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“Lurking In The Wings”: Mitt Romney Could Be The Next Andrew Johnson

Tuesday’s presidential election is one of the most important political events to affect racial progress in America since the 1964 contest between Sen. Barry Goldwater and President Lyndon Johnson.

Fortunately, the much-feared Goldwater victory never came to pass. But in ’64, there was plenty of praying among people of good will.

And with good reason.

Widely regarded as a founder of the modern conservative movement, Goldwater entered the presidential race as an outspoken defender of “states rights” and a fierce opponent of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Goldwater’s anti-civil-rights stance earned him the support of Deep South states, making him the first Republican since Reconstruction to carry Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana.

Operating with a well-earned inner sense of peril, African Americans voted overwhelmingly against Goldwater, helping to hand Johnson a landslide victory. A retreat on progress toward racial equality was averted.

What would be the consequences for race of a Mitt Romney victory?

A Romney takeover of the White House might well rival Andrew Johnson’s ascendancy to the presidency after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865.

Let’s dispense with something right now. I am not asserting that, in the unlikely event President Obama loses, the result could be chalked up to his being black.

Yes, race still matters in America, as Romney surrogate John Sununu recently reminded us with his slur regarding Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama.

A Romney win would be worrisome, however, because of his strong embrace of states rights and his deep mistrust of the federal government — sentiments Andrew Johnson shared.

And we know what that Johnson did once in office.

His sympathy for Confederacy holdouts, and his distaste for Washington, led him to retreat from Reconstruction and avert his gaze as Southern states enacted Jim Crow laws, many of which lasted until the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

There is nothing in Romney’s record to suggest that he would be any stronger than Andrew Johnson in resisting the blandishments of his most extreme supporters, especially regarding federal enforcement.

Johnson stood by as Southern states enacted “black codes,” which restricted rights of freed blacks and prevented blacks from voting.

Romney stood by last year as Republican-controlled state legislatures passed voter-identification laws, making it harder for people of color, senior citizens and people with disabilities to exercise their fundamental right to vote.

Is a Romney victory out of the question?

Lest we forget, Abraham Lincoln was not a beloved president across the nation at the time of his death. To white Southerners, wrote historian Don E. Fehrenbacher, the 16th president was “The principal author of all the woe that descended upon them . . . a ruthless Attila bent upon the destruction of a superior civilization.”

In his April 1876 oration in memory of Lincoln, Frederick Douglass said, “Few great public men have ever been the victims of fiercer denunciation than Abraham Lincoln was during his administration. Reproaches came thick and fast upon him from within and from without, and from opposite quarters.”

In some quarters, the hatred of Lincoln bordered on fanaticism; similar sentiments are in evidence against Obama.

It was Lincoln’s declaration that, after the war, the nation would have “a new birth of freedom” that led to him taking a bullet on Good Friday, April 14, 1865.

Obama’s exhortation in 2004, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America,” goes down no better with some folks.

For months on end, Romney and his ilk have been stoking the country with the charge that Obama has been systematically undermining America’s economic and social structure. It has caught hold; how much, we’ll see.

If Romney prevails, who will dictate what policies a Romney administration pursues? Certainly not Mitt Romney, a panderer and flip-flopper whose convictions don’t extend far beyond getting elected.

But the next president will make appointments to the Justice Department, State Department, the Pentagon; the departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services; the Securities and Exchange Commission; the Treasury Department; and probably a Supreme Court justice or two. And there will be political jobs galore to fill. With a Romney administration, that means recruiting people who hate the federal government.

So where will Romney turn for help? Why, from those who helped get him where he is today: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter and the Fox news crew, to name a few.

The ghost of Andrew Johnson is lurking in the wings.

By: Colbert I. King, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, November 2, 2012

November 3, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Gift From God”: Richard Mourdock Collapses In Polls In Indiana Senate Race

According to a new Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground poll, Republican Richard Mourdock’s infamous remarks about rape have doomed his chances of winning Indiana’s Senate election.

The poll shows Democrat Joe Donnelly leading Mourdock by a 47 to 36 percent margin. 11 percent are undecided, and 6 percent support Libertarian Andrew Horning.

Mourdock and Donnelly were statistically tied in nearly every survey of the race, until the candidates met for a debate on October 23rd. There, Mourdock explained his total opposition to abortion by saying “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape… it is something that God intended to happen.”

According to the Howey/DePauw poll, those fateful words all but ended Mourdock’s campaign, as 87 percent of respondents were aware of Mourdock’s remark, and 40 percent said that it made them less likely to vote for the Republican state treasurer. Additionally, Mourdock’s favorable/unfavorable rating has cratered to 30/49 percent, down from 26/32 in Howey/DePauw’s previous survey in September. And among the crucial independent vote, his favorable/unfavorable numbers stand at a distinctly unimpressive 12/48 with women and 23/51with men.

The poll, which was conducted by Democratic pollster Fred Yang and Republican pollster Christine Matthews, surveyed 800 likely voters with a partisan split of 45 percent Republican, 34 percent Democrat, and 21 percent independent.

If these results hold, then the Republican Party would essentially have no hope of winning a Senate majority. The GOP needs to gain a net of four seats to claim control of Congress’ upper chamber, a challenge that has become much more difficult due Republican candidates’ inability to stop talking about rape. In Missouri, Senator Claire McCaskill — who was once considered to be the most vulnerable incumbent Democrat — is on track to win re-election with the help of Rep. Todd Akin’s startling comments that a woman cannot become pregnant as a result of a “legitimate rape.” Now Mourdock’s “gift from God” comments appear likely to cost Republicans a seat in Indiana. Depending on how competitive races play out in Arizona, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Virginia, and Wisconsin, the Democrats may actually increase their Senate majority — something that seemed impossible just a few months ago.

If Mourdock and Akin lose, then this would be the second straight election cycle in which erratic candidates cost the GOP a chance at a majority. In 2010, right-wing candidates Sharron Angle, Ken Buck, and Christine O’Donnell defeated more mainstream opponents, and went on to lose to vulnerable Democrats.

By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, November 2, 2012

November 3, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Senate | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Mitt’s New Dumb Lie”: Desparate And Dishonest People Say The Darndest Things

Remember when Mitt Romney took an Obama quote out of context and then built his national convention around it? Well, this is worse.

Here’s the campaign’s new attack line: Obama said something that shows how much he loves bureaucracy and doesn’t understand business. “[Obama] wants to create a new ‘secretary of business,’” vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan said on the stump in Colorado yesterday. “We already have a secretary of business. It’s actually called secretary of commerce. That’s what this agency does. Let me ask you a question: Can anybody name our current secretary of commerce? You know why? We don’t have one! It’s been vacant for over four months.”

“I don’t think adding a new chair in his cabinet will help add millions of jobs on Main Street,” Romney himself added in Virginia later in the day.

Two things: First, we do have a secretary of commerce, or at least an acting secretary. Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank stepped in this summer after former Commerce Secretary John Bryson suffered a seizure while driving in California and resigned. (She’s not Senate-confirmed, but we don’t think that’s what Ryan meant.)

Second, and more to the point, the whole point of Obama’s “secretary of business idea” is to consolidate the Commerce Department with a bunch of other agencies that deal with business to make them more efficient and easier for businesses to interact with. “We should have one secretary of business, instead of nine different departments that are dealing with things like giving loans to SBA or helping companies with exports. There should be a one-stop shop,” Obama told MSNBC Monday. He actually first floated the idea in January, when it was received as a pragmatic, if not particularly inspired, reform idea.

And it’s an idea that you would think Republicans would support. Contrary to Romney’s claim, it actually would not be a new chair in the Cabinet, but merely the renaming of an existing one (though a new plaque would be required on the chair). The idea is to streamline government, cutting costs for taxpayers and making it easier for businesses to deal with government — two things Republicans really like. Instead, they went on the attack.

But wait, there’s more. Romney and Ryan are not only misrepresenting the “secretary of business” idea on the stump. They’re actually running a TV ad based on this dumb lie, which they released yesterday. The ad, titled “Secretary of Business,” claims that Obama’s “solution to everything is to add another bureaucrat.”

There’s really no honest way to read Obama’s comments and think he said he wanted to “add another bureaucrat.” His entire statement was about the need to consolidate bureaucracy, not expand it. Saying otherwise is dishonest, and maybe a bit desperate.

 

By: Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, November 2, 2012

November 3, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Big ‘Perilous’ Change”: Now More Than Ever, George W. Bush Is On The Ballot

It’s probably safe to say no publication has more consistently promoted the idea that “George W. Bush is on the ballot” in 2012 than the Washington Monthly. And that goes beyond the usual issue of the Bush administration’s responsibility for the Great Recession. We’ve argued that the 2012 campaign closely resembles the 2000 precedent in the specific policies and agendas of the GOP nominees, and the likely trajectory of the country if Romney wins. That’s why we’ve published and promoted the e-book, Elephant in the Room: Washington in the Bush Years. We’ve been here before.

But as election day approaches, there’s a final parallel that’s worth underlining: Romney is emulating Bush’s mendacious claim to be a “uniter not a divider,” and far more moderate than his party. As Paul Glastris reminds readers in the Editor’s Note in the upcoming November/December issue of the magazine (a sneak preview is available here), W. relied a lot on misleading voters about his relationship with his party:

One early summer day in 2000 I was summoned to the Oval Office along with several other White House staffers to get instructions from President Bill Clinton on what he wanted to say in his upcoming speech at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, a speech I was assigned to cowrite. But the president was in political strategist mode that day, and in the midst of downloading his thoughts on the speech he launched into a long soliloquy about the dynamics of the presidential contest and the nature of the man Al Gore was up against, Texas Governor George W. Bush. “Let me tell you something,” he said at one point. “Bush is a lot more conservative than people realize.”

The Big Dog certainly got that right, and the scary but unmistakable thing is that the Republican Party which Mitt Romney is trying to distance himself from at the last minute (rhetorically, though not substantively in any major way) is if anything considerably more conservative than it was in 2000. And if there’s any actual split between Romney and his party, it will only produce incompetent and dystfunctional government, as it often did when W. tried to exhibit “compassion” in order to appeal to swing constituencies:

The ideological contradictions unleashed within the GOP during those years have only grown. We see it in the increasingly stormy and dysfunctional relationship between the corporate and Tea Party wings of the party, in the freak show that was the 2012 GOP primary, and in the bottomless, robotic mendacity of the Mitt Romney campaign.

Yep, we’ve heard it all before. And as someone who was on to Bush’s game in 2000, and thinks he won (or to put it more accurately, succeeded in being inaugurated) because Democrats let him become the candidate of “safe change,” the possibility that Romney will succeed in the exact same scam is maddening.

Every voter should think about ol’ W. when they go to vote this year, and ask themselves: “Do we want to go back down that road again?”

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, November 2, 2012

November 3, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“More Ohio Voting Problems”: Thousands Of Mail-In Ballot Applications May Have Been Unfairly Rejected

It’s no secret that the presidential race could come down to Ohio. The Buckeye State has loomed large for months, and word is, both Romney and Obama will be in Columbus on Election Night. According to Nate Silver, there’s a nearly 50-percent chance that the state will determine the election outcome. All eyes seem to be there—when WaPo’s The Fix shifted it from “leans Democratic” to “toss up” yesterday on the electoral map, half the internet seemed to respond with either cheers or jeers.

But while everyone’s been watching the polls and political rallies, the chances that the election will be mired in confusion and controversy increased this week. Thousands of requests for mail-in ballots across the state may have been unfairly rejected, thanks to a technical glitch in the data-sharing software between the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Secretary of State’s office. The idea is that when a voter updates her address at the BMV, it also gets updated at the Secretary of State’s office. But for 65,000 registered voters, the updates weren’t made. About half of those voters submitted a separate update to the voting registrar. That left 33,000 people whose address on the voter rolls did not match their actual address. The information is now being updated, so that by Election Day, the rolls should be correct.

But there’s still a big problem for voters who chose to request mail-in ballots—an option Secretary of State Jon Husted has repeatedly encouraged. It’s hard to know how many of the 33,000 requested absentee ballots, but those who did were probably rejected for the address discrepancy. The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections has already found 865 requests for ballots have been unfairly rejected. According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates (NOVA) estimates that if the same rate holds true across the state, 4,500 registered voters may have not have received the requested ballots, and another 6,000 provisional ballots might go uncounted. (Those who request absentee ballots and then choose to vote in person must vote provisionally.) This week, NOVA’s research director, Norman Robbins, sent a letter to Husted requesting that he order all counties to doublecheck whether requests had been wrongfully rejected.

Husted, who’s come under fire from voting-rights advocates for trying to limit early-voting hours, has bragged repeatedly in press releases about the state’s absentee voting program—just Tuesday, his office sent a press release boasting that “1.2 million Ohioans have already cast ballots.” But there’s been no press release on the address mix-up. Ostensibly, there was enough time to get the wrongly rejected voters their mail-in ballots, but with the election only days away, they’ll need to send them back at lightening speed. According to the Secretary of State’s website, the mail-in ballots must be received by Saturday.

Even then, the mail-in ballots won’t all be counted; as I wrote last week, a new study shows that once sent in, mail-in ballots have a higher rate of being unfairly tossed out than any other form of voting. Nobody can say how many Ohioans will have their votes—or their requests for ballots—wrongfully rejected. But no matter what, it will be far too many.

 

By: Abby Rapoport, The American Prospect, November 2, 2012

November 3, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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