Honestly, how often is it that you get to write such a great headline? In a week that also included a Sarah Palin speech that dominated the news cycle (to say nothing of the late-night comic cycle), writing such snarky headlines is just icing on the cake, really. Good times... yes, good times indeed for Democrats watching the horrorshow that is the Republican presidential nomination process.
Where to begin?
The big news today from Republicanland was the broadside fired by the National Review towards Donald Trump. A full 22 conservative thinkers (although, with the likes of Glenn Beck and William Kristol in the mix, we do of necessity use that term quite broadly) all weighed in on why Donald Trump is a terrible candidate for Republicans to consider making their presidential nominee, and why Trump is an all-around terrible human being. With a little over a week to go before voting begins in Iowa, the phrase "a day late and a dollar short" immediately springs to mind.
The essays were contradictory in their reasons for loathing Trump, and the editor himself was writing supportive words about Trump earlier this year, but never mind. Consistency is the hobgoblin of sane non-conservative pundits, after all.
But wait! Just as this intraparty candidate assassination was being attempted comes news that the Republican establishment is basically decamping from Jeb! Bush and Marco Rubio's campaigns and moving reluctantly over to Trump. The big money men and party regulars, you see, want someone with the best chance of actually winning, and the only real alternative at this point is a man pretty much everyone in Washington hates with a seething passion: Ted Cruz. Rudy Giuliani helpfully explains: "If it came down to Trump or Cruz, there is no question I'd vote for Trump. As a party, we'd have a better chance of winning with him, and I think a lot of Republicans look at it that way." The big GOP donors have also reportedly been trying to suck up to Trump behind the scenes.
It's no wonder they're bailing on Jeb!, when you consider his PAC has such a big bundle of cash left to spend that they are reportedly attacking their cash mountain with flamethrowers -- by spending money to send out (apparently at random) little video players pre-loaded with "The Jeb Story," a 15-minute bio explaining why Jeb is going to be our nation's next president (or something -- we admit that our mini video player has not yet arrived in the mail, so we really can't be sure). One paragraph really leaps out at you, in respect to Jeb! trying to portray himself as the hero of the Common Man:
The PAC declined to say on Monday how much money they were spending to buy the video players and mail them, nor exactly how many people would be receiving copies. One person familiar with the group's plans, who asked for anonymity to speak frankly about the strategy, said that buying and preloading the video players is "amazingly cheap" with the cost per player "far less than a good bottle of Scotch."
You know, sometimes you don't even need to provide a punchline, because it would truly be superfluous... "far less than a good bottle of Scotch"... yes, this is indeed one of those times.
Which brings up the other big Republican news of the week. Sarah Palin, who doesn't just utter classic punchlines but has actually become a walkin', talkin' punchline in the flesh, treated us all to a 20-minute ramble through the poppy fields of her mind. Late-night comedians all but sank to their knees in prayerful thanks for Palin's re-entry to the political scene. In fact, so many others have been taking gleeful shots at Palin's speech (you can read the whole thing here, if you really want to) that we're just going to mention it in passing.
Palin being Palin, her own family undermined her political return, as back in Alaska her son Track -- at almost the same time Sarah appeared on stage -- reportedly hit his girlfriend in the face and then threatened to commit suicide with one of the numerous firearms lying about the Palin residence (he lives with his mom). Palin responded in true pitbull fashion, and blamed Track's troubles on (you betcha!) President Obama. Her reasoning, as always, was insane. Even though the Palin family is wildly wealthy from successfully grifting the rubes for eight solid years, Track's mental problems must be Obama's fault, for not "supporting the veterans" with post-traumatic stress disorder. So Palin is arguing for more government spending for a family that could easily have paid for mental health treatment on its own, but chose not to. Track's 0.189 blood alcohol level wasn't mentioned by mom, of course. Ah, the Palins! How we've all missed you!
We personally have long been predicting a Republican Party major freakout when they all woke up to the fact that Donald Trump has been their party's frontrunner all along. So we have to say that in the past few weeks (since this freakout has begun in earnest), we have been enjoying the fray from the sidelines. We have to confess to feeling almost sorry for Republicans who can still recognize reality when it is repeatedly hitting them in the face, such as Lindsey Graham, who recently summed up his party's chances for victory:
The only way we lose this election is to nominate somebody who cannot grow this party's vote among minorities, young women, and the coalitions we need to win. If you nominate Trump and Cruz I think you'd get the same outcome. Whether it's death by being shot or poisoning, does it really matter? I don't think the outcome will be substantially different.
Wow -- tell us how you really feel, Lindsey. I mean, is there any hope at all the Republican Party could take a different path this year?
So let's just pick somebody out of the phone book if we have to. We can win this election unless we lose it.
That's some top-shelf schadenfreude right there, wouldn't you say? Need another taste of the Republican freakout currently underway? How about this, from an anonymous "somebody" contemplating a race between Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton:
In a contest against Trump, the [establishment Republican] thinking goes, it might be best for Cruz to win the nomination, only to suffer a lopsided general election defeat, proving once and for all the true limits of his appeal. It is taken for granted that the party under Cruz cannot win. And, in Washington, life will go on.
"I'm rooting for Hillary," said one half-joking somebody in the GOP establishment. "She can't win a mandate, so we hold the House and don't get slaughtered in the Senate. We will have a great midterm in 2018 running against her," he said, requesting anonymity for obvious reasons. "We are a great opposition party."
The original story was corrected later (you just can't make this stuff up, folks!) by striking out the term "half-joking" and adding at the bottom of the paragraph: "The somebody in question wanted to clarify that he is not at all joking, not even halfway, and is indeed fully rooting for Hillary Clinton."
With quotes like these from fellow Republicans, Democrats don't even have to lift a finger to showcase the absolute revolt taking place among the Republican Party. For those of you enjoying all of this, here's a fun prediction: Things are going to get even crazier in the next few weeks, as Trump and Cruz obliterate all other GOP candidates in the actual voting. So we've all got that to look forward to.
Let's see, what else? Martin Luther King Day was this week, which uncovered a few folks who still haven't quite wrapped their minds around this whole equality thing. First there was the Air Force holding a Martin Luther King Day "Fun Shoot" where you got served lunch -- and also got to shoot off a few rounds, maybe using the flyer handed out as your target? Whoops! Not exactly an appropriate activity for the day honoring a man who was shot down in cold blood.
Then there was a children's book that had to get pulled off the shelves because of all the drawings of happy, smiling slaves baking a birthday cake for George Washington. Seriously? What century do these people think we're living in? We thought that sort of thing had gone out of style by now, but we guess we were wrong.
And finally (whew!) some news to actually bring a smile to your face. First, for those who are interested in history, the Library of Congress has a collection of historical campaign posters that are worth a look (some are downright beautiful). And an even better item to end on: Congress actually got something positive done! They passed a law which overturned -- just in time for a mondo winter snowstorm in Washington -- the ban on sledding on Capitol Hill. Free the toboggans! Have fun, kids of all ages! Yes, anyone who loves a good time can now quite literally (and legally) slide down a slippery slope, just outside the U.S. Capitol.
This week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week goes to Senator Barbara Boxer, who showed why she will be so missed when she retires at the end of the year.
Boxer helpfully points out, in a Huffington Post blog, the difference between how Democrats see government's responsibility to clean water and the environment differs from Republicans -- who see clean water as one of those pesky "regulations" that are holding the private sector back from glory. The juxtaposition was missed by pretty much the entire media, leaving it to Boxer to shine some light on. From her article:
After seeing news reports over the past several weeks concerning the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, I was shocked and dismayed at a meeting yesterday of the Environment and Public Works Committee (E.P.W.) to consider S. 659, the so-called "Bipartisan Sportsmen Act," which included an unrelated amendment that weakens our nation's drinking water protections.
We have all seen disturbing reports of children being poisoned by lead in Flint's drinking water supplies. And what message do you think Republicans have taken from these upsetting news stories? At a time when Congress should be doing more to protect the American people from contaminated or polluted water, the Republican majority on the E.P.W. Committee did the exact opposite. They chose to vote for legislation to undermine the federal government's ability to protect drinking water supplies.
Specifically, the legislation as approved by the Republican majority takes away the right of the Environmental Protection Agency to issue permits when pesticides are sprayed over a body of water.
The difference in attitude of the two parties is indeed stark on the issue of clean water. But it took Boxer to point it out in all its ugly detail.
For showing the deep divide in priorities between Democrats and Republicans in such damning and poignant fashion, Senator Barbara Boxer is our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week.
[Congratulate Senator Barbara Boxer on her Senate contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]
Hillary Clinton, far more than Bernie Sanders, has a lot of surrogates who can go out and make her case to various audiences. They can benefit her by improving her image, but they can also attack competitors (so that the candidate herself doesn't have to).
Our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week is Clinton ally David Brock, for his recent criticisms of Bernie Sanders's new "America" ad. The ad was shot at Bernie rallies for a state that is over 90 percent white. The images used reflected this reality. Brock called the ad "bizarre" and a "significant slight to the Democratic base." He piled on with the supposedly-damning: "From this ad it seems black lives don't matter much to Bernie Sanders."
A Sanders spokesman shot back, saying the Clinton campaign should be "ashamed" of its surrogate. "Twenty-five years ago it was Brock -- a mud-slinging, right-wing extremist -- who tried to destroy Anita Hill, a distinguished African-American law professor. He later was forced to apologize for his lies about her. Today, he is lying about Senator Sanders."
We couldn't have put it better ourselves. Brock is, easily, our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.
[David Brock is a private citizen, and our policy is never to provide contact information for candidate web pages, so you'll have to search out the Clinton campaign info on your own to express your disappointment, sorry.]
Volume 375 (1/22/16)
Our third talking point this week is really non-partisan, because any citizen who understands the Bill of Rights should be outraged by it.
But, other than that one, the whole rest of this section is nothing short of an anti-Republican snarkfest this week, just because things have heated up so much out on the campaign trail. So sit back, pop some corn, and enjoy watching them all tear each other apart. This is so much fun, it really should be illegal (on humanitarian reasons alone).
No, it certainly cannot be that the other side is right....
This first talking point comes from a dyed-in-the-wool Republican. Matt Latimer was even a speechwriter for George W. Bush -- probably one of those who truly believed in the concept of "compassionate conservatism." It's always sad when the notions we subscribe to as teenagers get shattered, isn't it? Latimer begins his opinion piece for the New York Times with: "I became a conservative as a teenager growing up in the city of Flint," complete with a firm belief that conservatives actually did care (all evidence to the contrary) about minorities and the poor. His essay is extraordinary, mostly because he correctly points out that the Flint situation is being almost completely ignored by all Republican presidential candidates. He calls it a chance for conservatives to prove their ideas for urban poverty work -- but he also identifies the fact that nobody is taking this chance. But, in the end, he refuses to see the plain truth in front of his face. Give him a few more years, and some more scales might fall from his eyes, we suppose. In any case, here's just part of his extraordinary op-ed:
This is the Republicans' chance to show their worth -- the chance our leaders have said they always wanted. Why haven't they been here over the decades, running serious candidates, supporting federal aid for the city, championing pilot projects that might show what a conservative approach to urban areas might do? Why aren't they in Flint today, shipping in water bottles and holding fund-raisers for kids now condemned to lowered expectations because their brains were poisoned by lead?
It cannot be, as the left would tell us, because Flint has a large African-American population.
The others are not worthy
Nice to know some people in Flint are worthy of Republican attention.
"Ted Cruz has, to date, been just about the only Republican to even utter the name 'Flint,' but one really has to wonder at his priorities. The Cruz campaign is helping to send water bottles only to so-called 'crisis pregnancy centers' -- people who browbeat young women into not having an abortion -- but not to anyone else in Flint. The message is clear: if you are a pregnant woman who chooses not to abort an unwanted baby, you are deserving of clean water. If not, well then, you can just drink the toxic waste coming from the tap because you are simply not worthy enough as a human being to drink uncontaminated water. Just goes to show how Republicans would run the whole country, if they could. If you agree with their agenda, you can live. Otherwise, you're on your own."
Highway robbery, plain and simple
This should transcend party lines, really, because it is so outrageous an abuse of government power.
"The Drug Enforcement Agency and the Transportation Security Administration have teamed up to institutionalize what used to be called 'highway robbery.' Think that's too strong a term? I don't. The Justice Department Inspector General just reported that the D.E.A. violated its own policy by recruiting a T.S.A. agent to help it violate the Bill of Rights on an ongoing basis. The scheme was for the T.S.A. agent to search travelers' bags for cash. Then the D.E.A. would swoop in, confiscate the money, and kick back some of the cash to the T.S.A. agent for his or her help. Anyone whose cash was stolen in such a fashion had to file a federal lawsuit to get it back and prove that the money wasn't related to drugs at all. This stands the Fourth and Fifth Amendments on their heads, and is downright un-American. How is shaking down train and airplane passengers for their cash in any way legal under the Bill of Rights? How is this in any way shape or form different than pure highway robbery? Congress needs to pass a law eliminating the concept of 'civil asset forfeiture' for all federal agents, period."
This one's gotta hurt. Admittedly, his remark wasn't all that bad, but even so....
"I see that Rand Paul's father Ron seems to be considering giving up on his son's chances to become the Republican nominee. Maybe it's because Ron Paul personally knows a thing or two about losing a Republican nomination fight, but this week in an interview he said 'it certainly is realistic' that Donald Trump was going to be the GOP nominee. You can just picture the awkward phone call after that news broke: 'Aw, c'mon, Dad!' 'Sorry, Son, but I gotta call them like I see them.' It's bad enough to have others toss your chances of winning under a bus, but when it comes from dear old Dad, it's really got to hurt."
Who is worthy and who is not
When purity counts, it limits your choices.
"The Republican National Committee had already kicked out NBC from its upcoming debate, because the nasty people at CNBC asked mean questions the Republican candidates didn't want to answer, and now comes news that they've also kicked out the National Review from the debate as well, because they had the temerity to criticize Donald Trump. Boy, if they're insisting on such purity in their debate sponsors, pretty soon they'll be down to having all their candidates appear on an otherwise-empty stage, and just debate each other, freestyle. It's going to be seriously amusing when the primaries are done and the 'kid gloves' Republican debates are over, because sooner or later they're going to have to answer some questions from outside the right-wing echo chamber. For now, they're still able to wrap their debates in cotton batting so nobody gets their feelings hurt, but that won't happen in the general election."
Might want to rethink that destination, Bill
Always fun when people don't check their facts. As Salon amusingly pointed out this week.
"Bill O'Reilly has stated that if a Bernie Sanders wins the presidency this November, he's going to move to Ireland rather than pay his taxes to President Sanders. Putting aside the fact that nobody actually pays their taxes to the president himself, I think O'Reilly's in for a shock. Ireland is fairly conservative on some things, like abortion, but it also has higher taxes than America (over fifty percent for the top bracket), extremely strict gun control laws (most police aren't even armed), and -- horror of horrors -- single-payer socialized medicine! So O'Reilly would be escaping from a phantom socialist America for a very real socialist Ireland. Maybe he might want to rethink his post-election travel plans?"
Conservatives are revolting
And finally, we end exactly where we began.
"Boy, it's tough to keep track of the revolts going on in the Republican Party these days. Donald Trump is leading a revolt against the establishment Republicans. The National Review is leading a counterrevolt against Trump. The establishment Republicans are actually waving a big white flag and are now revolting against the National Review and sucking up to Trump. Ted Cruz is leading a revolt against pretty much every other Republican in existence, who are quite willing to badmouth Cruz in return. The party's voters are leading a revolt against the big money donors. Pretty much anywhere you look within the Republican Party, things are downright revolting."
Chris Weigant blogs at:
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Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com
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