We're going to try something different today. We're going to write a short column. Well, "relatively short," I should say.
That sound you just heard was a gigantic sigh of relief from all the editors at the affiliated sites where this column appears. Or perhaps, the stunned jaws hitting the floor of our loyal readers who tune in every week for my mini-tomes of semi-wisdom, here.
Kidding aside, here's the situation: I am rushing around like a cat at a dog show today in preparation for a trip (and mini-holiday) to Providence, Rhode Island next week for the Netroots Nation conference of "fellow travelers" (that's a joke, but you have to have a long enough memory to encompass the Cold War to get it) -- in other words: bloggers, interest groups, media types, and politicians from the Left.
Which means two things: I simply don't have enough time to write a full column today, and you won't be getting a column next Friday, either. "But Chris," you say, "couldn't you have written today's column last night and have been better prepared?" Well, anything is possible, but I refuse to answer such hypotheticals. Hmph.
I am preparing next Monday's column before I leave, because it will be time for our monthly look at the president's polling numbers. But after Monday's "Obama Poll Watch" column, it'll be nothing but repeats over at my site, for a week. Just to warn everyone in advance. I do not plan on "liveblogging" Netroots Nation, as I think there will be plenty of others providing just such a service to those interested.
But for now, the rest of this column is going to be nothing more than a stream-of-consciousness transcription of my notes for the week. Call it a "do it yourself" column. Take these raw ingredients, mix a few awards in, add snark as necessary, and then and bake in the hot oven of overheated political rhetoric, and you too can create your own talking points at home!
So, in no particular order, here is what you've got to work with this week:
Where's Meg? Mitt Romney staged a photo-op in California this week. Not the one at the shuttered Solyndra plant, but at a fundraiser on the same trip. A bunch of fatcats got together for a fundraising wingding in a tony location (with -- you can't make this stuff up -- "expansive gardens, designed to resemble Versailles") which was thrown by (among others) Meg Whitman. Meg (thank all that is holy) is not now serving as the governor of California, but instead running the company which used to be run by Carly Fiorina (who, again giving mucho thanks, is not now California's senator). What's wrong with this picture? Well, Meg's leadership at Hewlett-Packard has led to a recent announcement that the company will be laying off almost 30,000 employees. So, we have a wealthy woman who tried to buy an executive office hosting a fundraiser for a wealthy man who is trying to buy the highest executive office in the land, on the supposed theory that folks like this "understand the economy" -- while 30,000 pink slips are being readied. In the end, Meg decided not to even attend her own party, likely due to the sheer embarrassment factor (the layoffs were just recently announced), although she did manage to show up at a "poolside ladies' lunch" earlier, with Ann Romney. Compare and contrast to Mitt's Solyndra photo-op (this one is pretty easy to put together, and here's a recent Romney quote praising Meg to use as well).
Birthers never give up. Pete Hoekstra (Republican Senate wannabe) has a new idea -- let's make the government bigger, and add a new layer of bureaucracy! Of course, this would normally be sacrilege for a Republican to suggest, but on this issue, he's making an exception. The issue? Presidential birth certificates. No, seriously, this is a guy who used to be in Congress (and is running again), not some egomaniac from New York City.
Hoekstra wants to create a panel which would officially decide who is a "natural born citizen" and thus eligible for the highest office in the land, consisting of one C.I.A. agent, one F.B.I. agent, and a supervisor.
I have three questions for Pete, on his definition of "natural born" -- which is not as clear-cut as one might imagine. Now, "native born" would be much clearer, but that's not what the Constitution says. Question One: If a child is born to American parents not within any U.S. state, but on U.S. territory, is that child eligible to become president? Question Two: If a child is born of an American parent, but is born in a foreign country, is that child eligible to become president? Question Three: If a child is born by caesarean section (or the child was conceived using in-vitro fertilization, perhaps), is that child eligible to become president?
Answer One: This describes John McCain, who was born in the Panama Canal Zone. Answer Two: This describes George Romney, Mitt's dad, who was a Republican candidate for president and was deemed eligible even though he was born in Mexico. Answer Three: I have no idea if any C-section babies have become president and I really could not care less, however using a legalistic lens, wouldn't this contradict the Constitution? After all, these are "artificial" and not "natural" methods, right? I'm just sayin'....
Add in a few crazy Trump quotes, stir, and bake for 10 minutes.
Curt Schilling, welfare baby. OK, these are running too long, so let's get a little snappier here. Curt Schilling is apparently a welfare baby who has left the taxpayers of Rhode Island on the hook for his failed video game company -- but he's annoyed that folks are calling him a welfare baby. Aww, isn't that cute?
The marijuana vote. A long-serving Democrat in the House just got "primaried" by a Democratic opponent in Texas. Silvestre Reyes was knocked out of the running by Beta O'Rourke, and one of the main issues in the campaign was marijuana. O'Rourke is in favor of legalizing pot, and Reyes attempted to use a Republican line of attack against him with an ad that said O'Rourke was encouraging children to use drugs. But when the votes were in, O'Rourke had 50.5 percent to Reyes' 44.4 percent. Might this be a wake-up call to other Democrats? The old reactionary Democratic "We're just as against drugs as the Republicans!" knee-jerkism seems to be fading, over time. Just as Democrats woo the "gay vote" and the "green vote" and all other such demographics, sooner or later they'll realize that there is indeed a "marijuana vote" out there to be tapped into.
Obama, part one. Boy, it must be tough to be a conservative. They toss their own ideas down the Orwellian "memory hole" faster and faster, these days. Remember when the righties were trying to portray President Obama as being a big ol' meany to the Wall Street hedge fund billionaires? That's so last week, apparently. Now, in a whiplash-inducing turnabout, Karl Rove and his buddies are trying to paint Obama as some sort of "stooge" of Wall Street. Got that? Last week, Obama was Wall Street's enemy, and he "didn't understand capitalism." This week, he's now Wall Street's puppet. In a rational world, this would not make sense. I mean, he can't be both, fer cryin' out loud!
Obama, part two. President Obama either chose his words badly, or one of his speechwriters did so, this week. While presenting a Presidential Medal of Freedom to a Polish World War II resistance fighter, Obama used the term "Polish death camp." This is an offensive term to the Polish (as one can well imagine), and the White House immediately apologized and said he should have used the more-acceptable "German death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland."
Damage control. Elizabeth Warren has been living in the world of politics for quite a few years now. But she is just now finding out how different that is from being an actual politician. Warren's problems with her ancestry seemed a mere bump in the road on her campaign for Senate in Massachusetts, but she's only making things worse as time goes on. This week, she offered up a major contradiction in what she had said earlier, which is a trap she really should have avoided. There's a golden rule for political scandals (of all sizes and shapes): get your version out there, admit mistakes, and invite everyone to "move forward." You get raked over the coals for a few news cycles, but then it dies down. But if the public thinks you're hiding something, it just drags on and on forever. Warren may recover from this, and it's an open question whether the voters care about any of it or not, but not putting everything out there immediately was a misstep for Warren's campaign.
Bob McDonnell for veep! Rumors surrounding Mitt Romney's pick for his running mate have included the mention of the governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell. A Virginia Democrat this week created her own talking point which will certainly come in handy later should Mitt actually pick McDonnell. State Senator Louise Lucas said she refers to McDonnell as "Governor Vaginal Probe" or "Governor V.P." for short. Now that's a catchy phrase, what with the "V.P." and all, and may even win out over the other nickname he's earned from Democrats: "Transvaginal Bob." Oh, please, Mitt... don't you think he'd help your ticket? I definitely think he would. Heh.
Homegrown Taliban. This is just flat-out disgusting. A man named Jay Townsend is the official campaign spokesman for Republican Representative Nan Hayworth. Townsend recently typed, in a Facebook post, what he'd like to do to the Democratic opposition, which he calls: "...all the Lilly Ledbetter hypocrites who claim to be fighting the War on Women? Let’s hurl some acid at those female democratic Senators..."
Excuse me, "hurl some acid"? Really? Hurl some freakin' acid?!? This refers to a tactic often used in seriously misogynistic societies when women are perceived as being too "uppity," in one fashion or another, by men. Corrosive acid is hurled in their faces, which not only is incredibly painful and horrifying, but also usually scars them for life. A similar example (using boiling water, rather than acid) reported in the Western media was the story of a servant who worked for the Ghaddafi family in Libya, which came out after the Libyan revolution. So we're advocating the tactics of totalitarian dictators and religious fanatics, now? Is this what things have come to within the Republican Party?
This is about as despicable and hate-filled crime one can think of. It is no laughing matter; not in any way, shape, or form. It is not a joke. It is not a common term used in the political arena, such as "toss your hat in the ring." It is, when one gets right down to it, completely indefensible.
So where is the outrage? Where is the media, covering this story? Where are the many denunciations of this aide? Why hasn't he been fired? Threatening violence -- and a particularly sickening form of it, at that -- should result in instantaneous and automatic dismissal for someone who is supposed to be a professional, paid political spokesman. Where are all the Republicans who insist over and over again that their party is not waging some sort of "War on Women" now calling for Townsend to be fired?
Oh, that's right, the "War on Women" is supposed to be all in Democrats' heads. While high-ranking Republican congressional aides suggest using a tactic often employed by the Taliban on Democratic senators, and the rest of them say nothing about it.
One potatoe, Two potatoe... To finish things up, Mitt Romney's team made a Dan Quayle-sized gaffe this week. They released an app where you were supposed to create your own campaign image, using several suggested slogans. One of which was:
A BETTER AMERCIA
Now, if a Democrat made this mistake, we'd probably be hearing about the black helicopters flying in to lock the country down for the C.I.A. takeover. Instead, all you need is one other fact, and this just writes itself into all sorts of derogatory jokes. Because during the same week, the finals of the National Spelling Bee were held.
Enjoy mixing that one up, and we'll see you in two weeks.
-- Chris Weigant