Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Republican Ultra-Partisanship Turning Off Voters


In the backdrop of stunning new poll results showing the American people increasing their approval of President Obama and increasing disdain for Republican "leaders"-- which followed yesterday's polling about increased optimism on the economy since Bush left the White House and a renewed sense of pride in the U.S. on the heels of Obama's triumphant trip overseas trip (including today's surprise visit to American troops stationed in Iraq)-- Republicans can't come up with anything except narrow political strategies for bickering. And they're not just bickering with Democrats; they're bickering amongst themselves-- which pushes the party further and further off an ideological cliff to a place fewer and fewer Americans are willing to take seriously.

Virginia reactionary Eric Cantor is one member who is fighting other Republicans as he claws his way to the top of the shattered party and is trying to out-nasty even Gingrich in his tactics on the House floor. Cantor has recruited a team of the worst reactionary obstructionists-- knuckle-draggers like Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Mormon cultist Jason Chaffetz, KKK dragon Paul Broun, Kevin McCarthy, John Boozman and Patty McHenry-- he could find to try to embarrass freshman Democrats. The goal: creating Gotcha YouTubes. Cantor "has created a photo album to help identify the 42 most vulnerable Democrats. The aides send daily e-mails to the members of the attack team and alert lawmakers when these targeted members are speaking on the floor. They even draft quick scripts to help focus the questioning." Then they move in with their harassing tactics.
Of course, these attacks don’t always work out. Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly, a veteran of party politics, quickly turned a Chaffetz challenge against his attacker. The Utah freshman also appeared flustered when Kilroy left the floor recently as he launched another line of questioning about her AIG vote.

And Cantor isn't the only extremist Virginia pol mired in mud and political filth. Remember last week when we mentioned in passing how the lunatic fringe Virginia Republican Party chairman Jeff Frederick was ousted by his own party? Apparently Dracula refuses to die. In a battle against Cantor and the GOP's extremist gubernatorial nominee, Robert McDonnell, Frederick says he'll run again for the chair in May, even though he was kicked out of office by an overwhelming 57-18 vote.
Frederick said in an interview that he does not think the party's leaders, McDonnell among them, will be able to turn around years of Republican losses in Virginia.

"I'm very concerned about the party's ability to win in the fall," Frederick said. "The current track we are on will not provide the results that we need."

This year, Republicans hope not only to win back the governor's mansion but also to keep two other statewide seats and retain control of the House of Delegates.

Frederick, 33, a conservative delegate from Prince William County, acknowledged that his pursuit of the party chairmanship could distract from McDonnell's campaign. But Frederick blamed McDonnell and other Republican elected officials for intervening. "What they need to figure out is, they are not the party," Frederick said. "I'm sick of things being run from the top down."

Frederick is so angry that he may run as a third party candidate for governor. I guess he's counting on Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh being able to continue spreading Obama Derangement Syndrome. As Media Matters points out, "Since President Obama's inauguration, Rush Limbaugh has made numerous baseless and ominous claims warning of what will happen if the United States adopts either Obama's policies or those pushed by other progressives, often while invoking fears of rising socialism, communism, and tyranny." The public isn't only not buying into the meme, it's turning in increasing numbers against Republicans in office-- and not just devoted Limbaughites like Canter, Boehner, Ryan and Hensarling but even against Republicans who privately detest Limbaugh and Beck and Coulter and who, like Judy Biggert (R-IL), are now contemplating retirement from an increasingly unpleasant Republican congressional caucus.

But who knows what will happen by 2010. Maybe every precedent in history will reverse itself and obstructionist Republican incumbents like Jim Bunning (KY) will turn around their polling numbers. Generally this close to an election, an incumbent is judged as "walking dead" if the approval rating is just a few points under 50%. In recent elections not a single Republican Senate incumbent has won under those circumstances. So what do you make of Bunning's 28% favorable rating? Match-ups show that he would lose to any plausible Democratic candidate who's talked about jumping in-- Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo, Attorney General Jack Conway, state Auditor Crit Luallen or Rep. Ben Chandler. Mitch McConnell, who hates Bunning and is pressuring him to retire, was overheard telling John Cornyn that a gay black dwarf with a "D" on his chest could beat Bunning at this point.

UPDATE: Barney Frank Weighs In On Cantor's Divisive Tactics

In response to a question from John Amato at C&L's live blog session with the chairman today, Barney had this to say: "The effort to embarrass freshman Democrats is a major occupation of the House Republicans because it fills a vacuum – the vacuum created by their unwillingness and ideologically rooted inability to participate in making constructive policy. And it’s not just freshman Democrats they are trying to trap. I spoke at the Kennedy School at Harvard on Monday night and a conservative law student asked me a question, as if it was his spontaneous idea, which was in fact a right wing talking point – I had been asked exactly the same oddly worded question in exactly that form by Members of the Republican Congressional hit squad the week before. This was either a remarkable coincidence or part of an effort to get me to pull a George Allen. By the way, the question was, Am I responsible for the subprime crisis because it happened on my watch? I.E. after I became Chairman on January 31st, 2007. My response was that I did not feel responsible because once I was the Chairman the House passed tough legislation to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; to ban irresponsible subprime loans; to put restraints on runaway executive compensation; and to create a code of unfair and deceptive practices to be used in restraining banks. This part of my answer was generally omitted when the right wing propaganda machine ran excerpts. The entire interchange will soon be available and we will post the link at www.house.gov/frank."

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