The Nation

A Congressional Fire Drill

Huang reflects on a mission barely accomplished. (Darker Than Black, ep. 14)

Bring your own analysis.

Roll Call has been busy trying to make heads and tails of House Republicans:

John T. Bennett: “Deputy Whip Tom Cole, R-Okla., and House Freedom Caucus founding member Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., did agree on two things. They both see Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as the leading candidate to take over as speaker. And they believe a government shutdown will be averted by a stopgap spending bill passed within the next few days.”

Emma Dumain: “Sources confirmed to CQ Roll Call Saturday afternoon that in the event Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., makes a play for majority leader, Conference Vice Chairwoman Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., would look to move up one slot.”

David Eldridge and Matt Fuller“House Speaker John A. Boehner has a word of warning, straight out of the Bible, for fellow Republicans: ‘Beware false prophets’.”

David Hawkings: “The trend of past three decades will surely make California’s Kevin McCarthy, or whoever ascends to the presiding officer’s chair, extremely wary about his career’s trajectory over the long term — even after this fall’s latest internal Republican revolution gets put to rest.”

Catching up with some of the details that might have slipped by unnoticed, we can turn to The Hill:

Jordain Carney: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Friday that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was ‘unable to control’ his party and that his resignation could leave Republicans increasingly ‘out of touch.'”

Cristina Marcos: “Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) announced late Friday he will run for House majority whip, just hours after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced his resignation.”

Mark Meckler: “Ding, dong … John Boehner is gone. Long live the tea party movement.”

Bradford Richardson: “‘Taking care of this leadership issue was a pretty selfless act that Speaker Boehner decided to make a little bit easier for everyone,’ Priebus said told host John Catsimatidis on AM 970 New York on Sunday. ‘I might imagine he would have been able to hang on, but the truth is he’s just not the type of guy to put up with it, so he just said, ‘Forget it, I’ll move on’.'”

And a check of the chatter:

Zoë Carpenter (The Nation): “ Let’s get one thing clear about John Boehner: His problem was not that his position on abortion was too liberal.”

Heather Cox Richardson (Salon): “Movement Conservatives just claimed the head of House Speaker John Boehner. His political death was the price of preventing a catastrophic government shutdown after Movement Conservatives in Congress tied the very survival of the United States government to their determination to defund Planned Parenthood. Movement Conservatives are gunning for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell next. We should be very afraid. Boehner and McConnell are not wild-eyed lefties. They are on the very far right of the American political spectrum: fervently pro-business, antiabortion, opposed to social welfare legislation. But they are old-school politicians who still have faith in the idea of American democracy.”

David Lawder (Reuters): “Thus far, a serious challenger to McCarthy has not emerged, though some Republican aides said that House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling is weighing a run. A Hensarling spokesman could not be reached for comment.”

Michael McAuliff, Laura Barron-Lopez, and Sam Stein (Huffington Post): “House Speaker John Boehner may be able to leave office on a high note after meeting the pope and potentially averting another government shutdown. But his abrupt departure has many on Capitol Hill fearing it will leave Congress an even worse, more gridlocked institution.

So … right. Good luck with all that. What makes the challenge seem so daunting, of course, is that everything will be obsolete by the time you get through it all. And there is a pervading notion of futility much akin to John Boehner’s speakership; that we might know what has happened, as well as what is expected to happen, does not mean it will happen. This is your House GOP. Enjoy the show. You know. As much as you can.

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Is Jennifer Rubin Sinister or Merely Stupid?

Jennifer Rubin, right-wing blogger for The Washington Post.

Even the simplest of differences can create false appearances. For instance: Is Jennifer Rubin sinister or stupid?

In the end, though, the difference is one of valences. Sinister forgives stupidity in some cases for the fact of reasonable execution, but even the sinister is cultivated around a germ of ignorance.

In the first place, there is Rubin’s arrival at The Washington Post. Eric Alterman of The Nation noted last year—

It is no secret to anyone that conservatives have conducted a remarkably successful, decades-long campaign to undermine the practice of honest, aggressive journalism with trumped-up accusations of liberal bias. They have made massive investments of time and money in groups and individuals devoted to “working the refs,” and these have yielded significant ideological dividends—which, as might be predicted, have only encouraged them to keep it up.

—as a preface to his discussion of Jennifer Rubin as “The Washington Post’s Problem”. She was the third in a string of quota hires made as part of an attempt to deliberately throw their political coverage rightward in order to fend off attacks of being too liberal. Ben Domenech, their first hire for the position, turned out to be a sharp-tongued plagiarist, which was kind of embarrassing for the Post, as you might imagine. Next they plucked Dave Weigel from Reason.com, and one can reasonably say the Reason franchise has never been the same. Yet for all the quality of this pick, Post editors deemed him unsuitable for the task after realizing that he just wasn’t conservative enough. So the newspaper turned to rabid right-winer Jennifer Rubin, and the disaster of her term as a staff blogger really is hard to describe. Alterman’s review for The Nation is an excellent read, but it is also something of a headache insofar as truth is stranger than fiction and the twists and turns of Jennifer Rubin’s greatest contribution to our political discourse would seem to have something to do with mainstreaming hardline rightist tinfoil in major news media. After the 2012 election, Rubin’s ability to change her story without the slightest hint of shame, or even decency, was pretty much on display for anyone to see. Simon Maloy tried to sketch the degree of self-contradiction in her coverage of the Romney loss; it isn’t pretty.

(more…)

Your (sigh) 2016 GOP Presidential Prognistication, v.1

There is, of course, the idea of epistemic closure, what others might refer to as the Bubble, or the Right Wing Echo Chamber. After all, one might wonder at the idea that presidential-caliber political operatives were shellshocked on election night. To the other, the effect is easy enough to see, but in truth it really was hard to believe. And yet amid the right-wing media circus that included arbitrarily adjusted statistics to tell us all the real, “unskewed” poll results, Jennifer Rubin stood alone amid the wrong-minded noise, head and shoulders above her deluded colleagues, and managed the sort of electoral season that the Washington Post really ought to be embarrassed about, except that she’s not as bad as the two people who held the job of WaPo right-wing blogger before her.

But the newspaper’s cruel joke against conservatives remains unbowed. In recent days the Maven of Mistakes has announced her field of candidates for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. No, really.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

Former GOP vice presidential nominee, and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush

Former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Bonus coverage of the field that just shouldn’t bother, namely Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, as well as former Sen. Rick Santorum.

Sounds kind of fun, doesn’t it?

No?

Well … er … right.

One Marianne Doherty lamented, as Romney supporters countenanced defeat, “It makes me wonder who my fellow citizens are. I’ve got to be honest, I feel like I’ve lost touch with what the identity of America is right now. I really do.”

And, well, yeah. If Republicans want to keep feeling that way, they should keep their heads firmly sealed inside the Bubble.

I mean, really. Look at that list. The only real question is how much of his soul Gov. Christie is going to have to sell in order to seal up the nomination.

____________________

Apparently, Romney’s campaign, from top to bottom, had no idea what was about to happen. How does one get to the premiere league of American politics, yet be so blind?