Category Archives: Republicans

Tim Scott, twice refusing to endorse senior colleague Graham

The State‘s new Buzz blog (I’m trying to remember whether this is the paper’s first serious attempt at a state and national political blog since I got laid off, but perhaps such reflections are ignoble of me) brought my attention to the above clip. Their account (like I’m gonna retype if it I don’t have to) of it:

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott passed twice on saying whether he would endorse his fellow S.C. senator, Republican Lindsey Graham, in an interview on CNN’s Crossfire Wednesday.

When CNN’s Van Jones asked Scott whether he would support Graham, Scott said, “You know, as you three have heard recently, I am up for re — up for reelection myself. I’m going to make sure that Tim Scott gets out…I’m going to allow for all the other folks on the ballot to represent themselves very well, and I’m going to continue to work hard for my re-election.”

“No endorsement for Lindsey Graham tonight?” Jones asked again.

Scott replied, “I’m certainly going to work really hard for Tim Scott re-election — gotta win first.”…

I sort of doubt that Sen. Graham’s going to be sitting up nights trying to think of favors he can do for Sen. Scott in the foreseeable future.

I was particularly struck by the way he stopped himself from saying “re-election,” then went ahead and said it anyway. The question seems to have had him pretty flustered…

tim scott

Another primary opponent for Graham: Bill Connor

Bill Connor is still playing it rather coy with his Facebook peeps:

Friends, I have a major announcement to make on Monday, but this weekend I plan to focus on military obligations (spending time with my Citadel teaching team) and spending the other time with my family. I appreciate that many calls and texts, and e-mails and will be in touch with everyone next week. In the meantime, I will make a special request for your prayers for my family. “The Lord is my Shepherd” and I follow Him.

But The State reports that he’s actually already filed:

Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor, who lost the 2010 Republican runoff for lieutenant governor to Ken Ard, has filed to run against U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in next June’s Republican primary, according to federal election documents.

Connor becomes the fourth Republican to oppose Graham in the primary, joining state Sen. Lee Bright of Spartanburg, Easley businessman Richard Cash and Charleston public-relations executive Nancy Mace…

When I saw him a couple of weeks back, Lindsey Graham indicated that as far as he was concerned, he loved having three opponents.

But four could be one too many. Also, i think he has a little more reason to worry about Bill Connor than about the others who have previously jumped into the ring.

Bill Connor

Bill Connor

He’s a somewhat more traditional conservative than his opponents — more the values-voter, God-and-Country type than the SC-should-print-its-own-money-again sort. Or at least, in the statements I’ve seen so far. He’s paid some dues in the party, currently serving as the 6th-District chairman. He’s got a solid military record, having served in a combat role in Afghanistan. He’s run a statewide primary race before (losing the lieutenant governor nomination to Ken Ard). And he’s just gone out and had new portraits taken of his family. (I still remember how deeply impressed John Courson was when Mark Sanford sent out family portraits as Christmas cards before running for governor: “Fine-looking family — Kennedyesque… Kennedyesque!” You have to imagine it in Courson’s distinctive voice and accent.)

Lt. Col. Connor could be a more likely vote-getter. That doesn’t mean the incumbent’s in trouble. But it does make things a little more interesting.

Hmm… Does Graham WANT Christie to campaign for him?

Graham, consoling the family after Lee Bandy's funeral.

Graham, consoling the family after Lee Bandy’s funeral.

This morning, the national buzz is all about Chris Christie having positioned himself so well for the presidency in 2016. The talk is so far along that I couldn’t resist joking:


But the very qualities that make Christie attractive as a general-election candidate (Republicans are fairly swooning over his getting 51 percent of the Latino vote) get him in trouble with the national GOP base. Most of it is silly, symbolic stuff, such as his making nice with President Obama (you know, the guy who was rushing billions in aid toward his state) after the hurricane. But you know how the base (in each of the parties) can be about the silly, symbolic stuff.

In fact, the reservations harbored by many of the people who, had they been in Virginia, would have voted for Ken Cuccinelli are such that I find myself wondering about this:

Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) re-election bid will evidently get a lift from one of the most popular governors in the country and a top 2016 contender….

According to the Times, Christie informed Republicans in South Carolina he intends to go to bat for Graham, who is facing a GOP primary next year.

poll released last week showed Graham’s approval rating taking a big hit in South Carolina, including a steep drop among GOP voters. …

Yeahhh… that’s the thing. The GOP voters who are mad at Graham are likely to be the ones least charmed by Christie.

So, I ask — is Christie coming here a plus or a minus for Graham? Thoughts?

Graham to block all Obama nominees over Benghazi

This morning, Lindsey Graham Tweeted:

We now know #Benghazi was the result of a pre-planned terrorist attack by high-level al-Qaeda operatives. It was never a protest of a video.

And I responded:

But haven’t we known that for a year — like, from the first week….?

I still don’t get the intensity and duration of Sen. Graham’s umbrage toward the administration over the horrible events at Benghazi 13 months ago. Particularly since I don’t recall the cover-up; I distinctly remember reading that administration officials were saying it was a terrorist attack within hours after first reports came in.

And now — this indiscriminate use of the Senate’s advice-and-consent power, and of one senator’s ability to gum up the works, seems contrary to Graham’s own principles:

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday he will hold up “every appointment” in the Senate until more questions are answered on Benghazi.

“I’m going to block every appointment in the United States Senate until the survivors [of the attack in Benghazi] are being made available to the Congress,” Graham said on Fox News’s “Fox and Friends.” “I’m tired of hearing from people on TV and reading about stuff in books.”…

Is he not the guy who goes around saying that elections have consequences, and that the president’s wishes regarding nominees should be respected, barring strong, specific reasons to the contrary? So how can he block all nominations, regardless of the respective merits in each case, in order to try to force the administration to do something unrelated? Whatever happened to the spirit of the Gang of 14?

This escalation is said to have been brought on by a “60 Minutes” segment last night. I can see how the senator might be incensed to see CBS reporting things that the administration refuses to provide to Congress.

But this blanket blocking of nominees seems disproportionate to me…

Graham: Mace partnership with Folks ‘might come up’

Lindsey Graham pays respects to Mary Bandy and other members of the family on Saturday.

Lindsey Graham pays respects to Mary Bandy and other members of the family on Saturday.

I’m writing this as a tribute to Lee Bandy, because if he’d been there and heard this, funeral or not, he’d have jumped on it.

As Aaron Sheinin related in an earlier post, Lee would wait until people like me got done with the wonkish, nerdy political stuff, and ask questions about the horse race — such as the one that irritated John McCain so much

Anyway, I mentioned standing in line with Lindsey Graham for a considerable time at the reception after Lee’s funeral, and we talked about a number of things, including the horse race stuff that was always Bandy’s meat.

I mentioned his three primary opponents, and he expressed his great satisfaction that he has three opponents. That number, he said, seems just about right for his purposes.

He seemed to marvel particularly at the great gift of having Lee Bright running against him. He said he doesn’t have to do much more than mention how it just might put a crimp in business in South Carolina if we were to abandon the U.S. dollar.

I mentioned something about Nancy Mace’s longtime partnership (just ended) with Will Folks in FITSnews, and the senator said yeah, that association might come up in the campaign.

“You mean, you might bring it up?” I asked.

Not exactly, he said. Just… it might come up.

Yeah, I guess it might…

Actually, I’m not entirely sure that would be a bad thing for Nancy with the voters she (and Bright, and Richard Cash) is going after. There are probably a lot of Will’s loyal readers in that demographic. Others, however, may be put off by the fact that news stories about the site tend to say something like this in the lede: “a website whose editor, Will Folks, said GOP Gov. Nikki Haley had an affair with him, a claim Haley denied.” Because a lot of those same voters they want love the governor, and consider that whole thing to be some kind of liberal media conspiracy to hurt their Nikki.

So, for Nancy Mace, her association with Will could be a wash…

John McCain didn’t like the heat in Lee Bandy’s kitchen

On a previous post, I quoted Aaron Sheinin telling a story about how, after “Brad and Cindi and Mike and Warren finished their wonk nerd questions” in editorial board interviews, Lee Bandy would weigh in with something that made the guest politico squirm.

Today, fellow alumnus Bill Castronuovo reminded me, over on Facebook, of video I shot of Lee making John McCain very uncomfortable in our boardroom in August 2007.

You don’t see Lee (hey, I had enough trouble keeping a camera trained on the candidate while taking notes and presiding over the meeting; two cameras were impossible), but that’s his voice you hear asking the question that brings out McCain’s dark side. Since the mike is facing away from Lee, you might have trouble hearing the question. I can’t make out parts of it myself, what with McCain talking over Lee before he could get it all out. But here’s the audible part:

What went wrong with your campaign? You were sailing along… you had a wide lead over everybody else… now you have to fight for your political life.

As you see, the senator did not like the question a bit.

To set the stage: McCain was considered practically down and out in this stage of the campaign for the GOP nomination. A few months before, he had been the unquestioned front-runner. But things seemed to have fallen apart for him. A few weeks earlier, I had posted this report (also with video), headlined “McCain goes to the mattresses.” In the video, McCain staffer B.J. Boling (one of his few remaining at this low point) said they were going from a huge production to “an insurgency-type campaign.”

In the end, it worked. McCain managed to win in SC, and go on to win the nomination. But at this point in the campaign, the candidate was in no mood to take questions about how badly he was doing from that pesky Lee Bandy…

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