There's a "War on Christmas" being waged. At least that's what Republicans would like us to believe. There's even a new book about it, Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas, written by that great arbiter of social injustice, Sarah Palin.
Palin writes: "Amidst the fragility of this politically correct era it is imperative that we stand up for our beliefs before the element of faith in a glorious and traditional holiday like Christmas is marginalized and ignored."
She continues: "The war on Christmas is the tip of the spear in a larger battle to secularize our culture, and make true religious freedom a thing of America's past. The logical result of atheism, a result we have seen right in front of our eyes in one of the world's oldest and proudest nations, is severe moral decay."
Of course, Palin is widely known for her intellectual curiosity, her objectivity, her distaste for inflammatory rhetoric and her adherence to facts. So we must ask, is The Wasilla Wonder onto something here?
On this eve of 'Thanksgivukkah,' a rare Hallmark phenomenon that won't occur again for another 70,000 years, I thought I'd give my personal perspective of what it's like being a Jew, surrounded by millions of allegedly battle-scarred Christians, during the mythical war-torn month of December.
If there's a war on Christmas it's certainly news to me. I live in New York, a city with more Jews per square inch than anywhere in the world except Israel. Yet this time of year it might as well be Vatican City given the sheer volume of Christmas zeal and excess. There are Christmas tree stands everywhere. Wreaths. Tinsel. Bells. Christmas music. We're inundated with red and green. With people beaming "Merry Christmas!" Asking "what are you doing for Christmas?" And, "what did you get your kids for Christmas?"
It's rare to find blue and white, the colors of Hanukkah. Strain the eyes and you might find a small menorah somewhere. No one wanders the streets, the office, retail shops wishing strangers a "Happy Hanukkah!" Strangers don't ask me what I'm doing for Hanukkah, or what I'm getting the kids for Hanukkah. What's even worse than the relative obscurity of Hanukkah is the almost non-existence of Kwanzaa-related paraphernalia. It's all Christmas, all the time. If there's a "war on Christmas" taking place, it's the most lame war in the history of wars.
I dread this time of year. I dread it because I'm a Jew floating in a sea of religious insensitivity. I live in a country where many fight for school prayer, provided it's their religion's scripture. Where people fight to allow religious symbols in public spaces, provided the symbols belong to their chosen faith. Where people ask "what's wrong with retailers posting 'Merry Christmas' signs in their windows?" But can they imagine how Jews feel then? If Christians are uncomfortable with the generic "Happy Holidays," guess how Jews feel seeing the very non-secular "Merry Christmas" everywhere we turn. And this is New York I'm referring to. Imagine how Jews feel this time of year in remote places like Laurel, Mississippi. Or Bute, Montana. Or Amarillo, Texas.
To be perfectly honest, I love Christmas. Always have. Ever since I was a 10-year-old racing to my pal Phil's building to open his presents with him and his family. I do not hate or resent this beautiful holiday. What I resent is being told that, unless I want it incessantly crammed down my Jewish throat for 30+ days each year, that I'm waging a war against it. That because I want Christians to respect me and my beliefs it is somehow disrespectful, confrontational and offensive to pious folks like Palin.
To be sure, there are millions of Jews who secretly wish they could celebrate Christmas, and perhaps millions more who've actually crossed the line of assimilation to buy trees, "do their Christmas shopping" for their Jewish friends and family, and pretend for a few days that they're no different than the 99% of the rest of the world. They want to "belong."
And the truth is, Christmas is a much sexier holiday than Hanukkah. Gentiles have Santa Claus, Rudolph, trimmed trees and apple pie. We have a menorah, a dreidel and latkes. They have White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street and A Charlie Brown Christmas. We have Shalom Sesame: Chanukah Special, Chanukah on Planet Matzoh Ball and Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights. They have the most celebrated holiday in the world, where an estimated $3-trillion is spent on shopping, and we have, well, our little Hanukkah.
So to my Christian friends, and especially to the war-weary Mama Grizzly up in Alaska, I assure you that no one wants to take away Christmas. And no one certainly is waging a war against it. Those of us who happen to be Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or atheist simply want you to enjoy your holiday merriment while accepting and respecting our chosen faith (or lack thereof) and realize that celebration this time of year comes in many colors, or perhaps no color at...
The notion that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is a virtual shoe-in for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 is largely based on the belief that the GOP, heretofore hijacked by the radical Tea Party fringe, has swung so dangerously to the right,...
A public feud between sisters Liz and Mary Cheney which began last summer took a new confrontational turn over the weekend as Liz appeared on "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace and restated her opposition to same-sex marriage.
Liz, who's moved from Virginia to Wyoming to run for the Senate seat currently held by Republican Michael B. Enzi, 69, in a campaign marred by controversy, divisiveness and accusations of carpet-bagging, while costing the Cheneys old-time friendships like that of former Sen. Alan Simpson, has not spoken with her sister, an avowed lesbian, in several months.
After viewing the Fox interview, both Mary and wife Heather Poe responded through social media to Liz's statement that same-sex marriage is "just an area where we disagree."
On Facebook Mary wrote: "Liz, this isn't just an issue on which we disagree... you're just wrong... and on the wrong side of history."
And then Poe posted: "I can't help but wonder how Liz would feel if as she moved from state to state, she discovered that her family was protecting one but not the other. Yes Liz, in 15 states and the District of Columbia you are my sister-in-law."
Liz responded in an email to reporters: "I love my sister and her family and always try to be compassionate towards that. I believe that is the Christian way to behave."
That is of course if by "Christian way" she's referring to denying someone the freedom of choice and the right to love and marry whomever they wish.
Liz is reportedly angry that Mary's publicly aired their dirty laundry, charging her with hypocrisy because she had supported the reelection campaign of George W. Bush, who opposed gay marriage and supported a constitutional amendment banning it.
But Mary Cheney is smart. She's taking a heated, emotional family rift which her sister wishes would remain private and thrusting it squarely into the nation's consciousness. She's casting a critical light on the narrow-mindedness, ignorance and intolerance that fuels that fight against same-sex marriage, forcing Liz to slam her homophobic stake into the ground, telling her 'You've made your bed now sleep in it.' And at the risk of derailing Liz's already-contentious Senate campaign, she's forcing her sister to woman-up to her public Tea Party pandering while suggesting her private views are much more liberal.
One can't help feel some measure of satisfaction in watching the Cheneys eat their own. To paraphrase Mary, this is a staunchly conservative family that many believe has been on the "wrong side of history" more than once. It is a family whose positions, for the most part, at their core deny Americans the kind of personal freedoms that Mary now fights for.
But Mary is in some way complicit in this war against gay rights and must take some responsibility for the homophobia that persists among conservatives. Mary's past support of people like Bush, who seek to legislate against her personal and sexual freedom, is indeed hypocritical. She did not have to help the anti-gay crowd gain even more power and influence. Other political scions like Ron Reagan Jr. have broken ranks with their conservative families rather than engage in such moral dishonesty.
To be sure, the Cheneys are now experiencing what millions of average American families continue to experience in the face of discrimination and prejudice. Maybe "The Real Cheneys of Wyoming" family drama is a lesson to be learned not just for them, but for the millions of Republicans who wish to keep America stuck in the 1950's. What goes around comes...
Imagine you're sitting at New York's JFK airport waiting for a flight. An announcement comes over the PA system that the local air-traffic control system is down and will be shut for days. Your flight has been canceled, as have thousands of flights in and out of New York. This system failure causes tremendous anger, frustration and inconvenience. As such, there's an immediate campaign by special interest groups (Amtrak, for example) to indefinitely delay U.S. air travel or even stop flying altogether. They claim that flying is no longer safe. That it's destroying America's transportation system, and perhaps even America itself. Well, this irrational scenario is exactly what's playing out with President Obama's Affordable Care Act.
A colossal glitch in the Healthcare.gov website has undermined the the October 1 roll-out, causing major embarrassment for the president over his signature health care law. Couple that with a provision in the law itself that's likely to result in millions of individually insured Americans (approximately 5% of total insureds) receiving cancellation notices from their providers--despite Obama's repeated, unequivocal promise that "if you like your insurance you can keep your insurance, period, no matter what,"--along with microscopic enrollment to-date, and you have the humiliating debacle of the past six weeks.
To be sure, the launch of ACA has been an utter public relations nightmare for Obama, who valiantly fought for years for its passage through Congress, its Supreme Court ratification, and its re-affirmation in the 2012 election. But make no mistake, there's no one to blame for ACA's current problems but Obama. From the start he failed miserably to successfully sell it to the American public, which is why a majority say they disapprove of it despite the overwhelming benefits they'll receive. He's allowed Republicans to frame the debate, portraying the law in the most negative light imaginable with incendiary partisan rhetoric. While Americans, the media and politicians on both sides of the aisle acknowledged the problems, it took weeks for Obama to issue an apology, but it was too little too late. The genie was already out of the bottle and it's hard to imagine how he can get it back in given that a majority of Americans now question his honesty, integrity and trustworthiness. A new Quinnipiac poll shows Obama's disapproval rating at 54%, matching the highs of former President George Bush.
And now six weeks after the roll-out several leading Democrats, including Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Steny Hoyer and Bill Clinton, are calling for a fix. Clinton this week urged Obama to "honor his commitment" by amending ACA to allow people to keep their health plans. The chorus of disenchantment is growing bigger and louder with each passing day.
But before we throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water we must keep perspective and not let these relatively minor, fixable flaws overshadow the overall value of ACA, a law that's designed to benefit and protect 95% of Americans. In no way should we mitigate or lessen the short-term challenges and hardships faced by millions of Americans who have received insurance cancellations. But understanding ACA in its greater context is critical in the long-term. Like Social Security, Medicare and Bush's prescription drug plan, ACA will surely experience some birthing problems and growing pains, but over time Republicans will be proven dead wrong about its ability to provide expanded, improved and affordable health care for tens of millions of people currently without coverage, as well as enhance the coverage of those presently insured. It's just a shame that Obama has allowed and enabled right-wing obstructionists, whose only goal is to kill their hated "Obamacare" and replace it with nothing, to create the narrative of total...
The Affordable Care Act: it's been legislated into law by both houses of Congress, adjudicated by the Supreme Court, reaffirmed in the 2012 presidential election, and once again in Tuesday's election results. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who's taken federal Medicaid expansion money, won big. Terry McAuliffe, an ACA supporter, won in mostly red Virginia over Tea Party extremist Ken Cuccinelli. Down in Alabama, mainstream conservative Bradley Byrne defeated the Tea Party's Dean Young.
So what do these results say to the "repeal" crowd of right-wing loons who claimed, as Cuccinelli had boldly declared, that Tuesday's contests would be a referendum on the health care law they derisively refer to as Obamacare? The message is clear: they are without question not only out of step with a majority of Americans but, to more critical consequence, losing the battle within the Republican Party itself. Conservatives are committing political suicide, and these these narrow-minded, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-science, anti-education, anti-health care, anti-women, race-baiting, religious zealots are the Kevorkians, injecting a lethal dose of insanity into the establishment.
To be sure, the Republican brand has taken a beating these past few years, and risks dying altogether if the party's leaders cannot wrest back the reins from the irrational, out-of-control extremists within its ranks who've hijacked the GOP bus and recklessly driven it off a cliff. If not, Irrelevance and Obsolescence will become the party's new bumper-sticker.
As for the Obama-hugging Christie, who continues to thumb his nose at the crazies in his purview, I can hardly wait to see him at the 2016 debates squaring off against what is sure to be a crop of deranged...
No one's ever accused me of being a patsy for the Republican Party. To the contrary, I've been a staunch supporter of President Obama, Democrats and the liberal agenda. I've also loudly, vociferously and consistently criticized the GOP for driving a wedge into our political system with its self-serving, obstructionist tactics. But what I've been witnessing and personally experiencing this week regarding the Affordable Care Act controversy has me wondering if, in the end, liberals are no better than their conservative counterparts.
Talk to a passionate Democrat and they'll more than likely offer you this lofty opinion of themselves: "We're the smart ones. The rational and logical ones. The ones who care about others. We're better than they are." But are they? Perhaps Washington is broken not just because of Republicans, but because of Democrats as well. As the saying goes, it takes two to tango... and liberals have been dancin' up a storm this week.
The liberal spin on the ACA mess is astounding, and mirrors the typical partisan tactics of the GOP. Let's start with how Democrats are giving Obama an inexplicable total pass on the bold, unequivocal promises he's made repeatedly about ACA:
"If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health-care plan, you'll be able to keep your health-care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what."
"And if you like your insurance plan, you will keep it. No one will be able to take that away from you. It hasn't happened yet. It won't happen in the future."
Pretty clear, right? "Period...period...no matter what." Yet the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that 10-million Americans will be forced into policy cancellations by their current providers (because their current coverage doesn't meet the new ACA standards) and have to buy new, possibly more expensive policies from these same insurers or from the ACA exchanges. So are liberals--who'd typically be outraged by this kind of blatant lie, misrepresentation or incompetence from a Republican--demonstrating outrage and demanding accountability? No. Instead, they're spinning like mad. Like Republicans. They claim that the new insurance will be better. Maybe so. But that still doesn't mitigate or excuse "Period...period...no matter what."
Then there's the condescending spin that these existing policies are nothing more than "substandard, worthless plans." Again, maybe so. But Obama never said "If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan -- if we deem it to be adequate."
Perhaps the most egregious spin of all is this one: "Obama said if you like the plan you have you can keep it. He did not say if you like the plan you have they will keep you!" Really? This is the most fascinating parsing of words since the Bill Clinton days of "depends on what the definition of "is" is."
Self-righteous liberals now find themselves condescendingly lecturing people that they're too stupid to know that their current policies are dreadful and worthy of termination, and that they should in effect be thankful that these smarter liberals are forcing new, more expensive policies on them. To see liberals stoop to the same shameful, disingenuous spin levels of Republicans is quite disheartening.
It's been a rough week for ACA, Obama, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and with good reason. Within the administration's ranks, the media, at Congressional hearings and on Main Street they've been skewering on the hot seat and have been forced to profusely apologize for the health care law's botched roll-out. Yet so many liberals are holding firm in their belief that ACA is perfect and wildly beneficial while summarily dismissing the opinions and experiences of others who may be negatively impacted by it. That makes them no better than the myopic, fanatical Tea Party "patriots" whom they loathe.
Yes, Washington is indeed broken, as so is the American electorate. People have become so angry, polarized and drunk on the party Kool-Aid that objectivity has all but disappeared. There's no middle ground anymore. No ability to appear or sound rational or logical. No right and wrong. Just red and blue.
To be sure, Obama could find the cure for cancer and most Republicans will criticize him for it while defending the overall merits of this dreaded disease. Similarly, Republicans could be 100% spot-on about something and most liberals will swiftly and summarily dismiss it simply because it comes from the right. It's become almost impossible to have an intelligent political conversation because most people can't objectively discuss a policy subject without injecting convoluted, hyperbolic partisan rhetoric.
These Republibs, as I call them, will practically call you a traitor if you don't toe the party line 100%. I had one old friend tell me yesterday that I "should vote Republican then" simply because I acknowledged ACA's flaws (despite being an ardent supporter of it) and suggested that Obama re-attempt a bi-partisan dialogue for the fix. Sadly, we live in a culture now where "compromise" and "objectivity" have become bad...
The Affordable Care Act was ushered in with hyperbolic partisan fanfare, along with a bold promise from President Obama than anyone currently holding insurance would be able to keep their coverage and doctors, and that health care premiums would decrease not increase. But as we now know from the past several weeks, the rollout of ACA has been nothing short of a disaster. This includes the botched launch of the HealthCare.gov website; the fact that millions of people are receiving cancellation notices from their insurance companies; that premiums are, in many cases, increasing appreciably; that hardly anyone has been able to sign up for coverage, including, and especially, the 7 million young people needed to make guaranteed coverage work; to the likelihood that the deadlines for the individual mandate will probably need to be extended.
To say ACA's problems have been an embarrassment for Obama is a colossal understatement. This is his signature law. He fought like an animal to have it legislated, adjudicated by the Supreme Court and affirmed in the 2012 presidential election against his opponent, Mitt Romney, who vociferously ran on its repeal. He then stood firm in the government shutdown showdown, sending House Republicans crawling back to their caucus room with their tails between their legs, their spirits broken and capitulating like the French army in WWII.
Obama now finds himself caught between a rock and a hard place, trying to deftly balance an appreciation for, and an acceptance of, his health care reform's flaws while maintaining an upbeat, optimistic and steadfast defense of its ultimate merits and value. The president now promises a full website fix by November 30, a deadline which, even if met, would still present serious challenges in meeting enrollment deadlines.
Republicans have been demanding that heads roll, with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius' most notably on the chopping block. Putting aside partisan loyalties and/or bitterness, do they actually have a point here? Are they right about ACA after all? With new reports this week claiming that the administration knew years in advance that millions would be losing their coverage, is it time for Sebelius, and perhaps others, to finally go? And are we headed for another bloody Benghazi-like "What-did-he-know-and-when-did-he-know-it" witch hunt? Is the GOP justified in pursuing an intensified investigation into the program's and the administration's failures?
Perhaps it's time for Obama to put his tail between his legs, admit monumental tactical and process failure, and attempt to start over with the full cooperation of both House and Senate Republicans. To be sure, ACA is not going away. It will become as bedrock an entitlement program as Social Security, Medicare and the Prescription Drug Plan. But at this point, and with each passing day, it's becoming abundantly clear that it needs an overhaul, and a bi-partisan one at that, if it's ever going to work...
The examples are plentiful: Rep. Joe Wilson shouting "You Lie!" to President Obama from the House Chamber. Rep. Ted Yoho (FL) responding with "I'm not gonna comment" when asked if Obama's a "born American." Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) saying he doesn't want to be associated with Obama because "it's like touching a tar baby." Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI) telling supporters "I stood 12 feet away from the guy, and couldn't stand being there." Or Sen. Dick Durbin recalling how a high-level Republican leader told the president "I can't even stand to look at you" at a recent White House meeting. And then there was Newt Gingrich's bizarre statement that we can only begin to comprehend Obama's actions if we understand "Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior." Do I even need to bring up Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh and other Republican leaders?
What does all this point to? To many it suggests an issue with the fact that Obama is black. The Tea Party in particular, judging by the words and actions of many in this radical right-wing faction, seem sickened by the fact that a black man lives in the White House. With his black wife. And black children. In their America, the one in which they grew up in, the only black people walking around the White House were servants. I think they're disgusted, angry, resentful and frustrated that a black man is the most powerful person in the world; a job that's been reserved for whites since the birth of America.
To be sure, the crippling polarization in Washington isn't a result of typical partisan differences. It goes so much deeper than that. It's rooted in an unprecedented level of bitterness, disrespect and the belief that Obama is neither American nor a legitimately elected president. They can't stand to be near him, or to talk with him, because, to them, he's no more qualified to be leader of the free world than the guy who shines their shoes at DC's Union Station.
Which is why they will never support anything he does, even if he discovers a cure for cancer. Which is why they quite calculatingly branded the Affordable Care Act "Obamacare." If you hate Obama, you gotta hate Obamacare, right? To them this law is nothing more than a black guy giving away hard-earned white money to poor, lazy blacks. And Obamacare is a sly symbol of that racial animus.
The blatant racism in America today is ugly. It's shameful. It's embarrassing. And it sure as hell...
The radical Tea Party faction of the Republican Party last year hatched an ill-fated plan to kill the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which it has derisively coined Obamacare. In the end, what it couldn't achieve legislatively, judicially and electorally it tried desperately to achieve...
To Democrats and moderate Republicans, Ted Cruz is akin to the Antichrist... a demonic, destructive, self-aggrandizing maniac who just might destroy the global economy and the GOP in one fell Obamacare-hating swoop. But to right-wing extremists and Tea Party loyalists, he's...
Consider this: a radical, militant organization commits threatening acts which place the United States on security lockdown. Or perhaps they hack into Wall Street's vast, intricate computer network, sending the stock markets and banking system into chaotic panic. Or they make hostile demands which,...
In the age of digital media, where consumers are plugged in, tuned out and engaging in high-speed comparison-shopping at the click of a mouse, ecommerce and social media is fresh and exciting while traditional print catalogs are un-responsive, costly and old-school, right? So why are ecomms hopping on the catalog...
Shut it down!! Shut it down!! Shut it down!!
Republican leaders from House Speaker John Boehner to whip Eric Cantor are threatening to shut down the government unless a resolution passes which keeps it afloat and defunds Obamacare. Clearly, the only thing these rapacious obstructionists hate more than Obama himself is his health care reform.
What it's clearly boiled down to is that Republicans are possessed by an overpowering psychological compulsion to repeal Obamacare even at great cost and harm to America and the GOP despite forty-one previously failed legislative attempts to do so. And now they can't stop. It's about raging, venomous, unprecedented partisan ego and out-of-control anger. The hope for logical, rational, country-first thinking has been decidedly killed off by a macro dose of hostility, resentment and fear; fear that Americans will ultimately grow to love Obamacare once they get a taste... and that there'll be no turning back.
What I suspect also drives some of these rabid repealers is an unhealthy measure of racial animus. There are many on the right who still cannot get over their visceral disgust that a black man and his family are occupying the White House (it's called White House for a reason)... but it's Obamacare which really gets them frothing at the mouth. To them Obamacare translates to a black man taking hard-working rich white-folk money to give free shit to poor, lazy blacks.
But as reprehensible as the GOP's hate-campaign is, the level of ineptitude coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is even more disturbing. It's unforgivable how Obama and the administration have failed so miserably at conveying to average Americans the inherent value of his Affordable Care Act. Rather than falling in love with Obamacare, as they do their Social Security and Medicare, 53% actually disapprove of it. That Obama's allowed Republicans to frame the debate with incendiary, over-the-top rhetoric (Cantor claims it will have "horrific effects" on middle class families; Boehner calls it a "train wreck") is beyond comprehension. The most beneficial government program since the New Deal has somehow been turned into an apocalyptic nightmare. Incredibly, guaranteed insurance, no lifetime caps, no rejections for pre-existing conditions and the ability to keep children up to 26 on the family plan are perceived as a bad thingby more than half the country.
The ultimate failure is that President Barack "Grand Bargain" Obama's been too busy these past five years kissing Republicans' asses, deluding himself into thinking he can achieve bi-partisan harmony in Washington while being embarrassingly oblivious to the reality that these same lawmakers hate his guts and everything he stands for. They have one unabated goal: to undermine him, his agenda and his legacy at every possible turn. And regarding his legacy, Obamacare will likely be what the president is remembered for most (aside from the historic significance that he's the first black president): that he had the vision for it, yet woefully lacked the skills and balls to sell...
There's a contingency of Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives which seeks to impeach President Obama. I hope they succeed. Not because I am anti-Obama or sympathize with them on any conceivable level, but because such an action, if successful, would sound...
The Republican National Committee voted last week to boycott presidential primary debates held by television networks NBC and CNN if they continue with productions of a Hillary Clinton mini-series and documentary respectively. Yes, the party that gave us what felt like 842 debates in the 2012 primaries has decided to limit its participation this time to Fox News and possibly ABC and CBS.
And why? Because the GOP angrily charges that these productions will be "puff pieces," "extended infomercials" and a "thumb on the scales" in the upcoming 2016 presidential election for which Clinton is the presumed Democratic frontrunner. "Political ads masked as unbiased entertainment," the RNC draft resolution claims.
"We're done putting up with this nonsense," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. "There are plenty of other outlets. We'll still reach voters, maybe more voters. But CNN and NBC anchors will just have to watch on their competitors' networks. The media overplayed their hand this time."
Seems Priebus has finally figured out that the GOP stands a better chance of winning elections if it stops its candidates from actually speaking. And considering the last crop of GOP hopefuls, keeping these boneheads out of debates and off of mainstream television screens seems to be making more sense as well.
But the RNC's position here is puzzling and counter-intuitive. For on thing, the results of the last election demonstrate a dire need by the GOP to expand its reach among voters not contract it. Shrinking its audience to largely Fox News does little to help broaden its base. The party's message (whatever that is) must be heard by more than the rabid conservatives watching Fox if its ever to rebuild its brand and expand its tent.
Limiting its audience punishes the lesser-known, under-financed candidates who need as much free air-time as possible. What the party would be left with is a select group of elitists who have the visibility, name-recognition and wealth to fuel their own campaigns outside of the debate arena.
The GOP, ironically, also runs the risk of having its debates themselves viewed as infomercials. Imagine a Republican debate, on Fox, and moderated by the likes of Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh (as the party wants). Who but the red-meat-gorging Foxies would want to watch that softball-filled farce?
Most perplexing is that Priebus is crying foul without even knowing the ultimate content of these productions; programs, mind you, which Clinton herself has said she prefers not be aired. Apparently she doesn't think hours of rehashed Bill/Monica, Hillary/Obama campaign drama (including charges of racist comments by her and Bill), Benghazi and more would amount to a free "infomercial" for her campaign. And she's right. It's reasonable to expect that both productions could dredge up enough semi-dormant Clinton controversy to negatively impact her. So for the RNC to go absolutely RepubliBonkers over programming which it knows little about seems monumentally ill-advised.
Lastly, the RNC's actions really aren't much of a surprise. For years now, Republicans have attempted to subvert America's democratic election process in any way they can....limiting the public's access to candidates and disenfranchising voters. This strategy runs so counter to what previous elections have taught them. It's become truly fascinating to watch the GOP implode despite all it knows it needs to do to turn around its disastrous fate. Republicans simply can't help themselves.
In the end, Priebus' lame-stream media paranoia serves no purpose other than to fire up an already blazing base. It's an embarrassing waste of time and energy which will yield nothing. If NBC and CNN ultimately sponsor debates and extend invitations to the Republican candidates, you can be sure these media-hungry carnival barkers will take their desired place at the...
I was at the gym early this morning and overheard a small group of men and women talking politics in between sets.
"A Hillary/Palin match-up...now that's what I want to see!," one woman excitedly declared, although I got the sense she was simply teasing the others.
"Yeah, she's the real deal," echoed a beefy man in his 50's, clearly quite serious.
Then I heard something that stopped me mid-chin-up.
"I was gonna vote for McCain last time, mainly because of Palin, but changed my mind because he's a liberal," a 40-something guy said.
"Really?," asked the woman. "McCain's a liberal?" Incredulous, I muttered the same question to myself.
"Yup, calls himself a Republican, but he's nothing but a liberal," he said with utter disdain.
And that, my friends, is why the Republican Party as we know it is dead. When its constituents start referring to Sen. John McCain as a liberal you know the GOP bus has officially careened off the cliff.
Let's just visit McCain's record for a second, because perspective and context here is critical. He's a fiscal and military hawk. He voted for the Iraq war, pushed for the surge, and currently seems to want to invade every rogue country in the world. He supports lower taxes for individuals and corporations. He's pro-gun, anti-Obamacare, against gay marriage, is anti-choice and against public funding of abortion-related programs. He's even fairly vague on the subject of immigration. While he supports a two-step process of beefed up border security and overall reforms, it's hard to tell where he truly stands on the actual fate of the nation's 13-million undocumented citizens. And let's not forget he's the Dr. Frankenstein to Sarah Palin's, well, Frankenstein.
Welcome to 2013 Republican politics, where Tea Party crazies rule the day and former conservative icons like Ronald Regan, Bob Dole and Jack Kemp couldn't get themselves elected if they offered to pay for votes. We now live in an age of rabid extremism; a political climate that allows for hard-core, longstanding conservatives like former Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar to be tossed from office for not being conservative enough...and for hard-core conservatives like McCain to be labeled liberal. The GOP's no longer a political party. It's now a cabal led by the likes of Palin, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and other conservakooks.
Compromise has become a filthy, dirty, stinkin' word. Republicans who attempt to meet Democrats halfway, even a quarter way, are attacked for being caving sellouts of "real" conservative values. Gone is the first rule of negotiating: no one can get everything they want, all the time.
Yes, welcome to modern day Republicanism. A perfect storm of Tea Party furor, ignorance and intolerance. Where candidates can surely get themselves elected on ideological absolutism, rabble-rousing rhetoric and fire and brimstone...but fail to get anything accomplished legislatively because it takes compromise to pass bills in Washington.
To be sure, sanity has left the building. Monomania has taken over. What the party stands for today is a far cry from the days of Reagan, Kemp, Dole, Alan Simpson and other ardent right-wingers who somehow managed to do their jobs and pass bipartisan legislation. It's no longer the party of small government and low taxes. To be a Republican today, or more so a successful Republican, you have to preach to the lowest common denominator. You must be anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-poor, anti-minority, anti-women, anti-gun-control, anti-environment, anti-education, anti-science and anti-empathy...while, ironically and hypocritically, preaching the gospel of the good Lord.
With 'young turks' like Cruz, Rubio and Paul leading the GOP charge it all but ensures the party's further and deeper slide into irrelevance and ultimate...