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“Fiorina And Trump”: Rivals Who Deserve Each Other

Republicans always say nobody respects America anymore. No kidding. Given that CNN televised last week’s GOP presidential debate to a waiting world, it’s no wonder we don’t command respect.

After all, it’s one thing to see the most powerful nation on Earth choosing its leaders via a television game show. It’s quite another to contemplate the parade of grotesques and mountebanks enlisted as contestants.

The spectacle was enough to induce dread that’s less political than downright existential. “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods,” Shakespeare wrote. “They kill us for their sport.”

The good news is that former Treasury official under Ronald Reagan, Bruce Bartlett, is probably correct when he says: “Any Republican who can win the White House can’t win the nomination, and no Republican who can win the nomination can win the White House.”

There the 11 candidates stood in front of the sainted Reagan’s presidential airplane with massive wildfires roaring only a few miles away — climate change deniers every one of them. Marco Rubio, supposedly one of the smart ones, made a dumb joke about bringing his own water.

That would be the same President Reagan who sent a birthday cake to Iran’s Ayatollah and sold him guided missiles. Today’s GOP unanimously opposes President Obama’s multinational arms control agreement with Iran.

Of course, Reagan also once claimed to have taken part in liberating the Nazi death camp at Buchenwald, although the closest he got to Europe during WWII was a French restaurant in Beverly Hills.

But why be churlish? Pundits and voters have always judged politicians by varying standards. Reagan probably got a pass because people believed his emotional response to newsreel footage of concentration camps was sincere. Yet Al Gore got lampooned for something he never actually said about inventing the Internet.

Besides, by the standard of last week’s GOP debate, Reagan was a veritable apostle of truth. You thought Donald Trump was a braggart and a blowhard? Then you probably cheered to see Carly Fiorina take him on.

Look at that face!” Trump told Rolling Stone. “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!”

Of course he came under fire for saying that. Why he didn’t simply say the reporter misunderstood him is hard to guess. It’s not as if people take Rolling Stone at face value. Maybe there’s a tape. But pretending he was talking about her grating personality didn’t fool anybody.

During the GOP debate, Fiorina’s deadpan response was a perfectly timed masterpiece of understatement.

“Women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.”

Silence.

“She’s got a beautiful face and she’s a beautiful woman,” Trump replied. Yeah, right. Did anybody watching believe him?

But then being Donald Trump means never being able to say you’re sorry. I’d estimate his emotional age at 12.

So now Carly Fiorina is the newest GOP sensation, whose secrets of corporate success she put fully on display. Fiorina gives a great interview, having mastered the art of appearing decisive even when she has no clue what she’s talking about.

Certitude’s easily faked with memorized talking points. For example, Fiorina vowed to shake a fist in Vladimir Putin’s face by holding military exercises in the Baltic. Evidently she was unaware that the U.S. and NATO have conducted joint maneuvers there yearly since the 1970s. The most recent 17-nation Baltic war games ended last June. The Russians complained.

Virtually everything she said about national defense was similarly nonsensical — not that GOP game-show viewers knew.

But when things start to go bad — as they did during her doomed tenure as Hewlett-Packard’s CEO — Fiorina evidently begins making things up. Who could not be moved, for example, by her horrifying description of a videotape supposedly exposing Planned Parenthood?

“I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes,” she said. “Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

Terribly dramatic, but also, as Michael Hiltzik documented in the Los Angeles Times, purely imaginary. No such Planned Parenthood video exists. Challenged on ABC’s Good Morning America, Fiorina simply doubled down, challenging her critics to prove a negative, which ain’t how it works.

Similar stonewalling, accompanied by personal attacks on her questioners’ motives, ultimately resulted in Hewlett-Packard’s board of directors voting unanimously to give Fiorina a $21 million “golden parachute” and show her the exit. Trump appears mostly right about Fiorina’s dubious business record, just as Fiorina was correct about the casino tycoon’s multiple bankruptcies.

It’s a mystery why Trump failed to mention that Fiorina’s whole rags-to-riches, secretarial-pool-to-executive-suite story is also totally bogus. Her father was Dean of the Duke School of Law and a Nixon-appointed federal Appeals Court judge.

It’s possible Trump’s saving ammunition for the next exciting GOP matchup. Alternatively, he may be reluctant to have Fiorina bring up his inheriting $200 million from his real estate mogul father.

Either way, the two GOP frontrunners clearly deserve each other.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, September 23, 2015

September 24, 2015 Posted by | Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump, GOP Primary Debates | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Acting Like Idiots”: Explaining The Farce Of The Hagel Hearings

It’s easy to shake your head and laugh at the incredible things said by some of the nincompoops who occupy the GOP’s backbench in Congress, whether it’s Louie Gohmert ranting about “terror babies,” or Paul Broun (an actual doctor, for whose patients I fear) saying “All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell,” or any of a thousand things Michele Bachmann has said over the years. But as we laugh, we know these people don’t shape policy, so the damage they can do is limited. Not that the rest of the Republicans on Capitol Hill are a bunch of geniuses or anything, but most of those who have that golden combination of crazy and stupid are pretty far down in the pecking order.

But looking forward to the next four years, you have to wonder if Barack Obama is, through little fault of his own, making the entire Republican party dumber with each passing day. Fred Kaplan, a thoughtful journalist who reports on military affairs for Slate, watched Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearings and can’t contain his disgust at how little the Republican senators serving on the Armed Services Committee seem to understand about things related to the armed services:

Not to sound like a Golden Age nostalgic, but there once was a time when the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee prided themselves on having an understanding of military matters. They disagreed in their conclusions and sometimes their premises. But most of them worked to educate themselves, at least to the point where they could debate the issues, or ask questions of a general without coming off like complete idiots. The sad thing about this new crop of senators—especially on the Republican side—is they don’t even try to learn anything; they don’t care if they look like complete idiots, in part because their core constituents don’t care if they do either.

There’s no doubt that Hagel’s hearings were a farce, consumed with McCarthyite accusations and Talmudic parsing of anything the nominee had ever said about Israel, all accompanied by insincere expressions of dismay. Now I’m not a Capitol Hill reporter, which means I don’t spend my time talking to these senators and the people who work for them. So I can’t say whether they’ve just ceased to bother educating themselves about the issues they allegedly care so much about. But there is something that is out of balance here.

Ordinarily, if you’re in the opposition party and there’s an issue you spend more of your time on (like military affairs if you’re on Armed Services), you have two complementary impulses shaping the way you go about your work as you approach the administration. The first is that you want to do what you can to change a set of policies you disagree with wherever possible. Sometimes, being ornery can get that accomplished, but knowing a lot about the issue—the institution of the Pentagon, the strategic challenges the country faces, the details of the administration’s policies—should help you do that. The second impulse is to just be a giant pain in the ass so as to make life as difficult as possible for the administration, not in a particularly considered way, but just lashing out with whatever seems handy, in extreme a manner as possible. Benghazi is a worse scandal that Watergate! Chuck Hagel is an anti-Semite! And so on. It does seem like Republicans are doing mostly the latter, and it’s hard to see how it helps them accomplish the goal of moving the administration’s policies more in the direction they’d prefer.

So if Mitt Romney had won the election, would the likes of Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham be carefully studying military policy so they could find places to have the greatest influence? Actually, I think they probably would. First of all, when your party is running the show, you’re more likely to have an impact on policy, so there’s more of an incentive to figure out which policies you’d like to have an impact on. But more importantly, the pressure’s off. You don’t have to prove to your constituents that you hate the president as much as they do. You don’t have to make as big a show of your opposition. The other day, I argued that while Barack Obama predicted that his re-election would make the Republican “fever” break and they’d start working with him, in truth the only thing that will break that fever is a Republican president. And I think that’s true of policy seriousness as well. At the moment, they’ve chosen to just go on TV and act like idiots, because they don’t see much margin in doing anything else.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, February 13, 2013

February 15, 2013 Posted by | Politics, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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