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“Team Bush In A Fog”: One Of The Most Honest Things Jeb Has Said This Campaign

As Ed Kilgore noted on Friday, Jeb Bush’s campaign is facing tough times right now. It has been widely reported that the Bush family and Jeb’s major donors are getting together in Houston this weekend and its not entirely clear whether their time will be spent rallying the troops or answering some very difficult questions.

In light of all that, I’m not sure Jeb helped himself today with some extremely revealing remarks he made at a rally in South Carolina. As tweeted by Jake Tapper, here’s what he said:

If this is an election about how we’re going to fight to get nothing done, I don’t want any part of it. I don’t want to be elected president to sit around and see gridlock just become so dominant that people are literally in decline in their lives. That is not my motivation. I’ve got a lot of really cool things I could do other than sit around being miserable, listening to people demonize me and me feeling compelled to demonize them. That is a joke. Elect Trump if you want that.

In some ways, that might be one of the most honest things Jeb has said this campaign. But letting folks know that he has other cool things he’d rather be doing than fighting for the nomination reeks of the kind of entitlement folks have come to expect from the Republican establishment.

It appears that the entire Bush clan really doesn’t know what to make of this Republican Party they have long assumed was their creation. In an article by Jonathan Martin and Matt Flengenheimer about Bush, Sr. and his circle of friends/advisors, we get this telling quote:

“I have no feeling for the electorate anymore,” said John H. Sununu, the former New Hampshire governor who helped the elder Mr. Bush win the 1988 primary there and went on to serve as his White House chief of staff. “It is not responding the way it used to. Their priorities are so different that if I tried to analyze it I’d be making it up.”

One has to wonder just where Mr. Sununu has been these last 7 years. Oh yeah, he’s been busy doing stuff like suggesting that President Obama’s trip to Kenya was merely an attempt to incite the birthers. And NOW he wants to scratch his head and wonder how his party went off the rails after a nativist like Donald Trump? Really?

Overall I get that folks like Bush, Sr. and many of his team are probably shocked at the GOP’s response to Jeb’s presidential campaign. But the truth is, they would be in much better shape right now if they had stood up to all this nonsense a long time ago (like before Jeb decided to run for president). At least then it wouldn’t have come off so self-serving and entitled.


By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, October 24, 2015

October 25, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Campaign Donors, Jeb Bush | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“A Dark Vein Of Intolerance”: Colin Powell Calls Out The GOP’s Racism Problem

On Sunday, during an appearance on Meet The Press, Colin Powell condemned the GOP’s “dark vein of intolerance” and the party’s repeated use of racial code words to oppose President Obama and rally white conservative voters.

Without mentioning names, Powell singled out former Mitt Romney surrogate and New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu for calling Obama “lazy” and Sarah Palin, who, Powell charged, used slavery-era terms to describe Obama:

POWELL: There’s also a dark — a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party. What do I mean by that? I mean by that that they still sort of look down on minorities. How can I evidence that?

When I see a former governor say that the President is “shuckin’ and jivin’,” that’s racial era slave term. When I see another former governor after the president’s first debate where he didn’t do very well, says that the president was lazy. He didn’t say he was slow. He was tired. He didn’t do well. He said he was lazy. Now, it may not mean anything to most Americans, but to those of us who are African Americans, the second word is shiftless and then there’s a third word that goes along with that. The birther, the whole birther movement. Why do senior Republican leaders tolerate this kind of discussion within the party?

Watch it:

Powell added that the Republican Party is “having an identity problem,” noting that its significant shift to the right has produced “two losing presidential campaigns.” “I think what the Republican Party needs to do now is a very hard look at itself and understand that the country is changed,” he said. “If the Republican Party does not change along with that demographic, they a going to be in trouble.”

Powell also called on Republicans to focus on a more equitable and progressive economic policies that help middle and lower income Americans, as well as immigration reform. “Everybody wants to talk about who is going to be the candidate,” Powell said. “You better think first about what’s the party actually going to represent.”


By: Igor Volsky, Think Progress, January 13, 2013

January 14, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Racism | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Speaking In Code”: Race And Ethnicity Never Far From Presidential Campaign

The racially offensive remark by an unnamed adviser to Republican Mitt Romney– if the painfully thin Daily Telegraph story is to be believed — is likely to be described as the injection of race, ethnicity and nationality in what has been a colorblind campaign.

While the comment may be the most blatant reference to President Obama’s background in the 2012 race, it is hardly the first. Or the last.

“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser reportedly said of Romney, who arrived in London Wednesday. “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”

Romney was born and raised in Michigan. Obama’s story is far more complicated. His mother was white and born in Kansas. His father came from Kenya. Obama was born in Hawaii and spent part of his childhood in Indonesia. He is Christian, but crazy rumors persist that he is Muslim with ties to terrorists. All of this allows the president to be easily characterized as different, exotic, less American and more foreign. As “other.” And Romney and his supporters have not shied from those types of descriptions.

In one recent example, former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu told reporters in a call arranged by the Romney campaign that “I wish this president would learn how to be an American.” Sununu later walked back his remarks, saying “The president has to learn the American formula for creating business.”

Romney himself said of Obama’s approach to the economy in a speech last week in Pittsburgh: “His course is extraordinarily foreign.” He has repeatedly said Obama “doesn’t understand America.”

Romney and his team are certainly entitled to make robust criticisms of the president and his policies. There is a legitimate debate in this campaign over the role of the federal government and what kind of country we want to live in. Constant references to “America,” a word laced with images of patriotism and amber waves of grain, are nothing new to the campaign trail, where candidates are trying desperately to connect with voters.

But in this campaign, these criticisms are not made in a vacuum free of the politics of race and identity. Hillary Clinton ran into this tripwire during the 2008 Democratic primary when she said Obama’s support was waning among “hard-working Americans, white Americans.”

It would be far more enlightening for Obama’s critics to say exactly what they mean instead of speaking in code.


By: Beth Reinhard, National Journal, July 25, 2012

July 26, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“From Silly Season To Plain Crazy”: Mitt Romney’s Encouragement Of Anti-Obama Nuttiness

On an official Mitt Romney campaign conference call this week, former New Hampshire governor John Sununu tested the latest effort to paint the commander in chief as disloyal to his country.

“I wish this president would learn how to be an American,” the Romney surrogate said.

Sununu, challenged, later apologized for the words — but not the sentiment. And that’s not good enough.

It’s not good enough because Sununu, like other prominent Republicans, is winking at those conservatives who continue to make the claim, often race-based, that President Obama is something un-American, something “other” than the rest of us. On Thursday, two days after Sununu’s attack, Romney himself said that Obama lacks “an understanding of what it is that makes America such a unique nation.”

Sununu and Romney are legitimizing people such as Cliff Kincaid. Also on Thursday, Kincaid convened his annual conference at the National Press Club for conspiracy-minded conservatives, this one about Obama and “Radical Islam.

On the program, Obama’s photo was alongside Vladimir Lenin’s and those of radical Muslim clerics. Kincaid got right to the point: Obama was actually sired by the late author Frank Marshall Davis, identified by Kincaid as a communist pornographer.

There is, Kincaid said, a “distinct possibility that Davis was Obama’s real father.” The host further informed the assembly that Davis was “Obama’s sex teacher” and that “Obama was under the tutelage of a pedophile.” Kincaid asked “what Frank Marshall Davis may have done to a young Barack Obama” and “what other terrible secrets are out there.” For more on this, Kincaid brought in a filmmaker to discuss his work on Obama and Davis, “Dreams from My Real Father.”

The next speaker, blogger Trevor Loudon, provided the additional information that Davis was a “possible Soviet spy” and that there are “a whole host of other communists and Marxists around Obama,” including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, with “a communist-front record as long as your arm.” Loudon figures that Obama is making it possible for Russia and China to attack the United States and that “Latin American states would be invited in for looting rights.”

“You’ve got to ask,” Loudon said, “how involved were the Soviets in promoting the career of Barack Obama, and are they getting a payoff today?” (The Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, the year Obama graduated from law school.)

This isn’t to dignify the nuttiness. But it’s worth noting this latest symptom of Obama Derangement Syndrome, because some of these same people birthed the birther movement nearly five years ago and because this is the sort of craziness that Romney and prominent Republicans are furthering.

Romney has often shared the stage with Donald Trump, the most visible birther. And Romney’s surrogate Sununu followed his original allegation with the charge that Obama “has no idea how the American system functions” in part because he spent “years in Indonesia.”

At lower levels, Republicans are even more brazen. Rep. Allen West (Fla.) alleges that, in the House, “there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party.” Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and four other House Republicans accused Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, of being part of a Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy. Not to be outdone, Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., just came out with the fresh allegation that Obama’s long-form birth certificate is a forgery.

Such disloyalty allegations aren’t likely to stick to the man who vanquished Osama bin Laden and escalated drone strikes on terrorists. More likely, the charges will discredit the complaints from Romney that Obama is being unfair to him with his far tamer line of attack on Romney’s finances. Of greater concern, the disloyalty allegations from Republican officials will legitimize the sort of people who converged on the press club.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Kincaid declared, “what we have today in the White House is somebody who could not survive any reasonable background check but is president, with access to America’s secrets.”

Loudon alleged that Alice Palmer, an early Chicago mentor of Obama, was a “high-level Soviet operative.” He added that if Obama loses in November, “he would just lay waste to everything he can. . . . You could see some serious violence in the streets of America.”

There was little time to fret about this, because the next speaker, Larry Grathwohl, began his presentation, on “reds exploiting blacks,” about how Obama is a “revolutionary mole” and part of a communist-Muslim plot with ties to Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan and the Weather Underground.

Surely Sununu and Romney don’t believe this. So why do they encourage it?


By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, July 20, 2012

July 23, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Un-American Ignorant Exceptionalism”: Why John Sununu Is Romney’s Favorite Attack Dog

Stop the presses — John Sununu said something over-the-top.

The 73-year-old former governor of New Hampshire, a top surrogate for Mitt Romney, told reporters on a conference call Tuesday, “I wish this president would learn how to be an American.” He also said President Obama comes from “that murky political world in Chicago where politician and felon has become synonymous,” and brought up what he described as a “smarmy” real estate deal with convicted felon Tony Rezko. And he called the Obama campaign “stupid” and “a bunch of liars.”

Before the call was even over, Sununu was backpedaling on the “learn how to be an American” bit, saying that what he meant was that “the president has to learn the American formula for creating business,” which is not government-driven but creating “a climate where entrepreneurs can thrive.” But it was hardly an isolated outburst. Earlier in the day, Sununu had posited that Obama’s lack of appreciation for the American system of job creation stemmed from the fact that he president “spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something.”

No one should be shocked to hear this kind of language from Sununu. He’s long been the Romney campaign’s designated attack dog and provocateur, from calling Newt Gingrich “self-serving” in December to decrying Rick Santorum’s “emotional outbursts” in March. Sununu’s trademark bluster follows a famously undisciplined career as White House chief of staff under President George H.W. Bush, a job he left under fire in 1991 after such memorable stunts as taking a military jet for a trip to the dentist and a taxpayer-funded limousine to attend an auction of rare stamps.

When the Romney campaign wants to make headlines by going aggressively on the offensive, it summons Sununu, and he never fails to oblige. Sununu’s occasional gaffes are the price of admission; they may even be desirable for a campaign trying desperately to change the subject. If you want the fire of Sununu’s passion, you have to accept a burned-down building every once in a while.

The question is whether, in describing Obama as un-American, the Cuban-born Greek-Palestinian Sununu crossed a line, dog-whistling to those on the fringes who persist in believing that the president wasn’t born in the United States. But even the Obama campaign didn’t see it as that sinister. Campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith issued a statement accusing Sununu of having “gone off the deep end” — more of an eye-roll than a denunciation.

But it would also be a mistake to see this as the singular case of a particularly undisciplined surrogate. If it’s out of bounds to imply that Obama is less than fully American, Romney has been treading close to the line for quite some time. He frequently asserts that the president “doesn’t understand America,” a claim that, like Sununu’s, comes in the context of accusing Obama of insufficiently appreciating entrepreneurial capitalism, but carries other overtones as well.

Sununu, Romney, and plenty of other Republicans really do believe that Obama harbors a deeply un-American worldview — one that sees the amassing of wealth as suspect and favors a more communitarian society. Sununu may have articulated it particularly artlessly on Tuesday. But he wasn’t so much going off message as taking Romney’s message to its logical conclusion.


By: Molly Ball, The Atlantic, July 17, 2012

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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