Monday, April 28, 2014

Virginia Republicans Nominated A Congressional Candidate Beyond Execrable-- Meet Barbara Comstock


Barbara Comstock always pretends she's normal. She isn't

When I first started the DWT Book Store, David Brock's story about his journey out of political darkness, Blinded By The Right, was one of the very first selections. The 2002 bestseller exposed, first-hand, the hypocrisy among the blue chip and craven Beltway wing nuts with whom he had been associating. One such crackpot, Barbara Comstock, just won the GOP nomination for the Congressional seat Frank Wolf is leaving, VA-10, a Northern Virginia suburban swing district (PVI- R+2) that Obama won in 2008 (51-48%) and lost in 2012 (50-49%). The latest gerrymander-- jettisoning some blue parts of Fairfax County around Herndon and McLean-- has made it slightly redder. The Republican Establishment was firmly behind Comstock-- Scooter Libby gave her a contribution-- and her long list of big name endorsements included Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, George Allen and Sean Hannity. "Barbara Comstock," said Hannity, "is a solid and reliable conservative. I’ve known her for many years. She’d make a great member of Congress. I am happy to join other conservatives and proudly endorse her candidacy." Exactly what you might expect, having read what Brock had to say about his old friend Comstock in the book:
One night in the winter of 1995, as the scandal over the firings of workers in the White house travel office reached a crescendo on the Hill I received a late night telephone call from one of Ted's colleagues on an investigative committee, Barbara Comstock. Around the committee, the two Barbaras [Comstock and Olsen] were known as "the Barbarellas," a reference to the 1968 movie starring Jane Fonda as a space-age vixen whose cosmic adventures take her to bizarre planets via rocket ships. Late night calls from Barbara Comstock were not unusual. She often telephoned with the latest tidbit she had dig up in the thousands of pages of administration records she pored through frantically, as if she were looking for a winning lottery ticket she had somehow mislaid. A plain woman with tousled reddish brown hair, she once dropped by my house to watch the rerun of a dreadfully dull Whitewater hearing she had sat through all day. Comstock sat on the edge of her chair shaking, screaming over and over again, "Liars!" As Comstock's leads failed to pan out and she was unable to catch anyone in a lie, the Republican aide confided that the Clinton scandals were driving her to distraction, to the unfortunate point that she was ignoring the needs of her own family. A very smart lawyer by training and the main breadwinner for her charismatic, happy-go-lucky husband and kids, Comstock remarked that maybe she couldn't get Hillary's sins off her brain "because Hillary reminds me of me. I am Hillary." In this admission a vivid illustration of a much wider "Hillary" phenomenon can be seen. Comstock knew nothing about Hillary Clinton. Comstock's "Hillary" was imaginary, a construction composed entirely of the negative points in her own life.

Comstock invited me to go along on an expedition to the Washington home of senior White House aide David Watkins, the central figure in the travel scandal Olson and Comstock were probing. A short time later, Republican lawyers Comstock, Olson, and other congressional investigators, including David Bossie, and Whitewater investigator Christopher Bartomolucci, pulled up outside my house in an SUV. Though I wasn't sure what the group hoped to accomplish-- they were visibly frustrated with their inability so far to incriminate Watkins-- I went along for the ride. Olson explained that Congressman Sonny Bono had cleared us into the private, gated community where both Bono and Watkins lived, in the northwest section of Georgetown. When we arrived at our destination, Olsen giddily leapt from the truck, trespassed onto Watkins's property, and hopped down a steep cliff that abutted his home. Barbara peered into Watkins's window where she observed him-- watching television. No crime there. (Blinded by The Right by David Brock, p 208, 209.)
In 2007, Digby helped break the news nationally that Comstock was acting as the GOP's #1 oppo character assassin. She's been in the middle of every Republican dirty trick for 2 decades-- from Scooter Libby, Monica Goodling, Dan Burton, the Florida 2000 vote theft, John Ashcroft, and Tom DeLay. And her list of big time right-wing donors reads like a list of all the worst in American politics-- from Ted Olson, Eric Cantor, Bill Bennett, Michael Chertoff and Jay Sekulow to Borks and Ledeens, Matalins, Maleks, Toensings, Townsends and even a Scalia! More recently, the Washington Post editorial board warned that Comstock hadn't improved over the years.
Comstock is among the most conservative lawmakers in Richmond. A lawyer and prolific fundraiser, she represents thousands of commuters in a traffic-clogged district badly in need of road improvements; nonetheless, last year she voted against the first bill in more than a quarter century to provide fresh money for the state’s crumbling highways, even though it was backed by her own party’s top leaders.

Ms. Comstock also supported legislation that would have required women seeking abortions to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds. She backed a measure intended to outlaw abortion by granting individual rights to an embryo from the moment of conception. She voted to repeal a law limiting handgun purchases to one per month. And she opposes expanding Medicaid, which would provide health coverage for up to 400,000 uninsured Virginians… [B]y jockeying to appeal to the most extreme fringe of the electorate, Republicans run the risk of alienating centrist, level-headed and educated voters in the 10th District.
The definitive post on Comstock, though, the one every voter in the district needs to read is Tim Murphy's piece for Mother Jones last Friday, Can This Oppo Research Guru Survive the Mudslinging in Her GOP Primary? "Comstock," he wrote, "earned her stripes as the consummate Washington political operative by digging up dirt on the Clinton White House. She would later go on to hang out a shingle as a hired PR gun and lobbyist for some of DC's most controversial figures, including ex-Dick Cheney aide Scooter Libby and Blackwater's Erik Prince."
Comstock's political ascent began after she attended Georgetown Law, when she returned home to Fairfax County to raise her three kids and take a job with Wolf, her local congressman. She soon moved up the ladder, to a spot on the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee, working under Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.)-- a Clinton antagonist so devoted to the cause he once shot a pumpkin to prove that White House chief of staff Vince Foster had been murdered.

From a windowless first-floor office, where she changed the locks to keep out even the cleaning staff, Comstock would hold all-night vigils to keep watch over boxes of subpoenaed Clinton administration documents she feared would be stolen by Democrats. Her fixation was the White House travel office, where employees who were considered disloyal were replaced with Clinton allies. It was the administration's first major scandal (although the president was absolved of wrongdoing), and it was in no small part driven by Comstock's marathon workdays.

…When the Clinton years came to an end, Comstock jumped to the Republican National Committee's war room, where she ran the party's opposition research operation against Vice President Al Gore. Comstock called her unit "Chicks With Attitude"-- a dig at the Gore campaign, whose dark arts department had branded itself as the "Men of Zeal"-- and crafted a narrative, adopted by the press, of the vice president as a serial exaggerator. "She has a wonderfully devious mind," one reporter told the New York Post. The Washington Post called her a "one-woman wrecking crew." After Election Day ended in deadlock, Comstock moved to Tallahassee to monitor the recounts.

After a stint as a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice in the early days of the Bush administration, Comstock cashed in. She started a crisis public relations firm, Corallo-Comstock, and marketed it toward the Bush administration's most beleaguered allies. Along with repping Scooter Libby and Erik Prince, she was also retained by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was indicted on charges of illegally laundering campaign contributions.

Comstock also lobbied for a collection of high-powered clients including the Recording Industry Association of America, Comcast, Koch Industries, Chiquita bananas, and the private-prison company GEO Group—which at the time was pushing her former employers in the Department of Justice for a new contract. "She has made extensive use of the revolving door both for self-enrichment and for the profits of her clients," says Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the government watchdog, Public Citizen.
In November she'll be up against a relative light-weight, John Foust, a not overly courageous DCCC Red-to-Blue candidate who serves on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors representing Dranesville. He's been endorsed by some good people and his progressive instincts haven't allowed his campaign website to follow the Steve Israel-mandated "mystery meat" approach. Unlike many of the Red-to-Blue candidates, he's quite clear about where he stands on some tough issues: "John is pro-choice. He believes a woman should have the right to make her own health care decisions in consultation with her doctor. He will fight against efforts to dictate personal medical choices and attempts to place limitations on a woman’s health care options… John will work to ensure that our laws reflect a society that rejects discrimination in any form. He will work to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work and that all workers are protected against discrimination. He supports marriage equality and is pleased with the progress our country is making on that cause… Over the past twenty years, insurance companies hiked health insurance premiums and gouged consumers. The cost of health care outpaced the ability of many to afford it. Forty million Americans went uninsured. Insurance companies denied care to those with preexisting conditions, charged women more than men, and refused coverage to those who needed it most when lifetime limits were reached. This was not sustainable and something had to be done. Though less than perfect, John believes the Affordable Care Act begins to address these and other challenges with our health care system. We cannot go back to the days when insurance companies could arbitrarily increase rates and deny coverage."

Should be a very interesting race to watch. And we shall. One thing is sure… she'll fit right in with right-wing extremist Eric Cantor, who's supporting her, of course. THIS Eric Cantor:

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