The Rachel Maddow Show

The Jeb Bush Show (Lonely Own Man)

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)

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.

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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)

More Missouri Madness

New York City, 30 March 2015: Rachel Maddow interviews Dave Helling of the Kansas City Star during an episode of The Rachel Maddow Show for msnbc in New York City, 30 March 2015, discussing the apparent suicide of Robert “Spence” Jackson, communications director to former State Auditor Tom Schweich, who took his own life last month after accusing Missouri GOP Chairman John Hancock of a whisper campaign accusing Schweich, a 2016 gubernatorial hopeful, of being Jewish.

It … it happened … again.

For the second time in a month, Missourians struggled Monday to understand the unfathomable — why a leading political figure in the state would take his own life.

Robert “Spence” Jackson, a prominent Republican spokesman and media liaison for more than a decade, was found dead Sunday night in the bedroom of his Jefferson City apartment.

He died from a single gunshot from a .357 Magnum revolver, police said. He left a note. Authorities consider the death a suicide.

They were unwilling Monday to officially tie Jackson’s death to that of his boss, former Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich, who shot himself Feb. 26. But politicians and consultants easily connected the two events.

(Helling and Hancock)

Rachel Maddow hosted Kansas City Star reporter Dave Helling on Monday, in hopes of trying to put at least some of the pieces together.Robert "Spence" Jackson died 27 March 2015 of an apparent suicide. Mr. Jackson's death is the second suicide in Missouri's 2016 Republican gubernatorial primary, after his boss and friend, State Auditor Tom Schweich, took his own life a month ago after alleging a whisper campaign against him by state Republican Party Chairman John Hancock, accusing that he was Jewish. (Photo via Kansas City Star)

The Missouri GOP verges on coming apart; Mr. Helling describes in his interview with Maddow calls for the proximal players in this awful chapter to simply step away in order for the party to save itself. One might also wonder if that would have any real effect; will a handful of closely associated Republicans choosing to depart change enough about the Grand Old Party in the Show-Me State? After all, the looming question here is what, exactly, is going on with Missouri Republicans?

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Image note: Top―Rachel Maddow interviews Dave Helling regarding the apparent suicide of Robert “Spence” Jackson, 30 March 2015, on The Rachel Maddow Show for msnbc. Right―Robert “Spence” Jackson. (Photo via Kansas City Star)

Helling, Dave and Jason Hancock. “Tom Schweich spokesman Spence Jackson found dead of apparent suicide”. The Kansas City Star. 30 March 2015.

Maddow, Rachel. “Second suicide shocks Missouri Republicans”. The Rachel Maddow Show. msnbc. 30 March 2015.

A Disaster in Missouri

Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich, candidate for Republican gubernatorial nomination in August, 2016, committed suicide 26 February 2015, amid swirling rumors of a bizarre anti-Semitic conspiracy against him despite the fact that he was an Episcopalian.

That elections should not have death tolls is itself a grim enough statement insofar as there exist circumstances in the human endeavor requiring such reminders; but these are the United States of America, and, really, elections should not have death tolls.

Rachel Maddow tries to summarize the circumstances surrounding the apparent suicide of Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich.

Tony Messenger, editorial page editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Had I not ignored his phone call to me at 9:41 Thursday morning — I was doing a thing at my kids’ school district — I might have been the last person to talk to the man who wanted to be governor. It made for a chilling day in which I decided to do something I’ve never done before as a reporter: reveal the contents of off-the-record conversations with a source. That source is now dead. I believe it’s what he would have wanted.

Mr. Messenger again, in an official statement released via the Post-Dispatch.

The story itself is unbelievable, not for any implication that this is something other than a suicide. Rather, the question of how and why things got so far out of hand.

Steve Kraske and Dave Helling of the Kansas City Star bring us a statement from Missouri Republican Party Chairman John Hancock that pretty much makes the point:

I would like to set the record straight, once and for all: Until recently, I mistakenly believed that Tom Schweich was Jewish, but it was simply a part of what I believed to be his biography—no different than the fact that he was from St. Louis and had graduated from Harvard Law School. While I do not recall doing so, it is possible that I mentioned Tom’s faith in passing during one of the many conversations I have each day. There was absolutely nothing malicious about my intent, and I certainty was not attempting to “inject religion” into the governor’s race, as some have suggested (in fact, I have never met with donors or raised money on behalf of the Hanaway campaign).

If words seem to fail, there is a reason.

This is apparently the scandal at the heart of it all. This is apparently the reason Tom Schweich has killed himself.

Elections should not have death tolls. What is happening in our society that we are seeing these outcomes? How does having Jewish ancestry even come into play in the first place? And how is it that this is the second year in a row we have seen a suicide in a primary election?

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Maddow, Rachel. “A shocking death in a harsh Republican primary in Missouri”. The Rachel Maddow Show. msnbc. 27 February 2015.

Messenger, Tony. “From voicemail to voicemail: The short political life and times of Tom Schweich”. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 27 February 2015.

—————. “Statement of Tony Messenger, Post-Dispatch Editorial Page Editor, on Schweich Death”. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 26 February 2015.

Kraske, Steve and Dave Helling. “Missouri GOP chairman denies spreading rumors about Tom Schweich’s religion”. The Kansas City Star. 27 February 2015.

A Reason for the Raising of the Wrist

We should probably take a moment to raise a glass to the one and only Steve Benen, oft-quoted at This Is, and celebrating twelve years as a professional blogger today. (It’s still today on the west coast, Steve.)

There’s a phrase we didn’t know would work out, back then: professional blogger.

"And on a personal note, I started blogging exactly 12 years ago today, making me an old-timer in this medium. No matter how long you’ve been reading, thanks for all the support and encouragement." (Steve Benen, msnbc, 23 February 2015)

Five questions Steve will never have to answer: (more…)

A Bushwhacking

Detail: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at the Economic Club of Detroit meeting in Detroit Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. The Detroit event is the first in a series of stops that Bush's team is calling his "Right to Rise" tour. That's also the name of the political action committee he formed in December 2014 to allow him to explore a presidential run. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

“It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for Jeb. All he did was participate in a time-honored tradition among political elites – giving each other awards as a celebration of shared power and influence. It probably didn’t even occur to him that by putting a medal around Hillary Clinton’s neck he was implicating himself in the most significant and far-reaching political scandal of our age.”

Simon Maloy

One might be tempted to wonder what chance Jeb Bush has if the hard right not only isn’t behind him but, actually, stands in specific opposition. And, certes, we have the example of Mitt Romney to consider. But then arises the question of just how far a hardline conservative candidate can make it in the general election; while a Clinton-Bush showdown is often spoken of as a tiresome prospect, who here really thinks enough people in enough states will be able to rationalize, even to themselves, the idea of being an “independent” or “centrist”, and give their vote to a Rubio or Paul? True, most people who call themselves “independent” are actually Republicans afraid to admit their real party identification, but the way in which they push back against that argument is to reject the hardliners.

As Simon Maloy explains:

The explanation ForAmerica offers for why this video disqualifies Jeb is that Hillary will use it to defang any attacks he might direct at her record as secretary of state. “Jeb has absolutely no credibility to criticize her because he has already anointed her as a great public servant.” Eh, perhaps? If you go and watch Hillary’s full remarks, she celebrates Jeb and the whole Bush family for sharing her love of America and the wisdom of the Founding Fathers. Treating praise for the enemy as an unforgiveable political sin is problematic since part of being a politician is showing magnanimity by mechanically lauding your opponents’ patriotism and shared love of public service.

But this is Benghazi we’re talking about, and there’s nothing more important in the minds of conservative activists when it comes to Hillary Clinton and 2016. Jeb hasn’t really said a whole lot about Benghazi (at least not compared to some of his 2016 rivals) but when he has remarked on it, he’s said what conservatives want to hear – that it showed weakness, emboldened enemies, etc. If there’s danger for Jeb, it’s that he’ll come off as a squish compared to other would-be candidates like Ted Cruz or Rand Paul, who declares every few months or so that Benghazi disqualifies Hillary from ever holding public office again.

The reality television market sector has nothing to compare to the 2012 GOP presidential primary, and the upcoming electoral season―the Ames Straw Poll is all of six months away―would appear to be promisimg an even bigger spectacle. GOP 2016 is going to be a show of shows, and Americans who plan to travel abroad between then and the presidential election should probably spend some time rehearsing their sheepish shrugs and noncommittal answers for when our international neighbors ask them just what the hell is going on in the U.S.

Such as it is, one fun exercise in smacking our heads against desks will come in trying to comprehend how the Republican clown car steers its way back toward the political center; leading prognostications suggest the press will help by moving the center in relation to wherever the GOP troupe crashes.

(more…)

Not Exactly the Moral of the Story

"U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks in Washington on Dec. 2, 2014." (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Compartmentalization. Equivocation. Misdirection.

Watch the birdie.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has once again dug himself a hole, and yes, he’s annoyed that anyone noticed:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday continued to walk back his comments that parents should be allowed to choose whether to vaccinate their children, saying he holds the same position as President Barack Obama on the matter.

“I got annoyed that people were trying to depict me as someone who doesn’t think vaccines were a good idea,” Paul told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday, noting that he had been vaccinated before a recent trip to Guatemala and had vaccinated his children.

“I’m not sure I’m different from the president or anyone else on the position,” Paul said. “We have rules to encourage people to have vaccines in the country, but I don’t think anybody’s recommending that we hold them down.”

(Levine)

Did you catch that?

(more…)

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.

Important Reading

Samaria Rice and her daughter Tajai, left, in Cleveland near where Ms. Rice's son Tamir, 12, was killed by a police officer. (Credit Michael F. McElroy for The New York Times)

It really should be required reading, this article from Shaila Dewan and Richard A. Oppel Jr. of The New York Times:

Seconds later, the boy lay dying from a police officer’s bullet. “Shots fired, male down,” one of the officers in the car called across his radio. “Black male, maybe 20, black revolver, black handgun by him. Send E.M.S. this way, and a roadblock.”

But the boy, Tamir Rice, was only 12. Now, with the county sheriff’s office reviewing the shooting, interviews and recently released video and police records show how a series of miscommunications, tactical errors and institutional failures by the Cleveland police cascaded into one irreversible mistake.

Yes, we have considered these aspects before, but, you know, just who the hell are we and why would we matter?

And Rachel Maddow covered some of these questions in December, but, you know, liberal media conspiraciess and all that. So now we have the New York Times.

Oh.

Right, then. Let’s just cut to the chase, since we all know what the FOX News headline would be: “No Second Chance: Racist msnbc Thugs Hate White People Who Are Trying Really Hard”.

Meanwhile, back in reality, yes, Dewan and Oppel’s article really should be required reading.

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Dewan, Shaila and Richard A. Oppel Jr. “In Tamir Rice Case, Many Errors by Cleveland Police, Then a Fatal One”. The New York Times. 22 January 2015.

NBC News. “‘The Rachel Maddow Show’ for Thursday, December 4th, 2014”. Transcript. NBCNews.com. 5 December 2014.

Nothing More Than We’ve Come to Expect from Bobby and the Hardline

Detail: "Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La. speaks in New York on Oct. 16, 2014." (John Minchillo—AP)

There comes a point when being a scientist might have certain advantages; if you need some time away from people, just go. When they ask where you’ve been, just say you were running an experiment. When they ask what it was, just shake your head like you’re annoyed and mutter that it didn’t work out. There are all sorts of ways to justify this as not being a lie, but we’ll skip the joke about the effects of repeated physical exertion during cinematic experience. Besides, Reubens established a result of some sort, decades ago, and it would be counterproductive to get arrested testing the reliability of that one.

Excuses aside, it is also true that the month before and after Christmas can be especially trying, and while most suggest a thing or two about sunlight in this region, it is unclear whether the application of the Seasonal Affective proposition is appropriately oriented.

Still, though, speaking of professional wankers:

You know what Bobby Jindal said about Muslim “no-go zones” in Europe, a statement that resulted in Jindal being criticized and mocked by mainstream commentators? It turns out many social conservatives in Iowa really liked it. To them, Jindal was warning about the danger of enclaves of unassimilated Muslim populations in an age of Islamic radicalism, a problem they fear could be in store for the United States. Jindal, who is himself the model of an assimilated American from an immigrant family, not only did not suffer from his remarks but instead benefited from them.

(York)

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That Brilliant Florida Sunshine

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) considers the involvment of Pope Francis in the release of Alan Goss, an American held in a Cuban prison, and further plans by the Obama administration to normalize diplomatic relations with the Caribbean nation, at the U.S. Capitol on 17 December 2014.  (Image: Politico)

Then again, the idea of an American Catholic disdaining what the Pope has to say isn’t exactly news.

Still, as we read through the explanation of what the Florida Republican is on about from Lauren French and Seung Min Kim of Politico

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Catholic, criticized Pope Francis on Wednesday after the pontiff played a key role in helping the United States and Cuba forge an agreement that resulted in the release of American Alan Gross from Cuba.

Rubio said he would “ask His Holiness to take up the cause of freedom and democracy.”

The Florida Republican said he didn’t criticize Francis’ personal appeals to help facilitate Gross’ release, but was speaking in response to the White House’s announcement about talks to normalize relations with Cuba after a nearly 50-year embargo with the country.

—it seems nearly inevitable to wonder if Sen. Rubio is up for his job chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Affairs. What, after all, is his objection?

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