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“An Insane Defense Of GOP Radical Tactics”: We Have To Do This Because Of The Tea Party

When the it comes to the government shutdown, Democrats are all on the same page — they’ve grudgingly accepted extremely low spending levels; they’re not making any new or extraneous demands; and they see no need to take Americans’ health care benefits away to satisfy a bizarre far-right crusade.

Are Republicans equally unified? Not so much. A fair number of House Republicans see this tantrum as pointless and are ready to end this fiasco; quite a few Senate Republicans have no idea what party leaders are thinking; and no one in the party has any sense at this point of what GOP officials are supposed to do next.

And then there are Republican donors, some of whom are wondering why they should write checks to reward these policymakers. David Freedlander reported yesterday on a recent fundraising event in New York, where Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, fielded questions from wealthy supporters.

Why, they asked, did the GOP seem so in the thrall of its most extremist wing? The donors, banker types who occupy the upper reaches of Wall Street’s towers, couldn’t understand why the Republican Party — their party — seemed close to threatening the nation with a government shutdown, never mind a default if the debt ceiling isn’t raised later this month.

“Listen,” Walden said, according to several people present. “We have to do this because of the Tea Party. If we don’t, these guys are going to get primaried and they are going to lose their primary.”

Remember, this wasn’t a Democrat condemning the Republican Party for having been hijacked by extremists; this was a Republican leader offering a defense for his party’s radical tactics.

GOP lawmakers could be responsible, keep the government open, and tell Tea Partiers to grow up, but Republican members of Congress are too afraid of primaries to do the right thing. So, they allow themselves to be pushed around.

The problem, of course, is there’s a tipping point at which less-unhinged Republican voters decide they’ve seen enough and walk away. Indeed, in this case, Walden’s explanation hasn’t won over skeptical donors at all.

Fred Zeidman, a Houston-based businessman who was a major donor to both of George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns, told the Daily Beast, “I am not writing a check to anyone. That is not working for the American people.” Munr Kazmir, a New Jersey-based businessman and major donor to George W. Bush, added, “I have raised a lot of money, but I am not raising any more for House candidates. I am angry. I am embarrassed to be a Republican sometimes, I tell you.”

For what it’s worth, there’s occasional talk of a moderate GOP rebellion.

As the shutdown stretches on, a bloc of moderate House Republicans could be the key to reopening government.

On Wednesday, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, held meetings with groups of “pragmatist” lawmakers — as Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y., described them — who want to pass a policy-rider-free continuing resolution and end the government shutdown as soon as possible. […]

It isn’t fast enough for Rep. Peter T. King of New York, who was one of the most vocal House Republicans criticizing the party’s strategy as the government headed to a shutdown.King wasn’t invited to any of Boehner’s moderate meetings Wednesday, so he held his own. King said he met in his office with roughly 10 members who support a clean CR, and they discussed “what the strategy would be.”

It sounds nice, I suppose, but we appear to be talking about less than 5% of the House Republican caucus, and so far, they’ve demonstrated a complete inability to influence the debate in any way.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 4, 2013

October 5, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Government Shut Down, Tea Party | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Peter King For President?”: Republicans Had Better Hope Not

If U.S. Representative Peter King (R-NY) is serious about pursuing the Republican nomination for president in 2016, then the GOP will have a real problem on its hands.

Congressman King’s interest in a White House bid was first reported on Wednesday night by Newsmax. The next day, the Long Island Republican elaborated on his plans in an interview with ABC News.

“I’m going to certainly give it thought. I’m going to see where it goes,” King explained. “My concern right now is I don’t see anyone at the national level speaking enough on, to me, what’s important – national security, homeland security, counterterrorism.”

“The big debate that Republicans seem to have in the Senate on foreign policy is whether or not, you know, the CIA was going to use a drone to kill an American in Starbucks,” he added, in a shot at Kentucky senator Rand Paul. “To me, we should be going beyond that and we should go back to being a party – whether it’s Eisenhower, Reagan, Bush – of having a strong national defense, and that should be, to me, an essential part of the presidential debate. And so far, that’s missing.”

Of course, if national defense has been missing from the presidential debate, it’s probably just because said debate won’t begin for another two years. But if King does insist on bringing the issue to the forefront of the Republican presidential primaries, then that’s very bad news for the GOP.

King’s positions on homeland security and foreign policy line up rather neatly with those of the George W. Bush administration (notably, former attorney general and noted torture advocate Michael Mukasey was the first Republican to go on record in support of King’s hypothetical candidacy). In other words, they are ridiculously unpopular. If voters were clamoring for a return to the Bush era, then Mitt Romney — whose diplomatic and national security teams were stacked with Bush administration veterans — presumably would not have been the first Republican presidential candidate in three decades to lose to his opponent on questions of foreign policy and national security (President Obama trounced Romney 56 to 44 percent among voters focused on the subject, according to exit polls.)

Making matters worse is King’s apparent inability to advocate for these positions without invoking startling racism. If the Republican plan to appear less hostile to minorities isn’t already completely dead by 2016, then a presidential campaign by a man who has declared that “we have too many mosques in this country,” and that “85 percent of American Muslim community leaders are an enemy living amongst us” — among many other racist broadsides against the Muslim community — would certainly deliver the coup de grâce.

Furthermore, a King candidacy would be sure to bring out the worst in his fellow candidates. With a lifetime 75 percent rating from the American Conservative Union, King would draw attacks from the right throughout the primaries; it’s not hard to imagine a fierce argument over King’s support for closing the gun show loophole, for example, becoming the 2016 version of “let him die!

And none of these issues with a potential King candidacy even touch his decades-long support for a violent terrorist organization.

Happily for Republicans, King is likely just floating a presidential bid as a way to raise both his own profile and money for his congressional campaigns. But if he actually does enter the 2016 race, it would result in another huge blow to the Republican Party’s already tattered brand.

 

By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, July 19, 2013

July 20, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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