Fresh off attempting to define what "legitimate rape" is, Rep Todd Akin, the GOP candidate for the US Senate in Missouri, now wants to define what "ladylike" behaivor is or is not. After feeling the brunt of Senator Claire McCaskill during a debate last week, Akin told the Kansas City Star:
“I think we have a very clear path to victory, and apparently Claire McCaskill thinks we do, too, because she was very aggressive at the debate, which was quite different than it was when she ran against Jim Talent,” Akin said. “She had a confidence and was much more ladylike (in 2006), but in the debate on Friday she came out swinging, and I think that’s because she feels threatened.”
One gets the impression that Todd Akin thinks women should just sit there, be lecture at and not be allowed to speak much less opine. Did he expect Claire McCaskill to just sit there and listen to his Biblical views on gender? This is a man who thinks the world is 6,000 years old and who has called anyone who believes in evolution "a monkey-lover". He's hardly a suitable candidate for dogcatcher but somehow the state of the GOP in 2012 is such that the party establishment thinks a man with such misantrophic views is eligible to sit in the US Senate.
Over at Mother Jones, Kevin Drums writes that voter id laws are the last gasp of a fading GOP strategy. While I think Kevin's analysis is largely right, I would caution that there is nothing in theory to prevent further restrictions in suffrage nor to employ other tactics that aim at maintaining power. The GOP is at a crucible but it is one of their own making. There has always been a paranoid fringe prone to believe in bizarre conspiracy theories richly spiced with anti-government rhetoric, a fear of some impending catastrophe that actually never materializes, a distrust of the alien and foreign coupled with calls for a nativist redoubt , a sense of betrayal by the powers be thus reinforcing the notion that they and they alone are the keepers of the flames of freedom in American politics beginning with some of the anti-Federalists in 1780s. Patrick Henry was certainly a firebrand and outspoken but one can think of him as the Founding Father of the paranoid set. He declined to attend the Constitutional Convention suggesting that there was a dark movement afoot to establish a monarchy going as far as to demand an investigation.
But this paranoid conspiracy-minded anti-government portion of the American political spectrum has largely been a fringe though in the Vermont of 1830s and 1840s, the anti-Masonic party did capture the state government. And the nativist consumed with alleged Papist plots American Republic Party, better known as the Know Nothing Party, for a brief period in the 1850s won important mayoral contests across the country from Boston to San Francisco while also twice claiming the California governorship. From then in the mid-1850s until the Tea Party of today, the paranoid, conspiracy driven elements remained largely a fringe with minimal electoral success.
The problem for the GOP elite is that in their zeal to win elections in the post New Deal America, they have courted some of the most vitriolic, xenophobic and conspiracy minded elements of the American political landscape. But today's date becomes tomorrow's long-term spouse. In building their electoral coalition, the GOP brought in groups that largely came from the most conservative elements in the South and West. And as they came to rely more and more on this portion of the electorate, the effect was to mainstream the fringe giving clout and providing a electoral vehicle to the delusional.
Over the past half century that has remade the GOP from a national party with a pro-business agenda that accepted the social contract of the New Deal into a party that is increasingly dominant in the more rural regions of the country but moribund in the more urban area. That pro-business agenda is now one steroids and the party now aims to reverse not only the New Deal social contract but the Progressive Era regulatory structure that most Americans take for granted. Since 1960 with only one exception, the GOP after a defeat in a presidential election has nominated an even more conservative candidate in the subsequent election. Only Nixon in 1968 after the Goldwater defeat in 1964 was more to the center. For the GOP, electoral defeat implies a circling of the wagons but as you close that circle you are pushing people out. Hence figures like Bruce Barlett, Jim Jeffords, William Weld, Lincoln Chafee, Loretta Sánchez and Charlie Crist are no longer Republicans. Even among some still nominal Republicans like David Frum and Christine Todd Whitman, there are repeated cries of angst as they see their party self-immolate in the fires of conservative doctrinal purity. But I will quibble with this point that Kevin makes: "They'll also have more and more money on their side, but that's not enough either. After all, there are only so many ad spots available to buy."
Wisconsin, I think, suggests that it is enough. The Tea Party backed Walker outspent his opponent Democratic opponent Tom Barnett by over 8 to 1. According to the Center for Public Integrity, more than $63.5 million had been spent by candidates and independent groups, the overwhelming majority underwritten by out-of-state sources. Another point is that while there are only so many ad spots to buy that implies that those with more money to spend will outbid those with less for available spots. And as they win elections, the GOP will attempt to solidify their control of government by codifying an electoral result into permanent law and hard to undo anti-democratic practices. For the record, we have had in recent memory, Tom Delay's Texas redistricting, the attack on public sector and these voter suppression efforts. It is a coup in steps. Think that can't happen? Look at Hungary now or the fall of the Second French Republic and then get back to me. The belief that the United States is immune to how oligarchic systems operate is to indulge in willful ignorance.
In case Newt Gingrich does get the GOP nomination, my group, AmericanLP, wants to be ready. So we are in planning stages for casting and shooting a commercial like the one below. Please contact me if you know anyone who would be interested in starring in the ad.
Open Casting call for White Woman age30-45 who fits this personal description willing to appear in national broadcast TV ad
:60 TV Ad
(Emotional instrumental background music)
Middle-aged woman speaking right into camera
“Newt Gingrich is absolutely right when he says nobody but Christ is perfect and that everyone deserves forgiveness. Still…
My own father cheated on my mother and left us for a younger woman…those were hard times.
A few years ago, my own husband left me for a younger woman…we’ve had some really hard times.
So what am I supposed to tell my son now about how to treat women? Newt Gingrich has twice as many ex-wives as all previous Presidents of the United States combined. It’s been well-documented that Newt has repeatedly and flagrantly cheated on numerous wives. It seems like Newt has used women and tossed them aside his whole life.
What kind of message does it send to my son that you can screw and screw over as many women as you can get your hands on your entire life, and then, at age 70, which is how old Gingrich would be in his first year, claim that you’ve “matured” and be given the highest honor in the world by serving as President? I want a president I can look up to as the best of what we’re all about, not the worst.
I’m not saying we have to go back to the 1950s, but can’t we have some standards? Committing adultery is one of the 10 commandments. Is it really enough to say, ‘sorry, I’ve matured?’ Where do we draw the line? Are we going to elect convicted murders or rapists, just because they say, ‘I realize that I was less than perfect and now that I’m 70 I promise not to murder anymore?’
I want a President I can look up to, not someone who reminds me of the worst betrayals in my life.”
More info at www.americanlp.org and www.dailynational.com
The debate was a bit of a mixed bag with no clear-cut winners or losers.
Here is the breakdown:
Newt Gingrich—Newt had horrible moments and great moments. When Newt goes on and on explaining why he was paid $1.6 million by a federal entity to NOT be a lobbyist, he doesn’t pass the laugh test. And when he prattles on about what a celebrity he is and how he can make $60,000 a speech he makes Mitt Romney look like a full-time homeless advocate. But Newt also had great moments. Let’s face it; there is no one better in the Republican field at expressing contempt for Obama, Liberals and the judiciary than Newt. There is a huge faction of the GOP that feels contempt for all things Democratic and Newt oozes their contempt better than Oprah exudes empathy for housewives. Newt held his own for the evening.
Mitt Romney-Mitt was Mitt, calm, cool and collected. He didn’t make any $10,000 betting blunders but he also didn’t land any strong blows toward Gingrich. Romney’s worst moment was when Fox’s Chris Wallace read chapter and verse on all the liberal positions Romney has expressed, specifically on gay rights. Watching Romney dance away from his past while claiming to not be dancing away from his past is always a fun show, and it’s a reminder why the majority of the conservative party does not trust or like Romney.
Jon Huntsman—Jon opened really strongly. He gave a nice slam against Donald Trump and not turning himself into a pretzel by pandering to interest groups or The Donald. It was a clever jab at both Newt and Romney. Huntsman also gave a great message on banking reform that was both conservative and populist and courageous. He didn’t do or say much of anytime else of interest in the debate. Still, more and more eyes are looking at Huntsman as party leaders hope and pray that Gingrich will collapse and the Party will have to move on to the next non-Mitt.
Ron Paul—Ron was consistent, as always. Yes, Paul had some of the biggest applause lines of the night. And he also had people gasping at his foreign policy views. Paul was audacious and honest when he labeled Gingrich's cashing in on Freddie Mac as “Fascism.” Every liberal Democrat and moderate in the country fell in love with Paul when he labeled Gingrich’s money-making escapades “Fascism.” Unfortunately for Paul, they don’t get to vote in Republican primaries or caucuses.
Rick Perry—Rick has a good night anytime he can remember his name. Perry had some sprightly moments and got in the sound bite of the night claiming he wants to be like “Tim Tebow.” Had Perry debated like this in his first few debates, chances are he’d still be the front-runner. But now, Perry just seems like a “Forrest Gump” character, albeit one who doesn’t like gays. Michele Bachmann—Michelle had a good night and fired off some great shots against Newt. Her problem is that both the high brow and the low brow wings of the Republican Party have written her off. She’s never recovered from earlier demagogic stumbles and it just doesn’t matter what she does in debates any longer.
Rick Santorum—Rick still looks and sounds like a 2-term congressman. On paper, Santorum could and should be a frontrunner (at least for 3 weeks) but he has all the charisma of a three-week old tuna fish sandwich.