What did conservative leaders and activists feel when they learned of the D.C. Circuit Court decision on Obamacare subsidies? Happiness? Relief? American Prospect blogger Paul Waldman seemed to have another word in mind: schadenfreude -- “satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune.”
In a Tuesday post, Waldman opined that, sure, righties were “excited” that the ruling was a setback for President Obama and the ACA, but “what actually had them so pleased is the possibility that millions of Americans will lose their health insurance.” Republicans, he added, “will gladly crush the lives of ordinary people if it means gaining some momentary partisan advantage.”
Liberals typically accuse conservatives of being fuddy-duddies, squares, and so on, but Daily Kos writer Hunter has a somewhat different take: he thinks most righties are “Reagan hipsters.” The caveat is that he doesn’t mean it as praise.
Apropos of the Republican National Committee selling throwback "Reagan Bush ’84" T-shirts on its website, Hunter asserted Monday that for today’s right-wingers, Reagan is less a paragon of conservatism than “a brand…so stripped of fact and context that he's just the Republican version of a lolcat, and very little more.” He suggested that you can’t blame the GOP for that fact-stripping, given Reagan’s many second-term misdeeds such as aiding “nice homicidal maniacs in Central America.”
Washington Monthly blogger Martin Longman laid it on the line (actually, the headline) on Sunday: “Movement Conservatism is Dead as a National Ideology.”
Longman argued that “[w]ith each passing year, movement conservatism becomes less viable” as a vehicle for winning the White House and opined that Republicans “will lose, possibly in historic, devastating fashion” the next presidential election unless their nominee distances himself from the party base.
How do you visually represent a missed opportunity? In a Sunday column for Salon, What’s the Matter With Kansas? author Thomas Frank suggests one answer: given the Obama administration’s repeated failure to deliver much-needed leftist change, the future Obama presidential library and museum should be “designed as…a mausoleum of hope.”
Obama’s salient mistake, Frank asserts, was that he “propped up” the obviously discredited “shitty consensus ideas” of the Reagan era. He expects that the museum will portray Obama “as a kind of second FDR: the man who saved the system from itself. That perhaps the system didn’t deserve saving will be left to some less-well-funded museum.”
Jeff Shesol, a presidential speechwriter during Bill Clinton’s second term as well as a book and comic-strip author, posted a piece Friday on The New Yorker’s website about “how Republicans have learned to stop worrying and love the lawsuit” – or, less charitably, about conservatives setting aside their traditional opposition to judicial activism whenever an activist decision would benefit them.
Shesol argued that on matters such as Obamacare and gun control, “the right is having it both ways when it comes to the courts…[C]onservatives are doing exactly what they say the left has long done: rushing to litigate political questions, elevating all manner of disputes to the level of high constitutional principle, and asking judges to settle (or revisit) policy arguments that ought to be resolved by legislators or voters.”
In a Friday-morning post, Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall likened the Tea Party to pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine who apparently are responsible for the shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Marshall wrote, “Here we have them break into nursing homes to photographs [sic] senator's comatose wives; there Putin gives them heavy armaments designed for full scale land war in Europe.”
According to American Prospect blogger Paul Waldman, movement conservatives live in a bubble, but in this case none of the cards therein say “Moops.” Rather, each carries the name of what righties (though usually not Waldman himself) consider one or another of the Obama administration’s scandals.
In a Wednesday post, Waldman wrote that what he called “the IRS scandalette” is “an almost perfect expression of contemporary congressional Republicanism” since it features qualities such as “the obsession with conservative victimhood” as well as the GOPers’ “utter disinterest in governing” and their “obliviousness to facts.”
No, Vox blogger Matthew Yglesias has not suggested that an appropriate slogan for the current Republican party would be “Get off our lawn!” Yglesias did, however, argue in a Tuesday post that these days, conservative politics reeks of “oldsterism,” as evidenced by developments including righties advocating large budget cuts except for programs benefiting those 55 and older; “constant bickering about Ronald Reagan”; and George Will’s “column-length rant against blue jeans.” All that and more, Yglesias declared, adds up to a “cranky” GOP that won’t win the votes of most young people.
From Yglesias’s post (bolding added; italics in original):
In a hit record from 1974, a girl repeatedly told a suitor, “I don’t like spiders and snakes.” Presumably no one back then thought the song had any political overtones, but forty years later a post on the Mother Jones website has suggested that the girl’s remark meant she probably was a right-winger.
MoJo science writer Chris Mooney reported Tuesday on a recent paper that claims conservatives have, in his account, “a ‘negativity bias,’ meaning that they are physiologically more attuned to negative (threatening, disgusting) stimuli in their environments” (including huge spiders). He asserted that righties’ extreme wariness leads them to support “a strong military, tough law enforcement, resistance to immigration, widespread availability of guns.”
Every so often a liberal pundit argues that even though Paul Ryan considers himself Catholic, his beliefs (on economics, at least) are closer to those of Ayn Rand than those of the Vatican. In a Friday piece for AlterNet, atheist writer CJ Werleman, author of books such as God Hates You. Hate Him Back, made a similar but far broader charge, claiming that Republicans in general routinely “conflate…Rand’s Atlas Shrugged with the Bible.”
In his article, Werleman discussed findings from a recent survey in which respondents speculated about the positions Jesus Christ would have taken on current political issues. Werleman opined that 80 percent of Democrats were right to think that Jesus would have backed universal health care (“it’s hard to imagine Jesus would deny care to those who lack the financial means to enjoy the comfort of our for-profit capitalist healthcare industry”) and declared that overall, the poll results showed that “Democrats align themselves more with the values of Jesus than [does] the proclaimed party of Jesus, the GOP.”
Obamacare is succeeding, declared American Prospect blogger Paul Waldman on Thursday, and he predicts that ongoing development will bifurcate Republicans’ approaches to their 2014 congressional campaigns. Waldman thinks that purple-state GOP candidates will refrain from bashing the Affordable Care Act, but red-state candidates will discuss it in “apocalyptic terms” in order to agitate “voters [who] will still get angry every time the word [‘Obamacare’] is spoken.”
Waldman sees that split as part of a “larger Republican dilemma” caused by “the interests of the national GOP [being] at odds with the interests of the bulk of the party's officeholders,” who have to answer to the base. One result of this dilemma, he added, will be that in 2016, the eventual Republican presidential nominee “will face two dramatically different electorates; [i]t's as though they'll be running in Mississippi in the primaries, then in Ohio in the general election.”
When TV’s Sunday-morning political chat shows book conservative guests, maybe they’re just trying to be evenhanded, but The Nation media blogger Leslie Savan opined in a Tuesday post that often the programs do it so that the right will be less likely to badger them about their liberal bias. As Savan put it, “Sometimes seeking balance is really a plea to call off the dogs.”
What riled up Savan in the first place was one such booking, of Dinesh D’Souza on last Sunday’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” but she also griped about the Sunday shows generally letting Tea Party guests off easy (“It’s as if mainstream media are as afraid of the far right as John Boehner is”) as well as about “the corporate media…offer[ing] their stage to far-right media figures” including Laura Ingraham.
Washington Monthly blogger Ed Kilgore has found some people he thinks conservatives hate even more than they hate President Obama: the thousands of Central American children trying to enter the U.S. at its border with Mexico. After all, righties are merely obsessed with making Obama at least as unpopular in his second term as George W. Bush was in his, but they want to “immediately ship [the] children back across the border in cattle cars,” or maybe just shoot them. But Obama's apparently so much more compassionate than Bush.
Much like Don Quixote mistook windmills for giants and wished to do battle with them, Republicans wrongly perceive Democrats as extreme leftists and consequently work themselves into an ideological lather.
That was, essentially, one of the main points that Salon’s Paul Rosenberg made in his Saturday piece on "Tea Party phonies" pegged to the Pew Research Center’s recent study on American political polarization. Rosenberg contended, reasonably enough, that congressional Republicans as a group are far more conservative than their counterparts of fifty years ago, but also claimed strangely that congressional Democrats are, overall, no more liberal than their mid-’60s predecessors.
New York magazine political writer Jonathan Chait isn’t a big fan of reform conservatives, but he did comment in a Sunday post that their “worldview,” unlike that of the Republican base, isn’t expressed as “a series of furious scrawlings on mental chalkboards.” (Presumably, Chait figures that the reformicons favor a crisp PowerPoint presentation.)
Chait lauds the reformers for implicitly rejecting the “apocalypticism” of movement conservatives, which holds, in his words, “that Barack Obama’s agenda poses a dire threat to the fabric of American life, that a reversal must be sweeping in its scope and undertaken immediately.”
Would right-wingers like a larger presence in mainstream news and entertainment media, or would they rather grumble about the MSM’s liberal bias while patronizing conservative media outlets? To American Prospect blogger Paul Waldman, it’s clear that the second is correct.
Waldman’s peg for his Wednesday post was a National Review piece by editor and publisher Adam Bellow on the need for a conservative counterculture that would produce novels, movies, music, and so on. Apropos of Bellow’s comment that it’s too bad righties have “hived ourselves off into our own politicized media bubble,” Waldman snipes that conservatives want very much to stay inside said bubble, even though it leaves them prone to “all kinds of pathological beliefs and behaviors.”
Many of the claims made for, and sometimes by, Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign were amazingly lofty, hyperbolic, or both, even by political standards. Remember the columnist who speculated that Obama might be “a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being…who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet”? Remember Obama’s own “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal”?
In a Wednesday post, Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum asserted that back then, at least two persons weren’t riding the Obama wave. One was Drum himself, who felt conservatives made Obama out to be much more messianic-sounding than he was. Drum thought the Obama of ’08 was a typical Democrat who gave “soaring speeches” because “[t]hat's what presidential candidates do.” Now, however, Drum sees that “millions of Obama voters really believed all that boilerplate rhetoric.”
If you’re choosing one person who best represents America’s journalistic establishment, it’d be hard to top Steve Coll, a former Washington Post reporter and managing editor who’s now dean of Columbia University’s journalism school; a member of the Pulitzer Prize board; and a staff writer for the New Yorker.
On Wednesday, Coll posted a piece on the New Yorker’s website in which he argued that if the Supreme Court were to consistently apply the religious-freedom principle it endorsed in the Hobby Lobby case, it would have to allow an essentially Taliban-owned U.S. corporation to deny insurance coverage for polio vaccines for the children of its employees, since the Taliban believe that such vaccines, in Coll’s words, “violate God’s law.”
Much of the left only kinda-sorta distinguishes between mainstream pro-lifers and the violent fringe responsible for acts such as the killing of George Tiller. Take Daily Kos writer Dante Atkins, who on Sunday acknowledged that a mere “aspect” of the pro-life movement resorts to terrorism, but a few lines later asserted that the “movement…publicly celebrated” Tiller’s murder. Atkins also claimed that “anti-abortion activists will continue to…skirt the fringes of legality in their efforts to make women feel unsafe in exercising their constitutional rights.”
These riffs on abortion were just the intro to Atkins’s climactic point: that conservatives should have to deal with a form of sidewalk counseling from (possibly armed) lefties, and not just outside abortion clinics, either. From Atkins’s post (emphasis added):
Last fall, not long after the federal government’s partial shutdown ended, The New Yorker’s David Denby alleged that shutdown point man Ted Cruz seemed to be pursuing the presidency “by sowing as much confusion and disorder as possible—playing the joker in a seemingly nihilistic charade whose actual intent is a rational grab for power.”
There’s nothing as pointed or nasty as that in “The Absolutist,” Jeffrey Toobin’s 8,400-word New Yorker profile of Cruz, but Toobin does paint Cruz as an extremist – more of a Goldwater figure than a Reagan figure – as well as a hypocrite regarding judicial activism.
There’s a saying that “life isn’t one damn thing after another – it’s the same damn thing over and over again.” That’s essentially what Steve Benen, a producer for MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” argued regarding the IRS scandal in a Thursday blog post on the “TRMS” website.
Benen claimed that throughout “the imaginary IRS ‘scandal,’ there’s [been] an interesting pattern of events that serves as a template for every development. It starts with an alarming report, which is followed by scrutiny, which leads to details that make the original report appear meaningless.”
Hillary Clinton is touring to promote her State Department memoir “Hard Choices,” but most of the news she’s made along the way relates to her personal finances, not her tenure in Foggy Bottom. On Tuesday, New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait examined Hillary’s “dead broke” comment and other recent remarks and revelations about the Clintons’ money with an eye toward whether or not they’ll hamper her presumed presidential campaign.
Chait opined that while some of the Clintons’ “buckraking” constitutes “both a problem of perception and a problem of substance,”Hillary nonetheless has two big economic things going for her heading into 2016: voters’ memories of the strong economy during Bill’s presidency, and the near-certainty that if she becomes the nominee, her opponent will represent “a Republican Party still wedded to the upward redistribution of income as its central policy goal.”
As you probably know, the 1980s were boom years for conservatives. Among the most prominent right-wingers back then: Ronald Reagan, Tom Clancy, Casey Kasem…
OK, Kasem, who died on June 15, actually was a staunch liberal, a supporter in that decade of Jesse Jackson and later of Dennis Kucinich. But during the ‘80s, wrote Scott Timberg in a Sunday piece for Salon, “we had a political and economic revolution, spearheaded by a one-time actor who was often massively popular, that did the same thing as” Kasem’s radio show, “American Top 40.”
Many years ago, Stephen Colbert asserted that “reality has a well-known liberal bias.” Chris Mooney of Mother Jones wants to make sure you understand that mathematics (a well-known subset of reality) does, too.
This past Friday, Mooney, author of books including “The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science – and Reality,” posted a piece about a new book by mathematician Jordan Ellenberg which posits, in Mooney’s words, that “mathematics isn't simply about the calculations involving, you know, numbers; rather, it's a highly nuanced approach to solving problems...[M]athematics means glimpsing the entire structure of a problem, so that you can figure out how best to attack it, and so that you'll know how reliable your ultimate answers will be.”
Hillary Clinton is not as complex as the universe, but she's Big and Important enough for Peter Beinart to call his 4,600-word National Journal piece on her hypothetical presidency "A Unified Theory of Hillary" and appear to mean it (mostly) seriously.
The article deals more with Hillary's personality than with her ideology (for what it's worth, Beinart classifies Hillary, along with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, as moderate liberals). Beinart lauds her "passion for public policy," her "formidable analytical ability," and her "[s]ingle-mindedness," but contends that last quality also is her "greatest flaw," pointing to how she suffered major setbacks on health-care reform and, eventually, the Iraq war because she did not, and perhaps could not, adjust to political realities.
Democrats control the White House and Senate and won a clear majority of the vote in 2012 House elections, but American Prospect co-editor Robert Kuttner thinks that Republicans might be even less popular if Dems weren’t so shy about advocating economic policies markedly to the left of the ones they now support.
In a Monday post, Kuttner argued that only the rich have benefited from thirty-plus years of “tax cuts, limited social spending, deregulation, and privatization,” which caused him to wonder, “If conservatives offer little that’s credible to the anxious middle class, why aren’t liberals just trouncing them?” His three-part answer:
It’s been common for a few years to observe that Democrats and Republicans barely talk with each other anymore, but if you believe Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall, these days the two parties aren’t even truly fighting with each other.
In a Tuesday blog post, Marshall claimed that each party now is “operating in [its] own political universe.” In one universe, President Obama ignores obstructionist GOPers and uses his executive powers to accomplish what he can; in the other, Republicans and their media allies are less concerned with thwarting Obama than with revving up their base, largely by flogging Benghazi and other scandals.
In a 2008 column for The Hill, Daily Kos boss Markos Moulitsas warned Democrats not to listen to Republican "concern trolls," a term for those on one side of the political fence who seek to undermine the other side by offering it seemingly good (but actually bad) counsel. "Democrats," wrote Moulitsas, "understand that they're not in the business of giving their opponents advice."
Nonetheless, a Daily Kos writer stepped up to the concern-troll plate this past Sunday when Ian Reifowitz called on non-Tea Party GOPers in Virginia’s 7th congressional district to vote for Democratic nominee Jack Trammell in order to “punish Republicans who are too extreme,” including nominee Dave Brat. “If there isn't a civil war within the Republican Party yet, there sure ought to be,” opined Reifowitz, “and the 7th District is where sane Republicans need to make a stand.”
Democrats traditionally enjoy playing up their internal disorganization (often using some sort of analogy to “herding cats”) while tweaking Republicans for that party's top-down style. Now, however, as Peter Beinart pointed out in a Thursday post on the Atlantic’s website, there’s an “unprecedented crisis of authority in today’s GOP,” whereas among Dems “party hierarchies are clear and largely unchallenged.”
What caused the reversal? Beinart argues that it starts with Democrats’ optimism and Republicans’ pessimism about the prospects for what they want America to become. Dems looking to the future “see a growing constituency for tolerance and social justice,” while GOPers “see a growing constituency of takers, who want to turn America away from its exceptional nature.”
The term “permanent revolution” is usually associated with Marxism, but American Prospect blogger Paul Waldman believes that these days, it’s movement conservatives who are talkin’ about a permanent revolution, and that their ideal Republican pol is an “agent of chaos and destruction, or at least pretend[s] that's who he is.”
In a Thursday post, Waldman quoted RealClearPolitics analyst Sean Trende’s explanation, in the wake of Eric Cantor’s loss, for why, in Trende’s words, “the Republican base is furious with the Republican establishment, especially over the Bush years.” Waldman’s reaction: