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“The Thought Is Just Laughable”: Hillary Rodham Clinton Is No Mitt Romney

David Frum has generally become an interesting writer offering fresh perspectives–not least on the GOP to which he remains tenuously connected–but his CNN column on why Democrats should not “settle” for Hillary Clinton in 2016 via some “next-in-line” psychology is really flawed.

Democrats seem poised to choose their next presidential nominee the way Republicans often choose theirs: according to the principle of “next in line.”

Hillary Clinton came second in the nomination fight of 2008. If she were a Republican, that would make her a near-certainty to be nominated in 2016. Five of the past six Republican nominees had finished second in the previous round of primaries. (The sixth was George W. Bush, son of the most recent Republican president.)

Democrats, by contrast, prefer newcomers. Six of their eight nominees since 1972 had never sought national office before.

Obviously, past performance is no guarantee of future results. Democrats chose the next guy in line in 2000 — Vice President Al Gore — and they may well do so again. But speaking from across the aisle, it’s just this one observer’s opinion that Democrats would be poorly served by following the Republican example when President Obama’s term ends.

I’ve always thought the “next-in-line” explanation for Republican presidential politics was a considerable over-simplification, and actually wrong if it was used to suggest ideology matters less to conservatives than we’ve been led to believe. But even if you buy it entirely, comparing HRC to such next-in-line Republican pols as Poppy Bush in 1988, John McCain in 2008, and Mitt Romney in 2012 just doesn’t pass the smell test.

The three Republicans just mentioned never had overwhelming grassroots support in their own party and eventually prevailed over weak fields after relentlessly repositioning themselves to the Right. Both McCain and Romney, in particular, survived what can only be described as demolition derbies, and had to spend precious general-election resources pandering to the party “base.”

HRC’s immensely popular among grass-roots Democrats, not just because she is the last candidate not named Barack Obama who ran an effective presidential nomination contest, but because of the personal capital she’s built up over the years, her performance as a very popular Secretary of State, and the widely shared belief among progressives that it’s far past time for a woman to serve as president. Plus she is crushing every named Republican in early general-election trial heats.

Frum argues that an HRC nomination will inhibit the rise of fresh talent in the Donkey Party, and inhibit helpful intra-party debates. I’m all for fresh talent and helpful intra-party debates, but I’d say what Democrats probably want and need most is a 2016 victory to consolidate the policy achievements of the Obama administration while perhaps convincing Republicans the vicious obstructionism they’ve been exhibiting since 2009 is a dead end. Any way you slice it, though, treating HRC as another Mitt Romney is just laughable.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, April 1, 2013

April 2, 2013 Posted by | Election 2016, GOP | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“MInd Boggling”: Tennessee Advances Legislation That Would Tie Welfare To Children’s Grades

Two Tennessee lawmakers introduced legislation that would tie welfare assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to the educational performance of students who benefit from it, and the legislation was approved by committees in both the state House and Senate last week.

Under the legislation brought by two Republicans, a student who doesn’t not make “satisfactory progress” in school would cost his or her family up to 30 percent of its welfare assistance, the Knoxville News and Sentinel reported:

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, and Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah. It calls for a 30 percent reduction in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits to parents whose children are not making satisfactory progress in school.

As amended, it would not apply when a child has a handicap or learning disability or when the parent takes steps to try improving the youngster’s school performance — such as signing up for a “parenting class,” arranging a tutoring program or attending a parent-teacher conference.

When Campfield introduced the legislation in January, he said parents have “gotten away with doing absolutely nothing to help their children” in school. “That’s child abuse to me,” he added. Tennessee already ties welfare to education by mandating a 20 percent cut in benefits if students do not meet attendance standards, but this change would place the burden of maintaining benefits squarely on children, who would face costing their family much-needed assistance if they don’t keep up in school.

TANF, meanwhile, is failing students and their families. It serves fewer impoverished families and children than its predecessor did before the 1996 welfare reform law was instituted, and it especially failed during the Great Recession, when the rate of families served fell in 35 states despite increases in both poverty and unemployment. And Tennessee’s welfare program is hardly robust — the maximum benefit is $185 a month and hasn’t changed since 1996. Given that low-income students already struggle to keep up in school, further reducing the already-modest benefits they receive from TANF isn’t likely to improve educational outcomes. It could instead make them worse.


By: Travis Waldron, Think Progress, April 1, 2013

April 2, 2013 Posted by | Poverty, Welfare | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Slow Down Caucus”: On Immigration Reform, Marco Rubio Is Building Himself An Escape Hatch

Even as the Sunday shows were alive with predictions that a deal is close on immigration reform, Marco Rubio took the occasion to cast doubt on the prospects for success by joining other Senators who are calling for the process to slow down:

“We will need a healthy public debate that includes committee hearings and the opportunity for other senators to improve our legislation with their own amendments,” he said on Sunday. “Excessive haste in the pursuit of a lasting solution is perhaps even more dangerous to the goals many of us share,” he said on Saturday.

As my Post colleague Evan Soltas points out, Rubio has effectively built himself a “very clear escape hatch” on immigration. If he needs to bail, he’s got his excuse: The process was rushed, or Democrats were unfair procedurally to Republicans.

By my count this is the third such escape hatch Rubio has created for himself. The first came when word leaked that the White House had drawn up its own plan that was marginally different from what pro-reform Republicans want. Rubio said this had threatened the prospects for success, even though his plan was very similar to the President’s. But then John McCain and Lindsey Graham publicly proclaimed their belief in Obama’s sincere desire to make the process work. The second came back when Rubio claimed that unions were putting reform in peril because of their dispute with business groups over the guest worker program. But now that dispute has mostly been resolved.

Now, escape hatch number three is to join the “slow down” caucus. Only in so doing, Rubio is joining with other Senators who are urging a go-slow approach, such as Ted Cruz and Jeff Sessions, who may be urging a slowdown so the armies of the right have time to mobilize and strike fear into any reform-minded Republican officials, killing reform.

Indeed, one group opposed to reform has explicitly called on Senators to slow the process down, apparently for the purposes of derailing it. And we’ve seen this before: back in 2007, opponents of reform similarly tried to slow the process, with Senator John Cornyn urging colleagues to “slow down and read this bill” because Americans had not yet digested the plan. Now, six years later, we’re again hearing the calls to “slow down.” But the American people have made their verdict clear: They want a path to citizenship.

No doubt Rubio has a very tough balancing act to strike. He needs to reassure conservatives that he’s prepared to walk away from any deal, and that he’s getting them everything he can in the process. If he does this successfully, it could potentially bring some of them along. But as Benjy Sarlin points out, Senate Democrats have already vowed not to procedurally rush the process and have promised to run things through the typical committee and amendment process. Lending aid and comfort to the “slow down” caucus could make things worse, given that their apparent aim is to allow opponents more time to kill reform.


By: Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, The Plum Line, April 1, 2013

April 2, 2013 Posted by | Immigration Reform | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The New Social Order”: Republicans Are Losing The American Culture War

The culture wars are back and this time the left is winning.

More than anything else, the rapid growth in support for gay marriage illustrates the changes in American culture and politics. We are living in a completely different society than we were in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The boomers are on their way out, taking their conservative stands with them, and the millennials are proudly marching in, progressive views in hand.

There was a time when Democrats lived in constant fear of “Guns, God and Gays.” Now it’s the Republicans’ turn to worry as larger numbers of Americans support gay marriage, immigration reform and gun control. The GOP will have to come up with a new formula to win campaigns or the party will become irrelevant. Adapt or die!

Now it’s time for Republicans to fear the culture wars just as Democrats did in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Last week, Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio switched his position to support gay marriage. Even Democrats in red states like Jon Tester of Montana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and Kay Hagen of North Carolina have seen the light and now support same-sex marriage.

In 2003, according to an ABC News/Washington poll, a majority of Americans opposed gay marriage by a margin of 58 percent to 36 percent. Ten years later, most Americans are onboard with same sex nuptials and the numbers are exactly the opposite of what they were in 2003. In the new ABC News/Washington Post poll, four of every five (81 percent) Americans under 30 favor gay marriage. As the millennial generation becomes a greater and greater proportion of the population and the electorate, opposition to gay marriage will get even smaller. In a CBS News survey of American Catholics, three out of five (62 percent) of the faithful support gay marriage.

A majority of Americans now support gun control and immigration reform. In the new ABC News/Washington Post survey, nine in ten Americans (91 percent) favor background checks on gun purchases and a clear majority (57 percent favor to 41 percent oppose) supports a ban on assault weapons. A new survey by the Public Religion Research institute indicates at six in ten (61 percent) Americans want undocumented aliens to get legal status.

The left may be winning battles on most of the fronts in the culture wars, but there is one issue that has put progressives on the defensive. Public support for Roe v Wade remains high, but state governments in the West and in the South have made it more difficult for women to make decisions about their own bodies.

According to a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute a clear majority (56 percent legal to 38 percent illegal) of Americans want abortion to be legal all or most of the time. The states of North Dakota and Arkansas have both enacted laws that strictly limit abortions. Both laws violate the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade and federal courts will probably nullify them.

It will be difficult for the GOP to cope with the new social order. Republican Party Chair Reince Priebus has been beat up by conservatives since he released a study last week that called for the GOP to moderate its issue stands to become politically effective. This week, Priebus felt the heat from the extremists in his party and he backtracked and said the GOP will still have the same agenda which was the party platform adopted at the 2012 national convention.

If the chairman was referring to the platform that calls for outlawing all abortions without any exceptions, the GOP will be spending the next generation in the deep freeze of the political Arctic.


By: Brad Bannon, Washington Whispers, U. S. News and World Report, April 1, 2013

April 2, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Marriage Equality | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Escalating The War On Women”: New GOP Plan, Guns For Domestic Abusers

Every so often, disparate political events line up so perfectly that they create the possibility of real resonance. In these fleeting moments, a point which might have been lost to news cycle noise can break through and singularly shift momentum by introducing a new angle to an otherwise binary debate. President Obama’s Wednesday visit to Colorado could be one of those moments, thanks to the events surrounding his gun-control-themed trip.

In its preview story of the political week ahead, the New York Times notes that the president is “seek(ing) to regain momentum” on the gun issue as “a filibuster threat is growing in the senate” and as a two-week congressional recess is marked by a nationwide activist push by the National Rifle Association. To counter it, the president is heading to Colorado, a state made famous by two of the most high-profile gun massacres in history – and now the first state in the historically pro-gun West to pass serious gun regulations.

If that was all that was happening, this week might not hold much political potential. But in a coincidental turn of events, the president’s visit will occur at the very moment the Colorado Republican Party is making a high-profile effort to derail Democratic legislation that would disarm domestic abusers. That, of course, allows Democrats to portray the GOP as extreme on the gun control issue, to connect that specific issue to the Republican Party’s war on women – and to connect it in a state that has electorally punished the GOP for that war.

In terms of just sheer extremism, if ever there was a succinct, simple-to-understand bumper-sticker-ready metric for understanding the fringe-iness of today’s Republican Party, the fight in the Colorado legislature over gun rights for domestic abusers is it. As the Denver bureau of the Huffington Post reports, the Colorado bill in question simply “prohibits gun possession from those convicted of certain felonies involving domestic violence or certain misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence (and) also prohibit guns from individuals subject to certain (domestic violence) protection orders.” According to a recent statewide poll in Colorado, that is a concept supported by 80 percent of voters – yet Republicans are opposed.

To truly appreciate the radicalism of that opposition, understand that longtime federal law already technically bans most of this. According to the New York Times, however, that federal statute “is rarely enforced” to the point where in 2012 prosecutors were willing to invoke it fewer than 50 times. In light of that negligence, state legislation to reaffirm the federal law would seem to be an easy way to do as the Republican Party so often rhetorically demands and better enforce existing gun statutes. Yet, that same GOP is nonetheless taking the side of domestic abusers and opposing the state legislation on the grounds that the restriction “is ripe for abuse.”

What’s amazing – and what evokes Democrats’ “war on women” meme – is the fact that Republicans don’t seem to see that what’s really “ripe for abuse” is guns in the hands of domestic abusers.

According to data compiled by the non-profit Futures Without Violence, “nearly one-third of all women murdered in the United States in recent years were murdered by a current or former intimate partner”; “of females killed with a firearm, almost two-thirds of were killed by their intimate partners”; and “access to firearms increases the risk of intimate partner homicide more than five times more than in instances where there are no weapons.” Likewise, the Violence Policy Center reports that “for every time a woman used a handgun to kill an intimate acquaintance in self-defense, 83 women were murdered by an intimate acquaintance with a handgun.”

Because of these facts, it should be no surprise that polls show women are disproportionately sympathetic to the gun control argument. It should also be no surprise that because of the obvious connection between domestic abuse and firearm violence, banning domestic abusers from owning firearms can have demonstrably positive results. For instance, as the New York Times reports, “a study in the journal Injury Prevention in 2010 examined so-called intimate-partner homicides in 46 of the country’s largest cities from 1979 to 2003 and found that where state laws restricted gun access to people under domestic-violence restraining orders, the risk of such killings was reduced by 19 percent.”

Put all of this together – the political dynamics, the “war on women” meme, the urgent need for the gun control legislation itself – and this week could be the start of a big shift in the gun debate and in the larger electoral struggle between the parties heading into 2014.

Think about it: the president is swooping in to the home of Columbine and Aurora to draw national attention to the gun extremism of the Republican Party – and he will be able to point right to the state capitol where that Republican Party is opposing legislation to simply enforce federal law that is supposed to be protecting women from gun-wielding domestic abusers. Not only that, he will be in the state where Democrats’ have most maximized their inherent advantage with women.

That last point is significant. Out of all the swing states in America where political themes are test marketed, Colorado has been the one where Democrats’ claim of a Republican “war on women” has most powerfully resonated at the polls. This is the state where the GOP lost an eminently winnable senate race in 2010 thanks to their candidate pulling an early version of Todd Akin and making hideously flippant remarks about rape. It is also the state where the GOP lost 9 eminently winnable electoral votes after the Obama campaign specifically hammered the Republican Party for its extreme positions on contraception and a woman’s right to choose. Now, following the trend, it is a state whose GOP is using its legislative power to defend the alleged rights of domestic abusers to remain armed.

That’s why, as mentioned before, President Obama’s visit may not be just about this week – thematically, it may also be about beginning to make the Colorado political template the national Democratic Party’s mid-term election template.

Party operatives clearly know that, as TalkingPointsMemo recently reported, polls suggest that “women who don’t usually vote in midterm elections will turn out in 2014 over the issue of guns.” All those operatives need to realize that prediction is for Republicans to offer up some good ol’ fashioned extremism. By opposing Democratic legislation to disarm domestic abusers right as a president is drawing national attention to the need for gun regulations, the GOP seems more than happy to oblige.

By: David Sirota, Salon, April 1, 2013

April 2, 2013 Posted by | Domestic Violence, Gun Violence | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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