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“The GOP Culture Is Quite Ill”: The Republican Anti-Obamacare Purity Cult

Sahil Kapur at TPM has a fine report today looking at how hatred of Obamacare has become such an ideé fixe in the Republican party that even the mildest possible concession—or failing to be sufficiently enraged in one’s condemnation of the law—has become grounds for a harsh primary attacks:

[One] victim is Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), who is fending off a primary challenge from Liz Cheney in 2014. An outside group called Americans for Job Security last week released an ad attacking him for praising the concept of insurance market exchanges — the vehicle for Obamacare, which was modeled on conservative principles — early in 2010. “These exchanges can be good,” Enzi said then, in a clip that the ad repeatedly plays.

“Good?” says the narrator in the 30-second ad. “Wyoming’s Obamacare exchange has the most expensive premiums in the country, and it’s marred by glitches. Tell Mike Enzi we don’t like these liberal, big government Obamacare exchanges.” The attack forced Enzi’s campaign to defend him by touting his efforts to “stop the worst parts of the law.”

…[AEI scholar Norman] Ornstein summed it up this way: “These are the talking points and if you don’t apply them, then you’re a traitor.” He confessed that he’s “never seen anything like that before. I mean, you can certainly find party litmus tests…But this has been taken to a level that I think is almost bizarre.”

The comparison everyone is making is to McCarthyism in the 1950s, but there are some notable differences. The McCarthy era was all about nutty right-wing witch hunts, heavily laden with antisemitism and paranoia about fluoridated water and vaccines, led by an alcoholic, power-mad bully. But more to the point, red paranoia was widely shared throughout society. Both parties were fervently anti-communist. There really was a Soviet Union, which really did have nuclear missiles and an extensive spying apparatus. There really was terrible anxiety about another world war.

Whereas the Republican Obamacare purity rituals are restricted to their party only, and from the outside are frankly bizarre. They treat a moderate, incremental reform of the healthcare sector, based largely on Republican ideas, like New Lefters treated Nixon’s bombing of Cambodia. I’m reminded more of Maoist “struggle sessions,” where enemies of the party were publicly beaten and forced to confess their ideological crimes, real or imagined.

But in any case, the historical analogies one reaches for to describe this trend are telling in themselves. The GOP culture is quite ill, and shows little sign of improving anytime soon.

 

By: Ryan Cooper, Washington Monthly Political Animal, December 2, 2013

December 4, 2013 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, GOP | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Senator Cheney?”: Just When You Thought The Senate Couldn’t Get Any Worse, Up Pops The Devil’s Daughter

If we were to make a list of competitive Senate races to watch in 2014, Wyoming wouldn’t make the cut. Sen. Mike Enzi is a popular Republican incumbent in a deep-red state — he won re-election in 2008 with more than 75% of the vote — and at age 69, the senator is not yet in a position where he needs to think about retirement. Enzi’s fourth term looks like one of the cycle’s safest bets.

At least, it did. In an era in which even conservative Republican incumbents have to worry about fierce primary challenges, Enzi will apparently have a high-profile foe next year.

A young Dick Cheney began his first campaign for the House in this tiny village [Lusk, Wyoming] — population 1,600 — after the state’s sole Congressional seat finally opened up. But nowadays, his daughter Liz does not seem inclined to wait patiently for such an opening.

Ms. Cheney, 46, is showing up everywhere in the state, from chicken dinners to cattle growers’ meetings, sometimes with her parents in tow. She has made it clear that she wants to run for the Senate seat now held by Michael B. Enzi, a soft-spoken Republican and onetime fly-fishing partner of her father.

It’s not just idle speculation. Liz Cheney, despite having no meaningful background in the state whatsoever, moved with her family to Wyoming just last year and quickly became a ubiquitous political player. Indeed, the right-wing media personality even called Enzi directly, letting him know she’s likely to run against him in a GOP primary.

The result would probably be an ugly fight within the state Republican Party, pitting a popular three-term incumbent against a powerful family with deep roots in the state.

It’s not altogether clear why Cheney would bother. Her brief tenure in public office — she worked in the Bush/Cheney State Department — didn’t go well, but she remains a fixture in political media, routinely publishing “stark raving mad” pieces and making Sunday show appearances. Cheney’s megaphone is formidable, even if she uses it towards ridiculous ends.

But whatever her motivations, this will probably be one of the cycle’s more noteworthy primary fights. Enzi, assuming he doesn’t retire, would almost certainly have the edge, though he has not yet faced a rival as fierce and unburdened by propriety as Cheney.

On Twitter, ‏@pourmecoffee added, “If ‘Liz Cheney’ is the answer, the question must be ‘How could the U.S. Senate possibly get any worse?'”

Postscript: The NYT piece noted that the former vice president, eager to help his daughter, has also begun traveling more regularly to the state he used to represent. That said, Liz Cheney “has told associates that if she runs, she wants to do so in her own right.”

It was the only sentence in the article that literally made me laugh. Cheney wants to run against a popular incumbent from her own party in a state she’s lived in for a year, and she thinks her candidacy should be unrelated to her last name? C’mon.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 8, 2013

July 9, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Stark Raving Mad”: Liz Cheney Slips Further Down The Rabbit Hole

The point of Liz Cheney’s Wall Street Journal op-ed today is fairly predictable and not altogether uncommon among far-right activists — she wants the Republican Party to resist the urge to become more mainstream, and instead “fight” harder against the GOP’s real and imagined enemies. But in execution, Cheney’s piece is a rather extraordinary work of delusion.

Jon Chait highlights some of the more glaring problems with the op-ed — he uses it to argue, persuasively, that Cheney is “obviously stark raving mad” — which reads like a bizarre rant from a partisan so filled with rage towards President Obama that reason was thrown out the window when the writer made a right-hand turn into Crazy Town. Cheney is certain, for reasons that remain mysterious, that Obama has “launched a war on Americans’ Second Amendment rights,” is deliberately sabotaging capitalism, and wants to destroy the nation’s global standing on purpose.

It’s a truly ridiculous tirade with all the sophistication and accuracy of a Breitbart comments section. But there’s also an unintentionally amusing part — Cheney’s unhinged rant includes this Ronald Reagan quote from 1961:

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it and then hand it to them with the well-taught lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same. And if you and I don’t do this, then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.”

This is, to be sure, a popular quote on the right, and if it seems familiar to long-time readers, it’s because I’ve written about it several times before.

In this case, however, Cheney forgot to look up the context in which Reagan made these comments before relying on it. Indeed, note that at one point in the quote, Reagan said, “And if you and I don’t do this,” although in Cheney’s piece, there’s no frame of reference to tell the reader what “this” is.

And what was Reagan referring to at the time? I’m glad you asked.

“This” was referring to preventing the creation of Medicare. Reagan warned Americans in 1961 that Medicare, if approved, would turn the United States into a dystopian nightmare. In the same recording Cheney quoted, Reagan argued that if Medicare became law, we’d see federal officials empowered to dictate where physicians could practice medicine, and open the door to government control over where Americans were allowed to live. In fact, he warned that if Medicare passed, there was a real possibility that the federal government would control where Americans go and what we do for a living.

And so, freedom-loving Americans had to stop Medicare or we “may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.”

We now know, with the benefit of hindsight, that Reagan’s paranoid rant was wrong, and hysterically so. His predictions didn’t come true, and Medicare did not destroy American freedom. Those who are actually in their sunset years are delighted with Medicare, and are not sitting around, longing wistfully for an America where seniors seeking medical care were forced into poverty.

Cheney, either out of confusion, negligence, ignorance, or willful disregard of the truth, thinks Reagan’s warnings from a half-century ago “still ring true.” They do? How? What is Cheney talking about?

As Chait added, far-right paranoia seems to be bequeathed from one generation of deranged conservatives to the next. Social Security was going to destroy America, they said. When that didn’t happen, it was Medicare that would crush our way of life, they said. When that didn’t happen either, it was the Affordable Care Act — the dreaded “Obamcare” — that threatened everything Americans hold dear.

The delusions, like Cheney’s op-ed, are laughable.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 29, 2013

April 1, 2013 Posted by | Politics, Republicans | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Shadow Knows: Darth Vader “Cheney” Vents

Why is it not a surprise to learn that Dick Cheney’s ancestor, Samuel Fletcher Cheney, was a Civil War soldier who marched with Sherman to the sea?

Scorched earth runs in the family.

Having lost the power to heedlessly bomb the world, Cheney has turned his attention to heedlessly bombing old colleagues.

Vice’s new memoir, “In My Time,” veers unpleasantly between spin, insisting he was always right, and score-settling, insisting that anyone who opposed him was wrong.

His knife-in-her-teeth daughter, Elizabeth Cheney, helped write the book. The second most famous Liz & Dick combo do such an excellent job of cherry-picking the facts, it makes the cherry-picking on the Iraq war intelligence seem picayune.

Cheney may no longer have a pulse, but his blood quickens at the thought of other countries he could have attacked. He salivates in his book about how Syria and Iran could have been punished.

Cheney says that in 2007, he told President Bush, who had already been pulled into diplomacy by Condi Rice: “I believed that an important first step would be to destroy the reactor in the Syrian desert.”

At a session with most of the National Security Council, he made his case for a strike on the reactor. It would enhance America’s tarnished credibility in the Arab world, he argued, (not bothering to mention who tarnished it), and demonstrate the country’s “seriousness.”

“After I finished,” he writes, “the president asked, ‘Does anyone here agree with the vice president?’ Not a single hand went up around the room.”

By that time, W. had belatedly realized that Cheney was a crank whose bad advice and disdainful rants against “the diplomatic path” and “multilateral action” had pretty much ruined his presidency.

There were few times before the bitter end that W. was willing to stand up to Vice. But the president did make a bold stand on not letting his little dog be gobbled up by Cheney’s big dog.

When Vice’s hundred-pound yellow Lab, Dave, went after W.’s beloved Scottish terrier, Barney, at Camp David’s Laurel Lodge, that was a bridge too far.

When Cheney and Dave got back to their cabin, there was a knock at the door. “It was the camp commander,” Cheney writes. “ ‘Mr. Vice President,’ he said, ‘your dog has been banned from Laurel.’ ”

But on all the nefarious things that damaged America, Cheney got his way for far too long.

Vice gleefully predicted that his memoir would have “heads exploding all over Washington.” But his book is a bore. He doesn’t even mention how in high school he used to hold the water buckets to douse the fiery batons of his girlfriend Lynne, champion twirler.

At least Rummy’s memoir showed some temperament. And George Tenet’s was the primal scream of a bootlicker caught out.

Cheney takes himself so seriously, flogging his cherished self-image as a rugged outdoorsman from Wyoming (even though he shot his Texas hunting partner in the face) and a vice president who was the only thing standing between America and its enemies.

He acts like he is America. But America didn’t like Dick Cheney.

It’s easier for someone who believes that he is America incarnate to permit himself to do things that hurt America — like torture, domestic spying, pushing America into endless wars, and flouting the Geneva Conventions.

Mostly, Cheney grumbles about having his power checked. It’s bad enough when the president does it, much less Congress and the courts.

A person who is always for the use of military force is as doctrinaire and irrelevant as a person who is always opposed to the use of military force.

Cheney shows contempt for Tenet, Colin Powell and Rice, whom he disparages in a sexist way for crying, and condescension for W. when he won’t be guided to the path of most destruction.

He’s churlish about President Obama, who took the hunt for Osama bin Laden off the back burner and actually did what W. promised to do with his little bullhorn — catch the real villain of 9/11.

“Tracking him down was certainly one of our top priorities,” Cheney writes. “I was gratified that after years of diligent and dedicated work, our nation’s intelligence community and our special operations forces were able on May 1, 2011, to find and kill bin Laden.”

Tacky.

Finishing the book with an account of the 2010 operation to put in a battery-operated pump that helps his heart push blood through his body, he recounts the prolonged, vivid dream about a beautiful place in Italy he had during the weeks he was unconscious.

“It was in the countryside, a little north of Rome, and it really seemed I was there,” he writes. “I can still describe the villa where I passed the time, the little stone paths I walked to get coffee or a batch of newspapers.”

Caesar and his cappuccino.

 

By: Maureen Dowd,  Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, August 27, 2011

August 28, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Constitution, Dick Cheney, Dictators, Foreign Governments, Foreign Policy, GOP, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Iran, Iraq, Liberty, Politics, President Obama, Public, Republicans, Right Wing, Teaparty, Terrorism, United Nations | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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