It seems even Fox News is becoming concerned with reality – at least for now, that is:
Karl Rove’s familiar 2012 presence on Fox News appears to be coming to a halt.
New York Magazine reports that President Roger Ailes is limiting Rove and fellow contributor Dick Morris’ presences for the time being. A Fox News representative affirmed the situation to NYMag, adding that programming chief Bill Shine conveyed “the election’s over.”
The following day, Rove appeared on Fox News, charging that Obama’s victory was a product of the president’s ability to suppress the vote.
Dick Morris, a supposed sage in the industry, predicted a lop sided victory for Romney, making about the millionth bogus political forecast in his charmed career and finally drawing ire from his employer.
The pair of them did their best to convince viewers during the election of a make believe world where Republicans were way ahead of the game and Obama a lame duck President waiting to cede office to its rightful, rich white heir. And now reality has set in, there doesn’t seem to be much point in them. This doesn’t mean much – Fox News is still a propaganda arm of the Republican Party, but it does indicate that the Right is becoming increasingly concerned with being wrong all the time. The memory of Karl Rove having a serious meltdown on election night when it became clear Obama was going to take Ohio is a powerful one. Rove had not only spent millions of dollars of his rich friend’s money on the election, but had spent weeks telling everyone it was a sure bet. His refusal to accept reality was amazing to watch, and it looks like Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch have finally decided that he is no longer an asset to Republican interests.
In response to President Obama’s offer last week to hike taxes by $1.6 trillion and to exempt Medicare and Social Security from cuts to beneficiaries, the Republicans have finally presented a counter offer. From Buzz Feed:
House Republicans put their criticisms of President Barack Obama’s fiscal cliff package to paper Monday with an offer of their own.
The $2.2 trillion Republican package includes $800 billion in revenue from tax reform and $600 billion in health care savings, among other proposals.
The plan, detailed in a letter that was sent from House Republicans to the White House on Monday, is based in principle on a proposal originally engineered by Erskine Bowles, the co-chair of the president’s deficit-reduction commission.
And of course, the counter offer does not include raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and focuses almost entirely on spending cuts. Given Obama has stated explicitly that he will not accept a deal that doesn’t raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, the counter proposal is completely pointless. You can read the offer in full here:
This is probably not the best line of attack from the Republicans on Susan Rice. From Buzzfeed:
Republicans aimed criticism at U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice Thursday for having modest stakes in companies that did business with Iran. And while the revelation has driven new questions and fodder for those opposing her nomination as secretary of state, one of Rice’s most vocal critics, Senator John McCain, maintains investments in two of the same companies — ENI and Royal Dutch Shell –through funds revealed in his financial disclosures.
McCain holds stock holds between $1,000-$15,000 in the JPMorgan International Value Fund through his spouse, according to his 2011 financial disclosure form. 3.6% of the fund is currently invested in Royal Dutch Shell, the dutch oil company which owes Iran more than $1 billion in oil payments.
It is amazing Republicans are still trying to derail Rice’s path to Secretary of State, and this latest attack is almost as ridiculous as the Benghazi debacle. Given the Republicans sat quietly while Bush and Cheney directly pressured the CIA to doctor information it presented the public in regards to Iraq, and did nothing when it was revealed they ignored specific warnings about attacks previous to 9/11, their new found horror at Susan Rice’s innocent relaying of a faulty CIA report is an insult to the public’s intelligence. The latest tack is equally hypocritical and pointless, but they’re obviously banking on hurling so much mud on Rice that something will stick.
It’s unlikely that any of this will work as President Obama has forcefully defended Rice at every opportunity and will probably spend some of his Presidential election victory capital on ensuring her pathway to the position. So it’s really venom for venom’s sake, and it’s not making the Republicans look good. The public will see this as the merciless hounding of a black women by lots of angry white conservatives, and probably rightly so.
Voter suppression: Republicans have few options left
By Ben Cohen: We discuss the topic of Republican voter suppression in this weeks mailbag, but I thought it was worth expanding on a little given how serious the issue is. A reader asked whether we thought that the Republican’s admission that they tried to stop minorities from voting would change anything for elections going forward, and I answered that it most likely wouldn’t.
The answer why is fairly straight forward – Republicans lost the general election in part because of the ‘demographic time bomb’ and unless they change their policies, they don’t really have any other way of sustaining electoral viability. As Steve Benen noted:
Mitt Romney took an enormous gamble about a year ago: he would run very far to the right on immigration policy, alienating the fastest growing segment of the American electorate on purpose, in order to secure the Republican Party’s nomination. Then, he hoped to be able to avoid a drubbing from Latino voters in the general election. It was, as Ron Brownstein put it, Romney’s “original sin.”
The gamble, we now know, failed miserably. President Obama won close races in Colorado, Nevada, and (probably) Florida, and it was Latino voters who made this success possible.
We covered the issue of voter fraud a couple of months back, talking with Craig Unger about his book ‘Boss Rove’ where the Vanity Fair contributing editor detailed Karl Rove’s extraordinary efforts to suppress the vote in Ohio in 2004. The picture Unger painted of Republican efforts to stop minorities from voting was terrifying to say the least. Here’s an excerpt from the interview we did where Unger outlines GOP attempts to stop minority voting in the 2012 election:
“You’re going to see this on a large scale in the upcoming election,” he explained to me. “That is Karl Rove who is the father of voter IDs and voter suppression. He started a campaign, he started it before 2004 in Ohio saying that there’s widespread voter fraud, people who a registering are Mickey Mouse and so forth, or they are dead people being registered to vote en-masse and as a result we need voter IDs. But the fact of the matter is that this type of thing happens very very rarely.”……..
Rove, a careful and insightful strategist has long understood that the Republicans face a demographic ticking time bomb. There are around 50 million Hispanics in America today, and there will be about 70 million in about 2020. In Texas alone there are roughly 10 million Hispanics, and they vote about 2:1 for Democrats. Rove is extremely worried that if they were to start voting in large numbers states like Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico will turn blue, and he’s working diligently on strategies to keep voter turn out low.
“It’s also been called ‘Juan Crow’ because of the challenges the Republican face demographically,” said Unger. “The answer has been to keep these people from voting. And they do that again and again. They do it in the black districts in Ohio, in Cleveland, in Cuyahoga County — I itemize this in my book, but the lack of voting machines, and I refer to the technique of cross over voting where blacks were shunted to the wrong voting booths deliberately and when that happens you’re using punch cards, you may not know it but if you vote for the Democrat, the vote actually goes to the wrong candidate.”
Unger’s predictions played out exactly on election day and in states like Florida, thousands of minorities were prevented from voting by the hiring of ‘election consultants’ that pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours, knowing African American and immigrant communities tended to vote early. In 2008 Democrats, minorities turned out in unprecedented numbers for the President. For example, in Palm Beach County, 61.2 percent of all early voting ballots were cast by Democrats that year, compared with only 18.7 percent by Republicans. In a stunning admission from the Former Republican Party Chairman in Florida Jim Greer, he revealed he had attended meetings where consultants made clear that early voting had to stopped at all costs. From The Palm Beach Post:
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told The Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only. … ‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,’ ” Greer said he was told by those staffers and consultants.
“They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,” Greer said. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”
The demographic change presents a true nightmare scenario for the GOP, and its attempts to circumvent this have been truly horrifying. Republicans are catching on to the fact that labeling half the American population as ‘social parasites’ and ‘takers’ isn’t good when it comes to getting votes. This theme has been perpetuated in public – mostly on Fox News and Right Wing radio – but the audience is limited and the knock on effects counterproductive. Most Americans in the center are not comfortable with that type of rhetoric, and the Democrats are hoovering up wavering voters with a more inclusive approach to politics.
So what options do Republicans have going forward?
We’re starting to see cracks in the low tax militancy front with several prominent Republicans saying they would budge when it comes to negotiating with Obama on the fast approaching ‘fiscal cliff’, some have made noise about toning down the anti immigrant rhetoric (with even Sean Hannity doing an about turn), and pro choice, pro gay marriage Republicans have begun to make themselves more visible. But the change isn’t exactly dramatic and it won’t be enough to undo the years of abusive rhetoric and archaic policy proposals that have come to define the Republican Party.
The only choice they have left is to continue efforts to stop minorities and poor people from voting – the conclusion Karl Rove has obviously come to and is dedicating all his resources to pursuing. The Republican’s admission that they were involved in voter suppression shines some much needed light on the skeletons in their closet, but in reality it’s only scratching the surface.
Michael Cohen in the Guardian makes a persuasive argument that Republicans don’t have much to gain by holding the economy to ransom again during the ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations:
In the end, neither side has all that much to gain from dragging the fiscal cliff argument out. Now that President Obama has won re-election, and doing short-term damage to the economy is no longer in the political interests of Republicans, the outlines of a budget deal become that much easier to achieve. Moreover, all those House Republicans have to run for re-election in two years – and would prefer to do so in more optimal economic conditions, rather than in an economy undermined by growth-reducing austerity policies.
There were once good political reasons for Republicans to have a dalliance with economic calamity; no longer is that true. And it’s worth remembering that in virtually every single showdown between Obama and the Republican Congress in his first term (from the tax cut showdown of 2010 and the budget battle of early 2011, to the debt limit negotiations in the summer of 2011 and finally the payroll tax confrontation in the beginning of 2012), it has been Republicans who have surrendered, with far less than half a loaf. In its brinkmanship, the GOP likes to dance right up to the edge; they are far less inclined to take the plunge.
I think Cohen is correct in his analysis – Americans believe that President Obama’s economic policies are heading the country in the right direction, and explicitly rejected austerity at the polls in November. GOP strategists know this and will not be keen to shoulder the blame for a break down in the negotiations, making a decent deal for the Democrats a good possibility. It looks like Obama is sticking to his guns on raising taxes for the wealthy, meaning the onus is on Republicans to budge from their previous position on taxation.
Time for Republicans to get rid of the Romneys and Trumps
By Ben Cohen: It’s fairly clear that the Republican Party is in a state of serious disarray after getting hammered in the general election. The once unified party has begun to crack at the seams, fracturing over issues that were once untouchable cornerstones of Republican ideology. Up for grabs are women’s rights, the environment, foreign policy and now even taxation. Which strand of Republicanism will define the future of the party? Will the hardliners – the libertarians, religious fundamentalists, and tea party activist win the day, or will moderates find a way to bring the party under control and present a more sensible brand of conservatism going forward?
One thing is clear – what they are doing now is not working, and it’s going to get much, much worse. They are facing a demographic nightmare and an evolving public consciousness that free market capitalism and tax cuts are not the solution to the nation’s woes. Republicans are going to have to think out of the box if they want long term electoral success, and many of their ideas won’t be popular.
While the Left should be happy that the Republicans are a mess, it isn’t good for democracy to have one party so removed from reality that there is little point engaging with them. So here are some suggestions for top brass at GOP central – a five step program to get their house in order and get back to being relevant in a rapidly changing country that is leaving them behind. The steps we’ve outlined won’t be easy to implement, but they are necessary if the Republicans want to attract top talent and capture the imagination of the public:
1. Publicly disown prominent media blowhards like Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump, Mark Levin, and Sean Hannity. Moderate Republicans need to take control of the GOP messaging quickly and aggressively, and that begins with creating a very visible rift between the party and the Fox News propaganda complex. This will be extremely painful to do and the backlash will be vicious and prolonged. But Limbaugh et al. are paper tigers with no substance behind their rhetoric and Republicans will have to gamble that in the long term, honesty and reality will win. As Andrew Sullivan stated on Bill Maher’s ‘Real Time’, “The first conservative who will be the future of that [Republican] party will be the one who says Rush Limbaugh does not speak for the Republican Party, he is a poison on the discourse…..You see the media industrial complex on the right is so lucrative, they don’t want to lose him and it is now controlling a political party. That has to be severed, Fox News has to be demonized, has to be cut off.”
2. Join the President in opposing Citizens United. There are already signs that Republicans are aware of just how corrosive and dangerous the Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was, and there needs to be a unified effort to reverse the decision and ban unlimited outside funding of political campaigns. As Jonathan Chait wrote during the Republican primary:
The Republican elite is justifiably terrified at the prospect of Newt Gingrich capturing the nomination. Gingrich, as I’ve argued, is riding the wave of revulsion and contempt for President Obama that this same Establishment has stoked for three years. But his campaign is also blowback to the party Establishment in another, more mechanical way. His campaign is surviving entirely as a result of the Citizens United ruling, decried by liberals and celebrated by conservatives, which allows unlimited campaign expenditures, as long as they’re not coordinated with campaigns.
Unlimited funding means that corporate interests will almost always win, or at least drag politics in a direction that works against the long term interests of the Republican Party. The GOP needs to change its economic platform if it wants to remain relevant because the era of Romney style vulture capitalism is getting increasingly harder to sell.
3. Use traditional Republicanism as the basis for a new economic ideology and completely disown Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman. Traditional conservatism doesn’t bow to markets – it believes in small government, but also believes in curtailing the power of big business. There is a Libertarian dictatorship within the Republican Party, and it has stifled debate making change almost impossible. Market fanaticism has ensured the party has had no new ideas in over 30 years, and this cannot go on. There are Republicans not wedded to the dictates of deregulated markets and they need to be given a more prominent platform. Joe Scarborough represents a type of conservatism that has been long dead in America and has the guts to actually tell the truth about who owns the party. We need to hear more from people like him.
4. Stop lying. The Republican Party has a terrible track record with telling the truth. Mitt Romney’s run at the Presidency exemplified modern Republican politics perfectly – it was based on lying about literally everything, from abortion to taxation and global warming. And in particular, Republicans have lied about President Obama. The Republicans have waged a completely dishonest campaign against the President, promoting an insidious mythology that he is some sort of closet communist Muslim who hates America. There are many, many issues that the President can be criticized for – drone killings, the NDAA, wire tapping, his ties to Wall st etc etc – all issues that true conservatives should be seriously concerned about. Instead, the Republican Party has created a make believe Obama and attacked that making them look idiotic in the process.
5. Embrace environmentalism. This could be key to redefining the Republican Party. It sounds far fetched and so contradictory to current Republicanism that dismisses global warming and regards environmentalists as subhuman (Ann Coulter once said, “The lower species are here for our use. God said so: Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and rape the planet — it’s yours”), but it could capture an entire new demographic. There are non political Evangelical Christians who would line up behind them if they got serious, activists who would jump ship immediately if the Republicans outflanked the Democrats, and a new generation that is disenchanted with both parties inactivity on the issue.
Do you have any suggestions for the Grand Old Party, or do you think it best they stay confused and politically neutered? Comment below and we’ll post the best suggestions!
It’s too early to claim victory, but the GOP’s unified front in regards to taxation appears to be breaking. From the Guardian:
Cracks in Republican opposition to tax rises for the wealthy grew bigger on Wednesday as Barack Obama increased pressure on the party to accept a deal to resolve the fiscal cliff crisis before the holidays.
Obama, emboldened by his election victory, proposed a bill to stop 98% of taxpayers facing automatic rises in January but imposing increases on the remaining 2% of the highest earners. Deep cuts in spending would be left until next year. “My hope is to get this done before Christmas,” he said.
Republican congressman Tom Cole, a former chairman of the national Republican congressional committee, broke ranks to say the party should accept Obama’s tax proposal. He went further even than three of his Republican colleagues who have said over the last week they might consider accepting rises.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) signaled no new willingness to bend on raising taxes for the rich Wednesday after one of his more respected GOP colleagues suggested the party should take President Barack Obama’s offer to extend Bush-era tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans.
What does this mean? I’m betting they cave to Obama on this – this is the first time in recent memory the GOP has not presented a completely unified front when it comes to taxation, and any signs of weakness means internal debate must be fierce. Obama knows this and will most likely stick to his guns and watch the Republicans fight it out amongst them, then hit them when they’re even weaker. And as we’ve seen, that’s the way to beat them.
Gawker’s mysteriously anonymous ‘Mobutu Sese Seko’ reminds jubilant Democrats and the liberal media not to proclaim the GOP dead just yet:
There’s a time for champagne, though, and that’s election night. After that, reality sticks its head in the tent, and there’s no bigger or more relevant buzzkill than 2008. In that election, Democrats won both houses of congress, including a senate supermajority, and the presidency. Not only did they defeat a “war hero” and a hot lady, they did so with a goofy older guy who looks like he goes to sleep with a UV light in his mouth to lighten his CRELM TOOTHPASTE gleam—and also a black dude. It seemed as if there couldn’t be a bigger repudiation of the Republican Party and its ethos. Democrats were in charge of everything but the judiciary, riding the high of electing the hitherto racially unelectable.
Two years later, the Democrats had lost the house and significant gubernatorial races, introducing the country to men like Scott Walker or the preposterous mantis-creature Rick Scott—the biggest Medicare fraudster in history, who ran on a platform of government somehow hindering wealth creation, despite all the things he billed it for. The inevitability of Obama’s new leftist ascendancy was crushed by the election of someone like Allen West, basically a whackjob authoritarian-sexting Iraqi torturer whose voice programming got stuck for two years on a “HitlerHitlerHitlerHitler” loop.
The argument is a solid one, but it should also be remembered that the economy was falling off a cliff in 2008 giving Republicans quite a lot of wiggle room to pin some of the blame on Obama. This time around the economy is on the up and the Republicans are in the beginning of what looks to be a civil war between the moderates and the hard Right. Extremists only get attention in times of economic hardship, and as long as the economy keeps picking up jobs, the crazies won’t be anywhere near as relevant.
Having said that, the Democrats should not rest on their laurels and assume long term victory. The Republicans have been brilliant at negotiating in the past, forcing concessions from Obama before talks have even begun. We’re about to witness the big ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations and it’s probably best to see what the Democrats are able to walk away with before dismissing the Republicans as an irrelevant party of the past.
By Ben Cohen: The best way to know whether a theory works or not is to test it in the field. In economics we get to see this happen whenever a new government comes into power and implements their particular ideology. There are two major economic theories industrialized nations around the world subscribe to – ‘Keynesian economics’ or ‘Monetarism’. The first involves the use of government to regulate and stimulate the economy, and the latter explicitly rejects the role of government and extolls the virtues of free markets. Generally speaking, Western countries have been fairly flexible when it comes to applying one model or the other, and many have done about turns when their economies have hit hard times. The US pulled out of a major depression through massive amounts of government spending in the 1940′s that completely changed the country’s industrial capabilities, and more recently countries like Brazil and Bolivia rejected neo liberal economics in favor of a Keynesian approach.
Throughout history, free market capitalism has been popular until markets collapse and government is forced to pick up the pieces. But in recent times, particularly in America and much of Europe, the belief in monetarism has been so extreme that even when markets collapse, economists have urged government to stay out and maintain their belief that markets will miraculously correct themselves.
President Obama defied the orthodoxy when he came to power in 2008, partly because George W. Bush had already authorized a huge stimulus package to bail out Wall St, but also because of the enormous recession that threatened to topple the country if left unchecked. Obama pushed through a $787 billion dollar package that amongst other things, bailed out the automobile industry and ensured states could go on paying policemen, firemen and teachers.
Given the crash in 2008 wiped upwards of $12.8 trillion off the economy, Republicans who believed in the power of markets to correct themselves found their pleas falling on deaf ears, with many accepting the need for some sort of intervention. Economists on the Left believed the stimulus was too small and would only lead to a partial recovery, while economists on the Right believed it would fail because government was the impediment to growth, not the engine.
The reality is that economists on the Left were right – Obama’s stimulus and subsequent economic program has been moderately successful leading to a partial economic recovery and slow road back to stability. And while it hasn’t been a roaring success, it is going in the right direction.
We’re seeing the two theories tested in the field right now – Keynesian economic in America, and Monetarism in Europe. And the results are fairly conclusive. Europe is on the brink of disaster, while America is on a path back to growth. In America, this means Republicans are now facing the prospect of challenging Obama on an issue they were completely wrong about. Writes conservative commentator David Frum on CNN.com:
The nation’s economy added 171,000 jobs in October 2012, for a total of almost 700,000 in the four months before Election Day. More than half the jobs lost in the crash of 2008-2009 have now been recovered, even as public-sector employment has shrunk by a net 500,000.
The economy is recovering because consumers are less burdened by debt. They are paying down their credit cards, building home equity and strengthening their personal balance sheets.
As household debt burdens become lighter, consumers express more confidence. They are allowing themselves to spend a little more. They are even buying new homes again. Housing starts in October 2012 rose to a level 41.9% over a year before.
Accelerating economic activity is rapidly reducing the budget deficit. The deficit has contracted since 2009 at the fastest rate since the end of World War II, faster even than during the late 1990s boom.
For many Republicans and Libertarians, facts do not alter their world view – their faith in markets is so strong that all evidence must be ignored. Outcomes have not been as important as being right, and the GOP pinned their electoral hopes on selling fantasy to voters still hurting from the devastation Wall St wrought back in 2008. As Frum points out, this cannot go on:
For too long, the Republicans have predicted apocalypse, debt crisis, the loss of freedom, the overthrow of the constitution. As the economy improves, that doom-saying will seem even more out of touch than ever.
Republican political chances will depend on the Republican ability to devise a positive program to address the country’s fiscal problems in ways that improve people’s lives. It’s a new day, guys, and it demands a new game.
What will that new game be? Defying the hardliners and inventing a new economic philosophy (or at least reverting to an old one) is no easy task. Traditional conservatism doesn’t rule out the use of government in stimulating or regulating the economy – after all, in 1971 Richard Nixon declared “Now I am a Keynesian,” in response to widening poverty, and implemented a deficit spending ‘full employment’ budget. But the problem is, someone’s already doing the more traditional type of conservative governing in Washington.
Joe Scarborough: Higher taxes for the rich (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Why never raising taxes has become rigid doctrine in Republican ideology is anyone’s guess, but it continues to look like the orthodoxy is finally beginning to crack. Senators Lindsey Graham and Saxby Chambliss have both come out against Grover Norquist’s pledge to never raise taxes, and today, former Republican Congressman and current MSNBC host Joe Scarborough delivered a scathing attack on wealth inequality and the ridiculously low tax rate the richest Americans are subjected to:
You see again this huge divide between the richest Americans and the poorest Americans… and you sit there going, you know what, these people that live in these mansions and have private jets and live an extraordinary life like few Americans live — they can probably deal with a 20 percent tax rate on capital gains instead of 15 percent….There’s something immoral about these people paying fourteen, fifteen, sixteen percent of their taxes because the tax rates are the way they are while small business owners who make $250,000 a year in Manhattan and may employ four people are paying a 35% tax rate.
Taxation is the sacred cow in modern American Republicanism, but political reality dictates that their current position is untenable. Just as the Democrats capitulated to the market in the 90′s and adopted right wing economics in order to get elected, Republicans are now facing the inverse proposition two decades later. The parallel isn’t exact – after all, Obama’s economic policies are inline with Ronald Reagan’s, so anything the Republicans come up with will be by definition, extreme when compared historically – but it breaks the fundamentalist approach that taxes can never be raised. And that is extremely important if the GOP wants to remain relevant.