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“The Political Stupidity Of The GOP’s Political ‘Experts'”: Simply Out Of Touch With Political Reality

The GOP’s political specialists — its political operatives and consultants — aren’t very smart about politics.

GOP operatives seem to believe that what GOP voters really like about Donald Trump is his “style” and “populism.” If only other Republican candidates would imitate some aspects of Trump’s style, the consultants bleat, they could surf some of the Trump wave.

This is facile nonsense.

Political operatives and the media like to blast “Trumpism” as substance-free bluster. But the parts of Trumpism that have most resonated with GOP voters actually map onto a clear and fairly obvious political agenda: hostile to immigration, trade and globalization, foreign adventures, and an economic and political system that seems to be rigged by insiders against outsiders. Combine that with a big appetite for national greatness. Regardless of the merits of this agenda, it’s an agenda. Call it the radical center, as my colleague Michael Brendan Dougherty and the Washington Free Beacon‘s Matt Continetti have.

This is why Republican insiders’ attacks against Trump have been singularly ineffective. He’s not a true conservative! they shout. Yes, and Trump voters are, at least in part, rebelling against conservative orthodoxy. If you want to deflate Trump, you have to put forward actual proposals that will appeal to Trump voters in a package that doesn’t have Trump’s baggage. Emoting like a reality TV star while peddling a flat tax simply won’t do.

But the GOP political class’ political stupidity goes beyond Trump. Consider immigration. I’d have my own super PAC if I got a dollar for every time a GOP political operative told a journalist on background that the way for the GOP to be nationally competitive and win Latinos is to support comprehensive immigration reform. This is simply not true, as Real Clear Politics Sean Trende has exhaustively and laboriously documented.

If it supported comprehensive immigration reform, the GOP would lose a chunk of the white vote, and anyhow, Latino voters are by and large driven by the same concerns as other voters, not just immigration. The GOP’s disadvantage among them has more to do with the income difference between Latino voters and median voters than with anything intrinsic to Latino voters.

Or consider another issue where GOP political operatives are simply out of touch with political reality: abortion. While most Republicans are socially conservative, most GOP political operatives tend to fall more on the libertarian side of the conservative spectrum and are often socially liberal. Their advice to most GOP politicians: Just shut up about abortion, lest you turn off women. Just do the minimum required to signal to pro-life voters that you’re on their side, and thereafter duck the issue.

This is wrongheaded, and almost certainly hurts the GOP nationally. Millions upon millions of women are more likely to call themselves “pro-life” than “pro-choice.” What’s more, the significant political gap within women is between single women and married women. Single women are very pro-choice, and very Democratic anyway. Many more married women are Republicans — and the rest are up for grabs. They may even be the single most important swing constituency. And many of them are pro-life, albeit squishy on the issue.

Republicans have a built-in political advantage against Democrats on abortion. They could use something like late-term abortion to drive a wedge between the Democratic nominee and key swing voters — especially suburban moms. For the GOP, it is a tragedy of politico groupthink that the party doesn’t use this strategy more.

Political operatives think voters are boobs. And sure, your average voter may not be a policy wonk, but that doesn’t mean she’s stupid. People can be quite canny, especially when you’re talking about their wallet. So no, Trumpism isn’t just about flash, and giving flash without substance in response won’t change it, because voters (yes, even Trump voters) do care about substance. Similarly, Latinos are not an interest group that cares only about issues related to their identity, but care instead about a broad spectrum of issues. And women, believe it or not, are not defined by their uteruses, and are just as capable as men of forming their own considered views on abortion, as with any other issue.

Voters want to feel like politicians understand them, yes, but they also want politicians to give them answers that will solve their problems, and they do have a capacity for evaluating these answers and formulating views about them, and that does influence how they vote.

And if the GOP got a better class of politicos, it might win more elections.

 

By: Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, The Week, December 7, 2015

December 8, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Political Consultants, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Current Law, But Not Settled Law”: Rubio Not Done Fighting Against Marriage Equality

For a presidential candidate who’s often preoccupied with his youth and reputation for looking forward, Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) policy vision can be strikingly regressive.

Marriage equality, for example, is already the law of the land in the United States, but Right Wing Watch flagged Rubio’s new interview with Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, where the senator made clear he’s not done fighting against equal marriage rights, calling the status quo “current law,” but “not settled law.”

“If you live in a society where the government creates an avenue and a way for you to peacefully change the law, then you’re called on to participate in that process to try to change it – not ignoring it, but trying to change the law.

 “And that’s what we’re endeavoring to do here. I continue to believe that marriage law should be between one man and one woman.”

For most of the country, there’s a realization that there is no credible proposal to turn back the clock. Rubio didn’t elaborate on how, exactly, he wants to “change the law” to prevent same-sex couples from getting married, and if he tried, he’d likely fail.

But the key here is understanding just how far the Florida senator is willing to go with the culture war. For Rubio, it’s still not too late to bring back discriminatory marriage laws.

And then, of course, there are reproductive rights, where Rubio still intends to be the most far-right major-party presidential nominee of the modern era.

As regular readers know, Rubio’s position on abortion is that it must be outlawed – without exception. If a woman is impregnated by a rapist, for example, Rubio believes the government has the authority to force that woman to take that pregnancy to term, whether she wants to or not.

This came up in a recent interview with the New Yorker.

On several issues, Rubio has taken a position that suits the faithful in the primaries but is guaranteed to repel voters in a general election. His most obvious vulnerability is on abortion. In the first Republican debate, Rubio said that his opposition to abortion extends to cases of rape or incest – a position at odds with that of more than three-quarters of Americans. [Democratic strategist David] Axelrod told me, “No exceptions is a position so extreme that no Republican candidate has ever held it. Presidential races are defined by moments. Maybe he will try to amend that position, but in the age of video it’s hard to extinguish a declarative statement like that.”

When I asked Rubio about it, he said, somewhat confusingly, “Look, I personally believe that all life is worthy of protection, and therefore I don’t ever require, nor have I ever advocated, that I won’t support a law unless it has exceptions.” After some more twists and turns, I sensed that we had reached the line he plans to use in a general election: “My goal is to save as many lives as possible, and I’ll support anything that does that. Even if it has exceptions.”

This led to some confusion, prompting Rubio to clarify matters in an interview yesterday with the Associated Press. “I, as president, will sign a bill that has exceptions,” he said. “I’ve supported bills that have exceptions.” The senator added, “I do not personally require a bill to have exceptions – other than life of the mother – in order for me to support it. But I will sign a bill as president that has exceptions.”

Here’s the bottom line: if a Republican Congress sends President Rubio an anti-abortion bill, he’ll sign it, even if it includes some exceptions he personally disagrees with. When it comes to abortion restrictions, he’ll take what he can get and then fight for more.

But as far as what Rubio actually, personally wants U.S. policy to be, he’s opposed to exceptions, even in cases of rape and incest – a position further to the right than any Republican nominee since Roe was decided more than 40 years ago.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 25, 2015

November 27, 2015 Posted by | Marco Rubio, Marriage Equality, Reproductive Rights | , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Reproductive Rights Are Political”: Yes, Planned Parenthood Has To Be In The Politics Business

On Sunday’s “Meet the Press” Chuck Todd, a journalist I respect, asked an interesting, but odd, question of Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood: “Should you be in the politics business?”

This is a circular argument: Planned Parenthood has been in the politics business since it opened its doors. Female sexuality, and the control thereof, has always been inherently political. The term “sexual revolution” is not an abstract concept – the introduction of the pill 50 years ago was what marked the full entry of American women into the workforce. The pill is credited with a third of the increase in wages for American women.

There is nothing more physically and economically determinative to a woman than deciding if or when to have children, a decision to which Planned Parenthood has made an enormous contribution for millions of us.

This is why social conservatives continue to attack not just abortion, but contraception – if you’re against abortion and contraception, it’s not just about abortion. And it’s why Planned Parenthood has become a talisman to the right, a symbol of what they fear most – women controlling their own reproductive destiny. Two-thirds of the 1 million abortions in this country are done by private practitioners other than Planned Parenthood, but there are no mass protests and bloody fetus pictures outside their offices.

Why? Because Ruth Bader Ginsburg is right – the right’s War on Women is fundamentally a war on poor women. Two-thirds of women who have an abortion already have a child, and the overwhelming reason cited for the procedure is that they can’t afford another one. There’s a reason the original Roe plaintiff, Norma McCorvey, was working class. Rich women could get abortions before Roe, and they will if the Supreme Court overturns it next spring – which is possible, since the court has taken up the Texas abortion restrictions.

Historically, fights over female autonomy are hardly unique to either our country or even our millennia. Sex and power for women have always been intertwined and an object of fascination, fear and political manipulation for men.

Anne Boleyn was executed by Henry VIII for accusations of infidelity – and not producing a son, as were many royal wives, never mind that the man determines the sex of the child. Her daughter Elizabeth I, arguably Britain’s greatest monarch, was the Virgin Queen, precisely because once she married and surrendered her sexuality to a man it diminished her imperium.

So what it comes down to, again, is that this is about power. House Republicans are creating a Planned Parenthood investigative “committee” to weaken political opponents and catalyze their base, the same way they set up the Benghazi “committee” to weaken Hillary Clinton and fire up conservatives.

And in the states, right-wing Republicans are attacking Planned Parenthood with every political means at their disposal, including electing retrograde state legislatures that in turn enact horrific, humiliating laws designed to slut-shame women out of having abortions and restrict access to contraception.

What angers conservatives about Planned Parenthood isn’t just what they do – contraception, reproductive health care and, yes, abortions. It’s how the organization does it – without judgment or shame – and the result it produces: women in control of their own bodies, both physically and politically.

 

By: Laura K. Chapin, U. S. News and World Report, October 6, 2015

October 8, 2015 Posted by | Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood, Reproductive Rights, War On Women | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Ducking For Cover On Planned Parenthood”: Message Republicans Receiving, Government Shutdown Is A Politically Losing Strategy’

Even as Carly Fiorina’s mendacious disquisition on Planned Parenthood last night encouraged those who want to shut down the government over funding for that organization, congressional Republicans continued to run for cover to the big mainline antichoice organization, the National Right To Life Committee, per a report from the AP’s Alan Fram:

Hoping to prevent the Republican uproar over the Planned Parenthood videos from snowballing into a government shutdown, GOP leaders are turning for help to polling data and one of the nation’s most powerful anti-abortion groups.

At a meeting Thursday of House Republicans, leaders described GOP polls showing the public is strongly against a federal shutdown and would likely blame Republicans if one occurred, said lawmakers who attended the closed-door session. Some conservatives want the GOP-controlled Congress to approve a bill keeping the government open starting Oct. 1 only if it also blocks federal payments to Planned Parenthood.

“The message was there that this is a politically losing strategy that would put our own majority in peril,” Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., who is close to party leaders, said of the polling.

In addition, top Republicans have spread the word that even the National Right to Life Committee — which favors cutting off Planned Parenthood’s funds — doubts the wisdom of risking a shutdown over that issue. The group is the largest and perhaps most influential anti-abortion organization.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said of Right to Life on Wednesday, “It’s a strategy they don’t think makes much sense because it doesn’t succeed….”

Right to Life’s leaders released a statement this week endorsing a bill by Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., halting federal payments to Planned Parenthood for a year. The House plans to approve that bill on Friday, along with another by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., setting criminal penalties for medical providers who don’t try saving babies born live during abortions.

But the Right to Life statement was pointedly silent about the merits of enmeshing a cutoff of Planned Parenthood’s money with legislation keeping government functioning.

“We want people to think about what a government shutdown would do,” National Right to Life President Carol Tobias said in an interview Wednesday. She said of Obama, “As long as he’s in that Oval Office with a veto pen, it’s difficult to see how we could win that battle.”

Tobias said Right to Life is concerned that a shutdown over Planned Parenthood could harm the anti-abortion cause in the long run, adding, “If we want to save babies, if we want to defund Planned Parenthood, we have to put a pro-life president in the White House” in next year’s elections.

Wonder if Tobias is hearing today from members who got all riled up by Fiorina last night, or for that matter, by Bobby Jindal shrieking at the cowardly surrender-monkeys of the Senate who won’t throw away the filibuster in order to advance to a Clash of Civilizations with Obama over Planned Parenthood funding. It also wouldn’t shock me if more militant antichoice groups go all Hamas to the NRLC’s Fatah.

You even have to wonder if some antichoicers are rethinking the whole sting video strategy, which has mainly served to lather up the faithful rather than earn any converts. Some upcoming craziness could confirm that judgment.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 17, 2015

September 18, 2015 Posted by | Carly Fiorina, Government Shut Down, Planned Parenthood | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Republicans Aim For Their Own Feet”: An Unerring Genius For Alienating Exactly The Demographics It Needs

What do women want? Republicans are trying to answer that question and, as usual, they are getting it wrong.

The party has an unerring genius for alienating exactly the demographics it needs to win the White House. Republicans have made it harder for students, urbanites, and minorities to vote. Many of their presidential candidates are competing over who can deport the most immigrants and build the best border wall. Why should the GOP approach to women be any different?

Donald Trump, who has been flamboyantly insulting to immigrants, isn’t helping Republicans with women, either. His history of crude insults about female appearances led NBC’s Chuck Todd to ask him, “Why do looks matter to you so much?” He still talks in weird generalizations and 1950s stereotypes about women (see: “I cherish women” or “women love me” or “I understand the importance of women”).

You’d think Carly Fiorina, another presidential contender from the business world, and the only woman in the GOP field, would have a better handle on this. But she has become a lightning rod because she opposes a requirement that businesses offer paid leave to new parents. She wants it to be a perk companies offer to attract workers.

The United States is the only advanced country that doesn’t give employees paid parental leave, as President Obama has noted repeatedly. But Fiorina says requiring paid parental leave discourages the hiring and promotion of women. Besides, she asks, who would pay for it?

Fiorina’s position, however, carries its own health and monetary costs. Mothers who don’t take leave are less likely to breastfeed or bring a baby to doctor appointments. And low-income workers who take unpaid leave to care for an infant often rely on government help. “When a low-wage worker cannot even have a sick day or a paid leave day after the birth of an infant, she is far more likely to go on assistance, public assistance,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) sponsor of a bill requiring paid leave, told Fortune magazine. The upshot is that taxpayers foot the bill, she added.

As for the politics of paid leave, Fiorina’s stand is a loser. Polls show 60 to 80 percent of Americans support requiring paid leave for new parents. That 80 percent figure, from a CBS/New York Times poll in May, includes 71 percent of Republicans and 85 percent of women.

Now abortion is preoccupying the GOP, thrust there by conservatives who secretly filmed Planned Parenthood executives talking casually and graphically about the mechanics and costs of donating tissue from aborted fetuses for research. Republican candidates have grabbed at the chance to demonstrate their credentials as cultural conservatives — emphasizing their opposition to abortion and demanding an end to federal funding of Planned Parenthood, even if that leads to a government shutdown. Some 50 advocacy groups are co-sponsoring protests in nearly 300 cities this weekend to highlight what the Family Research Council calls “Planned Parenthood’s harvesting and selling of aborted baby parts.”

Ohio governor John Kasich explained the rising prominence of the abortion issue this way recently on CNN: “Now that the issue of gay marriage is kind of off the table, we’re kind of down to one social issue.”

The nature of the GOP primary electorate requires that Republican candidates take as hard a line as they can against abortion and explain in great detail their positions on exceptions, restrictions, and any shifts in thinking they may have undergone. They may be convinced that this won’t hurt them with women or moderates in a general election. Gallup found in May that 21 percent of Americans would only vote for a candidate who shared their view on abortion. That’s an all-time high in the 19 years the question has been asked, but they were about equally divided on both sides of the issue.

So does that make it a wash? Probably not. For one thing, the tide seems to be turning in the other direction. Half of Americans told Gallup in May that they were “pro-choice” on abortion compared with 44 percent who said they were “pro-life.” Analyst Lydia Saad wrote that was the first statistically significant lead for the “pro-choice” position in seven years. In addition, polls show pluralities of Americans have positive views of Planned Parenthood and oppose cutting off its federal money.

That hasn’t stopped various Republican hopefuls from calling for a Justice Department investigation into Planned Parenthood. Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana governor, has even vowed to sic the IRS on the group. The crusade is a classic example of overreach that could backfire in a general election. Republicans are their own worst enemy on this, but here’s the real problem: They are jeopardizing health care for low-income women who need birth control, cancer screening, or — yes — an abortion. The potential political bonanza for the Democratic nominee is not worth that price.

 

By: Jill Lawrence, The National Memo, August 20, 2015

September 1, 2015 Posted by | GOP, Paid Leave, Women's Health | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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