First Draft (blog)

The Scott Walker Show (Cancelled)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the American Action Forum, 30 January 2015, in Washington, D.C.  Earlier in the week, Walker announced the formation of 'Our American Revival', a new committee designed to explore the option of a presidential bid in 2016.  (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Via Alexander Burns and Patrick Healy of the New York Times:

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has concluded he no longer has a path to the Republican presidential nomination and plans to drop out of the 2016 campaign, according to three Republicans familiar with his decision, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Mr. Walker called a news conference in Madison at 6 p.m. Eastern time.

“The short answer is money,” said a supporter of Mr. Walker’s who was briefed on the decision. “He’s made a decision not to limp into Iowa.”

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Image note: In the Beginning .... ― Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the American Action Forum, 30 January 2015, in Washington, D.C. Earlier in the week, Walker announced the formation of ‘Our American Revival’, a new committee designed to explore the option of a presidential bid in 2016. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Burns, Alexander and Patrick Healy. “Scott Walker Said to Be Quitting Presidential Race”. The New York Times. 21 September 2015.

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The Lindsey Graham Show (Three Amigos Reunion)

From left, Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham and former Senator Joseph I. Lieberman in New York on Monday. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Maggie Haberman’s entry for First Draft, at the New York Times, actually has a really distracting quirk about it.

Surrounded by two of the “three amigos” — as former Gen. David H. Petraeus called them — Senator Lindsey Graham appeared with Senator John McCain and former Senator Joseph I. Lieberman in New York on Monday to denounce the deal to contain Iran’s nuclear program.

Mr. Graham, a Republican presidential hopeful from South Carolina who is one of the most hawkish voices in his party, repeatedly invoked the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, just over three miles from the Women’s National Republican Club in Midtown Manhattan, where the “No Nukes for Iran” forum was held.

“My friends, what we will see is a nuclearized Middle East,” said Mr. Graham of the deal’s implications, arguing it would extend well beyond Iran. “They view New York as a symbol of America. This is the place they would choose to hit us again if they could.”

Let us be clear: “Surrounded by two of the ‘three amigos'”? Sen. Graham (R-SC) is the third Amigo. This was a Three Amigo reunion. And they broke out a new version of an old classic. A nuclear nonproliferation treaty is bad because … here’s the new chorus, same as the old chorus.

But, yeah, other than the quirk, the important point is that it remains imperative to remember just how wrong these Three Amigos were.

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Image note: From left, Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham and former Senator Joseph I. Lieberman in New York on Monday. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Haberman, Maggie. “Lindsey Graham and Friends Join to Denounce Iran Deal”. First Draft. 20 July 2015.

Steinhauer, Jennifer. “Foreign Policy’s Bipartisan Trio Becomes Republican Duo”. The New York Times. 26 November 2012.

The Cowardly Clown

Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, speaks during the South Carolina Freedom Summit hosted by Citizens United and Congressman Jeff Duncan in Greenville, South Carolina, U.S., on Saturday, May 9, 2015.  The Freedom Summit brings grassroots activists from across South Carolina and the surrounding area to hear from conservative leaders and presidential hopefuls.  Photogapher: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

It was, what, all of two days ago Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) described himself as “the most scrutinized politician in America”, and while that claim might justly find widespread derision, we would also beg leave to accommodate the cowardly Badgerα long enough to remind that he does himself no favors on that count by saying stupid things:

By any fair measure, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has changed course, quite dramatically, on immigration policy. In the not-too-distant past, the Republican governor was quite moderate on the issue. Now, he’s not – Walker not only opposes bipartisan solutions, he’s even begun taking on legal immigration.

This week, Fox News’ Bret Baier pressed Walker for an explanation: “If you’re willing to flip-flop … on such an important issue like this, how can voters be sure that you’re not going to change your position on some other big issues?”

As the Washington Post noted, the Wisconsin Republican responded with his own unique definition of flip-flop.

Walker responded: “Well, actually, there’s not a flip out there.” […]

“A flip would be someone who voted on something and did something different,” Walker said. “These are not votes… I don’t have any impact on immigration as a governor.”

If bonus points were reported based on creativity, Walker would be in much better shape. But he’s effectively arguing that if he didn’t cast a vote, it can’t count.

And that’s not an especially credible argument.

(Benen)

Yeah, that sort of thing will draw some scrutiny.

The political calculus regarding the optics is robustly defined: Given how much any candidate dodges certain questions, we might reasonably expect some professionally functional manner and method of dodging. Practically speaking, we might suggest that especially at a time when policy evolution is not only acceptable but a useful selling point, Gov. Walker should be able to muster the courage to at least attempt to explain his policy shifts.

Benen notes, “flip-flops are not the be-all, end all of a national campaign”, pointing to Mitt Romney’s astounding 2012 performance. “Walker’s reversals”, the msnbc producer and blogger writes, “won’t come close.”

This is a fair point. And, you know, really, after the bad week Jeb Bush just inflicted on the national political discourse, it does not seem so unfair to expect that Mr. Walker should be able to figure out that cowardice just doesn’t cut it.

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Image note: Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, speaks during the South Carolina Freedom Summit hosted by Citizens United and Congressman Jeff Duncan in Greenville, South Carolina, U.S., on Saturday, May 9, 2015. The Freedom Summit brings grassroots activists from across South Carolina and the surrounding area to hear from conservative leaders and presidential hopefuls. Photogapher: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

α Evolution? Hatemongering? Basic human respect? Oh, hey, how about the auto industry bailout? Gov. Walker is afraid to sound off on any of these issues.

Haberman, Maggie. “Scott Walker Calls Himself ‘the Most Scrutinized Politician in America'”. First Draft. 19 May 2015.

Benen, Steve. “A flip-flop by any other name …”. msnbc. 21 May 2015.

The Point of the Day (Dissonance)

President Bush declares the end of major combat in Iraq as he speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast, in this May 1, 2003 file photo. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Steve Benen gets our nod for the Point of the Day:

When Republicans aren’t blaming intelligence agencies for what transpired in 2003, they’re blaming President Obama – the one who was right about Iraq from the start – for the war they apparently find tough to defend.

Reality paints a very different picture. Bush/Cheney lied the nation into a disastrous war, mismanaged it in every way possible, strengthened U.S. foes, and destabilized the entire region. All of this transpired, of course, before Obama even launched his national campaign. Indeed, the catastrophe began unfolding when Obama was still a state senator.

The crux of the bizarre talking point is that the Democratic president withdrew U.S. forces in Iraq, consistent with the Status of Forces Agreement reached between the two countries. And which bleeding-heart pacifist thought it’d be a good idea to endorse this withdrawal plan? That would be George W. Bush, who negotiated the SOFA in 2008.

But there’s no reason to accept the premise – the Status of Forces Agreement was not responsible for creating a disaster in Iraq. Invading the country in the first place created a disaster in Iraq.

We might also take a moment to note a point about sources; Mr. Benen might be an msnbc producer and blogger, but set that aside for a moment and tell me he’s wrong.

(more…)

Your Liberal Media Conspiracy (Walker’s Bone Mix)

Wow.

So, you know, many who consider themselves Republican or try to convince you that they are “independent” will occasionally complain about the evil liberal media conspiracy by which apparently the conservative-tending owners of newspapers and other media outlets are all conspiring to force their reporters to write left-wing propaganda. The specifics will vary, but the general theme holds: If the news cycle is against Republicans in any way, it’s a conspiracy.

And it is indeed one of those alleged bastions of pernicious liberalism that brings us today’s liberal media conspiracy offense.Alan Rappeport, of The New York Times. (Photo: NYT)

The conspirator’s name is Alan Rappeport, and he writes for The New York Times.

You might remember yesterday’s strange tale of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) traveling to London and gobsmacking a host while speaking to Chatham House, a royally-endorsed foreign policy wonkbox. The gist of the story, of course, is that when presented with a question about the theory of evolution, Walker chose to punt and counterintuitively claim it an issue politicians are supposed to stay out of.

There are, of course, any number of angles to this. Republicans in London are a dangerous idea. When did evolution become something politicians punt on? Do conservatives recognize that our international neighbors think we’re absolutely weird about this? What are the implications of our political system being subject to such delusional litmus tests that Republicans are absolutely quaking in their boots at the thought of acknowledging science?

Enter The New York Times, who thought Mr. Rappeport would best serve their First Draft blog, intended to bring us breaking news, by rehashing and reframing Mr. Walker’s embarrassing gaffe under the headline, “Walker Steps Back From Evolution ‘Punt'”.

As we noted yesterday, in (ahem!) “stepping back” from his comments, the Wisconsin Republican was still too frightened to say the word “evolution”; his “step back” is, essentially speaking, is to stand in one place and whine like a petulant, untrained puppy.

And the liberal media conspiracy? The New York Times, an alleged chief conspirator? Why wouldn’t it rehash and reframe a story, bringing us exactly nothing new, in order to throw Scott Walker a bone? You know, because that sounds exactly like what a liberal media conspiracy would do.

Mr. Rappeport’s “First Draft” needs some work.

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Rappeport, Alan. “Walker Steps Back From Evolution ‘Punt'”. First Draft. 11 February 2015.

Your Republican Congress

Worst ... speaker ... ever.

Earlier today, Emmarie Huetteman of The New York Times posted this tidbit:

House Republicans are not off to a strong start, Speaker John A. Boehner acknowledged on Tuesday.

Asked about the 11th-hour withdrawal of bills related to abortion and, most recently, border security — both of which were initially considered easy lifts for the emboldened Republican majority before intraparty divisions emerged — Mr. Boehner attributed it to attempts to fast-track the legislation without committee consideration to work out the disagreements.

“There have been a couple of stumbles,” he said.

To the one, we might expect such (cough!) “stumbles” from, say, new leadership. For instance, in the Senate, where new Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has much leadership practice, but not in governance or legislating, but doing everything he can to duck those obligations.

Oh. Right.

Still, though, it is not as if pulling bills because he does not actually know the whip count is anything new for Speaker Boehner; he’s done it twice before.

Then again, he’s got nothing on McConnell, who once filibustered his own bill.

Do be certain, please, to thank the next Republican you encounter for causing this.

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Huetteman, Emmarie. “Republicans Are Stumbling Out of the Gate, Boehner Admits”. The New York Times. 27 January 2015.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH8)

The story so far: There is a war on, in case you hadn’t heard. Except it’s not a war, because Congress has not declared one, and sees no need to consider the question before the upcoming midterm election. Say what you will, but it’s Congress.

We heard earlier this month from Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and others about how the Senate GOP intended to run out the clock before the midterm elections; a week ago, Speaker Boehner (R-OH) simply closed shop in the House of Representatives, getting his caucus out of town after eight working days in order to spend the subsequent fifty-four calendar days hiding from tough votes. And he did this on the same day he complained about how the unemployed have a sick idea that they would rather just sit around.

So, right. There’s a war on. Sort of. And Congress has no intention of doing anything more than rubber-stamping an existing covert program. Republicans, especially, will get back to complaining but refusing to face votes after the midterm election.

Oh.

Right. There’s this, from Carl Hulse of The New York Times:

With American airstrikes in Syria continuing, Speaker John A. Boehner is increasingly convinced that Congress must hold a full debate on granting President Obama the authority to use military force against terrorists.

“I have made it clear that I think the House and the Congress itself should speak,” the speaker said in an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with First Draft.

But Mr. Boehner believes a post-election, lame-duck session is the wrong time for such a weighty decision.

“Doing this with a whole group of members who are on their way out the door, I don’t think that is the right way to handle this,” he said.

Mr. Boehner, who is open to a more expansive military campaign to destroy the Islamic State, thinks lawmakers should take up the issue after the new Congress convenes in January.

At that time, he said, President Obama should come forward with a proposal for consideration.

The Seal of Speaker Boehner's House of RepresentativesSo there’s a war on. Kind of. But that question can wait until next year.

The Speaker offers a rather damning indictment of Congress. No wonder the American people have no faith in their legislative branch; the Speaker of the House has no faith in it, either.

And that is about the kindest interpretation of Boehner’s disgraceful Speakership we might distill from this latest episode.

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Hulse, Carl. “Boehner Says New Congress Should Debate Military Action”. First Draft. 25 September 2014.