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“The Hapless And The Helpless”: Groundswell’s White Racial Panic

I was reading through David Corn’s great piece on ‘Groundswell’ which is, depending on your point of view, a working group of conservative activists and journalists working together to coordinate storylines and plan the war against RINOs and progressives or a hapless group of doofuses planning regular meetings to vent about being crapped on by more prominent Republicans. My sense is that it’s sort of a hybrid of the two.

But there’s one section that connects up with my piece yesterday about the specter of white racial panic hovering over the Republican party and how completely unprepared conservative strategists seem to be to deal with it.

Check out this passage …

Notes from a February 28 Groundswell gathering reflected both their collective sense of pessimism and desire for aggressive tactics: “We are failing the propaganda battle with minorities. Terms like, ‘GOP,’ ‘Tea Party,’ ‘Conservative’ communicate ‘racism.'” The Groundswellers proposed an alternative: “Fredrick Douglas Republican,” a phrase, the memo noted, that “changes minds.” (His name is actually spelled “Frederick Douglass.”) The meeting notes also stated that an “active radical left is dedicated to destroy [sic] those who oppose them” with “vicious and unprecedented tactics. We are in a real war; most conservatives are not prepared to fight.”

So basically perhaps the top three phrases associated with the right or the GOP or conservatism signal ‘racism’. In fact, those words themselves communicate racism. According to conservatives themselves. At least give them credit for recognizing the scope of the problem.

But note the solution: rebrand the Tea Party as ‘Frederick Douglass Republicans’. I’m not even going to get into the misspelling. But think about this, a lily-white group, driven to a significant degree by fears about the growing population of non-white voters and the cultural and political changes that’s likely to bring (okay, look, I’m being generous) and naming them the ‘Frederick Douglass Republicans’. That should work splendidly.

I can’t help but note that a couple weeks after this late February meeting was when we saw that epic racial tolerance event at CPAC when the event leader called on conservatives to call themselves “Frederick Douglass Republicans.” The whole event descended into chaos as a group “disenfranchised whites” rose up in opposition to the premise of the gathering and sidetracked the conversation into whether blacks should thank America for their ancestors’ enslavement.

I’m not saying they got the name from the ‘Groundswell’. I think it’s more just an idea – if a fabulously silly one – circulating in conservative circles. But it does give some bracing evidence of the folly of trying to rebrand a lilly-white movement (The Tea Party) which heavily overlaps with the white racial panic faction in American politics after the preeminent civil rights leader of the 19th century.

More to the point it shows just how bereft these folks are in terms of even remotely coming to grips with the changing demographic character of America.

By: Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo, July 26, 2013

July 31, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Racism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Fire One, Fire Two, Fire Three”: GOP Circular Firing Squad Locked And Loaded

Apparently, it’s Republican circular firing squad week here in Washington. Item 1: David Corn of Mother Jones got hold of the proceedings of a secret group of conservatives scheming to take hold of American politics and shove it where it needs to go:

Dubbed Groundswell, this coalition convenes weekly in the offices of Judicial Watch, the conservative legal watchdog group. During these hush-hush sessions and through a Google group, the members of Groundswell—including aides to congressional Republicans—cook up battle plans for their ongoing fights against the Obama administration, congressional Democrats, progressive outfits, and the Republican establishment and “clueless” GOP congressional leaders. They devise strategies for killing immigration reform, hyping the Benghazi controversy, and countering the impression that the GOP exploits racism. And the Groundswell gang is mounting a behind-the-scenes organized effort to eradicate the outsize influence of GOP über-strategist/pundit Karl Rove within Republican and conservative ranks.

I have to commend Corn for getting these documents, but unfortunately, Groundswell isn’t exactly the right-wing A-Team. It’s more like the C-Team. Members include Ginny Thomas, wife of Clarence Thomas; anti-Muslim zealot Frank Gaffney; religious nutball and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell; and some reporters from the Washington Examiner and Breitbart.com. Nevertheless, despite their lack of actual influence, it’s interesting just to see what these kinds of folks do when they get together and try to conspire.

And the answer is, pretty much exactly what liberals do when they try the same thing. They complain about their enemies. Everyone offers their own brilliant messaging ideas, few of which anyone ever uses. They say, “If I were making a 30-second ad, this is how it would go…” They begin with a sense of urgency that gradually fades. And eventually, attendance at the meetings declines, people stop bothering to contribute as much to the email lists, and it just peters out.

In my previous work as a partisan, I was part of some efforts that were similar to Groundswell, though none of them had such a snappy name. Some consisted of nothing more than a monthly meeting of various liberals to share gripes and toss around ideas, few of which were ever implemented. Others were a little better-organized, meaning they produced—prepare yourself—the occasional memo. None resulted in dramatic political change.

So if this is the group that’s gunning for Karl Rove — which apparently is their main focus—I don’t think he has much to worry about. Rove may be overrated, but he’s still a professional, and these people are amateurs.

On to item 2: According to Politico, there’s a feud a-brewin’ between, on one side, congressional Republicans who hate Obamacare so much they want to cry, and on the other side, congressional Republicans who hate Obamacare so much they want to stamp their feet. The strategic question at play has to do with the fact that in order for the government to keep functioning, Congress is going to have to pass a continuing resolution in September. A CR is what you do when you haven’t passed an actual budget; it says that funding for everything will continue at its current level. Congress passes CRs all the time, because if you don’t, it’s kind of disastrous. But where you and I see disaster, someone like Marco Rubio, desperate to restore his Tea Party cred in the wake of immigration reform apparently failing, sees an opportunity. So he and a few other GOP senators like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are pushing their colleagues to make this threat: They’ll block the CR and thus shut down the government unless Congress votes (and President Obama agrees!) to defund the Affordable Care Act, for all intents and purposes repealing it.

So threatening to shut down the government has become the all-purpose means by which some Republicans believe they can achieve almost any policy goal. Can’t cut food stamps? Shut down the government! Can’t repeal Obamacare? Shut down the government! “Mr. Chairman, if our proposal to declare August to be National Ted Nugent Appreciation Month is not passed by this body, we will have no choice but to shut down the government!”

Fortunately, many Republican senators are sane enough to realize that shutting down the government in an attempt to stop Obamacare would be a political catastrophe for the GOP, so they’re not going to let it happen. But the whole thing is sure to breed plenty of displeasure and resentment. Just what the party needs.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, July 26, 2013

July 27, 2013 Posted by | GOP | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Facing A Groundswell”: The Plotting And Scheming Of An Assorted Cast Of Cringe Worthy Conservative Clowns

If you’ve ever found it curious that far-right media activists all seem to say the same thing at the same time about the same issues, it’s not your imagination. David Corn offers an explanation.

Believing they are losing the messaging war with progressives, a group of prominent conservatives in Washington — including the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and journalists from Breitbart News and the Washington Examiner — has been meeting privately since early this year to concoct talking points, coordinate messaging, and hatch plans for “a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation,” according to documents obtained by Mother Jones.

Dubbed Groundswell, this coalition convenes weekly in the offices of Judicial Watch, the conservative legal watchdog group. During these hush-hush sessions and through a Google group, the members of Groundswell — including aides to congressional Republicans — cook up battle plans for their ongoing fights against the Obama administration, congressional Democrats, progressive outfits, and the Republican establishment and “clueless” GOP congressional leaders.

There’s quite a bit to Corn’s scoop, including the fact that Groundswell really has no use for Karl Rove’s effort to protect more electable Republicans in GOP primaries.

There’s also quite a cast of characters at play, led in part by Ginni Thomas, and including an ignominious assortment of cringe-worthy clowns, including former ambassador John Bolton, former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), Ken Blackwell, Frank Gaffney, Jerry Boykin, and Capitol Hill staffers, including a top aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Groundswell has collaborated with conservative GOPers on Capitol Hill, including Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Cruz and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), a leading tea partier. At its weekly meetings, the group aims to strengthen the right’s messaging by crafting Twitter hashtags; plotting strategy on in-the-headlines issues such as voter ID, immigration reform, and the sequester; promoting politically useful scandals; and developing “action items.”

That may make Groundswell sound kind of scary, but there’s reason to believe these right-wing activists — surprise, surprise — aren’t especially sharp.

Notes from a February 28 Groundswell gathering reflected both their collective sense of pessimism and desire for aggressive tactics: “We are failing the propaganda battle with minorities. Terms like, ‘GOP,’ ‘Tea Party,’ ‘Conservative’ communicate ‘racism.'” The Groundswellers proposed an alternative: “Fredrick Douglas Republican,” a phrase, the memo noted, that “changes minds.” (His name is actually spelled “Frederick Douglass.”) The meeting notes also stated that an “active radical left is dedicated to destroy [sic] those who oppose them” with “vicious and unprecedented tactics. We are in a real war; most conservatives are not prepared to fight.”

The right’s preoccupation with manufactured fake scandals, however, is coming into sharper focus.

The notes from the March 20 meeting summed up Groundswell griping: “Conservatives are so busy dealing with issues like immigration, gay marriage and boy scouts there is little time left to focus on other issues. These are the very issues the Left wants to avoid but we need to magnify. R’s cannot beat Obama at his own game but need to go on the offense and define the issues.” The group’s proposed offensive would include hyping the Fast and Furious gun-trafficking controversy, slamming Obama’s record, and touting Benghazi as a full-fledged scandal.

To be sure, there’s nothing illegal or necessarily untoward about this kind of coordination, but the fact that these folks feel the need to get together to plot and scheme, as part of their perceived “war” with the left, explains quite a bit about the problems with much of the political discourse.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 25, 2013

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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