Republican National Committee

Your “Say What?” Update

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus stands on stage at the Republican National Committee winter meeting in Washington, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Here’s a proposition: About one-third of our body politic will attend an all-expenses paid trip to Israel, chaperoned by an anti-Jewish political advocacy group; what could possibly go wrong?

If you’re just picking up on the story, Ben Schreckinger brings us the latest version, in which we pause to consider how the right wing is responding. Because, you know, between the RNC, its premillennial dispensationalist evangelical bloc, and pro-Israeli hardliners, nobody could have foreseen this particular conflict arising, could they? Oh, the poor right wing. Actually, that’s not really fair. But you’ll note that no part of Schreckinger’s article―not even the parts covering the Anti-Defamation League―has anything to say about the AFA’s anti-Judaic posturing.

In interviews with POLITICO on Monday, evangelical leaders and right-leaning groups said the national party showed poor judgment at best in associating with “extremists,” as evangelical Alan Noble described the groups. AFA has been labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center — a description it has disputed.

“It creates a problem of the RNC appearing to pander to the most extreme elements of the religious right,” said Warren Throckmorton, a lifelong Republican and conservative evangelical leader from Pennsylvania.

Said Noble, managing editor of the evangelical publication Christ and Pop Culture and an assistant professor at Oklahoma Baptist University: “I’m at a loss for why they think that this is a good idea. It’s disappointing. As someone who is conservative and evangelical, I think there are a lot of conservative evangelical groups that the RNC can work with … that are not extreme and hurtful and un-Christian.”

And if that is enough of a temptation to actually dig into the story, Rachel Maddow actually ran a couple segments last week:

“American Family Association fires Bryan Fischer ahead of RNC trip to Israel” (28 Jan. 2015)

“Religious bigotry haunts group hosting RNC (29 Jan. 2015)

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Schreckinger, Ben. “Right attacks RNC over Israel trip”. Politico. 2 February 2015.

An Attempt to Explain Republicans to an Overseas Neighbor

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 29: Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) (C) speaks during a news conference to introduce a GOP-sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla)

Ed. note: The following is a repost of a Facebook comment offered to a friend from New Zealand who is constantly baffled by what he witnesses in the American political process, and happened to inquire about Republican efforts to … well, right. It has to do with recent House bills pertaining to the role of science in government policy.

I think the best way to explain it is to once again invoke a Cold War analogy; after all, depicting Democrats as “liberals”, with “liberals” meaning “Soviet Communists” was a key to Ronald Reagan’s electoral success.

But think about it this way, too: By that analogy, Republicans are the “capitalists”.

So it goes, then, that if we look at votes as “capital”, then the actions of the RNC, Congressional Republicans, and various surrogates and allies make sense: Get the capital by whatever means necessary.

That’s why the whole thing is so puzzling to people who, you know, have a conscience. The GOP ain’t playin’ that way. This is about winning votes, and nothing more. And in the United States, conservative voters will take whatever they can get to reinforce their platform. Additionally, superstition and subjective moral outrage are much more attractive to most American voters than obvious logic that, if attended, would skip the melodrama and slapstick that has become our political system.

To that end, we might consider Manichean dualisms or, simply, reality television. Just as many people believe in a basic struggle between good and evil, so also do many people believe reality television depicts reality.

In that context, it becomes a capitalistic ratings game; our elections become a functional part of our entertainment industry.

What Republicans are trying to do here is twofold: (1) Bolster their own political fantasies by excluding reality; (2) create a situation in which government will experience an even greater failure about its performance of duty so that they can complain even louder that government just doesn’t work.

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Abrams, Lindsay. “House Republicans just passed a bill forbidding scientists from advising the EPA on their own research”. Salon. 19 November 2014.

Benen, Steve. “Republicans take aim at imaginary target: ‘secret science'”. msnbc. 20 November 2014.

Your Republican Party: Equal Rights Edition

Republican family values

“They seem to understand the problem, at least on a national level. But they seem to think this problem is simply one of tone and messaging. It goes way beyond. It’s a problem of policy.”

Maria Cardona

File under “O”, for obvious; Emma Margolin strikes a nearly Revolutionary tone:

RNC Chair Reince Priebus tried to do some damage control on Thursday, telling msnbc host Chuck Todd that neither “party can do a victory lap here.”

“The poll’s gist wasn’t, ‘Oh, the Republicans are stuck in the past,'” he said. “The gist of the poll was, 50% of women are saying they have a negative view of the Republican Party and 40% of the women are saying they have a negative view of the Democratic Party.”

But any way you spin it, the message is clear: Republicans haven’t done enough to close the gender gap that’s plagued their party since the Reagan Administration. And that could spell trouble for their hopes to take over the Senate in November and win the White House in 2016 – especially if Hillary Clinton throws her hat into the ring.

“This is a ‘good news’ story for the Democrats – period,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University. “It becomes even more of an issue if Hillary Clinton is running for president. She will mobilize women to be engaged.”

Alcoholics Anonymous teaches that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. With the gender gap, the GOP can certainly cross that one off the list, having published a comprehensive “autopsy” report last year that prioritized female voters, who chose President Obama over Mitt Romney 56% to 44%.

But if recovering the women’s vote – and in turn, the White House – involves its own 12-step program, it’s steps two through 12 that pose a bit more of a challenge for the GOP.

(Boldface accent added)

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