Karl Rove

Passthrough (Presidential Potsherd)

#PresidentPotsherd | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President-elect Donald Trump delivers his first official news conference since winning the November election, 11 January 2017 in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

“I assume ‘let’s blame Obama’ will become a popular rallying cry in far-right circles, because it’s vastly easier than dealing with the facts.”

Steve Benen

It is not quite correct to ask who is surprised. In truth, nobody ought to be surprised. Still, though, if we inquire, for the sake of some decent societal form, what brought on Mr. Benen’s line, well:

This week, the president has moved on to a new explanation: this is all Obama’s fault. USA Today reported this morning:

President Trump said that former president Barack Obama is “behind” the angry protests that have erupted at Republican town halls around the nation during an interview on the Fox News morning program Fox and Friends scheduled to air Tuesday morning.

“I think he is behind it,” Trump said when asked about Obama’s role in the protests. “I also think it’s politics. That’s the way it is.

“No, I think that President Obama is behind it,” Trump said, “because his people are certainly behind it and some of the leaks, possibly come from that group, some of the leaks – which are really very serious leaks because they’re very bad in terms of national security – but I also understand that’s politics. And in terms of him being behind things, that’s politics. And it will probably continue.”

This is, in many ways, the perfect Donald J. Trump Conspiracy Theory.

And this is the Donald J. Trump administration, after all.

(more…)

Advertisements

How She Runs Against Herself

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at her presidential primary election night rally, Tuesday, April 26, 2016, in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

This is a curiosity, or maybe not. Think of it this way: Former Secretary of State, United States Senator, and First Lady Hillary Clinton is not, in her presidential election campaign, running against Donald Trump. She is, instead, running against any number of ideas, some about being a Democrat, some about being a woman, and some about being a Clinton, though I’m uncertain about the order of priority, and the fundamental question of whether we, the People, think she deserves to be president. No other presidential candidate has ever run in this context.

Consider the basic proposition: Hillary Clinton is so widely recognized as a potential president that people hold this fact against her; Bernie Sanders would pretend to disrupt Clinton’s “coronation” as nominee, but it turns out the movement didn’t have a platform.α Now Donald Trump must disrupt Hillary’s (ahem!) coronation as president. And that’s how this election is being fought and judged:

▸ Donald Trump is not qualified to be president.

▸ Hillary Clinton is qualified to be president, but we’ll give the job to Trump unless she satisfies us as no candidate before her ever has.

Republicans, who have spent the last two terms saying and doing everything they can think of to maintain the pretense that Barack Obama’s presidency is somehow illegitimate, are already looking past Mr. Trump’s defeat, considering how to delegitimize Hillary Clinton.

(more…)

The Ted Cruz Show (Holiday Special)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) responds to the 2015 State of the Union address in an online video, 20 January 2015.

Amid the holiday panic and cheer it is easy for small things to slip past unnoticed. Like, say, on Christmas Eve, when Ellie Shechet informed us that, “This Ted Cruz Holiday Erotica Is Fucking Weird”.

And, you know, I see no reason to doubt her. And the Bulwer-Lytton moment with a head of lettuce should have been enough of a specimen to make the point, but why stop reading? Shechet offers her critique of the first paragraphs:

This is an extremely strong and promising beginning. The setting: Ted Cruz’s retirement party, after which he believes he will be leaving political office. IRL, I have a creeping feeling that our pal Ted would push me, you, and all of his loved ones into a hole in a frozen lake and sprint away before relinquishing one inch of his extremely unlikely and hard-earned influence, but this is fan fic! We are going with it.

Right. Downhill from there. All that.

(more…)

Chairman Trey Gowdy

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC04), chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, speaks in an interview 16 October 2015.  (Detail of photo by Getty Images)

“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.”

Rep. Trey Gowedy (R-SC04)

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.

(more…)

Republican Cake

Karl Rove

Couldn’t see this one coming, could you?

After all, the idea of Republicans changing their mind and complaining that Democrats have been such unfair scoundrels as to agree with or concede to the GOP really isn’t anything new. Still, though, it is the ultimate dodge; even in the twenty-first century, it is uncouth for politicians to look at voters and wonder what the hell is wrong with them.

Lori Montgomery of The Washington Post explains the latest Republican cut-and-run (-and-scream-like-a-drowning-diva):

Cutting federal health and retirement spending has long been at the top of the GOP agenda. But with Republicans in striking distance of winning the Senate, they are suddenly blasting the idea of trimming Social Security benefits.

Or, as Steve Benen of msnbc put it:

Just so we’re clear, what we have here is Republicans condemning Democrats for agreeing with Republicans. When the Washington Post asked Crossroads and the NRCC for comment, neither would defend their campaign messages.

Imagine that.

Just so you know, the issues involved here are chained CPI, a method of reducing Social Security payouts by using an more flexible index designed to lower payments, and the Simpson-Bowles budget report, which anyone paying attention to federal politics in recent years knows is something Democrats loathe but are willing to compromise on, and Republicans love but are willing to attack others for.

And if something seems amiss about that, well, sure, to the one, there is. Then again, to the other, if that strangeness is just occurring to you now, you probably haven’t been paying as close of attention as you otherwise would have thought.

____________________

Montgomery, Lori. “GOP changes tune on cutting Social Security with elections on the line”. The Washington Post. 23 October 2014.

Benen, Steve. “Dems face betrayal after accepting Republican concessions”. msnbc. 27 October 2014.

An Exercise in Futility

George W. BushIn a broader context, an easy way to remember the fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives is found in the words themselves. Historically, liberals have been for the advancement of liberty and the empowerment it brings. From Jesus to Muhammad and on through Wollstonecroft, Byron, Shelly, and into the twentieth century with Goldman, the idea has had to do with liberty and liberation.

Conservatives, on the other hand, wish to conserve. Specifically, they wish to conserve that precious resource known as authority. The rhetoric of conservatism is the same for toppled kings and queens as it is for senators in a decaying republic. I mean, think about it for a moment: when the Democrats were the conservatives, they were for slavery. Party names, affiliations, and outlooks change, but the fundamental principles against which they are measured remain more firmly fixed in the foundations of history.

For a couple of years, it was the love that dared not speak his name. In 2008, Republican candidates hardly ever mentioned the president still sitting in the White House. After the election, the G.O.P. did its best to shout down all talk about how we got into the mess we’re in, insisting that we needed to look forward, not back. And many in the news media played along, acting as if it was somehow uncouth for Democrats even to mention the Bush era and its legacy.

The truth, however, is that the only problem Republicans ever had with George W. Bush was his low approval rating. They always loved his policies and his governing style — and they want them back. In recent weeks, G.O.P. leaders have come out for a complete return to the Bush agenda, including tax breaks for the rich and financial deregulation. They’ve even resurrected the plan to cut future Social Security benefits.

The idea that the Republicans are looking back to Bush is an interesting suggestion. If nothing else, it would remind that the cycles of history are accelerating. Why bother with Reagan anymore? That system went bust; leave it to the Tea Party.

Paul Krugman suggests the GOP is addicted to Bush, (more…)