Saturday, February 09, 2013


When we think back to what Republicans were doing in early 2009, just after Barack Obama was inaugurated, it's easy to forget that important members of the party seemed inclined to go somewhat moderate, at least in terms of style, in an attempt to win back voters. This happened in May 2009:
Pizza Party

Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, and Eric Cantor experiment with bottom-up Republicanism.

It's Saturday morning at a pizzeria in Arlington, Va., and the Republican Party may have just discovered the key to its comeback. "Free pizza for everybody all day!" jokes Mitt Romney, perched on a stool next to House Minority Whip Eric Cantor and former Gov. Jeb Bush....

Drumming up new solutions is the mission of the National Council for a New America, a coalition of Republican leaders announced last week and led by Cantor. In the coming months, top leaders will travel around the country soliciting ideas from average Americans....

For the kickoff event, a few dozen local Republicans -- including names like Grover Norquist -- packed into Pie-tanza, a small restaurant in a suburban strip mall, to see Romney, Cantor, and Bush discuss the GOP's future.

The conversation steered clear of hot-button issues like gay marriage and immigration, focusing instead on the economy, health care, and education....
Sounds like early 2013, doesn't it? In place of Romney, you've got this year's presidential aspirants, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio, making outreach noises. In place of Eric Cantor, you've got, um, Eric Cantor.

But that's not what we remember about Republicans in 2009. What we remember is a big group of angry, intransigent folks in Medicare scooters and tricorn hats waving Obama-as-Hitler pictures and creating the sense that what elected Republicans were actually in the process of doing -- impeding Obama as much as possible -- was a stance with broad popular support.

I think 2013 and 2014 are going to be a semi-rerun of 2009 and 2010. Reporters are being distracted by the shiny object of moderate-sounding pronouncements from presidential wannabes, and by Fox News dumping Sarah Palin and Dick Morris (never mind the fact that Fox is still welcoming the likes of Ann Coulter and Donald Trump, and offering a platform for the tirades of Ted Nugent).

The biggest differences between 2013 and 2009 seem to be that the right isn't sending an angry army out into the streets, and that the GOP feels it can't be quite so blatant about its efforts to render Obama incapable of governing.

So Republicans are picking their battles -- and they clearly seem to feel that since ordinary Americans don't have a personal stake in the fate of presidential appointees, the GOP can bottle up or slow-walk nearly every confirmation process. (OK, not the one Republicans thought was going to open up a winnable Senate seat.) To Susan Rice, Chuck Hagel, and Richard Cordray, add the name Jack Lew:
An investment Jack Lew made in the Cayman Islands has been flagged as an issue in the Treasury secretary nominee's vetting by the Senate Finance Committee, according to multiple sources close to the confirmation process.

The White House says the investment was previously disclosed and is already a public matter...

"He's got to still answer some questions or we may have to postpone the hearing," Hatch told POLITICO on Thursday....
Yes, I would like to live in a country where the president of the more left-wing party wouldn't pick someone for Treasury who had Caymans investments. And, yes, after the way Mitt Romney got beaten up last year for his finances, I guess payback was inevitable.

But this is an issue that hasn't mattered to Republicans before:
Lew has been confirmed by the Senate three times in the past -- twice by unanimous consent. He was confirmed as director of the Office of Management and Budget under both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and as deputy secretary of State under Obama.
And, of course, it's OK if you're a Republican:
... when Henry Paulson, then the CEO of Goldman Sachs, was nominated to be Treasury Secretary by President Bush in 2006, Republicans didn't find issues with Paulson's large investments in the Cayman Islands and Hatch gave a statement in support of Paulson's nomination.

Paulson's financial disclosure showed 21 Cayman investments.
Republicans are going to keep this up. Republicans are going to block staggering numbers of nominees -- and I absolutely believe that will include Supreme Court nominees. I won't be surprised if Obama leaves office with a couple of High Court vacancies unfilled, possibly for years.

Oh, but Marco Rubio is hip enough to like Tupac, so it's OK, right?


aimai said...

Well spotted, Steve. You've got an incredible memory.

However I actually don't worry about the GOP blocking the high profile appointments. They are simply blathering about it but they will end up confirming everyone, I think. Its farther down the list that I worry about given teh recess apointments ruling.

Victor said...

When is the stupid MSM going to start pointing out that today's Republicans are like stubborn 3 year-olds who can't stop crying or whining unless they get their way?

Yeah, ok, I'll provide my own SASTQ:

Oh, and don't discount that maybe they'll brew up something else really stupid this summer, to keep their old white people frothing through their dentures.

Unknown said...

I'll build on your "Imagine if ..." point from your previous post and say: Imagine if, after an unsuccessful election, a bunch of Democrats, say maybe Obama included, formed a group called the National Council for a New America.

The howling would reach jet-engine levels immediately: "A NEW AMERICA??!!?? Whassa matter with the OLD one?! Greatest country on Earth EVAH!"

Ten Bears said...

So what... I like Tupac and I'm a crusty old (half-white) grandpa.

A conversation on the eerie similarities of today's socially outspoken music, in partcular the suburban hip-hop, and that of my gereration's late sixties "rage against the machine" could be fun. I would argue younguns today - from my four kids 27 - 32 and six grandkids 0.25 - 10 - are far better informed as to the world we are handing them than we were, or give them credit for. But to understand that you have to listen, a skillset rare these days.

When you talk about a revolution, well, you know...

No fear...