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Friday Talking Points [54] -- Republican Fossilization

[ Posted Friday, November 7th, 2008 – 17:09 PST ]

Welcome back to Friday Talking Points.

Of course, the big question on everyone's mind right now is: What is going on up in Minnesota? Al Franken is tantalizingly close to taking a lead in his Senate race, but very few details are available in the media (with the exception of this report from the Huffington Post) to let us know exactly what is going on. So I went to the source, and contacted the Franken campaign for some details.

Minnesota is currently in the process of verifying their ballot results. What is happening right now (and the reason why the totals keep slightly changing) is "canvassing" in Minnesota's 87 counties. This is a preliminary review of the results, and should be complete in the middle of next week. A few days after this is completed, each county will conduct a post-election review, or a spot-check of a small sampling of precincts, to verify the machine totals are correct.

Over 2.9 million votes were cast in the Gopher State. An automatic recount is triggered by one-half of one percent (0.50%) of these votes. The margin right now is less than 240 votes, or less than one one-hundredth of a percent (0.01%), meaning that a recount is mandatory.

Of course, the outcome of a recount is anybody's guess. Franken campaign spokesperson Jess McIntosh summed it up: "The race is the closest Senate race in Minnesota history and the closest race anywhere in the country this year; it is too close to call, and we do not yet know who won."

McIntosh went on to say: "The recount is an automatic process used in Minnesota to determine with certainty the outcomes of extremely close races. It will be orderly, fair, and conducted with one goal: To ensure that every vote is properly counted. Candidates don't get to decide when an election is decided -- voters do. We may have to wait a little while to learn who won the election, but we will know that the voice of the electorate was clearly heard."

This is a very level-headed appraisal of the situation. We're going to have to be patient for a while. While we would definitely like to see Senator Franken representing the Land of 10,000 Lakes, we're just not going to know for a few weeks whether that is going to happen or not, it seems. More on this story as it develops....

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

 

President-Elect Barack Obama.

 

That just about says it all, doesn't it? Barack Obama wins Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week, if not this entire year. No explanation is necessary here.

[Congratulate President-Elect Barack Obama on his new Change.gov transition page to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

This week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week goes to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The handling of Joe Lieberman's status once again confirms to me that this man does not deserve to be a party leader, and should be challenged in the Democratic leadership elections in a month or so.

Because Reid just oozes weakness. He can't help it, it seems. I'll even put it into boxing terms so Reid can understand it himself: he's got a glass jaw. Which he leads with.

Time and time again, Reid starts some delicate negotiation process by leaking to the press his utter capitulation from any sort of strong Democratic position. In this case, he called Lieberman into his office, but apparently issued no ultimatum. If Democrats are going to kick Lieberman out of the party, fine. If they're going to leave him with his committee chairmanship, fine. Either way, it should have been strongly communicated to the world. If Democrats are waiting to see the outcome of the final three unfinished Senate races, that would have been fine too. But in that case, this silly little dance with Lieberman that happened this week should not have happened at all.

What did happen was the usual Harry Reid public-relations disaster. It was leaked to the press that a meeting was going to happen. Lieberman appeared in front of the press after the meeting and said "I'm going to think about things." Reid talked out of both sides of his mouth, and didn't communicate any sort of position at all. Now, the Republicans have leaked to the press that they are personally courting Lieberman.

Anyone with an ounce of media savvy would have handled it in a completely different fashion. Here's one way that is infinitely better, just as an example: leak in mid-November that Reid is going to give Lieberman an ultimatum -- no chairmanships, but he can still caucus with Democrats if he wants to, or he can jump ship and become a Republican. Then have the meeting with Lieberman the day after Thanksgiving, and tell the world what happened late on a Friday night. No matter which way it goes at this point, the public won't be paying any attention at all. This boxes Lieberman into a corner.

Sigh. Unfortunately, right in the midst of Obama's news wave, we have Reid looking weak. That's not leadership. And that's why he really should be replaced as Senate Majority Leader.

And that's also why he gets this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award.

[Contact Majority Leader Harry Reid on his Senate contact page to let him know what you think of his actions.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 54 (11/7/08)

This is just too funny.

Now, Washington, D.C. is a town that thrives on acronyms. [Here's a quick quiz -- if you know the meaning of most of the following, you can be considered "inside the Beltway" no matter where you live: POTUS, VPOTUS, SCOTUS, CINC, USA PATRIOT ACT, HAVA, VAWA, SOFA, GOP, RNC, DNC, DLC, NSC, HUAAC.] So you'd think Washington bigwigs would check everything they do for acronym-compatibility. You would think, at any rate.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, in a bid to change his title to House Permanent Minority Leader, writes an op-ed article in today's Washington Post. If you don't have the stomach to read the whole thing, allow me to summarize:

"Just because Obama got elected, and just because Republicans absolutely got our clocks cleaned for the second straight election in Congress doesn't mean voters actually think our ideas suck. Actually, our ideas are great! They don't suck at all! We just have to convince voters that they were really, really stupid the last two times around, and we know better than they do what they were thinking in the voting booth. Sure, Obama promised a bunch of stuff, but nobody really voted for all that stuff. They really don't believe that stuff, they believe our stuff... because I said so! So there! We're a center-right country, dammit! I don't care what the voters say, we're center-right! Center-right I tells ya!!"

Ahem. Sorry, but that's pretty much what it says.

But the hilarious thing is the phrase which appears with the exact same wording twice in the article -- the core beliefs of the Republican Party (according to Boehner): "freedom, opportunity, security, and individual liberty." Hmm.. let's just parse that as if it were on a bumpersticker: "Freedom, Opportunity, Security, and Individual Liberty." Or, if you're in a hurry: FOSIL.

You can't make this stuff up. One of the Republican Leadership is publicly stating that their ideas can be summed up as FOSIL. Maybe they're going for the Paleolithic vote?

All kidding aside, this is an important period for Democrats appearing on the media, because this is when the "conventional wisdom" about the 2008 election is going to gel in the minds of pundits everywhere. And Democrats have to stand up for the proper framing of the election NOW, and shoot down the idiocy which has already started coming from the right.

 

1
   Center-left

This one just has to be nipped in the bud, pronto. From Boehner's article, a prime example of what I'm talking about:

Recommitting ourselves [Republicans] to these principles means two things: vigorously fighting a far-left agenda that is out of step with the wishes of the vast majority of Americans and, more important, promoting superior Republican alternatives that prove that we offer a better vision for our country's future. America is still a center-right country.

Um, no, John, it's not. This needs to get hammered home by any Democrat in reach of a media microphone, and it needs to get repeated over and over again until the media themselves start using it:

"America's political outlook has gone through a giant pendulum-swing in the past two elections. We are now a center-left country. Republicans keep trying to tell anyone who will listen that this is still a center-right country, but that is utter hogwash. It was a center-right country. It has changed. Tens of millions of voters have proven this twice now. The sooner Republicans realize this and start working with us to enact the laws America is begging for, the better. Because the public is center-left, and that's where we're going to be governing from. Republicans can either join in, or get out of the way."

 

2
   Mandate

From Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) comes one of what will likely be many blatant hypocrisies from the right on the word "mandate." Here is conservative columnist Bob Novak, after Bush's 2004 re-election (responding to Mark Shields' question "Is 51 percent of the vote really a mandate?"):

Of course it is. It's a 3.5 million vote margin. But the people who are saying that it isn't a mandate are the same people who were predicting that John Kerry would win. ... So the people who say there's not a mandate want the president, now that he's won, to say, "Oh, we're going to accept the liberalism that the voters rejected." But Mark, this is a conservative country, and it showed it on last Tuesday.

Bob Novak, the day after Barack Obama won with 52.5% of the vote:

When Franklin D. Roosevelt won his second term for president in 1936, the defeated Republican candidate, Gov. Alf Landon of Kansas, won only two states, Maine and Vermont, and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress by wide margins. But Obama's win was nothing like that. He may have opened the door to enactment of the long-deferred liberal agenda, but he neither received a broad mandate from the public nor the needed large congressional majorities.

When it's a Democrat, see, you don't get to use the word "mandate" unless you beat F.D.R.'s record. What baloney!

Democrats need to start tossing this word around with sheer joy and unbridled abandon. Mandate, mandate, mandate. They can even get Obama-ey and poetic and use "mandate for change" if they'd like. But anyone who tries to claim that Obama and the Democrats don't have a "mandate" (and they will, Novak is merely one example) needs to get laughed down immediately.

"Of course Obama's got a mandate. Obama is the first Democratic President in thirty years to win over 50% of the popular vote. If fifty-two-and-a-half percent isn't a mandate, then I don't know what is, because you are changing the definition of the word itself. Obama has an enormous mandate for change, and won more votes for president than any other candidate in American history. Anyone who says Obama doesn't have a mandate is a fool, or flat-out deluded."

 

3
   Karl Rove's legacy -- Permanent Republican minority?

Before I rip into Karl Rove, I've got to say one thing in his favor -- during the campaign season, his electoral maps on Fox News were often a lot closer to the reality than the other networks. Fair's fair, and I've got to give him at least that.

But Karl Rove's job (before he became a news media analyst) was to create a "permanent Republican majority" in Washington, D.C. That's what his dream was all about. He was going to get this majority by the use of fear, the use of divisiveness and wedge issues, and by firing up his base and peeling off just enough independents to win every time.

Too bad it didn't turn out that way, Karl. Quite the opposite, in fact.

This needs to be pointed out by Democrats.

"The election results show that Republicans are losing just about every demographic group there is -- including the two groups that are showing real growth: Latinos and young people. This doesn't bode well for their party's prospects for the future. Wouldn't it be ironic if Karl Rove's true lasting legacy was a permanent Republican minority?!?"

 

4
   Obama Revolution

I'm open to suggestions for this one, if anyone's got anything snappier. Because this election transformed the face of American politics the way nobody's done since Ronald Reagan. And Reagan, if you'll remember, caused all sorts of catchphrases to pop up in American political discourse. There is absolutely no reason why Obama should not be accorded the same honor.

"When we look back on the 2008 election, my guess is that people will call it the 'Obama Revolution' in the same way we talk of a 'Reagan Revolution' in 1980."

 

5
   Obama Republicans

Likewise, we need to rename all the Republican voters who supported Obama.

"You know, in 1980 it was the Reagan Democrats who made all the difference. This time around, it was the Obama Republicans and the Obama Independents who made an enormous difference. Obama's support was widespread, and transcended party affiliation in the same way that Ronald Reagan did."

 

6
   Yes they did!

Back to that Boehner op-ed again. This is likely to be a loud talking point from the right in the next few weeks, and it has to be smacked down as the up-is-down nonsense it truly is:

This election was neither a referendum in favor of the left's approach to key issues nor a mandate for big government. Obama campaigned by masking liberal policies with moderate rhetoric to make his agenda more palatable to voters. Soon he will seek to advance these policies through a Congress that was purchased by liberal special interests such as unions, trial lawyers and radical environmentalists, and he'll have a fight on his hands when he does so.

In record numbers, Americans voted on Tuesday for a skillful presidential nominee promising change, but "change" should not be confused with a license to raise taxes, drive up wasteful government spending, weaken our security, or give more power to Washington, Big Labor bosses and the trial bar. Americans did not vote for higher taxes to fund a redistribution of wealth; drastic cuts in funding for our troops; the end of secret ballots for workers participating in union elections; more costly obstacles to American energy production; or the imposition of government-run health care on employers and working families.

Um... yes... yes they did. Like I said, Democrats need to smack this moose poop down:

"I hear a lot of people on the right saying the voters 'didn't vote for this' or 'didn't vote for that,' and I think that points out a fundamental difference between the left and the right. The left respects voters' intelligence. We know what they voted for, and we are going to get it done for them. Republicans can question the voters' intelligence all they want to -- which I don't really think is a good way to get future votes... but hey, it's a free country. Democrats listen to the voters, and they have spoken loudly about what they do want and Democrats are now going to deliver for them."

 

7
   Fossilization

And finally, the cheap shot that is just begging to be taken. You just knew I couldn't resist, didn't you?

"One of the leaders of the Republican Party outlined what the party stands for on the editorial pages of the Washington Post the other day. The things they are supposedly for spell out 'FOSIL,' which I find particularly appropriate. Their old and tired ideas are nearing extinction, and have not just been set in stone, but (according to John Boehner) have actually fossilized. I am not making this up, you can check for yourself. Republicans ideas are just as Paleolithic as they've always been, but luckily enough the voters have realized that the dinosaur bones of discredited Republican philosophy are not exactly what is going to lead us into the future."

 

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground

Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post

 

-- Chris Weigant

 

5 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [54] -- Republican Fossilization”

  1. [1] 
    fstanley wrote:

    While I am happy to see Barack Obama elected, I just hope that he and the Dems don't blow it!

    I will be rooting for them but also watching them closly to see if true systemic change is really going to come to Washington D.C. and if the Federal Government is really going to start thinking about the People first and not about catering to big business et al.

    ...Stan

  2. [2] 
    Michael Gass wrote:

    Chris,

    Here is my suggestion for pushing the GOP into extinction:

    The GOP seems bent on moving forward with 4 base issues: Limited Government, Sanctity of Life, Sanctity of Marriage, and Smaller Government.

    So, I say we help them now that we have the majority needed to push these issues out to the forefront of the political realm for all the world to see.

    There are a few legistlative bills that can be brought before Congress in January so that the Republican Religious Wingnut "agenda" can get the political spotlight that it is due:

    1) Preserving the Sanctity of Marriage

    Now, there are quite a few things we can do here to help the GOP along:

    a) Ban all divorce in the future, and, just as they have done with gay marriages, retroactively revoke the numerous divorces that many people have. This of course, now means many will living in numerous marriages that were reactived so those people can then be arrested for being Bigomists or Polygamists and sent to prison.

    b) Ban the sale of all sex toys, sex aids, medications such as viagra and contraception devices. Sex in the Bible was for conception and child rearing only. We must then make even having these items illegal. We can then send the FBI out on a massive hunt to find those selling Viagra or sex toys, get the lists of who purchased such items, and execute no-knock warrants to those houses in order to confiscate the items and arrest those who have them and send those people to jail.

    c) Repeal Roe v Wade. In it's place, we pass a law that states no matter how, or under what circumstances, a pregnancy results, that child MUST be carried to term and delivered. Anyone who does not do so and illegally obtains an abortion should be stoned to death in the center of the town/city. The child, however, will be given no help, no home to live in, and must pull themselves up by their bootstraps. And quit whining about how a baby is supposed to do that, this is AMERICA, we can do ANYTHING.

    d) As the Mormom churches, some Christian and Baptist churches have all enganged in politicial preaching and funding of anti-gay and abortion issues, these churces need to be raided by the FBI, all assets seized, and the those who broke that law imprisoned. Then all churches who were a part of this operation would permanently lose their tax-exempt status.

    2) Smaller Government

    On this issue, we have a very wide range of things we can do:

    a) First, we can cut the military in half in manpower. All of the services. Reinstitute the SSB/VSI program and buy out everyone you can first, then, force retirements, then, continue the cuts until all services are left with 50% manning. This of course, leads to plan b.

    b) More base closures. There are so many bases, in the United States and around the world, that can get the axe. We should be able to close hundreds of bases and outposts. This of course leads to plan c.

    c) Cut government defense programs accrossed the board. All of the them that are in the development stage. Existing programs can continue to run until the orders are fulfilled.

    d) Of course, we'll also have to cut all social programs lock stock and barrel like Medicaid, Medicare, and SCHIP, but, we can also cut out every subsidy to every corporation or special interest group.

    3) The Free Market

    We wouldn't have to do "too" much here as it's already been done.

    a) Disband the FDA, FCC, OHSA, EPA, and any other organization that "watchdogs" corporations.

    b) Write a law that specifically states that in the interest of supporting the free market, companies can charge what they want, to whoever they want, and have zero restrictions on the organization. Open up the "dog-eat-dog" world that these people want.

    Finally, 4) Limited Government Involvement

    a) Put forth an admendment to the Constitution that specifically states that the Federal Government, and it's agencies, have ZERO authority to oversee the State, and, that the Federal Government cannot act on any issue without a 2/3 vote by the State governors allowing said act.

    These seem to be the 4 major issues that the Republicans wish to push forward into 2010. We would be remiss in our bipartisanship if we didn't do everything we could to see that these issues were not only dealt with, but, taking to the extreme that the GOP supporters wish them to be.

    Forget the consequences, because they haven't even thought about them. All they have thought is "I want I want I want", like a child who only knows they want and not understanding there are consequences when they get it at times. So, like a good adult, we occasionally let the child find out.

    Put forth these bills to the GOP, in the Senate and the House. Make them debate why they are too extreme if this is what their "ideals" are. Make them support it or vote it down. Every. Single. Issue.

    And then, after that, you start with the "who can we have bigotry against" legislation. Not all inclusive, but, by race alone, nationality alone, gender alone, age alone, disabled alone, sexual orientation alone. Make them vote that it is ok for whites, for males, and then make them debate hispanics, blacks, women, gays, lesbians.

    After that, you put forth an amendment, based on those votes, that everyone included in the above votes are entitled to; (put out an extensive list of "rights"), and then you make them vote on THAT, as a whole.

    You do this until you have shown the world that the GOP is nothing more than a redneck, hate-filled, racist, bigoted, idiotic Party that has no clue other than that they want for some and not for others.

    Because the Constitution states FOR ALL... and it is time for the GOP to be put on the hotplate for these wedge issues they keep wanting to trot out every election.

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:


    And then, after that, you start with the "who can we have bigotry against" legislation. Not all inclusive, but, by race alone, nationality alone, gender alone, age alone, disabled alone, sexual orientation alone. Make them vote that it is ok for whites, for males, and then make them debate hispanics, blacks, women, gays, lesbians.


    You do this until you have shown the world that the GOP is nothing more than a redneck, hate-filled, racist, bigoted, idiotic Party that has no clue other than that they want for some and not for others.

    But Political Bigotry is OK???

    Strange how that is, eh??

    Michale....

  4. [4] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Don't you mean "Palineolithic," Chris?

    Heheh. Couldn't resist.

    Glad to see the post about "mandates". That drove me nuts too! I kind of wanted to see Obama come out and declare a mandate during his acceptance speech.

    I say kind of because the only reason I would have wanted to see it is because it would have served conservatives right.

  5. [5] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    akadjian -

    Heh heh. Palineolithic. Heh. I might just use that in the future, it's got a nice ring to it!

    Michael Gass -

    Actually, I would challenge Democrats to take on their own wimpishness.

    I would do this by introducing a Constitutional Privacy Amendment. This would make Roe v. Wade a moot point, secure Americans' data, secure Americans' health records, and provide leverage against unconstitutional spying on us by our own government. It wouldn't have to be long, just a single sentence. I have been calling for this since my very first column, and explored the issue later in greater detail.

    One can dream, right?

    -CW

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