Wednesday, June 19, 2013


For years the Beltway has been in denial about the extremism of the Republican Party, and here's yet more evidence, from Politico, that that state of denial will never, ever change:
They've waxed philosophic about "legitimate rape," reflected on the economic role of "wetbacks" and denounced the actions of "brazen, self-described illegal aliens." They've lamented that "mom got in the workplace" and called out the United States attorney general for casting "aspersions on my asparagus."

Call them the clueless caucus of the Republican Party.
I'd call them "the Republican Party," but hey, that's just me.
As much of the GOP strains to implement a post-2012 course correction, the party has found itself stymied over and over by what leaders describe as a tiny rump of ham-fisted pols with a knack for stumbling onto cable news. No matter what the party leadership is up to in a given month, there's almost invariably a back-bencher in the House of Representatives or a C-list player out in the states who's only too eager to take the wind out of a conservative comeback with some incendiary comment that seizes national attention.
First of all, what evidence is there that the GOP currently "strains to implement a post-2012 course correction"? As soon as the election was over, congressional Republicans went right back to having hearings about Benghazi (and all sorts of new scandals and pseudo-scandals), while trying to repeal Obamacare as if repeal were an obsessive-compulsive disorder. It's quite possible that immigration reform won't make it through the House. Even Bobby Jindal, a guy who told the GOP that it needs to change, now says he's had it will all this change nonsense.

But Politico tells us that the party restructuring is a real thing, regrettably hindered by "a tiny rump of ham-fisted pols with a knack for stumbling onto cable news." What is this "knack"? To me, the word "knack" suggests a special skill -- but if these folks are otherwise "back-bencher[s]" and "C-list player[s]," then obviously they don't have particular communications skills, they just make the news when they say something so transcendently stupid we can't help but notice. Politico, though, makes them sound like the guy you read about in Parade magazine who's been struck by lightning light times -- we can't explain it! it's just one of those things!
It all got started last fall when two Senate candidates — Missouri's Todd Akin and Indiana's Richard Mourdock -- blew up their campaigns with offensive remarks about rape. But the trend of self-destructive, largely marginal Republicans seizing the spotlight has only continued in 2013.
I'd say "it all got started" a lot further back than that -- Dan Quayle? Reagan interior secretary James Watt? Reagan himself?
In January, it was Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey trying to explain how Akin was "partly right" about rape and pregnancy, after all. In March, it was Alaska Rep. Don Young referring to immigrant farm laborers as "wetbacks" on a radio show. The first week in June saw Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant blaming the decline in American education on the advent of "both parents ... working."

Then there was E.W. Jackson, the recently minted Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia whose record of slashing comments about homosexuality and abortion has yielded a steady stream of headlines the past month.

The parade of face-plants only goes on. Last week, Iowa Rep. Steve King announced on Twitter that "illegal aliens have invaded my D.C. office," while Arizona Rep. Trent Franks suggested -- in a mangled comment he rapidly walked back — that relatively few pregnancies result from rape.
Ahhh, but because we all know that Both Sides Do It, we need a balancing set of embarrassing quotes from Democrats. So, Politico, whaddaya got?
It's not that Democrats don’t have people in their ranks who say stupid stuff.... Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean calling the Benghazi uproar a "laughable joke," or coulda-been Senate candidate Ashley Judd comparing mountaintop removal mining to rape, just doesn't send the same ripples when Barack Obama's the unquestioned spokesman for the party.
Seriously? That's the best you have? Two Democrats who don't hold office, one of whom never has and never will, while the other probably never will again? One who's an actress?

And if you watch the clip, you'll see that what Dean was calling a "laughable joke" was the politically cynical GOP campaign to blame President Obama for Benghazi, not the Benghazi incident itself.

But you see what Politico did at the end there: yes, we had trouble scraping together a couple of recent examples of Democratic gaffes, but they're there, you betcha -- they just don't "send the same ripples" because if your party holds the White House, no one ever pays attention to anything any other member of your party says.

Except that wasn't true when Quayle was VP, or Watt was secretary of the interior. Hell, it's not true of Joe Biden -- people notice his gaffes, but they're not ideological gaffes, so they have very little impact.

Republican gaffes matter because they reflect Republican policy. Much of the Republican Party really does want to ban all abortions and deport all undocumented immigrants and wish women back into the kitchen and gay people back into the closet.

The Politico story goes on to tell us that the GOP just has to put more articulate figureheads forward -- like Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, who became the face of the House GOP's successful push to pass a bill banning late-term abortions. Um, isn't that the same Marsha Blackburn who said that women "don't want" the government to pass equal pay laws? Yeah, that'll work.


Victor said...

I'm surprised they didn't go back to the President making fun of senior citizens who've just had serious Medicare operations, when LBJ said on TV, "Wanna see mah scar?"

When reporters are given the DC Village beat, I think they lose the beat of their own drums.

Either they're given lobotomies, or are rewired.

And so, they then can automatically know to look to provide a Democratic tat, for everything the boobs in the Republican Party say.

PurpleGirl said...

The Republicans may not like Ashley Judd but she isn't the only person or the first to compare mountain top strip mining to rape of the land. I know they like to put down the idea of actors as politicians but wasn't St. Ronnie one?

Tom Hilton said...

Republican gaffes matter because they reflect Republican policy.

This should be tattooed backwards on the forehead of every single member of the Washington press corps so they have to read it every time they look in the mirror.

Erika Frensley said...

A bit of a correction/clarification:

Republican gaffes matter because they become Republican policy.

Republicans are no longer trying to hide their downright meanness - they're turning that meanness into policy. And their followers are going for it! Hey, you can be mean and have it mean something politically, if you're a Republican. Once someone has seen the light and frees themselves from all senses of shame and embarrassment, the only way to deal with them is by dropping a mountain on them (possibly indicating it was punishment from God himself if you're so inclined).

Greg said...

Either they're given lobotomies, or are rewired.

They're rewired for elitist hubris. Their commitment is to the idea that Republican and Democratic ideology both lie outside their ideal notion of objective truth. Which often can be summed up as "Being a corporatist tool simply works."

John Glover said...

"It all got started last fall when two Senate candidates — Missouri's Todd Akin and Indiana's Richard Mourdock -- blew up their campaigns with offensive remarks about rape. But the trend of self-destructive, largely marginal Republicans seizing the spotlight has only continued in 2013."

These are not just any old people saying these things. There's no such thing as a "marginal" senator! These are the top leaders of the party!

If these guys are "marginal", who do they consider to be important?