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“Bad Luck Bears”: Bernie Sanders; From The Guys Who Brought You George W. Bush

The team that brought you the George W. Bush administration in 2000 has gathered behind a new candidate: Bernie Sanders.

A host of prominent Ralph Nader backers has joined team Sanders in 2016, excited by his message discipline and aggressive fight against the establishment powers that be.

In the Democratic socialist from Vermont, they see a flag-bearer for the same issues while the Democratic establishment views him as a persistent pest who is raking in money by the fistful without a clear and obvious path to the nomination.

And the same way that Nader’s staunchest supporters had no kind words for the eventual nominee then-Vice President Al Gore, some of Sanders’s surrogates are spending their time bashing Hillary Clinton, making it even more difficult for the party faithful to rally around him.

Throughout Nader’s consecutive failed presidential bids, he picked up a cadre of high-profile endorsers ranging from actress Susan Sarandon to academic Cornel West. The rest of the roster backing both men includes actor Danny Glover, former National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro, musicians Ani DiFranco and Bonnie Raitt, country singer Willie Nelson, and Ben Cohen, one of the founders of Ben & Jerry’s, just to name a few.

“There are some pretty obvious parallels,” Oliver Hall, Nader’s lawyer and long-time friend said in an interview with The Daily Beast.

While the players on the bench supporting these candidates are remarkably similar, so far Sanders hasn’t drawn the collective ire of the Democratic Party quite nearly as much as Nader did. His campaign did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast.

After all, many personally blamed Nader for pulling Democratic votes away from Gore in 2000—ushering in Bush.

It’s tough to blame them for being angry. Bush edged out Gore by 537 votes, while Nader—the Green Party candidate—took over 97,000 votes in Florida, which Democrats thought could have tipped the scales in Gore’s favor.

The spoiler effect, a term ascribed to 1992 candidate Ross Perot, was redubbed as “The Nader Effect,” used as shorthand for a candidate that is going nowhere spoiling an election for a like-minded but more viable party nominee.

Nader has been adamant that he is not the one to blame, writing in 2004 on his presidential campaign site, that his voters wouldn’t have swung the election in Gore’s favor.

“In the year 2000, exit polls reported that 25% of my voters would have voted for Bush, 38% would have voted for Gore and the rest would not have voted at all,” he wrote.

The 2000 campaign efforts (some of which were led by his own supporters) to get Nader to drop out fell on deaf ears.

And 16 years later, a much more successful candidate has no interest in cutting his bid short either—despite almost daily urging from the Democratic establishment.

But still, the longer Sanders has stuck around the more he appears to get under Hillary Clinton’s skin.

Now the winner of 14 states, including a surprise victory in Michigan, Sanders is frequently painted as a message candidate spoiling the prospects of an establishment Democrat looking to finally secure the nomination after falling short eight years ago.

His staunch opposition to the Iraq War, something for which Clinton voted, and support for a single-payer healthcare program mirror some of the central tenets of Nader’s campaign.

Hall told The Daily Beast that the similarities between the candidates are apparent and even now he’s still tired of hearing that the latter is the reason Bush won in 2000.

“It’s ridiculous and pathetic,” he said in a phone interview. “If the Democratic Party is a serious organization, they need to tolerate free discussion of ideas.”

He contended that the same people who have accused Nader of indirectly leading the United States into its worst war since Vietnam are the ones imploring people to vote for Hillary Clinton this year.

“When Nader ran as a third party candidate, everybody attacked him,” Hall said. “Now they’re attacking Sanders for running as a Democrat.”

And as Sanders continues to exceed expectations in the primary, currently leading Clinton by a small margin in Wisconsin—the next contest—Hall questioned the former secretary of state’s strength as a candidate.

“How good of a candidate can Hillary Clinton be if she can’t handle debate in the primary election process? That’s the entire purpose of a primary election.”

And his endorsers have taken note.

West, a prominent academic and progressive Democratic stalwart, backed Ralph Nader in 2000 before giving Sanders his blessing in 2015. Once Gore was the nominee, he chastised him for picking Senator Joseph Lieberman as his running mate given his opposition to affirmative action. West referred to it as “an act of disrespect to the black community,” according to a 2000 article in the Chicago Tribune.

Earlier this year, West wrote an op-ed for Politico describing Sanders as being “better for black people” than Clinton.

West has not responded to a request for comment from The Daily Beast.

Sarandon, another Sanders backer who recently drew controversy for suggesting that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump might be ultimately better for the United States than Clinton, was also all in for Nader in the past. She served as the national co-chair for Nader’s steering committee in 2000 and was named as a plaintiff in a lawsuit he filed against the Federal Election Commission which alleged that corporations sponsoring debates could constitute as illegal corporate campaign contributions.

Documentarian Michael Moore also endorsed both candidates. In September 2000, he appeared at a fundraiser upon the Green Party candidate’s behalf, dispelling the idea that Nader was a spoiler in the race.

“A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush?” Moore said at the time. “No, a vote for Gore is a vote for Bush. A vote for Bush is a vote for Bush. A vote for Nader is a political Molotov.”

In 2000, Sanders publicly vouched for Nader himself, while the latter campaigned in Vermont.

“He’s an old-fashioned guy who believes that maybe the ordinary people should be running this country rather than the multinational corporations,” Sanders said introducing Nader at an event, according to an AP story at the time.

Sanders’s national spokesperson Symone Sanders also previously worked as a communications officer for the Ralph Nader-founded organization Public Citizen.

He changed his tune by 2004 though when Nader tried to run again, saying “virtually the entire progressive movement is not going to be supportive of Nader,” according to an AP story.

“We’ve got to come together to defeat George Bush, we have to develop a strong progressive movement to make sure we make the changes in this country that we need,” Sanders said in 2004. “But our main task right now is to defeat Bush and I think Nader’s effort could have some impact in dividing up that vote and that’s a negative thing.”

Nader himself did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast but he has expressed support for Sanders’s candidacy and his ideas.

The animosity between Nader and Gore supporters that bubbled up in the 2000 general election is already stewing in a similar capacity in the 2016 Democratic primary with surrogates like Sarandon and actress Rosario Dawson criticizing Clinton and the big-money interests they contend she stands for.

“Shame on you,” Dawson said referring to Clinton at a recent rally in New York. “I don’t have to vote against someone; I can vote for someone who’s on our side.”

She went on to criticize President Obama at a Harlem town hall days later, suggesting that he wasn’t able to keep up momentum to elicit big turnout in the 2014 midterm elections.

Another Sanders surrogate, rapper Killer Mike, got into similar hot water for quoting activist Jane Elliott’s line in February saying: “A uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States.” Implicit in the remark was not sexism, but rather that gender should not determine who one votes for.

The difference, of course, compared to the fervor around Nader is that these conflicts of opinion are not necessarily going to negatively impact the chances of a Democratic president being in the White House next year.

But from the start, Sanders’s campaign was concerned about appearing like just another Nader.

“The one thing he’s determined not to do is to be another Ralph Nader,” adviser Tad Devine said in April, 2015 as Sanders was preparing to announce his candidacy. “And the only way to avoid doing that is to avoid being a third-party candidate from the left in the general election.”

Time will tell if that promise holds up.

 

By: Gideon Resnick, The Daily Beast, April 5, 2016

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, George W Bush, Ralph Nader | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“John Kasich – Only Moderately Extreme”: Remember The Last Time We Had A “Compassionately Conservative” President?

If you’ve watched John Kasich at any of the Republican presidential debates so far, two things stand out about him: (1) he wants to be the “Republican with a heart,” and (2) he completely embraces trickle-down economics. That’s pretty much the kind of thing we heard from George W. Bush in the 2000 election when he called himself a “compassionate conservative.” Compared to the rest of the field this time around, that has a lot of pundits calling Kasich the moderate of the group.

The problem is that we all got a pretty good lesson on the failure of trickle-down economics during the Bush/Cheney years. And right now, Kasich is demonstrating just how un-moderate he is on some important issues. For example, here’s what happened at a town hall event in Virginia today.

Notice that even one of his supporters called him out for saying that “women came out of their kitchens” to work on his campaign. That little gem comes the day after Kasich did this:

Gov. John Kasich has signed legislation to strip government money from Planned Parenthood in Ohio…

The bill targets roughly $1.3 million in funding that Planned Parenthood receives through Ohio’s health department. The money, which is mostly federal, supports initiatives for HIV testing, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and prevention of violence against women.

All of that reminded me of something that happened just after Kasich was elected Governor of Ohio. He came under heavy fire in his home state for the fact that all of the appointments in his administration went to white people. For a Republican, that isn’t terribly surprising. But it was his response that was jarring. Instead of working with communities of color to improve, he got defensive.

“We pick people on the basis of who’s qualified. We don’t pick them on the basis of quotas. I mean I think quotas are yesterday,” Kasich said on Jan. 2.

Kasich said he’s color blind when it comes to hiring.

“I mean let’s get the best people for the job,” said Kasich.

In other words, “the best people for the job” just happened to all be white. People of color need not apply. When Ohio’s Legislative Black Caucus offered to help him out with that, Kasich said, “I don’t need your people.”

So the moderate in the Republican presidential race is the guy who believes that:

1. if we just give rich people more tax cuts our economy will boom for everyone,
2. women are still in the kitchen and don’t deserve access to reproductive health care, and
3. the best person for any job in his administration just so happens to be white.

I’ll grant you that compared to the other 4 candidates still in this race, Kasich is slightly less extreme. But then, I’m old enough to remember what happened the last time the country had a “compassionately conservative” president.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, February 22, 2016

February 23, 2016 Posted by | Compassionate Conservatism, George W Bush, John Kasich | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Inconvenient Facts, Far Beyond The Pale”: Crazy Nut Donald Trump Thinks George W. Bush Was President On 9/11

Last fall, Donald Trump claimed that, on September 11, 2001, thousands of Muslims cheered the fall of the World Trade Center. This vicious fiction drew the scorn of fact-checkers and social liberals but caused nary a ripple in the Republican field. But, on Saturday night, Trump said something else about 9/11, something so far beyond the pale that conservatives finally rose up in righteous indignation. He claimed that on 9/11 the president of the United States was George W. Bush.

Republicans disagree internally on aspects of Bush’s domestic legacy, but his record on counterterrorism remains a point of unified party doctrine. Bush, they agree, Kept Us Safe. To praise the president who oversaw the worst domestic terrorist attack in American history for preventing domestic terrorism is deeply weird, and the only way this makes any sense is to treat 9/11 as a kind of starting point, for which his predecessor is to blame. (Marco Rubio, rushing to Dubya’s defense at Saturday night’s Republican debate, explained, “The World Trade Center came down because Bill Clinton didn’t kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance to kill him.”) Trump not only pointed out that Bush was president on 9/11 and that the attacks that day count toward his final grade, but he also noted that Bush failed to heed intelligence warnings about the pending attack and that his administration lied to the public about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Conservatives have always dismissed such notions as far-left conspiracy theorizing, often equating it with the crackpot notion that 9/11 was an inside job. The ensuing freak-out at Trump’s heresy has been comprehensive. “It turns out the front-runner for the GOP nomination is a 9/11 ‘truther’ who believes Bush knew 9/11 was going to happen but did nothing to stop it,” says Marc Thiessen, the columnist and former Bush administration speechwriter. “Moreover, Trump says, Bush knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but lied to the American people to get us into a Middle East war.” Trump is “borrowing language from MoveOn.org and Daily Kos to advance the absurd ‘Bush lied, people died’ Iraq War narrative,” cried National Review’s David French. Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol demanded that, even should Trump win the nomination, fellow Republicans refuse to “conscientiously support a man who is willing to say something so irresponsible about something so serious, for the presidency of the United States.”

In fact, Trump has not claimed that Bush had specific knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. He said, “George Bush had the chance, also, and he didn’t listen to the advice of his CIA.” That is correct. Bush was given numerous, detailed warnings that Al Qaeda planned an attack. But the Bush administration had, from the beginning, dismissed fears about terrorism as a Clinton preoccupation. Its neoconservative ideology drove the administration to fixate on state-supported dangers — which is why it turned its attention so quickly to Iraq. The Bush administration ignored pleas by the outgoing Clinton administration to focus on Al Qaeda in 2000, and ignored warnings by the CIA to prepare for an upcoming domestic attack. The Bush administration did not want the 9/11 attacks to occur; it was simply too ideological and incompetent to take responsible steps to prevent them.

It is certainly true that Trump took his attack a step too far when he insisted the Bush administration “knew” there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. All of the evidence suggests that the Bush administration, along with intelligence agencies in other countries, believed Saddam Hussein was concealing prohibited weapons. But the evidence is also very clear that the Bush administration manipulated the evidence it had to bolster its case publicly, like police officers framing a suspect they believed to be guilty.

The cover-up was grotesquely crude. Republicans in Congress insisted that the original commission investigating the issue confine itself to faulty intelligence given to the Bush administration and steer clear of manipulation by the Bush administration itself. The report stated this clearly: “Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry.” It was not until a subsequent commission that the administration’s culpability was investigated. And that commission, which became known as the “Phase II” report, found that the Bush administration did indeed mislead the public: “[T]he Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”

You might think Republicans would have developed a sophisticated response, but they haven’t. Their defense for the last decade has consisted of claiming the Phase I report, which was forbidden from investigating the Bush administration, actually vindicated Bush, and ignoring the existence of the Phase II report. Today’s Wall Street Journal editorial does it again, calling the claim that Bush lied a “conspiracy theory,” which was refuted by — you guessed it — the Phase I report. (“Their report of more than 600 pages concludes that it was the CIA’s ‘own independent judgments — flawed though they were — that led them to conclude Iraq had active WMD programs.’”)

Republicans have walled inconvenient facts about the Bush administration’s security record out of their minds by associating them with crazed conspiracy theorists. It is epistemic closure at work: Criticism of Bush on 9/11 and Iraq intelligence is dismissed because the only people who say it are sources outside the conservative movement, who by definition cannot be trusted. The possibility that the Republican Party itself would nominate a man who endorses these criticisms is horrifying to them. To lose control of the party in such a fashion would be a fate far worse than losing the presidency.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, February 16, 2016con

February 17, 2016 Posted by | 9-11, Conservatives, Donald Trump, George W Bush | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“The Base Doesn’t Care About Conservatism”: In The Battle Of Us vs. Them, The Donald Has Been Winning From The Start

I think Lindsey Graham is about to find out that his predictive powers are not better than Bill Kristol’s:

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), a supporter of [Jeb] Bush, said of Trump: “This man accused George W. Bush of being a liar and suggested he should be impeached. This man embraces [Russian President Vladimir] Putin as a friend. The market in the Republican primary for people who believe that Putin’s a good guy and W. is a liar is pretty damn small.”

It takes a certain kind of determined myopia not to see in retrospect that George W. Bush was a liar of immense proportions. It’s also extremely difficult to ignore the disastrous consequences of his presidency:

“The war in Iraq has been a disaster,” Trump said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “It started the chain of events that leads now to the migration, maybe the destruction of Europe. [Bush] started the war in Iraq. Am I supposed to be a big fan?”

Despite all this, it might not be entirely accurate to say that the base of the GOP agrees with Trump’s assessment of our 43rd president. It’s probably more a matter of them not really caring much one way or the other. They’ve moved on.

I think it’s interesting that the Republican rank-and-file seem impervious to heresies against the Conservative Movement. Trump’s past comments calling for universal health care don’t bother them, nor do they hold his pro-Planned Parenthood funding against him. Was he pro-gay rights and pro-choice in the past? It’s no matter.

He makes a left-wing critique of the Iraq War and President Bush? Apparently, not too many people are offended.

You can go down a growing list. Trump calls for protective tariffs and opposes free trade. He uses eminent domain and strategic bankruptcy to further his business interests. He clearly fakes his piety in an unconvincing and frankly insulting manner. His private life is nearly the opposite of what the family values crowd espouses. He uses expletives and sexual innuendo (who will protect the children?).

What this calls into question is how much the appeal of conservative ideology has ever really explained the cohesiveness of the Republican coalition. Has it always been more a matter of tribalism and a team mentality? Could it be that what unites them is less free enterprise, retro-Christian values and a strong national defense than a shared antipathy for common enemies?

That’s been my working hypothesis for a while now, which is why I thought the Republican Establishment was deluding themselves when they said they’d destroy Trump once they began running ads about his record as anything but a movement conservative.

The people who support Trump are supporting him because he’s the kind of guy who will stand up the president and say that he wasn’t even born here. They don’t care whether he’s an economic protectionist or not. But they damn sure like that he’s willing to tell the Mexican government that he’s going to force them to pay for a Great Wall on the southern border.

In the battle of us vs. them, The Donald has been winning from the start.

Cruz is doing a decent job, too, but he’ll probably never be more than Trump’s caddie.

And, if Cruz does eventually outshine Trump, his appeal will be the exact same. It won’t be his adherence to strict constitutional originalism or his appeal to Christian Dominionists. It will be that Cruz convinces the base that he’ll do a better job than Trump of shattering the liberals.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, February 15, 2016

February 17, 2016 Posted by | Conservatism, Donald Trump, George W Bush, Lindsey Graham | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Far, Far More Right-Wing”: Marco Rubio Isn’t The Second Coming Of George W. Bush. He’s Much Worse

With his unexpectedly strong third-place showing in the Iowa caucuses, Marco Rubio demonstrated that he’s the Republican establishment’s best shot to scuttle the Donald Trump and Ted Cruz insurgencies. And now, in the aftermath of Iowa, thoughtful critics of that establishment, from the liberal Jonathan Chait to my paleoconservative colleague at The Week Michael Brendan Dougherty, have begun to describe Rubio as the second coming of George W. Bush.

The comparison makes sense in a purely formal way. Like W in 2000, Rubio promises to unite the party’s grumpy, warring factions (which have grown much grumpier and more belligerent over the past 16 years), making Rubio a strong consensus choice within the party. It’s also true that this formal unity would be built out of the same old planks that have formed the party’s platform since Reagan’s first election: deficit-fueled tax cuts for upper-income earners, strident military interventionism abroad, and lots of speeches (but few policies) in support of traditional faith and families.

But this obscures the fact that substantively, Rubio is far, far more right-wing than George W. Bush ever was. That Rubio has a chance of serving as a consensus candidate positioned somewhere near the ideological center of his party is a tribute to just how far right the GOP has lurched since Bush left office seven years ago.

Here are five areas where Rubio clearly and sharply outflanks W on the right.

Bush signed Medicare, Part D into law, vastly expanding drug benefits for millions of Americans. Rubio, by contrast, has promised with great fanfare that he will eagerly work with Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would strip millions of Americans of health insurance. It’s also true that, like all the Republican presidential candidates, Rubio talks vaguely about replacing the ACA with a wonderful, unspecified market-based alternative. But no informed commentator on either side of the issue expects any Republican proposal to strive for coverage of as many people as the ACA currently does — let alone as many people as it would have covered if a series of Republican governors hadn’t refused to participate in the law’s expansion of Medicaid.

Bush cut taxes drastically. Rubio, meanwhile, would cut them…even more drastically. How much more? His proposed tax cut amounts to more than three times the size of the Bush tax cuts, with nearly half of it going to the top 5 percent of income-earners. These cuts would produce a revenue shortfall of $6 trillion after 10 years. That’s an amount that even staunch conservatives have described as “huge” and “irresponsible.”

Pro-lifers loved Bush, and for good reason. He appointed a string of conservative judges to the bench, and he spoke frequently about how every child, born and unborn, should be “protected in law and welcomed in life.” Yet on abortion, too, Rubio manages to place himself several steps to Bush’s right, refusing to permit exceptions for terminating pregnancies in cases of rape or incest.For all of Bush’s manifest foreign policy failings, he consistently upheld the distinction between the religion of Islam and terrorists who murder in its name. Compare that to Rubio, who has picked up the bad habit common to post-Bush Republicans of speaking much less precisely and responsibly about the supposedly severe danger that Muslims pose to the United States. Rubio has even suggested that the federal government should shut down any place that Muslims gather to be “inspired,” including mosques — a move that would place Rubio on a collision course with several clauses of the First Amendment.

Rubio resembled Bush most closely in the months following the 2012 presidential election, when the junior senator from Florida took on a leadership role in the Senate’s efforts to revive a failed initiative of W’s second term — a reform of the nation’s immigration laws, including a push to devise a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The reform effort failed, and his role in it is now widely presumed to be Rubio’s greatest electoral liability. (Sort of like how the rightward listing GOP treated Mitt Romney’s signature achievement as governor of Massachusetts as a potentially fatal electoral defect during his 2012 presidential campaign.) The result? On immigration, too, Rubio now finds himself far to Bush’s right, railing about the need to close and seal the nation’s southern border before even beginning to talk about any other kind of reform.

The lesson? Don’t oppose Rubio because his presidency would amount to a third term for George W. Bush. Do it because a Rubio presidency would be a whole lot worse.

 

By: Damon Linker, The Week, February 3, 2016

 

 

February 7, 2016 Posted by | Establishment Republicans, George W Bush, GOP Presidential Candidates, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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