New Republic's Jeet Heer points out how the Republican Party's "Sourthern Strategy," going all the way back to the 1950s, led more or less directly to Donald Trump's campaign:
Far from being a “cancer” on Republicanism, or some jihadi-style radicalizer, he’s the natural evolutionary product of Republican platforms and strategies that stretch back to the very origins of modern conservatism in the 1950s and 1960s.
The racist voters swarming around Trump didn’t just pop out of nowhere. The Republicans have been courting them for decades now, in a dramatic break from the party’s origins. From its creation in 1854 in opposition to the expansion of slavery until the 1940s, the Republicans were the party of the North, and more anti-racist (albeit sometimes only marginally so) than the Democrats, whose most reliable base of support was the “solid” white South.
The Southern Strategy was the original sin that made Donald Trump possible. If Republican voters were anywhere near as diverse as the Democrats’, a candidate like Trump would have been marginalized quickly. Conservative elites can denounce Trump all they want as a “cancer” or an impostor. In truth, he is their true heir, the beneficiary of the policies the party has pursued for more than half a century.
It's a long-ish article, worth the time.
I haven't had a moment to blog this weekend, but wow, what a major political event yesterday. Justice Scalia died suddenly on Saturday, and almost immediately Senate Republicans said they won't allow any nominee from President Obama to come to a vote. As Josh Marshall points out, this had no purpose save one:
In a typically insightful Twitter spree last night, David Frum noted that "McConnell’s precipitate statement [that he would refuse to hold a vote on any Obama appointee] is wrong not only on grounds of appropriateness & timing, but even politics ..." As Frum notes, it is entirely unnecessary for McConnell to make this stark pronouncement. He and his Senate caucus could simply decide in advance to judge any nominee beyond the pale, reject them on a party line vote and run out the clock.
Part of me thinks this too. And I agree with David that it is simply wrong. But I think I know why McConnell is right out of the gate with a principle he seemingly has no need to explicitly invoke:to normalize the behavior, to stake out the maximalist position early in order to allow it time to become accepted as a given. And more than this, it makes sense for him to do so while the White House is bound by normative rules of propriety and decency to focus on statements and gestures of mourning rather than political brinksmanship.
As I said, there's no debate here. It's just a power-play, a refusal to fulfill a straightforward constitutional duty, which no one, not the President or anyone else, has the power to prevent. Let's not pretend otherwise.
Because the Republican Party doesn't want to govern; they want to rule. And this has been the case since 1964.
Buzzfeed via TPM reports that Marco Rubio is probably not ready for the White House:
The key line is: "Though generally seen as cool-headed and quick on his feet, Rubio is known to friends, allies, and advisers for a kind of incurable anxiousness — and an occasional propensity to panic in moments of crisis, both real and imagined."
Now plenty of us get anxious. But there's probably nothing you want less in a President than a propensity to panic in moments of crisis. It's almost terrifying. Now I'm panicking.
For all that, not to put too fine a point on it but the presidency is a fairly unpredictable enterprise with a more or less nonstop stream of crises, some trivial, some potentially world shattering. Coolness under pressure and the ability to make decisions are the two critical attributes in any leader or executive and likely the two most important for a President. What's the 3 AM red phone line call for Rubio? Even better is the reference to panicking over crises "both real and imagined."
Again, not Obama.
The current Republican rap on Obama is basically that he doesn't panic enough. Too cool and collected, when the world is burning around him. Whatever you make of that, Obama isn't a panicker. No drama. Again, you cannot put that much stock in any single article. But the charge is about the most devastating one that can be leveled at a candidate for President. And recent debate evidence tends to confirm the diagnosis.
Former Vermont governor Madeleine Kunin ran against Sanders during her 1986 re-election campaign:
When Sanders was my opponent he focused like a laser beam on “class analysis,” in which “women’s issues” were essentially a distraction from more important issues. He urged voters not to vote for me just because I was a woman. That would be a “sexist position,” he declared.
[B]oth Clinton and Sanders have declared they are favor paid maternity and sick leave, and equal pay for equal work. What sets them apart? I believe it is both style and substance. Sanders can shout his message and wave his arms for emphasis. Clinton can’t. If she appeared on stage as angry at the “system” as he is, she would be dismissed as an angry, even hysterical, woman; a sight that makes voters squirm.
An angry female voice works against women but is a plus for men. It demonstrates passion, outrage and power. Sanders bristled when he was accused of sexism after he implied that Clinton was among the shouters. Ironically, it is he who has, according to his doctor, suffered from laryngitis.
For the record, I've been supporting Hilary Clinton for years. Nothing I've seen of Sanders suggests he has the temperament or flexibility to be an effective president, and if he wins the nomination, I think any of the three Republican front-runners will McGovern him into obscurity.
Calculated Risk updates the "scariest jobs chart ever:"
The chart shows each of the post-World War II recessions in terms of job losses from the pre-recession peak. Notice that the 2001 recession line slides right into the 2007 line, as the Republican policies that led to the housing boom and bust tanked the banking sector.
We haven't fully recovered from the 2001 recession, in other words. We've had a generally-down cycle for almost 15 years now. That is why we should not elect a Republican legislature until they figure out how economics works.
Mark Russell, a writer in Oregon I've never met, posted one of the best descriptions of the differences between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders that I've seen on Tuesday:
[T]he truth is that this is not a battle between good and evil so much as an awkward contest between two animals who evolved in entirely different ecosystems.
Hillary Clinton is like a grizzled hunter in the Amazon. Every day is a battle for survival. She has suffered every venom and poison imaginable and from her time as being the wife of a Democratic governor in a red state to being Secretary of State to the most besieged administration in modern history, she has lived her entire life in a rainforest filled with things determined to kill her. Her political survival instincts have adapted accordingly.
Bernie Sanders is like a wallaby. He hails from the benign ecosystem known as Vermont, where he lacks any natural predators. He will be the beloved senator from Vermont for as long as he cares to be. So he hops around wherever he wants, unafraid that anyone might use his words to crucify him. Propose a $15 minimum wage? Just have a friendly chat with anyone who disagrees. Call yourself a "socialist?" Sure, why not? We're all friends here. On the other side of the world, though, if Hillary Clinton channels her inner Eleanor Roosevelt, the Republicans call it a seance. Write a few State Department e-mails from your personal server? Suddenly there's a major Congressional investigation, even though nobody cared when previous Secretaries of State did exactly the same thing.
I'll be reaching out to him for permission to publish his whole post.
I have three books in the works and two on deck (imminently, not just in my to-be-read stack) right now. Reading:
- Kevin Hearne, "Iron Druid Chronicles" book 8: Staked.
- Kim Stanley Robinson, "Mars" trilogy book 2: Green Mars.
Meanwhile, I have these articles and blog posts to read, some for work, some because they're interesting:
Time to read.
Meanwhile, I seem to have a cold. Yuck.
No more or less than any other state. But that doesn't mean Iowans have any ability to pick winning candidates for president:
The problem is not that the people of Iowa are stupid. They are not, by most measurements. It’s that Iowa looks nothing like the rest of America. As a result, the winners, more often than not, are nationally unelectable extremists. Who can remember President Rick Santorum or President Mike Huckabee, both previous winners? Or President Uncommitted, who beat Jimmy Carter in 1976? And what to make of the finding that 43 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers this year are self-described socialists, prepared to select a dyspeptic and unelectable senator as their candidate?
As a bellwether, the Iowa caucuses are no more predictive than a gasbag on an ethanol high swaying from a bridge in Madison County. As a representative exercise relevant to the concerns of a nation of 322 million people, the caucuses are laughable.
Consider that half of all the babies born last year in the United States were nonwhite. Not in Iowa, of course, one of the whitest states in the nation. On Monday, if the Republican caucus is anything like the 2012 turnout, 99 percent of the attendants will be white. That’s not even the United States of 1816, let alone this year.
Meanwhile, the Republican party held a debate last night that their front-runner skipped, which apparently shows how big his testicles are.
I may or may not have a letterspacing error in the headline...
Short list today, so I may do it after work before rehearsal:
Not to mention, I still haven't finished the Economist's special Christmas issue. Maybe I need a long flight or two?