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“Nothing Or Nothing At All”: Trump Or Cruz, It Sucks To Be A Republican Senator

If, as seems reasonable, Greg Sargent is correct that the spectacle of Senate hearings on an Obama-nominated Supreme Court Justice will empower hardliners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, the Republican Establishment has a powerful incentive not to allow them.

At this point, though, we’re almost to the point where the Establishment should just give up on the prospect of having anyone other than Trump or Cruz as their nominee. We’ll soon know more when we get the results from South Carolina’s primary, but right now it looks very likely that Trump will win there, possibly in a walk, and that Cruz will come in second place. Among the also-rans, only Marco Rubio seems to be showing any life. And, after watching him get eviscerated by Chris Christie in New Hampshire, do the Republicans really want to hitch their wagon to the remote hope that Rubio will surge to win the nomination and then prove a match for the Democrats’ candidate?

Part of the problem with this whole plan to reject any Obama Supreme Court selection is that the Republicans are looking so unlikely to get their act together in time to win in the fall.

We can debate where this whole subject falls on the damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t scale, but I’m not convinced it helps the Republicans’ cause in November to simply refuse to consider any nominee by declining to give them the courtesy of a hearing and a vote. The logic of it is that the Republican base will be so dejected if partisan control of the Court is lost before the election that they won’t turn out. If, on the other hand, they think control hangs in the balance, they will turn out in droves. They won’t turn out to vote for a nominee they might hate or distrust, but they’ll turn out to keep the Court from flipping to a liberal majority.

That makes a lot of sense, and I’m sure that they would experience different turnout numbers depending on which road they take. But base mobilization is more of a midterm strategy than a general election strategy. The Republicans have only succeeded in winning the popular vote once in the last twenty-eight years (in 2004), and they barely won the Electoral College that year. They need to change the shape of the electorate in their favor, because their base just isn’t big enough.

And, consider, since 2012 they’ve definitely done damage with their prospects with Latino and Asian voters. They’ve further alienated the academic/scientific/technical/professional class with their anti-science lunacy. They’ve lost the youth vote over a variety of issues, including hostility to gay rights. They’re doing everything they can to maximize the black vote. Muslims will vote almost uniformly against them despite sharing some of their ‘family values.’ Women won’t be impressed if Cruz or Rubio are the nominees because they both oppose abortion including in cases of rape or incest. They’ll be unimpressed with Donald Trump because he’s a sexist, womanizing boor. I don’t think any of these groups will be more favorably inclined to the Republicans if they block Obama’s nominee without a hearing.

Realistically, as this point they almost have to go with Trump because his fame and lack of orthodoxy will change the shape of the electorate. It’s not likely to change it favorably, and many life-long Republicans will bolt the party, perhaps never to come back. But it will change it.

Unless John Kasich catches fire there’s no hope of the GOP rebranding in a way that will undo the massive amount of damage they’ve done with the persuadable middle. Jeb would present a softer face to the party, but there’s no way a Bush is winning the general election in 2016.

The way I see it, the best deal the Republicans are going to get is right now. Obama will compromise with them. He might pick a relatively moderate Justice if he has assurances that they’ll be confirmed. People have mentioned Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, for example, who is a pro-choice Republican. He might pick someone older, like George Mitchell. He might pick a colleague of theirs. I think Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is his best option. The Republican senators like her and she’s no radical.

But, if they lose the general election, which the wise among them must know is becoming almost a certainty, they’ll also lose a bunch of Senate seats. They’ll be in a much weaker position to block Clinton or Sanders’s nominee or (if necessary) nominees. And they’ll probably have to deal with a nominee who is further to the left and much younger.

Why not use their considerable power now to get some real concessions rather than roll the dice on Donald Trump or Ted Cruz being our next president?

And, as Greg Sargent points out, who knows who Trump would nominate? He was pro-choice until he decided he needed to pretend otherwise if he wanted to win the Republican nomination. Why trust him?

So, it’s really down to Ted Cruz.

Cruz or nothing.

That’s how they want to go.

Except they universally loathe Ted Cruz with the heat of a thousand supernovas.

It sucks to be a Republican senator.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, February 18, 2016

February 19, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Ted Cruz, U. S. Supreme Court Nominees | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Show Some Courage”: Survivors Call Out Cowardly GOP On Domestic Violence And Guns

Christy Martin is a legendary boxer. Since she started out at age 21, Martin has won 49 of her 57 total fights, with 31 KOs. She’s also a survivor of domestic abuse who was nearly murdered by her ex-husband four years ago. It’s the latter that brought her to Washington this week. In 2010, Martin was stabbed three times by the man she says had been threatening to kill her for 20 years. After stabbing her repeatedly, her ex-husband James Martin shot her and left her for dead. Martin survived by flagging down a passing car and begging to be taken to the hospital.

“As I lay there, I could hear the gurgling. I knew my lung had been ruptured, but I wasn’t dying fast enough,” Martin told MSNBC on Wednesday. “So he came back 3o minutes later and shot me with my own 9mm.”

Martin is just one of the women in Washington to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of a law that would tighten gun restrictions for domestic abusers in dating relationships and stalkers. A bill sponsored by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar — the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act — would close existing holes in background check laws that allow domestic abusers and stalkers to own guns.

The data on the correlation between domestic violence and gun deaths makes the gaps in policy frighteningly clear. More than 60 percent of women killed by a firearm in 2010 — the year Martin was shot — were murdered by a current or former intimate partner. The presence of a firearm during a domestic violence incident increases the likelihood of a homicide by 500 percent.

What Congress — particularly Republicans in Congress — has before it right now is an opportunity to enact meaningful gun reform that will save women’s lives. Around 50 women’s lives every month, to be precise. They’ve had and blown this opportunity before, when mass shootings have galvanized public support for common-sense proposals to keep people safe from deadly gun violence. The same support exists for restrictions that limit violent offenders’ ability to access guns. As Laura Bassett and Emily Swanson at the Huffington Post noted this week, Republican voters break with the National Rifle Association when it comes to restrictions on stalkers and domestic abusers:

More than two-thirds of GOP voters (68 percent) said they would support or strongly support a new law stripping guns from convicted stalkers, according to a new poll by The Huffington Post and YouGov. Fifty-nine percent of Republican voters, and two-thirds of voters overall, support expanding gun restrictions for convicted domestic abusers to include non-married dating partners.

The NRA has said it strongly opposes both proposals, which the Senate will consider on Wednesday in its first-ever hearing on gun violence against women. The gun lobby sent a letter to senators last month urging them to vote against Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) legislation to ban convicted stalkers and abusive dating partners from possessing guns. The letter claims that the bill “manipulates emotionally compelling issues such as ‘domestic violence’ and ‘stalking’ simply to cast as wide a net as possible for federal firearm prohibitions.”

It remains to be seen what action Congress will take, and what the GOP will do in the face of strong support for change. They may just do what they’ve done before: ignore the issue. “There are so many people that just don’t realize what’s going on behind closed doors in their neighbor’s home. There are so many people who don’t understand domestic violence,” Martin explained on MSNBC. “It seems like if it’s not happening in our own home, then it’s just not happening.”

“Keeping guns out of the hands of abusers and stalkers will take more than a Senate hearing and carefully worded statements that say all the right things,” former Arizona representative and gun violence survivor Gabby Giffords wrote of the measure. “It will require our leaders to show some courage and stand up for common-sense laws. It will require some hard work. And it will require overcoming the power of those in Washington who continue to fight against these laws.”

 

By: Katie McDonough, Salon, July 30, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Domestic Violence, Gun Control, Gun Violence | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“No Boys Allowed”: How The Senate’s Women Maintain Bipartisanship And Civility

When Olympia Snowe announced she was leaving the Senate, her Republican colleagues were hopping mad. Her reasons—that the place had become a dysfunctional partisan hell—only elevated their anger. How dare she depart at a time when they might win a Republican majority in the Senate if they kept her seat?

How me, me, me, and male. Now let’s switch to Snowe’s female colleagues, both Democrat and Republican, who were sad to see her go. Snowe will leave a gaping hole in Washington, in their lives, and in the women’s supper club, a group of bipartisan Senators who meet monthly at one another’s houses or in the Strom Thurmond Room in the Capitol. (No, the irony is not lost on them that he was the avatar of the members who would rather pinch a woman than listen to her.)

The club is not a secret, but it is “no boys allowed” and less about conquering new territory than about finding a heightened quality of life as they seek to heighten their constituents’ quality of life. It wasn’t organized as a caucus around a subject, but to restore some of the natural camaraderie that existed before so many members left their families behind and spent every free moment of their nights and weekends fundraising.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski started the dinner group shortly after she arrived. “The other ladies call me Coach Barb. When a new woman is elected to the Senate—Republican or Democrat—I bring her in for my Senate Power Workshop and guide her on how to get started, how to get on the good committees for her state, and how to be an effective senator.”

And for a meal. Sen. Mary Landrieu lives just a few blocks from the office and serves New Orleans food with pecan pie for dessert. What the off-campus get-togethers do is foster handling the inevitable conflicts that arise. “I’m never going to agree with Sen. Lisa Murkowski on oil drilling,” says Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a tough prosecutor in a soft covering as former attorney general of Minnesota. “But when we went on family vacation to Alaska, Lisa had us over to her house.”

The stories about cross-border friendships in the Capitol are as old as the spittoons that still dot the place—but the emphasis is on old. There was a day when Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield had breakfast weekly with Republican Sen. George Aiken and when Tip O’Neill had an after-hours whisky with Richard Nixon. Now the only bipartisan friendships you hear about are between the women (there is a House counterpart to the Senate’s supper club), and both places are better for it. It is hard to picture Sen. Mitch McConnell taking freshman Sen. Mike Bennet under his wing, as Snowe did for Klobuchar, or tossing back a beer (or Kentucky bourbon) with Sen. Tom Harkin.

You can watch hours of lawmaking on C-SPAN and never see one female senator attack another. Nor do they do so behind closed doors. It’s not because women are “nicer” or the “weaker sex” that they don’t undermine, gobsmack, or betray one another even as they have reached the pinnacle of power where it is the coin of the realm. They simply got to know one another and, as a result, says Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, “resolve conflicts the way friends do.”

The list of issues the women work together on is a mile long and goes from children’s health to national security. But women can light on an issue men might think frivolous but, in fact, is anything but. One of the most liberal Democrats joined with the fiscally conservative Snowe after a few infamously long flight delays made the news. “Our constituents were getting stuck on aircraft hour after hour, stuck on the tarmac, with no food, kids screaming, nightmare scenarios, nine, 10 hours on the runway,” recalled Sen. Barbara Boxer, who, with Snowe, put together the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights Act. When a commuter plane went down in Buffalo, N.Y., the two got a new law passed that mandated sleep rules for pilots of small aircraft. They sent a joint letter to President Obama in 2009 to nominate a woman to replace retiring Justice David Souter, which he did in nominating now Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The complaint you always hear is that there just isn’t enough time for lawmakers to get to know their colleagues to create the civility that is in such short supply. Yet, a second X chromosome doesn’t give women another couple hours in the day. Women just carve out time for what they know is important.

It goes beyond dinner. When Hillary Clinton was a senator, she hosted the group’s baby shower for Hutchison. Klobuchar is in charge of games for the upcoming shower for Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who will now be separated from the other Maine twin with Snowe’s retirement. When Sen. Claire McCaskill collaborated on Second City’s “A Girl’s Guide to Washington Politics,” at the Woolly Mammoth theater in D.C., a dozen of the group found time to attend the opening.

If only the men could pick up on some of this, Congress might get above a 10 percent favorability rating in Americans’ eyes. The incivility that is driving Snowe out isn’t just atmospherics. It’s crippling the body. A dinner or two might help.

 

By: Margaret Carlson, The Daily Beast, March 4, 2012

March 5, 2012 Posted by | Congress, Senate | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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