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“Mean Mike”: How Can “The Base” Fully Get On The Bandwagon Of Anyone Smiled Upon By The Godless Liberal Media?

An examination of the rather different tone associating Mike Huckabee’s proto-candidacy for 2016 was inevitable, and it’s been served up usefully by David Freedlander at The Daily Beast. In 2008, he observes, Huck had quite the reputation for being sunny:

Frank Rich, in The New York Times, wrote that Huckabee was the Republican Obama. Rich attributed Huckabee’s rise in the polls to “his message,” which “is simply more uplifting—and, in the ethical rather than theological sense, more Christian—than that of rivals, whose main calling cards of fear, torture and nativism have become more strident with every debate. The fresh-faced politics of joy may be trumping the five-o’clock-shadow of Nixonian gloom and paranoia.”

It was an idea that ricocheted around liberal blogs and talk radio outlets. Sure, Huckabee’s views on social issues were a bit out of right field, but they weren’t appreciably different from those of the rest of the GOP field. And the rest of his policy ideas, even when right-leaning, were bathed in a soft, summer camp biblical glow. People of faith, he said in one memorable speech, need to show that they “are not just angry folks mad about some things we don’t like, but people who have joy in our hearts. People who want to help those without housing to find it, those without drinking water to drink it, to help people who are hungry at night to know what it is to have food.”

Contrast that with today’s Angry Huck:

This new Huckabee told the New Hampshire Freedom Summit, “I’m beginning to think that there’s more freedom in North Korea than there is in the United States.” It’s the Huckabee who said Democrats want the women of America to “believe that they are helpless with Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government.” Gone is the talk of evangelicals approaching the political sphere “with joy in our hearts.” Instead, Huckabee now wonders, “Why is it that Christians stand back and take it in the teeth time and time and time again?” It is this Huckabee who defended the Duck Dynasty reality star’s comments on gay marriage and civil rights in the South but accused those who criticize Chick-fil-A’s corporate anti-gay marriage stance of engaging in “vicious hate speech.”

Freedlander bats around several possible explanations for this new, more saturnine Huckabee, from the most obvious (the mood of “the base”) to the more personal (Huck’s furious at himself that he didn’t run for president in 2012). My favorite is the claim from an old rival in Arkansas who says it’s the Happy Huck that was a pose:

“He might have been a Baptist preacher, but he had a mean streak a mile wide,” said Jimmy Jeffress, a former Arkansas lawmaker who served in the statehouse during Huckabee’s tenure.

I’m guessing Jeffress isn’t a Baptist, since he seems to be unaware that meanness is a prized quality in some ministers of that faith community. I once saw a cap on sale at a convenience store in South Georgia with a message that expressed the approach perfectly: “Read the Bible daily. It will scare the Hell out of you.”

In any event, it will be interesting to see if the new Mean Mike persona cuts into the relatively good press Huck is used to getting from people who don’t actually agree with him on much of anything. Indeed, that could be part of the idea: How can “the base” fully get on the bandwagon of anyone smiled upon by the godless liberal media? If that doesn’t work, maybe Huckabee will have to put away the bass guitar.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, May 6, 2014

May 9, 2014 Posted by | Election 2016, GOP, Mike Huckabee | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Fox Declares The One True News Story”: Beginning To Make CNN’s Interest In Flight 370 Appear Timid And Understated

On Friday, President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted a joint press conference from the White House Rose Garden, and the two world leaders had quite a bit of ground to cover. They fielded questions on the Ukrainian crisis, surveillance policies, and a variety of current events.

But Fox News wouldn’t show its viewers the press conference unless reporters asked about the Benghazi attack from nearly two years ago.

Today, something very similar happened.

It happened again on Monday, when Fox anchor Jon Scott promised to cover a White House presser if and only if the topic shifted to a House select committee on Benghazi, which will be headed up by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC).

With White House aide John Podesta delivering a presentation on energy and climate during the press briefing, Scott couldn’t hide his shock.

“Jay Carney is normally at this podium. This is one of his understudies, you might say,” Scott said referring to Podesta, who is not actually one of Carney’s understudies.

This is getting a little weird.

By Fox’s reasoning, there is only One True News Story. If current events distract from the One True News Story, then current events must be ignored … while we wait for something to happen with the One True News Story.

That the One True News Story actually happened 20 months ago – it can no longer be accurately characterized as a current event – is a minor detail that should apparently be ignored by real Americans.

Scott added, “Talking about energy efficiency, of all things, right now. But if they get to some questions about this House select committee, how it will work, we will take you back there live.”

First, “of all things” is a hilarious phrase in this context. It’s as if the Fox host is offended that the White House is addressing an issue that’s not the 20-month-old One True News Story – how dare administration officials take energy policy seriously right now, when Fox has deemed all current events unworthy.

Second, why exactly would anyone ask the White House how a congressional select committee “will work”?

As for the bigger picture, one can only wonder why a news network would deliberately ignore current events to cover a 20-month-old terrorist attack, in which there have been no new revelations, but I’m sticking to my assessment that Fox’s Benghazi coverage is beginning to make CNN’s interest in Flight 370 appear timid and understated.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 5, 2014

May 9, 2014 Posted by | Benghazi, Fox News | , , , , | 2 Comments

“Enter Trey Gowdy”: Letting The Impeachment Genie Out Of The Bottle–Carefully!

If you read two posts by Slate‘s Dave Weigel this week about the establishment of the Select Committee on Benghazi!, the potential significance of this move and how it’s being handled by John Boehner becomes pretty clear. This isn’t just a move to provide daily porn for wingnuts, or even to take down Hillary Clinton’s approval ratings a few points, but a conscious step towards impeaching Barack Obama:

On Saturday night, as Washington’s press corps was distracted by a surge of celebrity selfie opportunities, it was missing a kind of milestone. Jeanine Pirro, a former New York Republican star who tumbled out of politics and onto Fox News, was calling for the impeachment of President Obama over “a story no one wants to talk about.”

The story was the 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. Referring to that, on Fox, as “a story no one wants to talk about” sounded a bit like CNN asking where all the Flight 370 coverage had been. Not Pirro’s point—she was saying that the media failed to see where the Benghazi story was going to lead. Hint: Impeachment.

“We have impeached a president for lying about sex with an intern,” she said. “A president resigned in the face of certain impeachment for covering up a burglary. Why wouldn’t we impeach this president for not protecting and defending Americans in the bloodbath known as Benghazi?” Pirro then addressed the president directly—though at this point in the evening he was giving a sardonic dinner speech—with a warning that “your dereliction of duty as commander-in-chief demands your impeachment.”

Just one segment on a slow news night, but there was a sense of inevitability about it, of the Overton Window being shifted by hand.

Weigel goes on to pull together a number of quotes from Republican pols and conservative media figures that don’t so much raise the possibility of impeachment as take it as a given and ponder how it can be handled without “looking crazy.”

Enter Trey Gowdy.

In a post today, Weigel suggests the selection of the South Carolinian was made precisely because the “investigation” will likely lead to impeachment proceedings:

To conduct hearings that may lead to impeachment, Republicans needed a leader who seemed unimpeachable. They needed someone exactly unlike former Rep. Dan Burton, who never lived down a demonstration, involving a watermelon and a gun, of how Vince Foster’s “murder” might have gone down.

“When you’re shooting a watermelon you’re probably going too far,” says South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. “I don’t think Trey is going to have a demonstration in his backyard about how Benghazi happened. I’ve known him for years. If you ask any lawyer or judge in South Carolina, Democrat or Republican, he’d get A-plus marks. You’d find that to be a universal assessment….”

After an extended tribute to Gowdy’s skill as a prosecutor and inquisitor, Weigel concludes:

Gowdy only talks about Benghazi the way he’d talk about a re-opened murder investigation, a case given to his courtroom because somebody else screwed it up. He’s good at this. Republicans, who can imagine the select committee lasting through the midterms and into a lame duck president’s final years, are clamoring to be in his jury.

So in choosing Gowdy, it’s entirely possible Boehner had in mind for him a much more important role than entertaining conservatives: he’d be the face of impeachment. That congressional Republicans are contemplating this possibility so seriously when Barack Obama is already heading towards the exit–and given the vast evidence a similar move backfired decisively in the 1990s–shows how much pressure they are under from “the base,” and how deranged the supposed Great Big Adults of the Republican Establishment have become. Maybe the glittering prospect of impeaching Obama while disqualifying HRC is just so bright that they aren’t thinking straight.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, May 8, 2014

May 9, 2014 Posted by | Benghazi, John Boehner, Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Only One Of Many”: Missouri Keeps Tumbling Rightward

The Missouri legislature had no trouble passing a big tax cut today over the veto of Gov. Jay Nixon. As a Missouri native, I’m probably more irritated by this than most Times readers are, but my state is only one of many that have been sharply pulled to the right in the last few years. What’s happening in Jefferson City is already familiar to residents of Wisconsin, Michigan, Kansas, North Carolina, and many others.

The main difference is that Mr. Nixon is a Democrat, a relic of the days when his party dominated the state. But Republican leaders are working on that. Last month, they had a serious debate in the House on whether the governor should be impeached for allowing same-sex married couples to file joint tax returns. Gay and lesbian people can’t get married to each other in Missouri, which has a constitutional amendment prohibiting it, but Mr. Nixon had the temerity to allow the joint returns for couples married elsewhere.

“This is such a blatant and serious violation of Missouri’s constitution and Missouri law that the governor should be removed from office,” said Nick Marshall, a state representative from Parkville.

In case that didn’t work, there was another impeachment resolution filed that would have ousted Mr. Nixon for failing to properly discipline state workers who released a list of concealed gun permits to the federal government. The resolution began, “Whereas, the people of the State of Missouri cherish their right to bear arms…” and went downhill from there.

A few weeks ago, the legislature approved a measure that would nullify all federal gun laws and allow residents to sue federal agents for enforcing them. It carries no legal weight, and Mr. Nixon vetoed something similar last year, but the true believers apparently feel the need to re-establish their credentials repeatedly.

Although the impeachment efforts were dropped today, Republicans have managed to push through their agenda. As a Kansas City Star editorial noted, today’s tax cut doesn’t even benefit the people who could use the money the most. A family making $44,000 a year will get a $32 break, while one making $1 million will get $7,800. Most of the benefits, in fact, go to one special-interest group.

“It is a gift to businesses whose owners declare their business incomes on their personal tax forms,” the Star wrote. “Up to one-fourth of their income could eventually be tax-free if the bill becomes law, whether or not they create jobs.”

Naturally, Missouri isn’t coming close to fully funding its public school and university system, and is one of 20 states that refuses to expand Medicaid, turning down $2.2 billion from the federal government because that would mean accepting the reality of the Affordable Care Act. But when businesses raise their voices for a tax cut, they are answered.

It’s not the state I grew up in, which is exactly the way a new generation of leaders like it.


By: David Firestone, Editors Blog, The New York Times, May 6, 2014

May 9, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Missouri Legislature, Right Wing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Relentless Racial Hostility”: GOP Has Done Everything It Can To Make Sure Obama Is The Wrong Color

Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller said what’s been said countless times and worse acted on by the GOP countless times. That is that more than a few of their numbers have reflexively dithered, delayed, and flat-out tried to torpedo every policy initiative or piece of legislation that President Obama has backed solely as Rockefeller said, “because he’s the wrong color.” Rockefeller should know. He sits on a number of Senate committees and subcommittees and he’s undoubtedly seen and heard the blatant displays of not-so-subtle bigotry from more than a few of his GOP congressional adversaries. But Rockefeller is only the latest political luminary to state the obvious. Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist bluntly told an interviewer that he got out of the GOP because of its open hostility to Obama. Crist made sure that he meant hostility based not on legitimate political disagreements but on race when he specifically referred to Obama as the “African-American President.”

The relentless racial hostility toward Obama goes far beyond simply the routine racial lampooning and mocking of Obama in grotesque signs, posters, chants and harangues by loose-hinged tea party elements and unreconstructed bigots. It has been subtly stoked and orchestrated by the GOP with the clear political aim of disrupting, destabilizing and rendering politically impotent Obama’s program, initiatives and proposed legislation.

The final presidential vote in 2008 gave plenty of warning of the lethalness of the GOP’s core conservative white constituency when aroused. Overall, Obama garnered slightly more than 40 percent of the white male vote. Among Southern and Heartland America white male voters, Obama made almost no impact. The only thing that even made Obama’s showing respectable in those states was the record turnout and percentage of black votes that he got. They were all Democratic votes.

A Harvard post-election assessment of the 2008 presidential vote found that race did factor into the presidential election and that it cost Obama an added three to five percent of the national popular vote. Put bluntly, if Obama had been white the election would have been a route. During the GOP presidential primary campaign, GOP presidential candidates made sure of that with the stream of race-tinged references Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney made to food stamps, welfare, work ethics and an entitlement society. Then there were the racially-loaded newsletters from Ron Paul that resurfaced. The candidates when challenged ducked, dodged and denied any racial intent, or in the case of Paul’s newsletter, that he even penned them.

His 2012 reelection victory gave even more warning that little had changed. In fact, it got worse, he got a smaller percentage of the overall white vote than he did in 2008, and that included a small but significant defection of younger white voters who backed him in 2008.

There has not been a moment that has gone by that top GOP congressional leaders have not called Obama out on some issue. The framing of their criticism has not been polite, gentlemanly or exhibited the traditional courtesy and respect for the office of the presidency. This has done much to create a climate of distrust and vilification that has made it near legitimate, even expected, that Obama be heckled. The GOP’s official heckling has taken many forms, all mean-spirited and petty, rather than purely the customary expression of opposition to policies that clashing political parties and their leaders show toward each other.

The near textbook example of how the GOP has subtly used race to sledge hammer Obama has been its take-no-prisoners drumbeat attack on Attorney General Eric Holder. He’s been called on the GOP congressional carpet in countless hearings, and pilloried, insulted, and abused for every concocted sin from his alleged master mind bungling of the fast and furious gun sting to his supposed politicizing of the Justice Department. The attacks have all been punctuated by screams for his resignation or firing. Holder is not just a convenient surrogate punching bag for Obama. He is the one top administration official who’s not afraid to punch back at the GOP for its blatant play of the race card. He’s as much said so and this has only made his inquistors even more manic in their racial assault on Obama vis-a-vis Holder.

The GOP also in a cynical, thinly transparent move has even tried to turn the racial tables on Obama by tarring him as the race divider and baiter. His lambaste of the GOP at a keynote speech at Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network convention in April for doing everything humanly possible to subvert voting rights through its endless legislative ploys and constructing every obstacle it can to enforcement was the opening needed to use this tact. It won’t be the last time for this.

Which just proves again that Rockefeller and Crist as so many others before them got it right. For many in the GOP, Obama is simply the wrong color and that won’t change.


By: Earl Ofari Hutchinson, The Huffington Post Blog, May 8, 2014

May 9, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Racism | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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