Bryan Caskey joined me at the ADCO table, along with several other representatives of local law firms whom I invited.)

The nice thing about “covering” these events is that if I just wait a few hours, CRBR will put up its own report that gives you the basics and saves me from a lot of typing. An excerpt:

Next year’s legislative session will be a failure if not remembered for collaboration across party lines, state lawmakers said today.

Legislators from both sides of the aisle urged to see similar cooperation next year from the General Assembly as it did in the aftermath of the Emanuel AME tragedy. The give-and-take between Democrats and Republicans will be vital if the state hopes to finally fix crumbling infrastructure, they said during the Columbia Regional Business Report’s quarterly “Power Breakfast” networking event at the Columbia Marriott.

“I think 2016, more than anything else is going to be known as the year that we either came up with an idea to fund our infrastructure and do it in the right manner,” said Sen. Ronnie Cromer, R-Newberry, “or it’s going to be known as the year we failed the people of South Carolina. Because we couldn’t put some plan together to fund our roads and bridges.”

Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Chapin, knows it can be easy to assume collaboration as part of the General Assembly’s supermajority. But he still saw it at work when his colleagues voted to remove the Confederate Flag from the Statehouse grounds in July and expects to see more of it again next year, this time without tragedy serving as a catalyst….

And that pretty much states it. There was an air of cautious optimism that maybe, just maybe — after the miracle they experienced together over the summer (achieving near-unanimity on an issue that had previously been too controversial even to bring up), that goodwill could be channeled productively on other fronts.

Of course, the usual differences were on display — the three Republicans tended to think in terms of coming together over infrastructure; the two Democrats wanted to see some Republicans agreeing with them on Medicaid expansion. But there was also agreement on some key issues — Democrats agreed infrastructure must be dealt with, and both sides acknowledged that the state Supreme Court’s instructions to improve educational opportunity in poor, rural districts must be meaningfully addressed as well.

Beyond that, here are some Tweets that give you the flavor of the session:

Cruz doesn’t want anyone to think for a moment that he would criticize Trump

Following on the news that Ted Cruz is catching up to Trump in the South Carolina primary, I get this release from the Cruz campaign:

Cruz Responds to Misleading New York Times Story

HOUSTON, Texas – Today, Presidential candidate Ted Cruz responded to a misleading story in the New York Times claiming Cruz criticized Donald Trump at an event last night:

“In the course of a Presidential election, the voters are going to make a decision about every candidate. And ultimately the decision is, who has the right judgment and the right experience to serve as Commander in Chief? Every one of us who is running is being assessed by the voters under that metric, and that is exactly why we have a democratic election to make that determination.”

###

I’m assuming this is the item to which the release refers.

We know that it’s Cruz’ strategy to inherit Trump’s support when he (if he) implodes, but this takes it to another level — issuing a “correction” to make sure that no one think for a moment that he has a problem with anything Trump says or does?

That’s amazing…

Our shame is that SC audience cheered what Trump said

I suppose I must say something about this, since he said it here in South Carolina — yet another blot on our ledger.

Not that we control what Donald Trump says. No, the really, truly shameful thing about it for us is that some people present — most of them likely to have been South Carolinians — cheered when he said it:

At a rally in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina on Monday evening, Trump pointed to the statement he released earlier in the day.

“Should I read you the statement?” he asked.

The crowd enthusiastically agreed that he should.

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,” he said, adding the word “hell” for emphasis this time.

Supporters erupted in applause….

In another version of that story, that applause is described as “a boisterous standing ovation.” Is that accurate? View and listen to the video clip above, and judge for yourself.

The response is important because it is our shame, but also because Trump, employing his usual odd logic, used it to defend himself this morning: Hey, these people loved it, so it must not have been a bad idea….

In a way, for the rest of us to have to condemn this is an insult itself. We shouldn’t have to say anything, because anyone who thinks we wouldn’t be sickened by hearing something so stupid and hateful is insulting us by such a supposition.

But since South Carolinians applauded, we need to separate ourselves from them. How about if we do it this way: Let’s deport everyone who applauded and cheered, and then refuse to let them back in. It might not make us safer, but it would certainly make this political season less objectionable. (And no, I don’t mean it.)

So yeah: It was horrible. Probably the most horrible thing he’s said yet, although he’s got quite a competition going with himself. He’s an idiot, and he’s evil. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that vast numbers of likely voters love him for his worst qualities, which points to a profound sickness in our body politic.

He’s been denounced — by Muslims of course, by Lindsey Graham, by Paul Ryan, by Dick Cheney (no soft-on-terror guy he),  by leaders all around the world. And pundits, of course. I like what Alexandra Petri said: “What will make America great again is getting rid of Donald Trump.”

South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison said:

Donald Trump’s comments offend the very fabric upon which our country was founded. His racist and offensive campaign for President of the United States should embarrass the Republican Party. His comments are an embarrassment to South Carolinians, who believe in equality, fairness, and justice for all.

… which would have a lot more impact if Jaime didn’t denounce pretty much everything any Republican candidate has to say.

What else is left to say? I’ll leave it to you…

Trump still

Not to be outdone, Graham calls for war ‘with no limits’

Just in case I missed it in my daily perusal of The Washington Post (and somehow I had), Sen. Graham’s office made sure I knew that, while Jeb! Bush may be calling for boots on the ground, Graham is not going to give up his status as the undisputed hawk in the field:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is readying an authorization of military force against the Islamic State that would allow the United States to attack the militant group’s allies anywhere, and with no timetables.

“ISIL is a more credible threat to our homeland than al-Qaeda,” Graham said in an interview, referring to the Islamic State by one of its other names. “We need to have an authorization of force that is not limited by geography, time, or means.”

The resolution, which Graham plans to officially introduce after the Thanksgiving recess, is being shaped and shopped around to senators on Wednesday. “No geographic limits are placed on American military or intelligence services in the fight against ISIL,” reads the outline of the in-process legislation. “No expiration date. No prohibition on sending American forces on the ground to combat ISIL. No prohibitions on the ability of the United States to disrupt online terrorist recruitment activities, online terrorist propaganda, or terrorist communications.”

All of that makes Graham’s AUMF further-reaching than any comparable ones — none of which have gotten traction in Congress….

Read the whole story here.

 

Thoughts on last night’s debate(s)?

Above and below you see two of my most popular Tweets (out of 39) from during the GOP debate last night. This is the kind of incisive commentary you won’t find elsewhere.

OK, truth be told, I later saw that Nicholas Kristof had the same idea I did re William Jennings Bryan, but that’s OK. Great minds and all that.

But I’m putting up this post to ask what y’all thought of the debate.

Just some quick overall impressions from me:

    • I was struck a number of times at how this sounded like a debate featuring candidates of some party other than the Republican, such as Rand Paul’s opposition to a strong defense, Ted Cruz’ criticism of corporate fat cats, and Marco Rubio’s tax credit for child care.
    • Meanwhile, the most perfect embodiment of traditional Republicanism, Jeb Bush, continued to fail to pull away from the pack.
    • Trump was marginally more buffoonish than in past events, I thought. Will his supporters notice. My fave LOL Trump moment — when he asked with regard to Carly Fiorina, “Why does she keep interrupting?” Yeah, Donald! Doesn’t she know men are talking?
    • Actually, I’m serious about the West Coast thing (below). It’s ridiculous for debates to start that late at night.
    • I think Cruz had the best night, followed by either Rubio or Kasich.

You?

Video: McCain urging N.H. to vote for Graham

Lindsey Graham may not be on the debate stage tonight, but he’s on the airwaves in New Hampshire — or rather, John McCain is, in Graham’s behalf.

From The Washington Post:

Two Graham radio ads launched in conjunction with the TV spot also feature the Arizona senator, and in an interview last week, Graham said he had no intention of quitting.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Graham said. “I’m going to stick to what I’m doing. I’ve always thought that using national polls for [debate] selection is ridiculous.”

Graham’s campaign said that the ads would start airing today, in a “significant buy.” His war chest, built on the one that got him through a 2014 Senate reelection, is about $1.6 million, putting him closer to the middle of the 2016 pack than the bottom.

Did Lindsey Graham steal the JV show last night?

That seems to be the consensus of what I’ve read about the undercard debate.

I wouldn’t know, of course, because CNBC wanted to charge me to watch, and the World Series was free, so guess what I watched? (This blog would have to pay a lot more than it does for me to buy cable just for blogging purposes.)

As for the big-table debate, from what I’ve gathered from various sources, the main points were:

  • Big night for Rubio and Cruz.
  • Bad night for Jeb Bush.
  • The candidates and other GOP types went on a Spiro Agnew media-bashing spree.
  • Trump and Carson were relatively quiet, except for Trump bashing Kasich.

Here’s a transcript if you want it. I don’t have time to read it right now.

Among those of you who saw it: Thoughts?

The most amazing thing about Trump is that his supporters think he can WIN next fall

You may have seen that Donald Trump’s support in South Carolina has now reached the dizzying height of 40 percent of respondents who identify themselves as likely GOP primary voters.

No, the bubble hasn’t popped yet, even though everything we’ve seen in past elections would suggest it would have happened a couple of months back.

Do you wonder why? I certain do. Well, here’s why:

The conventional wisdom among Donald Trump’s detractors is that his current surge in the polls won’t last because as we get closer to actual voting, Republicans excited by his political incorrectness will start factoring in “electability.” When GOP voters realize that he can’t beat Hillary Clinton, the theory goes, they will switch their support to other more electable candidates.

One problem with that theory: Right now, GOP voters believe Trump is the most electable candidate.

A new Post/ABC News poll asked GOP-leaning voters which candidate “has the best chance of getting elected president in November 2016?” The winner was Trump by a landslide. An incredible 43 percent of GOP voters say that Trump is the most electable GOP candidate. In a distant second place, Ben Carson trails Trump on electability by 27 points, while Jeb Bush — whose entire rationale for his campaign is electability — trails Trump on electability by 30 points. Since the same poll found Trump with 32 percent support, that means even GOP voters who do not support Trump still believe he is most likely to beat the Democrats in 2016. A new Associated Press-GfK pollconfirms this, finding that “Seven in 10 Republicans and Republican-leaning registered voters say they think Trump could win in November 2016 if he were nominated; that’s the most of any Republican candidate.”…

That may be the single most amazing thing that I’ve read or heard about the continuing popularity of this guy.

I suppose there’s a sort of cognitive block that prevents Trump supporters from imagining how non-Trump supporters see things. So they imagine a majority will agree with them.

I suppose all of us are susceptible to such lacks of insight. I, for one, find it very difficult to understand how anyone could imagine Donald Trump winning the presidency next November. This is perhaps a defense mechanism on my part: If I could imagine it, I wouldn’t sleep nights…

Really, Trey? THAT’s the look you’re going with?

gowdy_surfs_up  download (3) 596-trey-gowdy-610 FILE - This file June 28, 2013 file photo shows House Oversight Committee member Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. House Speaker John Boehner on Friday declared he’d schedule a vote to create a select committee to investigate the Benghazi attack, escalating a political battle that has raged since the final days of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. A senior Republican aide said Boehner was considering Gowdy to chair the select committee. The aide wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity. It’s unclear when Boehner will schedule the vote.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

I was out of pocket yesterday playing in a charity golf tournament (to benefit Healthy Learners) out at Fort Jackson, which means I probably had a better time than you did. (How did I do? Well, the official score was 70, which sounds great until you learn that it was captain’s choice — which, for the uninitiated, means that we had four tries at every shot — and that was the team score. When I left, the leading team had come in with a 56, and we were tied for last place. But it was a beautiful day, and we had a good time.)

But while I didn’t blog exactly, I did mini-blog and bit, and this was my most popular Tweet of the day, garnering a number of reTweets and favorites:

You may have noticed that South Carolina’s own Rep. Gowdy has made almost as many attempts to do different things with his hair as Eric Clapton, only with less success. I am not the only one to compare the above look to Oswald Cobblepot, a.k.a. The Penquin, on “Gotham:”

Others have mentioned Draco Malfoy, possibly after seeing this particular do.

You might be tempted to say that he’d look better if he just grew it out some, particularly on the sides. But then you would take that back upon seeing this. And let’s not even get started on this one

The most normal he has ever looked was when he went with the neoclassical Brutus cut, as they called it when it came into fashion in the early 19th century. Or perhaps we should call it the Cassius look, as in:

Let me have men about me that are fat,
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep a-nights.
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look.
He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.

Maybe that’s why he abandoned it. He didn’t want Kevin McCarthy talking about how “yond Trey hath dim’d the star of Hillary Macbeth…”

But when the big day came, what did he do? He whipped out the Butch Wax and went with the kewpie doll look:

Gowdy look

Crazy SC GOP is throwing it all away

Jeb Bush -- the guy who would normally win in South Carolina -- at a campaign event in Columbia in August.

Jeb Bush — the guy who would normally win in South Carolina — at a campaign event in Columbia in August.

South Carolinians who are not Republicans know their vote in the general election for president doesn’t count for much; our state’s electoral votes will go to the Republican.

But at least, thanks to our open primaries, we all get a say in which Republican is on the ballot in November. And since 1980, South Carolina has always picked the eventual winner, nudging the party toward a candidate who might get some of us independents, and maybe even a few Democrats, to vote for him.

That is, we always did until 2012. But that was a one-time fit of craziness, right?

Apparently not. And as much as I have dreaded saying it, The Washington Post has no such qualms. This story on today’s front page paints a portrait of a state that is throwing its national influence away:

Much like in Washington, where the abrupt withdrawal from the speaker’s race of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) signaled total party chaos, the view is fading that, eventually, this presidential contest will get back to normal.

Support for former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who recently called South Carolina a “lock,” is at 5.7 percent here, according to theRealClearPolitics average. That’s good enough for only fifth place, 28 points behind front-runner Donald Trump and 12 behind former neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Four years ago, on his way to losing the state’s primary, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney never polled lower than 13 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), another establishment favorite who is ahead of Bush nationally and rising in recent polls, is currently even further behind in South Carolina, with a RealClearPolitics average of just 5 percent.

“The pattern of crowning the nominee has been broken,” said Barry Wynn, a former South Carolina GOP chairman whose office is festooned with Bush memorabilia, down to a “I Miss W” coffee mug….

A big part of the problem is the lack of GOP leadership to pull the party together around a candidate who can win. Once, that sort of leadership was provided by Carroll Campbell. Now, Nikki Haley seems uninterested, and Lindsey Graham is muddying the waters with his own quixotic campaign, which has sucked up name support that might have automatically gone to someone like Jeb Bush.

Meanwhile, when it comes to tearing the party apart, most of the state’s congressional delegation is a big part of the problem, and it’s hard to imagine them ever being part of a solution.

After the 1988 primary, when my reporter was having trouble coming up with a lede for a story summing up the results, I suggested he write, “Now we know what it feels like to be an Iowan.” It was plain that we, too, had become a state with outsized influence on the GOP nomination process.

We may not be feeling that feeling much longer, if this trend continues. And I, for one, will miss getting that early close look at the candidates.

front Wash

Mark Sanford’s most endearing characteristic: heaping scorn on his own party

One thing about Mark Sanford: He doesn’t hesitate to describe how messed up his own party is. He got quoted at length today by Roll Call regarding the withdrawal of presumptive Speaker-to-be Kevin McCarthy:

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., said it was “mayhem.” McCarthy was “calm, cool and collected,” his wife was there, members were crying. He also named two people who probably could lock up 218 votes for speaker if they threw their hat in the ring: Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. and Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis.

But Ryan, the Ways and Means chairman, vowed Thursday afternoon not to enter the race for speaker. “I will not be a candidate. I continue to believe I can best serve the country and this conference as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee,” he said.

Sanford also said, “I was actually here for the succession of [Newt] Gingrich handing the baton to [Bob] Livingston, the baton didn’t get handed, it ended up [J. Dennis] Hastert. … I was here in those days. This is that level of confusion, change, the suspense, times 10, it’s on steroids. I mean, nobody saw the Boehner thing coming down when it came. … At least with Gingrich, Livingston, Hastert, there was some degree of prediction as to what would come next. It’s gone to the point of no one having a clue as to what’s going to come next.”

And Sanford also addressed the idea of Boehner staying on: “Mentally, I think he’s sort of crossed that Rubicon and there’s no going back.”

 

Great idea! Maybe I’ll become a Republican. Or a Democrat.

Had to smile when I saw this a moment ago:

An excerpt from the story:

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell joked that he identifies as a Republican to annoy the GOP’s right-wing.

“Yes, I’m still a Republican,” he said about his party affiliation during the Washington Ideas Forum in Washington, D.C., according to the Daily Mail.

“I want to continue to be a Republican because it annoys them,” Powell quipped to host Walter Isaacson.

“I think the party has shifted much further right than where the country is and it should be obvious to party leaders that they cannot keep saying and doing the things that they were doing and hope to be successful in national-level election in the future, not just in 2016,” he added.

Powell said a small faction in the GOP is alienating voters with their rhetoric on immigration.

“I think most Republicans understand that we need immigration, we are an immigrant nation [and that] it is in our best interest to do it,” he said….

I think I’ll follow his lead and become a Republican. And a Democrat.

Oh, I know! I’ll become a Libertarian! That would drive them nuts