Republicans and Fox News have been fantasizing about the prospects of Sec. of State Hillary Clinton challenging President Barack Obama for the 2012 Democratic presidential nomination, but a poll released by Gallup today should shatter that fantasy as an Obama versus Clinton rematch heavily favors Obama, 52%-37%.
The Right, fueled by recurring speculation on Fox News that Democrats are so dissatisfied with Obama they may draft Hillary Clinton to run against him in 2012, has been hoping out loud for another Democratic civil war like the primary in 2008, but the Gallup poll should put a damper on those dreams. The poll found that Hillary Clinton would face a decidedly uphill battle against Obama. The President would beat her, 52%-37%.
Obama would defeat Clinton virtually across the board with every demographic group. Obama leads Clinton among men, 56%-33%, college grads, 66%-25%, non-college grads, 46%-44%, liberals, 63%-30%, and moderates, 49%-39%, the most damaging fact for those who entertaining dreams of Hillary 2012 is that Obama lead Clinton among Democratic women by 23 points, 56%-33%. The only group of Democrats that Hillary Clinton lead Obama with were conservative Democrats. Among conservatives in the party, Clinton leads Obama, 48%-41%.
Hillary Clinton has enjoyed a great surge in popularity since she became Sec. of State. Earlier this year in a CNN poll, she was voted the most popular politician in the US, which started the right wing media rumor mill grinding that Hillary Clinton was going to run in 2012 and challenge Obama for the Democratic nomination. Their fantasy is that Hillary will run in and “save” the Democrats from Obama. Of course, what they don’t tell you is that if Democrats were to dump Obama, 2012 would become winnable for the GOP.
This rumor was based in right wing desperation to get rid of Obama. Since there is no potential candidate in their own party who stands much of a chance of defeating the President, the Right set out on a campaign to cause infighting within the Democratic Party, because a fractured Democratic Party is their only hope for 2012. The reality is that Democrats still stand behind Obama, and will be a unified force for 2012.
Those who are pushing the Hillary 2012 rumors really don’t understand Hillary Clinton. Sec. Clinton has proven herself to be loyal to the Democratic Party. There is no chance of her running against Obama in 2012. If she did, she would not only lose her position within the administration, but also end her political career.
The Sec. of State position has been great for Mrs. Clinton. If Republicans are so desperate to face her, I suspect that they will get their chance in 2016, when Mrs. Clinton will not only have a clear path to the Democratic nomination, but also the full blessing and support of Barack Obama. Be careful what you wish for Republicans, because your dream matchup with Hillary Clinton could easily turn into your worst nightmare.
Bill O’Reilly aired part one of his interview with Bill Maher on his Fox News program, and to put it mildly Bill-O took a beating. O’Reilly tried to defend the Tea Party and Maher responded with, “I mean the teabaggers. They’re the ones, who are so upset about the debt. Most of the debt came from Bush. That’s just a fact.”
O’Reilly started off with the classic Fox News talking point about how much trouble Obama is in due to his approval ratings, which Maher knocked down immediately, “Well, first of all, he’s not having that much trouble historically. He’s about where Clinton and Reagan where a little higher than where they were in their first administration. But, it’s partly the fault of the opposition. There’s a lot of disinformation out there. I’m not saying where it comes from. And, the lion’s share of the fault goes to the Democrats. They do not brag about their accomplishments.”
Bill-O brought up his favorite Obama criticism about Obama’s presentation, inferring that Obama is cold and out of touch, and Maher replied by pointing out that much of the Obama criticism is racially based, “Well, obviously, people think he’s a little bloodless. I happened to like that in a president. I like a president that uses his brain and not his faith or his heart or his gut as the former president did. I kind of like that in our president. But, you know, again, they don’t brag about their accomplishments and when you downplay the economy, all of the dissatisfaction with him is about the economy. Because a lot of it is racially….”
O’Reilly claimed laughably that none of the Obama criticism is racially based, “Of course not. You know, he was elected by 53 percent of the public. And, when he took office, his approval was over 70 percent. Come on. Come on!” Maher then brought up the deficit and why the Tea Party ignored it under Bush, “But, Bill — but Bill, just for example, I mean the teabaggers. They’re the ones, who are so upset about the debt. Most of the debt came from Bush. That’s just a fact. Under Bush, Cheney said it, “Deficits don’t matter.” Nobody was angry about the deficit when it was President Bush.”
The Factor host then when full on clown by defending the Tea Party as ignorant, and called Obama the biggest spending president in history “Because they didn’t know about it. Look, President Obama has spent more money…No, they didn’t. It wasn’t a big issue as it is now. He’s the biggest spending president in the history of the republic, Maher. You got to know that, man!”
Maher correctly pointed out that Bush was the biggest spender, but O’Reilly changed the definition of biggest spending president in history to mean, “No, Obama is the biggest — his budget is bigger than Bush’s budget.” Maher got to the heart of it when he stated that the Tea Party and the Right are not completely racist, but they are selfish, “No, not entirely. People are individuals. But, I think in general, yes, they’re more selfish and they’re more likely to advocate policies that serve their own interest and don’t think anybody else.”
O’Reilly asked Maher how he got so liberal. Maher answered that he is the same but the country changed, “The people who were — Basically, yes. I mean, at some point in the last 20 years, the left moved to the center and the right moved into a mental institution. I mean, there used to be ideological differences that were understandable and there used to be moderate Republicans. That has gone away. I mean, the Republican Party now is just a bunch of religious lunatics, flat earthers and civil war re-enactors, so I don’t think it was me that changed so much.”
Bill-O seized what appeared to be an opening to bring up another favorite boogeyman left wing extremism to which Maher replied that most of the extremism is on the Right, “There really isn’t extremism on both sides. That’s a canard…There’s not that much extremism — There is some but not — nothing to talk about. Not really. There’s no movement like the Tea Party movement.”
Bill O’Reilly has really had a tough week. First, Jon Stewart came on O’Reilly show and completely blew up his talking point that Obama is out of touch, but as tough as Stewart was he was nothing compared to the beating Bill Maher put on Fox News’ top host in part one of their sit down. Maher would, in today’s environment be classified as liberal on many issues, because the Right has completely flipped out, and he is now too moderate for them.
It is rare that a guest comes on Fox News and dominates the way Maher did, but Bill Maher isn’t the usual FNC guest. He knows how the talking points game is played on Fox and he effectively shut it down. Maher didn’t give O’Reilly an opening and by the end of the segment, he had Bill-O on the defensive. Maher’s performance was a textbook example of how guests should handle being on Fox. Who knows what part two holds, but Maher really did an outstanding job. He effectively used facts to combat propaganda, by keep his answers short, simple, and clear. I hope more Fox News guests adopt Maher’s methods.
As the 2010 Midterm Elections loom, it is appropriate to examine what the Republicans have done to destroy our country. It is easy to dismiss such questions with answers of “they’re all the same” but they’re not, and the facts demonstrate this for any and all who have an interest in evidence over the diktat of ideology.
For eight years, the Bush administration plundered the American people, violated the Constitution, and tarnished our image abroad with egregious breaches of international law. America came close to becoming a rogue state, a brand of American exceptionalism so extreme that it seemed America was above the laws that bound the rest of the civilized world together. Grievous harm was done, some of it likely irreparable.
While the Obama administration has reversed some of these policies, it has embraced others; as totalitarianism creeps closer, democracy is pushed back. Those who hold power do not relinquish it once gained, and the Executive has become dangerously powerful, throwing the delicate system of checks and balances all out of kilter. As Paul Starr wrote in The American Prospect in 2006, “The real danger today is the loaded weapon that Bush and his defenders are willing to put in the hands of all future presidents.” Tyranny is the logical end-place should the powers of the Executive not be checked.
This is not the first time the Constitution has come under attack. Starr goes on to observe that,
Repeatedly through our history, the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution have been threatened in war by an overreacting government and then reaffirmed in peace by calmer leadership. The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, the suppression of free speech during and after World War I, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, McCarthyism, and the wiretapping of Vietnam-era dissenters — all of these came to be seen, once fears subsided, as violations of our freedoms and embarrassments to our heritage.
Bush is largely responsible for creating an “imperial presidency”; by claiming “”Unitary Executive” power, he announced to the world – and was unchallenged by a cowed Congress – that the law was what he said it was. He may have never said that the Constitution was just a “goddamn piece of paper” but his every action confirmed that this was his attitude toward the document that creates and binds this nation together.
But the Constitution, if America is to survive in any form recognizable to the Founders, must be more than a mere set of guidelines or suggestions. It is a living, flexible document, but it cannot be twisted like a pretzel. Like anything else, it will shatter if enough stress is applied.
The attack on America from within was persistent and ruthless: John Conyers (D-MI) is on record (2005) as stating that the Bush administrations violations of law were “not only serious, but widespread.” And in 2005, Bush was far from done with America. The Bush administration violated six amendments and the writ of habeas corpus and only Congress may legally suspend habeas corpus. By 2006 the Boston Globe was able to report that Bush had “claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.”
Essentially, Bush played Pompey, using a national emergency to vest within himself dictatorial powers. The Roman Republic did not survive Pompey for Pompey made Caesar possible and Caesar killed the Republic. Each blow against the Constitution weakens the structure. But the Constitution does not make the president king, though it grants him enough power that today, that even if he restrains his impulses, he is the most powerful person on earth. Congress too has a Constitutional role, as does the Supreme Court. If either of these abrogates their powers, if they do not function as intended, liberty comes under attack.
The Republicans have come dangerously close to asserting the divine right of kings. Bush claimed to be appointed not by the American people but by God. Other Republican politicians and pundits claim that only Christians are fit (or should be legally allowed) to hold public office, and Article VI section 3 is repeatedly violated in word if not in deed when these Republicans pretend that there is a religious test for public office. America has become the New Rome and the president chosen by God. If this is true, then the Republican Party is indeed God’s Own Party and only they have a legitimate claim to power, resulting today in the idea that the Democrats – and Obama – are usurpers and the Republican leadership is a government in exile.
This is as preposterous as it is dangerous, and Americans must wake up and recognize this – and resist. The Republicans continue to utilize the weapon of fear embraced by the Bush administration. Do as we say, or America will be destroyed, is their message. Turn your back on God and he will turn his back on you. In truth, if we do what they say, America will be destroyed – utterly – because the Republican path is the road to ruin, a headlong rush toward the Rubicon and a mortal blow to the Constitution.
The Republican leadership of 2010 offers America nothing Bush did not already offer in 2001. President Obama has repeatedly warned that their message is the same message that got us into trouble in the first place and he is not wrong. The championing of States Rights invokes the specter of the Confederacy, and racism the dark shadow of slavery, and the appeal to “Second Amendment remedies” is nothing short of a promise of treason. Do it our way, or we will overthrow the government; if we can’t have America, there will be no America. That is their message. That is their promise.
They say they want to take America back, but folks, the America they claim to represent never existed, not in the minds of the Founding Fathers and not in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Neither the President nor Congress, nor the Supreme Court has defended the Constitution. This leaves liberty just one defender: the American people.
Liberty stands for human rights and freedoms. It was appreciation of America’s embrace of liberty that brought Lady Liberty to these shores. If we won’t defend her now, we might as well send her back, because we will have proven ourselves unworthy of her.
The cable news ratings for the third quarter of 2010 were released today, and Fox News is showing signs of decline as their viewership has decreased by 21%, and their top shows all posted double digit losses, while MSNBC’s shows grew and the network attracted more younger viewers.
Fox News is still dominating the cable news ratings. The network has the top 11 programs in cable news, but there are ominous signs that the empire is starting to crack. Compared to the third quarter of 2009, Fox has lost 21% of their total viewers, and 26% of their younger viewers. The biggest loser on the network was Bill O’Reilly who saw his program The O’Reilly Factor lose 12% of its total viewers and 21% of its young viewers. Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Bret Baier, and Greta Van Susteren rounded out the top five cable news shows, and they each posted double digit declines.
Fox News is now averaging 1.831 million prime time viewers a day, and only 443,000 viewers age 25-54. The problem for Fox News is even more acute because second place MSNBC is actually growing. While Glenn Beck suffered double digit losses at 5PM, Chris Matthews posted modest gains of 1% overall and 8% in the demo. While Bret Baier declined, Ed Schultz has seen his viewership skyrocket at 6 PM. The Ed Show is up 24% over last year in total viewers and 8% in the demo. Keith Olbermann’s Countdown was down over last year by 6% in total viewers and 19% in the demo, but Olbermann’s was the only cable news show to gain audience since the second quarter. Rachel Maddow gained 6% in total views, but lost 1% with the demo.
MSNBC has a total prime time audience of 687,000 which is a bit more than a third of Fox News’ total, but they have more than half of FNC demo (age 25-54) audience, with 229,000 younger viewers. I don’t think the summer blues is an answer for the loss of viewership over at Fox. If it was seasonal then why did MSNBC’s viewership increase? The answer I think is rooted in Fox’s shift to the far right. As FNC has become the Tea Party news network, and engaged in straight GOP propaganda, moderate and liberal Republicans along with conservative Democrats, and Independents fled.
Some of these people have probably gone over to MSNBC, which now looks flat out moderate compared to the programming on Fox News, and MSNBC overall is far from moderate. The shrinkage of the Fox News viewership mirrors the shrinking of the Republican Party. As the tilt of FNC’s programming becomes more niche based, fewer viewers will watch. Bill O’Reilly’s show has become one of the more moderate on Fox News, and the lack of teabagger enthusiasm is a likely explanation for Bill-O’s drop. It is fascinating that in a year when Republicans are so excited about the midterm elections, Fox’s viewership would decline so drastically.
This could mean that the generic polling about voter enthusiasm and the media narrative that goes with it is off base. One would suspect that in anticipation of the midterms, more conservative viewers would be tuning into FNC. If the narrative is correct, MSNBC should be declining not gaining, but the looming long term threat to Fox is their inability to attract younger viewers, which can be directly attributed to younger skewing programs like The Daily Show that discredit FNC’s brand of “news reporting”, on a regular basis, and help viewers approach the news with a more critical eye. Fox is still the giant of cable news, but they are an aging behemoth staring down the barrel of a steep decline.
On his radio show today, Glenn Beck not only admitted that he hates America, but he laid out the rationale for why it is okay for the Right to hate America too, “No, we’re not always great. Sometimes we really suck beyond imagination, and we have had out and out evil presidents,” so when a president is evil, it is okay to hate America.
Beck said, “I was somebody that during the Clinton administration said, Can we please stop saying that the president is killing people in our national parks? Can we please stop saying that? You know, because what I said at the time was, if we believe that then we are farther down this road than you even imagine. You can’t have a president offing people in the national parks and think, well, but he’s good with the dot com thing. You can’t have it.”
Beck admitted that he hates America, “I’m a guy who has always believed that we’ve had good presidents and bad presidents, but not presidents who want to destroy the United States of America, and that may remain true. They may not think they’re destroying the United States of America, but I have come to a more adult conclusion after I have stopped just chanting USA, USA, USA, and stopped just waving the flag because it’s the flag and this is America, and we’re always great.”
He then attacked Obama as the worst president of them all, “No, we’re not always great. Sometimes we really suck beyond imagination, and we have had out and out evil presidents. Woodrow Wilson is one of them. Andrew Jackson is another one. Barack Obama may be the worst of all of them, and Barack Obama is a guy that fundamentally. He really I believe I think he’s doing the right thing, and in fact with his idea of collective salvation, he thinks he’s doing the moral thing, and he wants to fundamentally transform America, which means more regulation and telling people how to live their lives, and this would be a perfect opportunity.”
What Beck laid out here is the conservative definition of conditional patriotism. Conservatives love America when a “non evil” a.k.a. Republican people have elected an “evil president.” This is why we all were supposed to rally around George W. Bush and wave the flag, but doing so for Barack Obama is wrong. Beck is providing justification for the Tea Party’s hatred of America. He is saying that it is legitimate to disrespect the office of the presidency, and the Commander in Chief when that person is of the opposing political party and therefore “evil.”
In this area Glenn Beck and the Tea Party are different than Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. They both hate America. They hate America, but not only did the country elect a Democrat to the presidency, but even worse, we elected a black Democrat, and because this black Democrat is from the wrong political party, in their view, the president is illegitimate and it is their patriotic duty to hate him, his office, and the people who elected him.
Glenn Beck’s point is that it is okay to hate America when America does not do what you want. Instead of being an adult view as he contends, this worldview is the height of childishness. As much as progressives and Democrats loathed George W. Bush after the 2000 election, once he was sworn into office they never attempted to delegitimize him like the Right has done to Obama. George W. Bush was the President of the United States and even if people didn’t respect him, they respected the office.
Not only does the Right currently hate America, but they are carrying out a campaign of rage and political terrorism. By not respecting the basic institutions of our system is not only unpatriotic, but it is undemocratic. People on the Right like Glenn Beck only love America, when it is shaped in their image. Beck, Palin, the Tea Party, Fox News, these people aren’t patriots. They are terrorists conducting a guerilla campaign against our flag, our freedoms, and our democracy. Call me old fashioned, but I’ll support the red, white, and blue no matter which party controls Congress or the White House. A real patriot always supports their country no matter what. Glenn Beck, and all of those who share his beliefs are traitors to America, and don’t deserve to live in our great nation.
Well, you knew it had to be coming given all the Islamphobia flying around the right-end of the political spectrum: a state considering a constitutional amendment banning Sharia Law.
Yes, Sharia Law. Bush and his cronies spent eight years violating the Constitution, running the country into the ground, violating the First Amendment, systematically plundering this country and its tax-payers to line their pockets, and these people are worried about Sharia Law.
Because, as we all know, the imminent threat of Sharia Law transcends every other threat to the United States. No doubt the same people who oppose Sharia Law so vehemently would be more than happy to welcome Mosaic Law, which is, ironically and hypocritically enough, nearly identical to Sharia Law. Both, folks, are essentially Bronze Age law codes. Don’t let anyone kid you, and neither have any place in a modern liberal democracy.
Oklahoma – not Texas this time – is the place. Yes, they’re hosting a referendum on Islam – State Question 755 the “Save Our State” amendment. If it is passed, state courts will be prohibited from considering Islamic Sharia law in making rulings. That’s fine with me; they shouldn’t be considering Mosaic Law either since our government is secular.
The bill’s sponsor is Representative Rex Duncan (R-Sand Springs) who claims the legislation is intended to “protect” the courts from being “hijacked” by people we are “at war” with. Because, Rex, we are at war with Islam, right? Wrong. We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with a sect within Islam that is itself at war with Islam. Islam is not the enemy, Rex. You are.
Here’s what Rex says:
Oklahoman’s recognize that America was founded on Judeo Christian principles and we’re unapologetically grateful that God has blessed America and blessed our state. State amendment 755, the Save Our State Amendment is a simple effort to insure our courts are not used to undermine those founding principles and turn Oklahoma into something our founding fathers and our great grandparents wouldn’t recognize.
No, Rex, America was not founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and the whole “Judeo-Christian” concept is a mirage, an artificial construct. There is no such thing. American law is based on English common-law, which while it is impacted by Pagan Roman Law is in no way based on the Ten Commandments. Nor, Rex, if you will take the time to look, will you find mention of YHWH, Jesus, the Bible, or the Ten Commandments in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.
Epic fail, Rex. Truly epic fail.
And of course this is all despite the complete absence of evidence that any court weighs Sharia Law in its rulings, and even Rex admits as much but excuses himself by saying,
This is a pre-emptive strike to make sure that liberal judges don’t take the bench in an effort to use their position to undermine those founding principles that are international or Sharia law. the other part of the question is to prohibit all state courts from considering international or Sharia law when considering cases, even cases of first impression.
Rex thinks Islam is too harsh on women, compared to say, modern Republicans like Sharron Angle who think women should stay at home while the man works – excluding Sharron herself, of course. Rex says Islam’s treatment of women is incompatible with American principles. To be perfectly honest, so is the American conservative’s treatment of women. The record speaks for itself; Rex is not likely to jump up in support of women’s rights. No other conservative has.
Rex seems eager to join the lemming-race of conservatives – a race that includes Newt Gingrich who came out with a similar position at the Value Voters Summit this month, Lt. Gov Ron Ramsey (R) of Tennessee, and Lynne Torgerson (I) who is running for the Minnesota House – trying to outdo each other in craziness:
It’s a growing threat frankly. This again is a pre-emptive strike. They understand that this is a war for the survival of America, it’s a cultural war it’s a social war. It’s a war for the survival of our country. And other states have looked away and kow towed to political correctness, have lost the chance perhaps to save their state. I believe Oklahoma voters at a margin greater than 90% will approve this state amendment and when we do, other red states and maybe even some lesser blue states will decide their states are worth saving too.
Frankly, Rex, I’m more worried about the Christian fundamentalism here at home than Islamic fundamentalism over there, thousands of miles away. There is no sign, no evidence, not the remotest indication that there is any threat of Sharia Law overturning the Constitution. Without a shred of evidence, you go off the deep end. You’re not a “true patriot” Rex, but a fear monger. Nothing but a lowly fear mongering demagogue, indistinguishable from all the other fear mongering demagogues on the right.
Given a choice between Mosaic and Sharia Law…well, there isn’t one, to be frank. They’re equally unhealthy choices for a modern liberal democracy that enshrines ideas of tolerance and pluralism – things our Nation was founded upon, by the way, Rex, if you’ll only bother to look.
Some Americans are unhappy with the two-party system, notably the Libertarians, who feel excluded. They feel, not unreasonably, that the two existing parties – Republicans and Democrats – conspire to keep them (and any other third party) out of power; that the system is rigged. They insist on the necessity of a third party. Other Americans respond with horror. The idea of the two-party system has become sacrosanct, as though the Founders themselves had ordained it or enshrined it in the Constitution.
But does the idea of a third political party have merit? Would a three-party system better serve American liberal democracy?
First a few facts are in order. The two-party system is not enshrined in the Constitution. In reality, the Founding Fathers viewed the creation of political parties with horror. They had somehow imagined that gentlemen would shepherd the new Republic, and that therefore republican political leaders would possess a disinterested character. An educated gentleman of this type would in theory think of the public good and not of parochial or private concerns. But in the words of historian Gordon S. Wood, “By the 1780s it was obvious to many, including Madison, that “a spirit of locality” was destroying “the aggregate interest of the community.”
So much for the hopes of the Founders, who, it must be admitted, were not themselves completely free of self-interest.
Gentlemen had no need of political parties. Being enlightened they would put the needs of the whole ahead of the needs of the locality. As Woods says, “Most revolutionary leaders had not foreseen a “new set of folk” emerging in politics” – that is, common folk and artisans and merchants – even simple farmers. Gentlemen did not “conceive of politics as a profession and officeholding as a career.” How different from our own age! Where public offices were once seen as a burden it would be, in Jefferson’s words, “wrong to decline” they are now profitable, entailing not “great private loss” but great private gain.
Washington special interests. There is gold in them there hills. Enlightened disinterest seems to be as dead as dinosaurs and the situation is far worse on the right than on the left. This is not cynicism; there is simply a dearth of evidence to the contrary.
The enlightened gentlemen who were our Founding Fathers did not approve of electioneering. Franklin was proud of not once appearing as a candidate. As Wood puts it, “Showing oneself eager for office was a sign of being unworthy of it, for the office-seeker probably had selfish views rather than the public good in mind.”
After serving, an office holder should want to return to private life like the pagan Romans who were their inspiration. Today, it is a career few willingly abandon, and our system gives certain advantages to incumbents, who stress the experience our Founders saw as a burden as an advantage instead, while challengers charge that incumbents are part of the “establishment” and trumpet their own “outsider” or “maverick” status.
Facts often make a joke of pretensions. The Tea Partiers today claim to desire a return to the “original” idea of America while ignoring the fact of the Constitution, the living evidence of what the Founders wanted and intended – and, significantly, evidence of how compromise works, the compromise Tea Partiers ironically refuse to embrace. And if they truly want a return to the “original” settings, to go back to “default” they should not urge their members to vote Republican but to abandon the idea of political parties altogether. But not one of these challengers does not intend to become part of that establishment themselves, once elected. They have no desire to serve and retire, not after one, not after two terms. They want to make a career out of it, and self-interest most certainly plays a part.
So because the Revolution had unforeseen consequences, we ended up with political parties – two. Some see the two-party system as a strength; as an advantage over the hopelessly fragmented multi-party systems of some European nations. But there are drawbacks as well. For example, multi-party systems force the parties to work together, to form coalitions. The two party system leads to polarization of opposing viewpoints with no room for a more centrist approach.
The real world is too complex to be encompassed by a single line with liberals on the left and conservatives on the right. Other, legitimate, points of view are excluded. The image created is a false one, a picture of a political landscape that does not exist. There are other points of view.
This is, in a nutshell, an image of the American two-party system: Democrats and Republicans – polarity, either/or, one or the other and room for nothing else.
A more realistic image would be a triangle to allow for a proper perspective of where Liberals, Progressives (including socialists and social democrats) and Conservatives stand in relation to one another.
We might even add another point at the bottom to create a diamond and place there Totalitarianism, which, as Timothy Ferris points out, “reflects the fact that liberalism and totalitarianism are opposites, and have an approximately equal potential to attract progressives and conservatives alike.”
As long as both parties were willing to work together, as long as the opposition was a loyal opposition, things were fine. Government continued to function; quid quo pro, not uncompromising purity standards, was the order of the day.
But those rules no longer apply. The Republicans have adopted purity standards that mean their way or the highway. There can be no compromise, no reaching across the aisle, no working together for the common good. They see themselves as the rightful, divinely-ordained rulers of the United States of America and the Democrats as an evil, treasonous usurping force. This development effectively breaks the two-party system.
What are we to do? The United States government has in the face of Republican obstructionism essentially broken down and ceased to function. The gridlock is next to impossible to break. There is no third party to turn to, no potential allies between the aisles, no possible coalition between liberals and centrists. The best that either party can hope for is that our so-called independents vote one way or another, enough so that an unbreakable majority is created.
It is time to abandon the idea that the two-party system is the “way it was supposed to be” because if we did things the way they were supposed to be we’d have no parties at all and no career politicians and the common good would outweigh the private good. We need a little disinterest, and failing that (because it is unlikely as dinosaurs coming back) we need a little willingness to work together, less purity and more compromise – or a third party.
According to the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released tonight, the Republican Party might be in for an even bumpier 2012 than they could have imagined, as they are faced with choosing from a slate of very unpopular candidates. Sarah Palin had both the highest favorable and unfavorable ratings at 30% and 48% respectively.
In a sign of just how sour the electorate’s mood has become, only former president Bill Clinton posted a favorable rating above 50% in the NBC News/WSJ poll. The terrible economy has rehabilitated Clinton’s image as he now has a 55% favorable rating, and only a 23% unfavorable rating. The next most popular figure is current president Barack Obama who has a 47% favorable rating and a 41% unfavorable rating. Clearly, the employment situation is hurting Obama’s numbers.
The Democratic situation looks flat out rosy compared to the dire straights that the Republican Party is facing. Possible future Speaker of the House John Boeher has 14% favorable rating and a 17% unfavorable rating. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is lugging around a 12% favorable rating and an 18% unfavorable rating. While most people don’t know much about the members of Congress, the situation is even more dire when four of the top GOP contenders are examined.
Potential contender for the GOP nomination Mike Huckabee has a 26% favorable rating and a 25%unfavorable rating. Huckabee is the only Republican whose favorable is higher than his unfavorable. Mitt Romney has 21% favorable and a 30% unfavorable. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has 24% favorable and a 35% unfavorable, but the crown jewel of Republican distaste is Sarah Palin, who has the highest GOP favorable number, 30%, and also the highest unfavorable GOP number, 48%.
Palin’s alignment with the Tea Party does not seem to have benefited either side, as her favorable numbers remain mired in the twenties and thirties, and the Tea Party can’t seem to break the 30% threshold which they are at now and have been at for months. If anything, Sarah Palin’s “leadership” may have caused support for the Tea Party to flat line among non-Republicans. Other recent polls revealed that Palin has a 17% approval rating with 2010 swing voters, and even though she is the most popular Republican, a potential Palin nomination would likely doom the GOP in 2012.
What does all this mean? Well, there is nothing like a bad economy to rebuild the image of a former President. People forget that Bill Clinton was so tarnished by 2000 that then Vice President Al Gore not only ran away from his boss, but also refused to utilize Clinton on the campaign, which was likely the one tactical blunder in a Democratic campaign full of them that cost Gore the White House. I contend that if Gore would have utilized Clinton there would have been no Florida issue.
In terms of the future, the Republicans are facing a huge Sarah problem. Sarah Palin is the most popular Republican within the party, but she is also the most hated Republican in the country. If nominated, she has virtually no chance of beating Obama, but she is also the only potential nominee that might get the GOP base excited.
Since the arrival of the Tea Party, the GOP has shown that they will happily lose elections in exchange for self gratification. Republican voters may decide to nominate Palin, just because it feels good, even though she is a polarizing dead end candidate who when combined with Obama’s coattails would probably wipe any gains that the GOP makes in 2010. Republicans are engaged in a drunken orgy of ideology, and though the haze of their common sense conservative goggles, Sarah Palin might look pretty good, but their reckless hook up will almost certainly lead to America extending their long term commitment with Barack Obama.
Rob Miller: A New Kind of Democrat for South Carolina
On September 9, 2009 Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) tarnished South Carolina and indeed, the Republican Party, when he shouted, “You lie!” at the President during a joint session of Congress, after the President accurately denied that health care legislation would provide free coverage for illegal immigrants. This was, of course, not only an inaccurate accusation, but a horrific breach of decorum.
Not only was Joe Wilson wrong (HR 3200 specifically bars illegal immigrants from receiving subsidies), but his blatant disrespect for the venue, the office of the President, his own district, and indeed his position immediately caused an uproar throughout the country. Joe Wilson’s outburst was simply un-American. The country, Republicans and Democrats a like, didn’t like it. They wanted Joe to go.
Within hours, Act Blue set up a fund for Joe Wilson’s Democratic opponent, former Marine Rob Miller, and the money poured in — toppling the million-dollar mark.
Money came in from contributors ranging from “Military Vets for Reason and Civility” to “Latinos United Against Joe Wilson”. Perhaps almost any opponent would have satisfied the outraged citizens at this point….
After all, Joe’s raison d’être seems to be apologizing for outrageous things he does and says. Before achieving international infamy as the riotous heckler of the President, there was the incident with the out of wedlock child of Wilson’s previous boss, Strom Thurmond, during which Joe told the child she shouldn’t have smeared Storm by telling the truth. And then there was a McCarthy like incident on C-SPAN during which Joe accused another congressman of hating America, as well as a plagiarism incident where Joe submitted a statement identical to another congressman’s, both of which were suspiciously the verbatim statements of a lobbyist.
Yeah. Joe just needs to go.
Polling data revealed that Miller has a legitimate chance to unseat Wilson, “Joe Wilson leading little-known (but certainly well-funded) Democrat Rob Miller by 15 points, 49%-34%. Yet because Miller is known by just 34% of the district’s voters in the poll — versus 91% for Wilson — Democrats believe he has room to grow.
Perhaps more importantly, 49% of voters say they would vote to re-elect Wilson, versus 42% who say they will vote for someone else — and incumbents usually want to be above 50% to be considered safe…”
The campaign has been hard hitting with jobs being the central issue in the district where unemployment sits at 11.2%. Here is Miller’s hard hitting ad on Joe Wilson and outsourcing:
But those who get to know Rob Miller support him because of who he is, not who he’s running against. Rob Miller is a true patriot, one who believes strongly in serving his country whether in Iraq or Washington DC.
In fact, Miller belies the old adage that familiarity breeds contempt. In his case, the more people get to know him, the more they think Miller is right for South Carolina, and this was evident on the several days I spent with Miller again this year as he met with citizens of the Second District.
He is a unique voice in politics because he’s not a politician. He’s an ex-Marine and decorated Iraq vet, and this fact colors his every move. Miller not only served with heroism and distinction in both Al Fallujah and Mosul — indeed, he was decorated for Valor. He was also awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal for Operation Sheltering Sky in Liberia (among a long list of commendations and awards).
Rob Miller is not only a defender of freedom, but also the embodiment of United States humanitarian efforts worldwide.
Miller is man who is in command, and yet very much “of the people” at the same time. Watching him talk to voters, I had the sense that they were old friends talking about the current challenges facing South Carolina rather than a candidate meeting a potential supporter. Miller is exceptionally unaffected, and has a down home way of talking with, not at, people that puts them immediately at ease. In fact, the one comment I heard repeated from citizens to Miller was, “You don’t act like a politician.”
Seeing that the Second District is comprised of both the well-off and those suffering mightily from unemployment, Miller’s policy stances seems to both represent and look after his district’s values.
To make matters worse for Joe Wilson, Rob Miller isn’t only an American hero, whose life long goal is to serve his country, but he is the quintessential family man. He gives the term “family values” some meaning and heft again. He’s the mix of honor and service to one’s country combined with the family values that define America both left and right.
Even after long, hot, sweltering days in South Carolina, Miller was always respectful, commanding, and even-tempered. As an aside to our female readers, I couldn’t help but notice how respectful he was to his wife (um, cough, the exact opposite of a certain cranky maverick that the GOP nominated for president in 2008). To me, this says a lot about someone’s character; I don’t care how great the platform is; it’s hard to admire a man who treats his wife shoddily.
Miller’s wife, Shane, is an intelligent, warm and genuine person, who runs a Navy supplies shop in Beaufort in addition to sharing responsibility with Miller for their son Ransom, dog and tortoise. Yes, the Millers have a tortoise in their yard, or rather I should say they have a yard for their tortoise – he’s 17 years old, and has the run of the place.
It’s high time we had elected officials who have the courage to stand up to their ideological base in order to do what’s best for the people of their state. Joe Wilson forgot about the people of his state, but he sure spent a lot of time lining his own pockets with taxpayer funds for his car and trips. The same taxpayer funds he didn’t want going to healthcare for the people of his state.
Oh, say it ain’t so, Joe.
Frankly, if the voters in South Carolina get to know Rob Miller and became more familiar with his name and what he stands for, Joe Wilson will have a really tough battle ahead of him, and rightfully so. South Carolina deserves someone like Miller, who will put South Carolinians’ interests first and serve them with honor. Someone they can be proud of.
Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that this fall the voters in his district send Joe You Lie Wilson back home where he can’t embarrass South Carolina anymore. We all deserve to have someone like Miller in the House of Representatives. It’s just good for America.
Listening to the Republican narrative, one has to assume that either,
a) They’re being gratuitously stupid; or
b) They’re being gratuitous liars.
It’s not a happy choice; it says nothing good of the Republicans either way. It’s seldom true that there are only two alternatives but it’s extremely difficult to find a third that might apply. It’s very difficult to believe that they seriously mean what they say. It’s like catching your child with his hand in the cookie jar and crumbs all over his face, and saying, “You can’t eat any cookies, Johnny” and his response being, “I know, dad!”
Obviously he doesn’t know or he wouldn’t have his hand in the cookie jar. If they do seriously believe they know then the only explanation can be is that they are stupid. It’s pretty obvious, with your arm buried to the elbow in the evidence that you are lying.
So why attempt the lie in the first place? We can all see the crumbs all over their faces. It is no secret what they’ve been up to. Just turn the cookie jar into the “United States” and you have a measure of the problem faced by America’s voters.
Are they stupid too?
One wouldn’t think so, given the outcome of the 2008 elections. The voters rejected the Republican narrative then, and in two years, as John Stewart recently – and hilariously – demonstrated, it hasn’t changed. Will people honestly believe a lie they’ve already seen through?
On the other side of the coin, it’s difficult to believe that having once been caught Republicans would try the same lies again. That they are seems to indicate that they think the voters are stupid. Or are they counting on voters memories being short?
Sure people are fed up with the rate of recovery. We didn’t get out of the Great Depression overnight either. But consider the fact that it took George W. Bush eight years to reduce the American – and global – economies to utter ruin. It’s simply unreasonable to expect President Obama to fix everything in two years. No economic policy, even if passed, can have an effect that quickly, and Republican obstructionism has meant that Obama has not been able to do everything he has wanted to do to fix it.
Polls demonstrate that most Americans recognize this. Bush still gets the blame from the majority for wrecking our economy. Yet the Republican narrative insists that the voters are fed up with the Democrats and will oust them. There seems to be some sort of disconnect here.
Keep in mind that the Republican narrative also insists on a few bald-faced lies, for example that the Tea Party is a grassroots, populist movement, when it is in fact funded by rich conservatives who are manipulating the masses for their own gain. Another is that the Democrats are the party of big government and deficit spending, when it is in fact demonstrably untrue that the Republicans are not guilty of huge deficit spending or huge increases in the size of government.
They seem to be insisting that 2+2=5.
Of course, some of them have been able to convince themselves that Obama was president when 9/11 took place, or that it was Obama who invaded Afghanistan.
Cognitive dissonance seems to run through the Republican narrative. Cognitive dissonance was first proposed in the 1950s by Leon Festinger. He explains it in the following terms:
Whenever an individual holds two cognitions (beliefs, ideas, opinions) which are psychologically inconsistent, he will experience a drive to reduce this inconsistency. Dissonance may be reduced by changing either or both of the existing cognitions or by adding new cognitions which reduce the conflict by putting it in a new perspective.
Since it is impossible that 9/11 could have happened on the Republican watch, it must have happened under a Democrat. Many other “impossibilities” mean that whatever the historical record says – and modern history is extremely well documented – certain things must or must not be true.
In layman’s terms, the Republican narrative is divorced from reality. So perhaps this is our third choice:
c) They’re suffering from cognitive dissonance.
Since their narrative sells very well to the base, it’s not an unlikely explanation; the base too, might be suffering from the same form of debilitation.
Is there a remedy? Intervention might be suggested, but the 2008 election outcome could be seen as a form of intervention and it seems to have had no effect at all. Since they represent the will of the American people they could not have possibly lost the election, Even Sarah Palin promised that “God would do the right thing on Election Day.”
As a result, Republicans seem unable to grasp the fact that they lost. Instead, they see Obama as a usurper and themselves as a government in exile. Instead of an election defeat, they have fashioned a narrative in which a left-wing coup has displaced them from their proper place at the helm.
The possibility that the American voter could reject them doesn’t seem to exist in their warped version of reality.
So it is quite unlikely that another intervention – defeat in 2010 – will have any discernible effect on their symptoms or on their disease. They continue to insist that the popular rising none of us are seeing has displaced incumbents nationwide when in fact this is not the case, and polls do not demonstrate that Democrats facing re-election are as unpopular as the narrative insists they must be.
It is to be hoped that the delusions of the Republican base are not shared by those on the left and – in particular – by those in the center. The independent vote was essential in Barack Obama’s election in 2008 and their vote will be critical in the Midterm elections. The American voter must not be fooled by the Republican inability to discern fact from fantasy. When they tell you that used car was never in a flood, the water still sitting inside it should be evidence enough that what they’re selling you is a lie – a lie you don’t have to be part of.