#Pence2020 | #WhatTheyVotedFor
“I’m skeptical Pence can emerge from the White House’s crisis unscathed … but the fact that the vice president is even trying suggests we’re approaching the every-person-for-themselves phase.”
This is not something we should find surprising:
Donald Trump’s campaign is still soliciting illegal donations from foreign individuals―including members of foreign governments at their official email addresses―weeks after the campaign was put on notice by watchdog groups.
Foreign members of parliament from the United Kingdom and Australia confirmed to The Hill that they received fundraising solicitations from the Trump campaign as recently as July 12―two weeks after a widely publicized FEC complaint issued on June 29 by non-partisan watchdogs Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center.
Or, rather, we might simply say it sounds about right.
Because even if we somehow might set aside, just for a moment, the magnitude of the Donald Trump spectacle―you know, the whole denial and disbelief part―there remains a question of just how Donald Trump’s exponential boorishness and pointed disdain for general decency should surprise us.
Image note: Donald Trump announces his candidacy for the Republican 2016 presidential nomination at Trump Tower in New York City, 16 June 2015. (Photo credit: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty)
Swan, Jonathan and Harper Neidig. “Trump campaign solicits illegal foreign donations despite warnings”. The Hill. 16 July 2016.
We get a glimpse into the Beltway moneygoround; Curtis Tate looks into Congressional PAC spending:
The leadership political action committee affiliated with Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois has splurged on Napa Valley wine tours, Miami Beach luxury hotels and Washington Nationals baseball tickets worth tens of thousands of dollars over the past four years, federal campaign disclosures show.
The nine-term Republican represents a coal-producing region of southern Illinois and frequently speaks in defense of fossil fuels as a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. But earlier this year, his John S Fund PAC put down a deposit for a fundraising event at a California spa hotel that’s powered by solar panels.
PACs are lightly regulated entities that members of Congress typically use as fundraising tools for their party, but not for their own campaigns.
The McClatchy report notes Rep. Shimkus (R-IL15) is not uncommon: “Most senior lawmakers with PACs spend at least some of the money on perks their salaries don’t cover”, Tate explains. Viveca Novak of the Center for Responsive Politics calls the PACs “a nice little piggybank to have”, explaining, “There are so few restrictions on how you can use it.”
The thing is that the story really is just a glimpse; the whole thing sounds sordid but in this framework it is a matter of aesthetics versus law, and the question of how to make these things work just right is pretty much as complicated as any other question of freedom versus civilized society as a suicide pact. That is to say, good luck electing a Congress that will get rid of the things; the Supreme Court is pretty much a wildcard, though we can easily guess it would be something of a stretch to imagine the judiciary banning these practices outright. And, really, just how badly will society and its political institutions fail at not being undignified if we hold a big sit-down in the public discourse and parse out the details of what is or isn’t acceptable?
This is probably relevant to something:
An election year filled with anti-K Street rhetoric hasn’t stopped candidates up and down the ballot from pressuring prominent Washington lobbyists to pony up record sums of political cash.
Lobbyists may well give more in 2016 than they did in previous cycles. The 2014 Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission did away with an aggregate limit on donations to candidates for federal office. And with control of the Senate in play, it’s increasingly difficult for lobbyists from both parties to resist fundraising pleas.
Image note:“Leading Lobbyists’ Donations to Federal Candidates and Super PACs” (Ryan Kelly/CQ Roll Call, 20 May 2016)
Ackley, Kate. “Lobbyist Donations Surge, Despite Anti-Establishment Rhetoric”. Roll Call. 20 May 2016.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has suspended his campaign to become the 2016 Republican presidential nominee, marking the smartest political decision he’s made over the last thirty-four months.
I’ve come to the realization that this is not my time,” Jindal said on Fox News Channel in an interview with Bret Baier. “We spent a lot of time developing detailed policy papers. Given this crazy, unpredictable election season, clearly there wasn’t an interest in those policy papers.”
Jindal, 44, who is leaving office at the end of this year after completing his second term as governor, said he has not given much thought about whom he might endorse in the Republican presidential race. The remaining candidates rushed to praise Jindal in tweets and statements Tuesday night.
“Even though I’m not going to be a candidate for president, we had better elect the right president so that we can restore the American dream before it’s too late,” said Jindal, a former chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
Jindal had difficulty raising money; his campaign reported on Oct. 15 that it had just $261,000 cash on hand. His advisers acknowledged Tuesday that finances influenced his decision, although they said the campaign had no debt.
“I would say in some ways these have been among the worst weeks of my life. Attacks on your character, attacks on your motives, are 1,000-times worse than anything you can do to anybody physically―at least it is for me.”
The first point, to wonder what it is Mr. Gowdy, the chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, thinks he is doing to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, should meet resistance; set that urge aside. There is a lot going on, here. Rachel Bade of Politico hopes to explain:
Gowdy says the specifics of his rebuttals don’t matter; he feels he “just can’t win.
“I think that’s just [the Democrats’] MO: If you can’t attack the facts, you can attack the investigators … just attack, attack, attack and something will take hold,” he said. “[A]t some point, maybe something will stick, or maybe you get them off track or you get them to do or say something stupid, then you can seize on that.”
He also lays some blame at the media’s feet, arguing they’re too quick to report Democrats’ accusations without checking the merits, or the story of an ex-committee staffer who accused the panel of focusing on Clinton.
“You can work your entire career to have a reputation, and then someone you have no recollection of ever meeting sits down with a reporter and you’re immediately in a position of having to defend and it’s impossible to prove a negative,” he said.
This is a basic political maneuver very much associated with Karl Rove: Assign your greatest weakness to your opponent. With Republicans, it has pretty much become a tell: “I mean, honestly,” Gowdy complained of Huma Abedin’s testimony, “have you ever heard a more absurd critique than leaking the fact that one of the more recognizable people in the world was coming to Capitol Hill?”
This is a problematic complaint. Trey Gowdy is simply not an honest man.
There are, of course, partisan considerations, but still, this stands out:
Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, hit back Sunday at a former committee staffer who said he was fired for not cooperating with the panel’s focus on former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s actions in response to the 2012 terrorist attack.
“Until his Friday conversations with media, this staffer has never mentioned Secretary Clinton as a cause of his termination, and he did not cite Clinton’s name in a legally mandated mediation,” the South Carolina Republican said in a written statement. “He also has not produced documentary proof that in the time before his termination he was directed to focus on Clinton.”
Okay, look, there is obviously a lot going on with the House Benghazi farce, but Gowdy might have overplayed his hand.
I should be embarrassed. Or, you know, maybe not.
Really, I thought the right wing would have taken the hint and moved on to the next front. That is to say, my prognostication somehow failed to account for just how stubborn is this conservative desperation:
There have been predictions for several years that gay-bashing by GOP presidential candidates would be dead by 2016, some of it wishful thinking by gay advocates. Back in 2012, Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign, for example, commenting on the lack of discussion of gay issues in the three debates between President Obama and Mitt Romney, said, “What we’re seeing is proof positive that gay issues aren’t the wedge they used to be.” The public, he said, has “moved on.”
Fast forward to 2015: Ted Cruz, Scott Walker and Rick Perry have expressed blatant anti-gay positions, from banning gay scout leaders to supporting yet another marriage amendment. Some pundits believe this to be politically dangerous, certainly in a general election, and they’re right when it comes to the more overt bigotry. As I noted last week, Scott Walker clearly crossed a line — and walked back — when he said the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay adults “protected children.”
But new polling underscores that covert messaging — the dog whistle — could do the trick for the GOP, just as it has worked for the party on race and gender for decades now. Jeb Bush has defended “religious liberty” — the new code words for anti-gay positions — even while saying gay couples deserved “respect” for their relationships. And just last week, Bush said he supported the idea of anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people, though he thought they should be handled “state-by-state” (contrary to a comprehensive federal bill introduced by Democrats in Congress today that would protect LGBT people nationally).
But in comments that directly followed, Bush said that he believes there should be an exception for people with religious objections to allowing gays and lesbians to marry, such as a florist who refused to sell flowers to a gay couple for their wedding. In other words, those who would discriminate in the first place should be exempt from laws banning discrimination. This will in fact be the more subtle — but no less vile and discriminatory — gay-bashing of the 2016 election.
The one and only Michelangelo Signorile recalls predictions “for several years that gay-bashing by GOP presidential candidates would be dead by 2016”, and appropriately notes at least some of it was wishful thinking. And perhaps we might simply be considering a different perspective on the question of gay-bashing, but it seems unclear just how any of that wishful thinking would have worked. We would not fault Mr. Signorile for his recollection; he isn’t wrong. But it has never been clear quite how that relief should work.
Of all the ghosts that might haunt a would-be candidate, London is something of a heavy metaphorical monkey. And why not mix metaphors, since five months later, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s trip abroad still haunts him:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says British Prime Minister David Cameron confided in him that he was concerned about the direction of American leadership. But there’s a problem with the Republican’s tidy critique of President Barack Obama: Cameron doesn’t remember it that way ....
“I heard that from David Cameron back in February earlier when we were over at 10 Downing,” Walker said. “I heard it from other leaders around the world. They’re looking around realizing this lead from behind mentality just doesn’t work. It’s just not working.” ....
As Zeke Miller makes clear for Time, while this sort of halfwitted pandering might or might not play in Deer Valley, it certainly didn’t impress Downing Street:
Walker, who has taken several trips overseas in recent months to study up on foreign policy in preparation for an all-but-certain presidential bid, told a roomful of Republican donors Friday that world leaders, including Cameron, are worried about the U.S. stepping back in the world. “The Prime Minister did not say that and does not think that,” a Downing Street spokesperson told TIME.
There is always something of a fun question, each cycle, about foreign leaders and to what degree they should involve themselves in our American elections. And the question certainly has its proper context. Still, though, it also seems an obvious and appropriate question: If you wish to drag Downing Street into an American electoral process, why do so in such a clumsy manner? After the Chatham gaffe, Mr. Walker seems prepared to double down on the D’oh!
Seriously, if one wishes to name drop a foreign government, at least do so in a way that doesn’t move them to publicly call bullshit.
Because, you know, really, it doesn’t do your foreign policy credentials any good to go out of your way to offend our nation’s international neighbors and partners.
Then again, this is Scott Walker.
Image note: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), in January, 2015. Detail of photo by J. Scott Applewhite.
Miller, Zeke J. “British Leader to Scott Walker: I Never Dissed Obama”. Time. 12 June 2015.
It really is kind of sad. Jeb Bush’s struggle to define himself as something other than the latest edition of a political dynasty becomes one of the unsung debacles of the richest clown in the car. Or, as Steve Benen of msnbc has chronicled:
• “Jeb Bush’s dubious new pitch: ‘I am my own man'” (18 February 2015)
• “Jeb Bush steps on his ‘own man’ message” (24 March 2015)
• “Jeb’s ‘I am my own man’ pitch takes another hit” (27 March 2015)
• “Jeb throws the ‘I am my own man’ pitch out the window” (1 April 2015)
This is what it comes to:
After Jeb Bush turned to his mother, father, and brother to help raise money for his super PAC, I joked last week that the Republican might have to turn to Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, Jeb’s son, for the next fundraising appeal. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it’s tough to joke about these guys.
Rachel noted on the show last night that George P. Bush did, in fact, write the latest fundraising pitch for his father’s Right to Rise PAC.
Image note:Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush waits backstage before speaking at the Iowa Agriculture Summit, March 7, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)