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“Blame-The-Victim Mentality”: Senate Obstruction Through The “Funhouse Mirror”

One of the most durable GOP talking points in support of its plea to gain control of the Senate is that mean old Harry Reid, doing the bidding of scary radical Barack Obama, runs the place like the House (well, the House as run by Democrats when they controlled it!), allowing no debate or amendments. That argument apparently got under the skin of Juan Williams of Fox News and The Hill, not exactly a big liberal, who called it out as the inverse of the truth, using the stalled confirmation of the president’s Surgeon General nominee as an example:

The nation has not had a surgeon general since November 2013 because the GOP is blocking the president’s nominee, Dr. Vivek Murthy. At a time of medical emergency, what is the Republicans’ problem with Murthy?

In October 2012, the doctor tweeted: “Tired of politicians playing politics w/guns, putting lives at risk b/c they’re scared of the NRA. Guns are a health care issue.”

Dr. Murthy, a graduate of Harvard and the Yale School of Medicine, has impressive credentials for a 36-year-old. He created a breakthrough new company to lower the cost of drugs and bring new drugs to market more quickly.

But his big sin, for Senate Republicans, is that as a veteran of emergency rooms Dr. Murthy expressed his concern about the nation’s indisputable plague of gun violence.

When Dr. Murthy was nominated, the National Rife Association announced plans to “score” a vote on the doctor’s nomination, meaning any Republican or Democrat running in a conservative state who voted for Murthy would be punished in NRA literature and feel the pain in their fundraising come midterm election season.

When public anxiety over Ebola became a GOP talking point, 29 House Democrats wrote to Reid calling for the Senate to expose the Republicans for their deceitful strategy. They wanted, and still want, Senate Democrats to push for a vote on the surgeon general nominee and force the Republicans to explain their opposition. Their thinking is that swift action is needed to put a surgeon general in place and give the American people a trusted source of guidance on Ebola.

The Tea Party’s favorite senator, Republican Ted Cruz of Texas, last week agreed on the need for a surgeon general in a CNN interview. But in the funhouse mirror-style so loved by the Republican base, Cruz blamed Obama for the vacancy.

“Of course we should have a surgeon general in place,” Cruz told CNN’s Candy Crowley. “And we don’t have one because President Obama, instead of nominating a health professional, he nominated someone who is an anti-gun activist.”

This is a pretty good example of the kind of blame-the-victim mentality whereby the party of obstruction is projecting its posture onto its opponents. And we can obviously expect a lot more of it if Republicans gain control of the Senate and with Harry Reid out of the way begin cooperating with House GOPers to send bill after bill to the White House.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, October 27, 2014

October 28, 2014 Posted by | Ebola, GOP, U. S. Surgeon General | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Insulting Comments At Fox News Debate Show Newt Gingrich Clueless On Black Americans

If you want to understand why the GOP is so ill prepared to compete in an increasingly nonwhite America, just look at the exchange between Fox News questioner Juan Williams and Newt Gingrich halfway through last night’s Republican presidential debate.

It being Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Williams asked Gingrich whether some poor and minority voters might not be insulted at his claim that poor kids lack a work ethic and that black people should be instructed to demand jobs, not food stamps. Gingrich, as is his wont, haughtily dismissed Williams’s question, to wild applause.

Then Williams tried again, mentioning a black woman who had taken Gingrich to task for calling Barack Obama a “food stamp” president. By this point, the overwhelmingly white crowd had begun to boo the only African-American on stage. When Gingrich insisted that Obama was indeed the “food stamp” president—because more Americans are now on food stamps—and dismissed Williams’s criticism as “politically correct,” the crowd began to scream with delight. By the time Gingrich finished his answer, the crowd was on its feet in a standing ovation.

The fascinating thing about the exchange is that Gingrich is not a racist. I suspect he genuinely cares about the African-American poor. In fact, he’s convinced himself that his willingness to say things that many African-Americans consider insulting is an expression of that concern; that only he cares enough about African-Americans to speak the “politically incorrect” truths that black leaders won’t.

Gingrich’s problem isn’t racism; it’s ignorance. Only someone profoundly ignorant of African-American politics would suggest that black Americans have spent the past few decades seeking food stamps, not jobs. We celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, after all, in part because of the speech King gave at an event called the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. If you look at the budgets proposed by the Congressional Black Caucus over the years, you’ll see that they often include huge, FDR-style government jobs programs. Gingrich may not think that’s the best way to go about providing jobs, but to suggest that African-Americans and their leaders don’t consider jobs important just reveals how shut off from Africa-American politics he actually is.

I’m sure Gingrich also sees nothing offensive in calling Obama the “food stamp” president. After all, under Obama the number of people using food stamps has gone up! So because Alan Greenspan presided over predatory lending policies by banks, perhaps we should have called him the “Shylock” chairman of the Federal Reserve. And if child molestations by priests rise on this administration’s watch, perhaps we should call Joseph Biden the “pedophilia” vice president.

Gingrich would never use those phrases, of course, because he’s familiar enough with Jews and Catholics to understand why they’d find them offensive. But for Gingrich—a veteran politician from the state of Georgia, speaking at a debate in South Carolina on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday—not to understand why calling the first African-American in the Oval Office the “food stamp” president would offend African-Americans is simply amazing. The most plausible explanation is that Gingrich inhabits a cultural and intellectual bubble. A bubble called the Republican Party.

I don’t doubt that Newt Gingrich wants to help African-Americans, just like I don’t doubt that George W. Bush wanted to help Iraqis. But in politics, if you want to help people, it’s a good idea to learn something about them first.

 

By: Peter Beinart, The Daily Beast, January 17, 2012

January 19, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Martin Luther King, Racism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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