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“How Karl Rove Plays The Game”: ‘Turd Blossom’ Has A Well-Earned Reputation For Sleaze, Dishonesty, And Ugly Campaign Tactics

In December 2012, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fainted, suffered a concussion, and was hospitalized with a blood clot. Because her injury delayed her congressional testimony on Benghazi, conservative media quickly launched a conspiracy theory: Clinton wasn’t really injured, Fox News and others said, she was merely faking it to avoid talking about the attack.

Even for the right, this was bizarre. Clinton’s injury was not only real, she also had no incentive to mislead – her committee testimony was simply rescheduled.

In a curious twist, Republicans have shifted gears. Arguing that Clinton’s injury was faked is now out; arguing that Clinton’s injury was extremely serious is now in. Karl Rove is leading the way.

He said if Clinton runs for president, voters must be told what happened when she suffered a fall in December 2012.

The official diagnosis was a blood clot. Rove told the conference near LA Thursday, “Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what’s up with that.”

Rove repeated the claim a number of times to the audience.

The man George W. Bush affectionately referred to as “Turd Blossom” has a well-earned reputation for sleaze, dishonesty, and ugly campaign tactics, and this fits nicely into his established pattern of behavior.

We can note, for example, that Clinton was in the hospital for a few days, not 30. We can also note that Clinton wore glasses because of the temporary “double vision” she suffered after she fainted, not “traumatic brain injury.”

But this isn’t about reality. This is about Karl Rove playing a game – one that he thinks he’s good at.

As reports about his comments generated chatter throughout the political world. Rove told Karen Tumulty, “Of course she doesn’t have brain damage.”

Of course.

Rove added that he believes Clinton suffered “a serious health episode” and she’ll “have to be forthcoming” about the incident if she runs for national office again.

But why say any of this? Every major presidential candidate releases medical records, just as a routine part of the process, so if the former Secretary of State throws her hat in the ring, Clinton already knows her health background will be scrutinized, just like every other candidate.

So why bring it up? Because Rove wants to raise doubts about the Democrat widely perceived as the strong potential candidate in the race.

Rove could go after Clinton’s record, but substantive debates aren’t his style. He could go after Clinton’s agenda, but she isn’t even an announced candidate, so there is no platform to attack.

And that brings us to targeting Clinton’s fitness for office. The next time she forgets a detail or flubs a word during a Q&A, we’re supposed to think about the seed Rove planted in the political world’s mind: an older candidate with a brain injury.

It’s cheap and politics at its most obnoxious, but then again, those are adjectives Rove is probably accustomed to hearing by now.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 13, 2014

May 14, 2014 Posted by | Election 2016, Hillary Clinton, Karl Rove | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Jindal Checks The Falwell Box”: In A Desperate Search For A “Base”

I don’t know how I missed the fact that Bobby Jindal was doing the commencement address at Liberty University on Saturday. Perhaps the Lord wanted me to have a peaceful weekend and not think about the Louisiana governor up there in Lynchburg pandering his heart out and checking the Falwell box in his desperate search for a “base” from which to run for president in 2016. Most of his remarks sound about as generic as you can get, in the Times-Pic‘s account of it:

“Today the American people, whether they know it or not, are mired in a silent war. … It is a war — a silent war — against religious liberty,” said Jindal, who spent much of the speech attacking President Barack Obama and the federal government.

This is the same rap he delivered at the Ronald Reagan Library back in February, and the only real enhancement is that he’s lucked into having an actual constituent, Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson, he can tout as the latest “victim” of politically-correct hordes of Jesus-hating sodomites. And so he has made his Christian Right persona the last of many reinventions he has pursued in his career, one that has the advantage of not relying on his record in Louisiana, where at the end of next year he’s leaving office after two full terms as governor not terribly popular with people in either party.

Indeed, he leaped effortlessly from talking about Phil Robertson to talking about Liberty’s pop-culture martyrs:

“You may think that I was defending the Robertsons simply because I am the Governor of their home state, the great state of Louisiana. You would be wrong about that. I defended them because they have every right to speak their minds,” Jindal said.

The governor then went on to say he supports David and Jason Benham, Liberty University graduates who recently lost an opportunity to have their own television show on HGTV after making controversial remarks about homosexuality and abortion.

So what distinguishes Bobby from all the other conservative pols making the holy pilgrimage to Lynchburg to offer themselves as field marshals in the spiritual warfare against godless secularists? Well, he’s got his conversion experience from Hinduism to Christianity, which he talked a lot about at Liberty, and will talk about in the future, so shameless and ruthless is his exploitation of anything in his own life that will help his candidacy. Trouble is, Bobby converted to Catholicism, not to the conservative evangelical Christianity of Jerry Falwell. I supposed he could have told the audience at Liberty this was a youthful indiscretion based on the likelihood that he would someday seek his fortune in Catholic-heavy Louisiana. But instead he’s describing himself as an “evangelical Catholic,” which is code for “don’t mind the transubstantiation and don’t listen to the current Pope, I’m as politicized as you are!”

Jindal by all accounts got a warm welcome from a national conservative evangelical audience at Liberty, and from a separate and more select group of Christian Right leaders at a private dinner over the weekend. But you have to wonder if he’s more of a novelty and a mascot for them, someone to warm up crowds with stories of hiding in the closet to read the Bible so his idol-worshiping parents couldn’t punish him, before the real presidential candidates speak. At this point, though, if that’s the role Bobby Jindal has to play to keep getting invited to do “major speeches,” that’s fine with him. Anywhere he goes will be more congenial territory than Baton Rouge.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, May 13, 2014

May 14, 2014 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Why This Part Of Your Culture?”: A Question About Southern Culture And The Confederate Flag

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a confirmation hearing for Michael Boggs, a conservative Georgia state judge whom President Obama nominated for a federal judgeship as part of a deal to get Republicans to allow votes on some of his other nominees. (Lesson: Obstructionism works, so keep doing it!) Boggs got grilled by Democrats over some of the votes he took as a state legislator, including one to keep the Confederate stars and bars as part of the Georgia state flag. Which gives me the opportunity to get something off my chest.

Before I do though, it should be noted that there are plenty of white Southerners who wish that their states had long ago put the Confederate flag issue behind them, and agree with us Yankees that it’s a symbol of treason and white supremacy, and not the kind of thing you want to fly over your state house or put on a license plate, as you can in Georgia.

Boggs claimed in his hearing that he was offended by the Confederate flag, but voted for it because that’s what his constituents wanted. In other words, he’s not a racist, just a coward. Fair enough. But to Southerners who say, as some inevitably do, that the Confederate flag in particular, and Confederate fetishism more generally, reflect not support for slavery or white supremacy but merely an honoring of southern “culture,” my question is this: Why this part of your culture?

Because there are a lot of great things about Southern culture. There’s music, and food, and literature, and a hundred other things you can honor and uphold and celebrate. Why spend so much time and effort upholding the one part of your cultural heritage that is about slavery?

Couldn’t you just let that one thing go? To say, we love our culture, and we’re going to continue it and share it with you. But the slavery thing, and the treason against the United States thing? Let’s just put that where it belongs and get on with building a future. We can talk about the Civil War, and seek to understand it in all its complexity. We can teach our kids about it. But we’re not going to put the Confederate flag on our license plates anymore. Would that be so hard?

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, May 13, 2014

 

May 14, 2014 Posted by | Confederacy, Racism, Slavery | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Donald Sterling’s Interview Disaster”: Rich Old Racist Self-Destructs To Anderson Cooper

Donald Sterling, in all his reprehensible anti-glory, is officially representative of only one person, Donald Sterling. But it was hard not to think about the insularity and cossetting the super-wealthy enjoy, once they get super-wealthy, watching the maligned Los Angeles Clippers owner self-destruct with Anderson Cooper Monday night.

Sterling is a man who is obviously used to holding forth on his mind-blowingly prejudiced views without challenge. He wants us to think V. Stiviano entrapped him with her magic lady parts — “I don’t know why the girl had me say those things,” he told Cooper — and got him to launch a paranoid racist rant out of lust. But clearly that is not true, unless he’s lusting after Anderson Cooper.

“I’m not a racist,” Sterling told Cooper. “I made a terrible, terrible mistake. And I’m here with you today to apologize and to ask for forgiveness for all the people that I’ve hurt. When I listen to that tape, I don’t even know how I can say words like that…. I mean, that’s not the way I talk.” Actually, it seems to be exactly the way Sterling talks.

It’s hard to know where to start with the NBA franchise owner’s outrageous remarks. He called Stiviano “a street person” and said Magic Johnson “ought to be ashamed of himself.” No, that doesn’t do Sterling justice. This is what he said about Johnson:

Here is a man, he acts so holy. He made love to every girl in America in every city and he had AIDS. When he had those AIDS, I went to my synagogue and I prayed for him.

“Those AIDS”? (For the record, Johnson has HIV, not AIDS). But it got worse:

What has Magic Johnson done? He’s got AIDS. Did he do any business? Did he help anybody in south L.A.? I think he should be ashamed of himself. What does he do for the black people? I’m telling you he does nothing. It’s all talk.

I spent millions on giving away and helping minorities. Does he do that? That’s one problem I have. Jews, when they get successful, they will help their people.

And some of the African-Americans, maybe I’ll get in trouble again. They don’t want to help anybody. What has Magic Johnson really done for Children’s Hospital which kids are lying in the hallways. They are sick. They need a bed. What has he done for any hospital? What has he done for any group?

For the record, Magic Johnson has a foundation that gives away almost $2 million a year and got a four-star rating by Charity Navigator last year. A recent Los Angeles Times investigation found little evidence of the Donald Sterling Foundation’s good work. He does reportedly give a lot of money to women he’s trying to bed.

For his part, Johnson replied an hour after the interview aired: (on Twitter)

I’d rather be talking about these great NBA Playoffs than Donald Sterling’s interview.

Maybe Sterling thought his sit-down with Cooper would help him rehabilitate himself, but at one point he even turned on Cooper. When the CNN anchor suggested that Sterling’s paternalistic comments about his players, that “I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses,” had been criticized as reflecting a plantation mentality, Sterling turned on his host: “I think you have more of a plantation mentality than I do. And I think you’re more of a racist than I am. Because I’m not a racist, and I’ve never been a racist.”

“I know you are but what am I” rarely turns out well on national television.

It’s said that Sterling’s sit-down with Cooper was a message to other NBA owners, some of whom he claimed support his crusade to keep his team. (Oh, and he said his players “love” him too.) If Sterling was sending the owners a message in the interview, it had to be: “I want to sell my team right now. Help me.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver was unimpressed. He apologized to Magic Johnson “that he continues to be dragged into this situation and be degraded by such a malicious and personal attack.” The NBA Board of Governors — Sterling’s fellow owners — “is continuing with its process to remove Mr. Sterling as expeditiously as possible.” It can’t happen soon enough.

 

By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, May 13, 2014

 

May 14, 2014 Posted by | Donald Trump, Racism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“His Policies Speak For Themselves”: Rand Paul Can Try To Be His Party’s Bill Clinton, But He’ll Never Be President

Rand Paul continues to fling any turd he can find at the Clintons for pretty obvious reasons.

The first-term senator from Kentucky has to do something to show the GOP establishment he can be competitive in a general election, and he’s trying to keep the former president out of his home state’s Senate race so that Rand didn’t sell out to Mitch McConnell for nothing.

There’s no doubt that the younger Paul is a savvy tactician. The proof of this is that he’s ironically trying to follow Bill Clinton’s path to the presidency by staking out a series of “Sister Soulja moment“-like strategic breaks from his party.

Last week, he noted that the GOP’s repulsive attempts to stop minorities from voting are “offending” people. Paul was the first Republican to call out Ted Nugent’s “sub-human mongrel” slurs against President Obama. And he’s built lots of credibility with civil libertarians on the right and left by focusing on “drones,” which has become a code word for “civilian casualties,” which happen to be down under this president, along with military casualties and wars.

Though Paul’s own drone stance is complicated by the fact he thinks it’s cool for a drone to take out an American suspected of robbing a liquor store, his non-interventionist tendencies and willingness to negotiate with Iran do all Americans a favor, providing a hedge against the far right’s recent destructive tendencies toward war.

These anti-war stands will also lead to a deluge of attacks funded by hundreds of millions of dollars should he become competitive in the 2016 Republican primary, which has been designed to give Jeb Bush the nomination, should Jeb want it.

However, these stands are not why Paul will never be president. America is as nearly non-interventionist as he is these days. His Aqua-Buddha past and support for ending some of the drug war have seeped into the mainstream, too. Rand probably can even get away with a dad whose “institute” publishes the work of 9/11 truthers.

What voters won’t tolerate are Rand Paul’s key actual policies:

Bill Clinton’s strategy was to make the Democratic Party appear more moderate. Rand Paul gets that rhetorically, perhaps.

But single women aren’t going to elect a president who would appoint Supreme Court justices who believe a fertilized egg has 14th Amendment rights. The middle class and seniors aren’t going to trade the Medicare promise for more tax breaks for millionaires. One decent comment on voter ID isn’t going to erase Paul’s opposition to immigration reform — just as one trip to Detroit won’t make him an “inner city” hero.

The usual caveats apply. The economy could go bust or we could find out that #Benghazi is worse than Iraq, 9/11, Watergate, Iran/Contra, Donald Sterling and Cliven Bundy combined.

But Democrats have a natural advantage in 2016, and Rand Paul would take that advantage and put it on steroids.

UPDATE: In a statement to Slate‘s Dave Weigel, Rand Paul’s Super PAC director backed off the senator’s criticisms of voter ID laws: “At no point did Senator Paul come out against voter ID laws. In terms of the specifics of voter ID laws, Senator Paul believes it’s up to each state to decide that type of issue.”

 

By: Jason Sattler, The National Memo, May 13, 2014

May 14, 2014 Posted by | Rand Paul, Voter ID | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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