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“RINO Trophies”: In Georgia, Two Republicans Face Primary Challenges For Not Being Extremist Enough

With the Republican nomination contest being essentially over (yes, there’s a primary in Washington, but it doesn’t matter who wins or loses) and the Democratic battle taking a brief break (yes, Washington Democrats will vote, but it’s only a nonbinding “beauty contest” primary), it will be a quiet political Tuesday night except for runoff elections in Texas and down-ballot primaries in Georgia.

In the latter primaries, though, there’s an intriguing right-wing effort to purge two North Georgia Republican congressmen for being insufficiently right-wing: specifically for voting for John Boehner for speaker before the Ohioan quit and for voting to keep the federal government open despite its funding of Obamacare and Planned Parenthood.

What makes it all interesting is that the two solons in question — 11th-district representative Barry Loudermilk and ninth-district representative Doug Collins — would be considered a tad out there themselves in much of the country. Loudermilk (a freshman who ran to the right of another hero of the mad fringe, Bob Barr, in his original primary) is a member of the House Freedom Caucus and an outspoken “constitutional conservative.” Collins, who’s notable for being both an ordained Baptist minister and a lawyer, is probably best known for defending military chaplains (he’s one himself in the Reserves) who get a little carried away with proselytizing.

But while both congressmen are facing multiple opponents all shrieking at them for their alleged betrayal of True Conservatism, Collins has drawn the marquee challenger: his former House colleague Paul Broun, a favorite of extremism aficionados everywhere.

Until he left the House for a failed Senate bid in 2014, Broun was one of those pols who said incredible things with every other breath. Perhaps his most famous moment was when this member of the House Science Committee delivered a speech in his district referring to evolution and various other scientific teachings that conflict with his conservative Evangelical views as “lies from the pit of hell.” So notorious was Broun as a proud know-nothing that a significant number of write-in votes in his district were cast for Charles Darwin.

Now Broun is aiming his peculiar brand of thunder and lightning at Collins, and he has the advantage of having represented about half the current ninth district before the last rounds of redistricting. But Broun is being dogged by ethics charges dating from his congressional service that recently led to a criminal indictment of his former top chief of staff.

Both Loudermilk and Collins are expected to come out on top in tonight’s returns. But the catch is that Georgia requires majorities for nominations, and being knocked into a crazy-low-turnout runoff would be perilous for either incumbent. A wild card is that North Georgia right-wing activists have already been stirred up by the treachery of another of their own: Governor (and former ninth-district congressman) Nathan Deal, who recently vetoed a “religious liberty” bill aimed at making anti-LGBT discrimination easier. (On the principle of in-for-a-penny, in-for-a-pound, Deal, who is safely in his second and final term, subsequently infuriated the gun lobby by vetoing a “campus carry” bill getting rid of restrictions on shooting irons at colleges and universities. Where will the betrayals end?)

The one thing we know for sure is that there’s no degree of extremism in the GOP that will give Democrats a chance at either House seat. These are two of the most profoundly Republican districts east of Utah. And, so far as we know, Charles Darwin’s not even in the race.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, May 26, 2016

May 26, 2016 Posted by | Down Ballot Candidates, Georgia, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Satisfying The ‘Most Intense, Extreme Part’ Of The Republican Party”: Many GOP Voters On Board With Impeaching Hillary Clinton

It was just two weeks ago that Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) raised the prospect of impeaching Hillary Clinton, even though she hasn’t been elected. The far-right congressman is apparently so concerned about her email server management that he believes she would, literally on her inauguration day, be “subject to impeachment because she has committed high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Soon after, the Alabama Republican talked to MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki about his intentions, and Brooks seemed quite sincere about impeaching Clinton, despite the fact that she hasn’t, in reality, even been accused of breaking any laws.

And while this is obviously just one unhappy congressman, Public Policy Polling asked North Carolina Republicans for their thoughts on the matter.

 If Hillary Clinton is elected President, would you support or oppose impeaching her the day she takes office?

 * Support impeaching Hillary Clinton the day she takes office: 66%

 * Oppose impeaching Hillary Clinton the day she takes office: 24%

 * Not sure: 10%

Obviously, the only fair conclusion is that one-third of the GOP voters in North Carolina are Republicans In Name Only.

For her part, Clinton has apparently heard about the impeachment idea. When she sat down with Rachel late last week, and the subject came up, the former Secretary of State said, “Isn’t that pathetic? It’s just laughable, it’s so totally ridiculous.”

Clinton added the rhetoric is likely intended to satisfy “the most intense, extreme part” of the Republican base.

If the PPP survey is correct, it may very well be working.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 30, 2015

November 2, 2015 Posted by | GOP Voters, Hillary Clinton, Mo Brooks | , , , | 4 Comments

“Yesterday’s Ideological Hero Is Suspect”: Remembering Paul Ryan Before He Became A RINO Squish

A lot of the conservative carping we are hearing about Paul Ryan as he ascends to the House Speakership is interesting, to say the least. As conservative commentator Matt Lewis notes at the Daily Beast today, a lot of the same people were praising him to high heaven when he emerged as the great crafter of right-wing budgets back in 2010 and again in 2012. Since most of the heresies people are now talking about occurred earlier in his congressional career, you have to figure the context has changed more than Ryan has.

Here’s Lewis’ guess:

Much of this boils down to Paul Ryan’s past support for immigration reform—and the fact that this has become the one and only litmus test for populist conservatives.

That could certainly help explain why everybody’s favorite nativist, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has been making negative noises about Ryan’s accession to the Speakership.

As it happens, the day after Mitt Romney announced Ryan as his running-mate in 2012, I was in Waukee, Iowa, at the FAMiLY Leadership Summit, one of the nation’s biggest and most influential Christian Right clambakes. Steve King keynoted the event, and expressed satisfaction with Romney’s choice of Ryan–as did, it seems, the entire assemblage, which erupted in cheers at the first mention of Ryan’s name. But at that point in history, conservatives were most focused on the fact that Ryan was a down-the-line antichoicer who had shown his “guts” by crafting a budget document (actually two of them by then) that messed with Medicare and took a claw hammer to the federal programs benefitting those people.

Nowadays if you are guilty of having ever supported “amnesty” your other heresies will be uncovered, however old they are. The other way to look at it, of course, is that the GOP continues to drift to the Right, making yesterday’s ideological heroes suspect. The message to Paul Ryan is: keep up.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, Octoer 26, 2015

October 27, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, Paul Ryan, Speaker of The House of Representatives | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“This GOP Civil War Is So Much Fun!”: Donald Trump Has Ripped The Conservative Coalition Asunder

Whom to root for when the Dallas Cowboys play the New England Patriots? The most obnoxious franchise in all of American professional sports versus the most rancidly cheatingest (and I mean really—read this; if this is all true, they should have their franchise license revoked and Belichick should be thrown out of the game). As the old joke has it, you root for a plane crash (relax, it’s a joke).

This is kind of where I am as I watch this blood feud erupt between the National Review Online and the Trump loyalists who started the #NRORevolt hashtag over the weekend. If you missed it, here’s the sitch. Last Friday, subscribers to Jonah Goldberg’s NR newsletter, the G-file, found his latest in their in-boxes, a protracted jeremiad that ran under the title “No Movement That Embraces Trump Can Call Itself Conservative.”

“If this is the conservative movement now,” he wrote, “I guess you’re going to have to count me out.”

So Trump partisans started doing exactly that, and in droves. Commenters on the article were venomous: Go ahead, you RINO-quisling-sellout (or, occasionally, you dastardly Jew), who needs you anyway? This comment was representative, and even a little quasi-poetic: “So Blow and Rage, Jonah, Blow into the winter night, strut and fret your rabid slobber onto the stage, idiot-like until you are flattened by the Trump steamroller—of course we will be forced to hear more of your shout and flabberting, but it won’t mean a thing. I hope the Republican Party collapses so we can get on with partnering with something that is not so diseased that its internal organs are melting into a pus-fulled [sic] syrup that is oozing out of every…whatever.”

In short order, the now-famous hashtag arose as a venue for kindred sentiments. It seems safe to say that not many National Review subscribers are probably involved in this effort. As near as these things can be determined, it may have been launched by a guy named Ricky Vaughn, who describes himself on Twitter as a “right-wing nativist.” You see the word “cuckservative” tossed around a lot in these tweets, a word that the Southern Poverty Law Center says has roots in white nationalist and anti-Semitic circles. And of course the word sounds the way it sounds for a reason, evoking both “cock” and “suck” in a way that is definitely not intended as a compliment.

Well, for people like me, this is definitely pass-the-popcorn time. What better entertainment could there possibly be than watching American conservatism being wrecked by a bunch of white nationalists?

American conservatism has spent decades winking at these kinds of groups and voters—denouncing them very occasionally when caught red-handed playing in the same sandbox, as when a white Southern Republican is forced to explain that gosh, he didn’t know the local citizens’ council was a white supremacist group; but for the most part courting these voters and stoking their anxieties through means sometimes subtle, sometimes not. So, let them tear each other apart.

The amusing thing is, Goldberg actually makes some good points in his newsletter piece, mainly that Trump isn’t much of a conservative on a number of issues. About that, he is correct.

But if he can’t instantly grasp how modern conservatism made Trump—and not only Trump, but even more important, the people who are now his rabid supporters—then I doubt it can be explained at a level of remediation that will sink in. But it’s pretty simple. When Steve King jokes about people crossing the border with their cantaloupe-sized calves full of bags of weed, he’s creating Trump and Trump’s backers. And multiply that times 300 for every crazy-borderline racist comment in recent years by Michele Bachmann and Rush Limbaugh and all the rest of them, and you get a party and a movement whose nudges at that kind of thing have done far more to create Trump and his supporters than the occasional faux-solemn and perfunctory denunciations have done to thwart them. So this problem of white nationalism bubbling uncomfortably close to the surface is one the Republican Party and the conservative movement have deserved to have for a long time now.

Mind you I don’t think liberals should be gloating too much about this yet. It’s way too hard to predict what all this will mean for the election. In all likelihood, Trump won’t have the votes to win the nomination, John Kasich or Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush will, and the Trump voters will mostly start getting themselves worked up about the looming menace of President Hillary and come out and vote for the sellout RINOs they’re now repudiating at #NRORevolt.

But let’s say that at some point, we do see a real civil war in the Republican Party over all this, and the time comes when GOP leaders need to own up to a Joe McCarthy kind of moment—that is, a moment when they are finally forced to step forward and say, Donald, we don’t want you or your more extreme supporters. The National Review itself did a version of this, of course, back in the old days under Bill Buckley, when it said much the same to John Birch Society types.

But the Review was just a magazine. It lost some subscribers, I’m sure, but not the White House. For a political party the stakes are a little higher, and I don’t think today’s GOP would have the stones to do it. The party is stuck with Trump and his backers. It created them.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, September 9, 2015

September 10, 2015 Posted by | Conservatism, Donald Trump, GOP | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Self Mutilation Disorder”: Republicans Take Careful Aim At Foot, Blast Away

Last week, I asked how the GOP, whom Democrats used to admire for their strategic acumen, turned into such a bunch of clowns, constantly making political blunders and undermining their long-term goals with temper tantrums. It’s a question we might continue to ponder as the House went ahead and voted to sue President Obama last night for his many acts of tyranny and lawlessness. Every Democrat voted in opposition, as did a grand total of five Republicans—but they were opposed only because they wanted to stop pussyfooting around and go right to impeachment. This, truly, is a party that’s ready to lead.

Since this suit is unprecedented, we don’t know for sure how it will be received by the courts. Many legal experts think it will be quickly dismissed on the question of standing; since the House can’t show any harm they’ve incurred because of the President’s allegedly appalling behavior, they may not have the right to bring a case against him. On the other hand, we now understand that you can get Republican judges to go along with just about anything if it’ll strike a blow at the hated Obama. But regardless, the thing Republicans don’t seem to understand is this: This lawsuit will be a disaster for them.

Not as big a disaster as impeachment would be, certainly. But a disaster nonetheless. It will accomplish nothing other than giving Democrats a talking point they can return to for years.

The Republican senators and governors running for president in 2016 may not have had to vote on the lawsuit, but they’re damn sure going to have to take a position on it—and woe be to those who don’t offer their full-throated support. After all, a majority of Republican voters (see here or here) think Obama ought to be impeached, and there’s no quicker way to get yourself branded a RINO than wavering in your opposition to the Kenyan socialist usurper tyrant in the Oval Office. Every Republican everywhere is going to have to answer the same question.

And every time they do, Democrats will say, “Instead of trying to help the country, these bozos decided to sue the president.”

You can tell that Obama himself is absolutely loving this. “Stop being mad all the time,” he said in reference to congressional Republicans in a speech on Wednesday. “Stop just hating all the time. C’mon… I know they’re not happy that I’m president but that’s okay. I got a couple of years left. C’mon… then you can be mad at the next president.” That kind of thing will, of course, make them even madder.

Republicans also may not realize that they’ve given Obama a terrific incentive to take whatever unilateral action he can on issues like immigration, not only because he can justify it with their inability to address actual problems, but because he knows it will drive them batty, making them even more likely to talk about impeachment and even less likely to look like a party that wants to govern, all of which is good for Democrats.

There may be a conservative somewhere who has objected to this suit, but I haven’t come across him or her. I understand that they all believe Obama has gone beyond the limits of executive authority, which is a reasonable position to take. My own belief is that every president pushes against those limits, and the way Obama has done so isn’t unusual, and certainly less egregious than the way his predecessor did. But regardless of whether they disagree, you’d think there would be a contingent of sober conservatives saying something like, “While this lawsuit is merited, it’s also utterly futile and will only lead to more political damage for a party that has already done itself so much.” But I guess not; the prevailing sentiment is that they simply must strike out at Obama, whether it works or not and whatever the cost to themselves.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, July 31, 2014

August 1, 2014 Posted by | GOP, House Republicans, Impeachment | , , , , | Leave a comment

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