BP's Approval Rating In Context

This paragraph from NBC's Mark Murray might be the funniest thing I've seen all week. H/T 538's Twitter stream:

Indeed, the poll shows that only 6 percent have a favorable rating of BP. In the history of the NBC News/Journal poll, Saddam Hussein (3 percent), Fidel Castro (3 percent) and Yasser Arafat (4 percent) have had lower favorable scores, and O.J. Simpson (11 percent) and tobacco-maker Philip Morris (15 percent) have had higher ratings.

BTW, this is somewhat old news, but I wanted to make sure you saw that the always-reliable Rep. Steve King (R-IA) followed up his Obama-is-a-racist comments with a defense of BP, telling Laura Ingraham, "I think Joe Barton was spot-on when he called it a shakedown." So that's Reps. Barton, King, Bachman, Fleming, Nunes, the 100 members of the [House] Republican Study Committee, Sen. Cornyn, Senate candidate Paul, and commentator Limbaugh all claiming that BP shouldn't be held accountable for its mess. When the defenses are coming from that many corners, you know Rahm Emanuel was right to point out that this is the Republican governing philosophy, and the McConnells and Murkowskis lose credibility when they feign anger at the accusation.

If nothing else, the Republican defense of BP should put to rest criticism of Democrats as "the Mommy Party." It's the progressives, not the conservatives, who are looking at BP and saying, "Who do you think I am, your mother? Clean up this mess!"

Harry Reid's Future (And Michael "Fried Chicken" Steele's Double Standard)

Harry Reid’s not going anywhere – at least not before the midterms.

The Senate Majority Leader is in a bit of trouble for racially insensitive remarks he made during the 2008 campaign that have just now been made public. Reid said that Obama would win despite his race because he is “light-skinned” and speaks “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” The GOP reaction is exactly what you would expect:

In an interview with POLITICO, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas) said it would be "entirely appropriate" for the Nevada Democrat to relinquish his leadership post over comments about Barack Obama's skin color and lack of a "Negro dialect."

And like Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and Senate GOP Whip Jon Kyl — both of whom also called for Reid's resignation Sunday — Cornyn suggested that any Republican who said what Reid said would be under attack from Democrats, leading African-Americans and the media.

“There’s a big double standard here,” Steele said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “What’s interesting here, is when Democrats get caught saying racist things, an apology is enough. If that had been [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) saying that about an African-American candidate for president of the president of the United States, trust me, this chairman and the [Democratic National Committee] would be screaming for his head, very much as they were with Trent Lott.”

Steele added that "There has to be a consequence here if the standard is the one set in 2002 with Trent Lott.” That's a big if, my friend.

There are three obvious reasons why Reid won’t resign as Majority Leader despite Lott's precedent. First, Lott had a history of racial insensitivity; Reid has no such thing. Gaffes are usually only an issue when they reinforce an existing image, and while the southern senator had an already-spotty history on racial issues, the boxer from Searchlight doesn’t have that problem.

Second, Lott was speaking about policy whereas Reid was analyzing the country’s electoral abilities (and may well have been right). That doesn’t excuse his language - the word “negro” is quite historical anachronism, and he was right to apologize – but as much as rhetoric does matter, we’re not exactly talking deep substance here.

Finally, Lott lacked the support of the President, a President from his own party, but Barack Obama has made it clear that he continues to back Reid (as do both Al Sharpton and Rep. James Clyburn, the highest ranking African American in Congress. And seriously, if even Al Sharpton doesn't find something overly offensive, isn't the discussion kind of over?).

Forget Trent Lott. The real double standard here is that Michael “I got the fried chicken” Steele, he of the “honest Injun” remarks, gets to get away with criticizing Reid over the whole affair.

Of course, this isn’t the only important Harry Reid story out this weekend. He’s not going anywhere before the midterms, but a new poll shows that the Majority Leader’s November woes continue to deepen. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Reid’s favorable-unfavorable is now 33-52, down from December’s 49-38. His three potential Repub opponents lead him by margins of 10, 8, and 5, with all three gaining well over 50% of Independent votes. Worst of all, this poll was taken before the "negro" quote was made public. It is for this reason – electoral math, not racial insensitivity – that even Markos is now calling for Reid to resign his leadership position and retire from the Senate. Not going to happen, but certainly troubling for the Majority Leader.

GOP Still Fighting Lost Cause

Barring any disasters, the nomination looks good:

"We don't have enough Republicans to filibuster even if we wanted to, which I don't think we do," said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas and a member of the Judiciary Committee.

OK. So not only do Republicans not have the votes to filibuster Sotomayor, but according to Cornyn, the NRSC head, they don't even want to.

Why then, keep up the attacks? Why not call off the right-wing dogs?

Christy Hardin Smith has a theory, and it's a good one. First, the GOP wants to warn the Obama administration about future nominations - without at least the appearance of opposition, Republicans won't have the rhetorical foundation to oppose future nominations.

But there's also a sludgy beltway reason for the right to oppose: to sustain itself. There's all manner of right-wing organizations and groups that can't afford to stay silent:

More Christy:

For the Federalist Society and other types, this is yet another step in their ongoing battle to remake the entire court system in their image. And raise some fundage. One lifetime bench appointment at a time.

More money in?  Means more money in their pockets.  And more money for the 2010 and 2012 election cycles.  Which gives them more power because in this day and age, money is power in politics.

So Sotomayor's on track for confirmation, but that's not going to stop the (now suffering) right-wing infrastructure from sliming.

There's more...

Meltdown: Cornyn repudiates Rush and Newt, wingnuts freak out

The political quandary facing Republicans becomes more evident every day. The stark division between its radical base and the rest of the country would be difficult enough to navigate under any circumstances, but Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich insist on making the task completely impossible. And there is seemingly no way out.

Yesterday, Texas Senator John Cornyn, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, stepped forward to repudiate Rush and Newt for their disgusting and politically-suicidal racial attacks on Sonia Sotomayor. And the predictable backlash from the the Republican base began almost immediately.

Free Republic, the heart and soul of Wingnuttery, is erupting with anger. They want their racism, damn it! And John Cornyn can go to hell!

Watch the Republican Party driving itself into extinction...

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NRSC Endorsement "Policy" Shortchanges Conservatives, Minorities

While Arlen Specter was a Republican, NRSC Chair John Cornyn urged Republicans to support the man who was, at the time, the Republican incumbent.  After Arlen Specter left the Republican Party, the PA-GOP was left with former Congressman and former Club for Growth head Pat Toomey as their only major candidate for the seat.  Would Cornyn then shift the NRSC endorsement to the conservative Toomey?  Last week, he declined:

NRSC Chairman John Cornyn of Texas hesitated when given the opportunity to endorse Toomey on Friday.

"I don't think it's wise for me to tell Pennsylvania Republicans who their nominee should be, so I'm not going to do that," said Cornyn.

It seemed plenty wise for Cornyn to tell the PA-GOP who their nominee should be when it was the less conservative Specter.  Maybe Cornyn just didn't want to endorse the more conservative candidate.  Or, perhaps Cornyn simply learned the lesson of the problems in endorsing candidates too soon.

Turns out, Cornyn didn't learn any lesson.

In Florida, Charlie Crist just announced that he would be a candidate for Senate in 2010.  He is the third Republican to enter the primary behind former state House Speaker Marco Rubio (more conservative than Crist and Hispanic) and former Chief Medical Officer of Florida Marion Thorpe, Jr. (an African-American).  With a diversity of candidates and degrees of conservatism, would the NRSC and John Cornyn let Florida Republicans decide for themselves who to nominate?

Nope:

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), issued the following statement today regarding Florida Governor Charlie Crist's announcement that he will run for the United States Senate in 2010:

"I am pleased today to endorse Governor Charlie Crist for the United States Senate. With his record of reform in Florida, I know that Governor Crist will bring a fresh perspective to Washington in our efforts to fight for lower taxes, less government, and new job creation for all Americans. Charlie Crist is a tireless advocate on behalf of all Floridians and one of only three Governors who earned an `A' from the CATO Institute for his efforts to restrain spending and cut taxes last year.

"While I believe Marco Rubio has a very bright future within the Republican Party, Charlie Crist is the best candidate in 2010 to ensure that we maintain the checks and balances that Floridians deserve in the United States Senate. Governor Crist is a dedicated public servant and a dynamic leader, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee will provide our full support to ensure that he is elected the next United States Senator from Florida."

And national conservatives, like those at the National Review, are very displeased:

By endorsing Charlie Crist for the Senate, the NRSC is getting involved in Florida's GOP primary more than 15 months before it will actually take place (August 24, 2010). It's also selecting a very liberal Republican (Crist supported the Obama "stimulus") against Marco Rubio, a considerably more conservative choice who is also a credible statewide candidate. Is Crist more electable than Rubio? Arguably. Is Rubio nevertheless capable of winning a general election next year? Certainly. This is a contest that the NRSC should sit out, as Florida Republicans decide for themselves what to do. Instead of trying to beat conservatives, the NRSC should save its resources for defeating Democrats.

In Pennsylvania, the NRSC was willing to endorse the less conservative Arlen Specter, but then balked at endorsing the more conservative Pat Toomey.  In Florida, the NRSC chose to endorse the less conservative Charlie Crist over the more conservative Marco Rubio (or over staying out of the endorsement game altogether) - and, at the same time, snubbed the Hispanic Republican and the African-American Republican.  The NRSC has found a way to piss off its base while also curtailing outreach to minority communities.  Impressive job, John Cornyn.

For daily news and updates on the U.S. Senate races around the country, regularly read Senate Guru.

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