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“He Was Awfully Busy Last Time”: In Early Polling, God Remains Undecided On Pick For 2016 GOP Nominee

Had you asked me which of the 20 or so potential Republican presidential candidates would be first to claim that his candidacy was endorsed by God himself, I would have said Ben Carson, who has the necessary combination of deep religious faith and self-aggrandizing nuttiness. And today we learn that while the creator of the universe is still mulling his options, he’s not exactly giving Carson a no:

In an interview on Thursday with Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, Carson said he felt the hand of the Lord pushing him toward the White House.

“Has He grabbed you by the collar yet?” host David Brody asked.

“I feel fingers,” Carson said. “But, um, you know… It’s mostly me.”

Admirably modest and self-aware, I’d say. But I still bet that eventually Carson will announce that he’s received a signal from above that the campaign is a go. If and when he does, he’ll surely have some competition, that is if 2016 is anything like 2012. In case you don’t recall, God was awfully busy last time. Here are some highlights:

Michele Bachmann, when asked if she was being called to run, said, “Well, every decision that I make, I pray about, as does my husband, and I can tell you, yes, I’ve had that calling and that tugging on my heart that this is the right thing to do.” She also noted that God had called her to run for Congress in 2006.

In July of 2011, Rick Perry said his impending campaign was a God-sanctioned religious mission: “I’m getting more and more comfortable every day that this is what I’ve been called to do. This is what America needs.”

While Rick Santorum didn’t say God had instructed him to run, his wife Karen did say that she put aside her initial reluctance about a campaign after concluding that it was what God wanted.

My personal favorite is Herman Cain’s story of how one day when he was tired from going out and meeting potential voters his granddaughter sent him a text telling him she loved him. The sweet act of a loving child? Heavens, no. “Do you know that had to be God?” Cain said. “I know that God was speaking to me through my granddaughter, that this is something that I have got to at least explore.”

And here’s a little bonus from four years prior, when past and future candidate Mike Huckabee, who may or may not have been called to run, explained a fleeting rise in his poll numbers by saying, “There’s only one explanation for it, and it’s not a human one. It’s the same power that helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves feed a crowd of five thousand people. That’s the only way that our campaign can be doing what it’s doing. And I’m not being facetious nor am I trying to be trite.” Apparently, God was only teasing, because Huckabee did not in fact become president.

Of course, just because God tells you to run doesn’t mean he’s promising you’ll win. Maybe it’s his plan that you run and humiliate yourself in order to make you humble, which looks like it might have been the idea with Rick Perry in particular (though I don’t know that the humility lesson really took).

All kidding aside, I understand that deeply religious people pray for guidance and wisdom whenever they’re faced with a big decision, and whether to run for president is about as big as it gets. It helps if you can attribute to God the thing you want for yourself. And this is really just a religious version of the reason every candidate says they’re running. No one says, “I’m running for president because I’m pathologically ambitious, it’s something I’ve dreamed of since I was 10 years old, and this is the year I think I’ve got a real shot.” Instead, they all say it’s a calling of one sort or another. It’s because the challenges the country faces are so enormous that as someone who cares so deeply about America, they just couldn’t stay on the sidelines. It’s because they have a vision that can lead us into the future. It’s because this is such a critical time in our history. In short, they all say, “I’m not doing it for me. I’m doing it for something much larger and greater.”

In other words, everyone who runs for president delivers a line of bull when asked why they’re running. Saying it’s because God demands it may at first blush sound particularly crazy, but it’s all the same.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, November 22, 2014

November 23, 2014 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Religion | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Put Up Or Shut Up”: An Open Letter To The GOP Regarding Its Dearest Enemy

Dear Republican Party:

Impeach President Obama.

Go ahead, you know you want to do it. The very thought makes you warm and gooey inside.

Yes, your leadership has disavowed any intention of initiating impeachment, but that sure hasn’t stopped your rank and file from speculating on the possibility with undisguised glee. The prospect has long had them salivating.

Soon-to-be former Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann once said nary a weekend goes by without someone asking her what Congress is waiting for. Once-and-perhaps-future presidential aspirant Mike Huckabee once said the president has done many things “worthy of impeachment.” Texas Rep. Randy Weber once said the president “absolutely” deserves that fate. Earlier this year, a CNN poll found 57 percent of your party in agreement.

And surely this year’s midterms, wherein you tightened your hold on the House and took over the Senate only makes the idea more tantalizing. Indeed, just this week, Texas Rep. Joe Barton said impeachment was a definite possibility.

Impeach President Obama.

You have already floated many rationales for doing so. You’ve wanted to impeach him both for things he’s done and for things you only think he’s done: failing to protect the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi; trading Taliban fighters for a captured American soldier; passing legislation — the Affordable Care Act — you dislike; making unconstitutional appointments to executive branch offices. You’ve also wanted to impeach him for things he’s only been reported to be thinking about: sending troops to Syria or using executive orders to change the immigration system.

Pick one of those. Or just impeach him for being from Kenya. At this point, does the rationale even matter? Impeach President Obama.

Do it for America.

The U.S. electorate, after all, has a short memory and shorter attention span. It periodically needs what you have periodically provided and what impeachment proceedings would provide yet again: a reminder that something has gone awry in the Grand Old Party. It is no longer the party of Eisenhower or Reagan, nor the party of Bush the elder nor even the party of Bob Dole, your 1996 standard bearer who said in April, “I thought I was a conservative, but we’ve got some in Congress now who are so far right they’re about to fall out of the Capitol.”

The ever-blunt Dole was only saying what other GOP elders and other concerned observers have been saying for years: You have become an outlier, a haven of cranks and extremists. And you are driven by hatred — the word is not too strong — of the 44th president.

You don’t like his politics, nor should you. But this is not solely about politics and never has been. This is personal. You don’t like him. Your reasons for that antipathy have never been definitively defined — at least, not by you — but its existence can no longer be denied, not after all you’ve done to make it plain.

You’ve refused to accept the legitimacy of his presidency, though he was twice elected without Supreme Court help. You’ve supported false theories of foreign birth. You’ve damaged the nation’s credit rating rather than pass a routine authorization. You’ve killed your own legislation when you learned that he supported it. You’ve made compromise a curse word. You’ve raised obstruction to high art and made getting nothing done a badge of perverse honor.

Yet, you haven’t managed to get rid of him. What’s left except the ultimate sanction? So for yourself and for the rest of us, please put up or shut up:

Impeach President Obama.

Show America what you’re made of. Yet again.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Columnist, The Miami Herald; The National Memo, November 12, 2014

November 12, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Impeachment, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Religious Right’s Slow-Motion Suicide”: Contributing To Their Own Well Deserved Demise

I’m not sure what’s come over me and I suppose it’ll pass, but at just this moment I’m feeling a little bit sorry for evangelical conservatives. They were apparently pretty droopy, these proceedings over the weekend at the Values Voter Summit, as my colleague Ben Jacobs described things. Oh, yes, Ted Cruz fired them up, and some of the old stalwarts put in respectable appearances, but they have to know deep down that they’re like the horse-and-buggy lobby after Henry Ford has hit town. It’s only a matter of time.

I refer here chiefly to same-sex marriage, the big issue on which the cultural right now represents a quickly shrinking minority. You know the storm clouds are gathering when even Michele Bachmann is throwing in the towel—she declared same-sex marriage “not an issue” and even “boring” at the meeting.

But it’s not just same-sex marriage. The country has liberalized culturally in a range of ways in the past six or eight years, and it’s not only not going back, it’s charging relentlessly forward. The religious right also has no leaders anymore of the remotest interest. Back in the ’80s, Jerry Falwell was a figure to contend with; to loathe, certainly, but also to fear. Today? Pat Robertson has lost his marbles, seemingly, and after him, who? Tony Perkins? No one even knows his name, or if they do, they inevitably think of the guy who played filmdom’s most famous matricidal cross-dresser and aren’t entirely sure that this Tony Perkins might not be that Tony Perkins, which is not quite the type of association they’re looking for.

It’s a group that is losing power, and I think the leaders and even the rank-and-filers know it. Their vehicle, the Republican Party, is going libertarian on them. Rand Paul, whether he wins the 2016 nomination or not, is clearly enough of a force within the party that he is pushing it away from the culture wars. He is joined in this pursuit by the conservative intellectual class, which knows the culture wars are a dead-bang loser for the GOP and which finds the culture warriors more than a little embarrassing, and by the establishment figures, the Karl Rove types, who stroked them back in 2004 but who now see them as a liability, at least at the presidential level. There are still, of course, many states where these voters come in quite handy in that they elect many Republican representatives and senators.

If you think of the famous three legs of the Republican stool (the money conservatives, the foreign-policy conservatives, and the cultural conservatives) and think about which of those legs have had the biggest policy impact during periods of Republican governance in recent history, you have to conclude that the money and foreign-policy conservatives have made out like bandits (in some cases all too literally). The money crowd got all the deregulation it could realistically hope for. The neocons got two wars. The social conservatives haven’t done nearly as well. They’ve gotten some judicial appointments, but Roe v. Wade is still law, and that turncoat Kennedy is probably going to let the gays marry.

Now we’re getting to why on one level I feel a pang of sympathy for them. The disasters the Republican Party has brought us in the last decade—the economic meltdown and the wars—were the fault of the other two legs of the stool. Yet we know that these two groups are going to have permanent power in GOP. The money people own the party, and the neocons still dominate in Washington and—Rand Paul notwithstanding—will always have a considerable degree of influence in the party. The social conservatives are the only faction within the triad that hasn’t heaped wreckage upon the nation (not for lack of trying), and yet they have far less power in the upper echelons of the party than the other two groups. And when they complain, as they occasionally do, that they’ve largely been paid back for all their work in the vineyards with lip service and symbolic little executive order-type things, they have a point. It’s a little like labor in the Democratic Party.

And now, 2016 is going to be a pivotal election for them. Many of them want Ted Cruz, who won the Values Voter straw poll. But of course this is ridiculous. Cruz isn’t going to be the nominee. In fact Cruz’s win, and the fact that Jeb Bush and Chris Christie weren’t even invited to the meeting, is a sign of their retreat from serious politics toward something entirely gestural. Bush, from these people’s perspective, is too squishy on immigration, and Christie last October decided to stop fighting the tide of history on same-sex marriage when a decision by the state’s Supreme Court led Christie to withdraw an appeal his administration had lodged against a pro-same-sex marriage lawsuit.

That’s a childish way to do politics. If somehow they were to get their way with Cruz, then Hillary Clinton will easily be elected president, and she’ll almost certainly have the time and opportunity to flip the Supreme Court back to a liberal majority, and they’ll be finished for the good, the cultural right, and they will have contributed mightily to their own well-deserved demise.

OK. Whew. I’m over it.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, September 29, 2014

September 30, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, Evangelicals, Religious Right | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“We Have To Impeach Someone!”: The Right’s Competing Targets For An Impeachment Drive

The Republican message on impeachment is something of a mess. For every GOP leader who dismisses such talk as a Democratic “scam,” there are two more Republicans taking the idea seriously. For example, in Alaska last week, two GOP Senate candidates touched on the idea – and the more credible of the two, former state Attorney General Dan Sullivan, said he would take impeachment “very, very seriously” if elected and “would focus on it” if it reached the Senate.

So much for the notion of a Democratic “scam.”

Mike Huckabee is further helping exemplify the confusion. Last week, the former Arkansas governor said President Obama “absolutely” deserves to be impeached, adding there’s “no doubt that he has done plenty of things worthy of impeachment.” And then over the weekend, Huckabee added, “Let me be very clear. I never said he should be impeached.”

While Republicans work on sorting this out, some of their brethren are prepared to move on – not to other issues, but to other executive-branch officials they’d like to see impeached.

Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) doesn’t want conservatives to try to impeach President Obama, but he supports targeting Attorney General Eric Holder.

“It is clear, with the Harry Reid Senate, impeachment of the president is not going anywhere,” Cruz told National Review Online during an interview at the 2014 RedState Gathering in Fort Worth, Texas. “If the House of Representatives were to impeach the attorney general, that process would shine much needed light on the indefensible abuse of power by the attorney general,” he says.

And what, pray tell, is the evidence of Eric Holder abusing his power? Cruz says he’s still outraged by the IRS “scandal,” a controversy that evaporated a year ago when no one could find any evidence of wrongdoing by anyone. The far-right senator nevertheless suspects Holder of “obstruction of justice” for reasons he has not been able to explain.

(Others on the far-right have different targets in mind. Rep. Michele Bachmann last week raised the prospect of impeaching Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.)

No good can come of this.

To be sure, Cruz conceded that he doesn’t expect Holder to be removed from office by the Senate, even if House Republicans impeach him. But the Texas Republican – who has a little too much influence over the direction of the lower chamber – told National Review he’d like to see the House pursue articles of impeachment against the Attorney General anyway in order to “shine a powerful light” on whatever it is Cruz finds important.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because far-right GOP lawmakers have been slowly moving in this direction for a long while. In November 2013, some House Republicans began pushing for Holder’s impeachment. A month ago, a House GOP leadership aide said that the impeach-Holder caucus has “been picking up a lot recently.”

As we talked about at the time, this seems to be the manifestation of a bizarre sort of frustration. “We may not be able to impeach the president,” some GOP lawmakers appear to be arguing, “but gosh darn it we’re going to have to impeach someone.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 12, 2014

August 13, 2014 Posted by | Impeachment, Republicans, Right Wing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Choose Your Grifter”: There Are Distinctions Between The Swindlers In The Republican Party

Steve LaTourette used to be a congressman from Ohio who was closely aligned with Speaker John Boehner. Now he runs a Super PAC called “Defending Main Street” that tries to serve the Chamber of Commerce’s interests against the nihilists in the Tea Party who don’t even want to maintain our roads and bridges. As part of that gig, he writes articles (see, e.g., Politico). Despite taking money from people to do something that he can’t actually do (beat back the nut-jobs) he has decided to divide the GOP into two factions, one of which he disapprovingly labels “the grifters.”

Historically, grifters have taken many shapes. They were the snake-oil salesmen who rolled into town promising a magical, cure-all elixir at a price. The grifter was long gone by the time people discovered the magical elixir was no more magical than water. They were the sideshow con men offering fantastic prizes in games that were rigged so that no one could actually win them. They were the Ponzi scheme operators who got rich promising fantastically high investment returns but returning nothing for those sorry investors at the bottom of the pyramid.

Over the last few years we have seen the rise of a new grifter—the political grifter. And the most important battle being waged today isn’t the one about which party controls the House or the Senate, it’s about who controls the Republican Party: the grifting wing or the governing wing.

Today’s political grifters are a lot like the grifters of old—lining their pockets with the hard-earned money of working men and women be promising things in return that they know they can’t deliver.

There are distinctions between the swindlers in the Republican Party, that is true. There’s a difference between the paranoid ramblings of Michele Bachmann, Steve King, and Louie Gohmert and the fundamentalist stylings of real thieves like K Street Project organizer Rick Santorum and U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce Freedom Support Award winner Sam Brownback. The first group acts crazy and gets a bunch of small donations. The latter group acts like pious little brats while they’re lining their pockets with massive corporate donations, if not outright bribes. But, it’s okay, because they’re more religious than you are.

They’re all grifters.

Government spending is where they seem to differ, with the first group looking to cash in by not spending federal cash and the latter group looking to direct that cash into private sector entities that reward them with big donations and lucrative second careers. But the record shows, both under Reagan and under the latter Bush, that the GOP deficit spends like mad when they have the power to control where that spending goes. Will the next time be any different?

Not if Steve LaTourette and his benefactors have anything to say about it.

And, yet, the traditional Republican type of grift, where you decry federal spending until the moment you actually control it, is vastly preferable to the new kind of grift which is based on paranoia and a more virulent kind of racism.

I’d tell you to pick your poison, but you don’t get to decide.

 

By: Martin Longman, Ten Miles Square, Washington Monthly, August 4, 2014

August 5, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Republicans, Tea Party | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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