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Posts Tagged ‘Karl Rove’

Well, the “lamestream media” are at it again. While channel-surfing today, I caught the “CNN Political Ticker” and wouldn’t you know it, the first item on the list was Sarah Palin‘s Narcissipalooza Bus Tour of the Northeast, where she will likely encounter hostile crowds but, more to the point, hordes of, well, lamestream media. You know, the ones Palin trashes—and whose attention she so ravenously seeks.

I have never seen this mystical charisma Palin is supposed to have. Aside from the fact that she’s a know-nothing hate-monger, she delivers her inane babble in a strident screech that assaults the senses. Of course, the real reason the lamestreamers cover her so reflexively and religiously is that Palin is a perpetual trainwreck, with every earth-shatteringly stupid run-on sentence, every manufactured slight and drama. She’s a “mean girl,” an amoral, petulant, vindictive, self-absorbed adolescent—and these days that’s media gold.

In any event, after the Palin item, CNN’s ticker went on to tell us something or other about Mitt Romney going to New Hampshire. Or maybe it was Iowa–he’s a pathological flip-flopper, after all. Someone who was still listening might set me straight. The point is, that Palin, who has not declared her candidacy for anything, got top billing, while the Mittster got sloppy seconds.

Now, Lawrence O’Donnell and other sharp political minds have pointed out that the odds that Sarah Palin actually will run for President are next to nil. Beyond her base—the extremist Ignoramiat—her approval numbers (especially post-“blood libel”) are in the outhouse. What’s more, holding high public office would mean she’d actually have to learn something and, worse still, do some work. Gone would be the professional celebrity, the reality show, the obscene speaking fees.

But, as Lawrence also reminded us, as long as Palin pretends to maybe possibly kinda sorta run for POTUS—or something—she’ll continue to command the notice she so desperately craves, as well as the big bucks. It had to be killing SarahPac to see Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and the actual GOP Presidential hopefuls—Newt, Mitt, T-Paw and Palin’s stunt-double, Michele Bachmann— hoover up all that press coverage in recent weeks. Not to mention President Obama, that anti-American pal of terrorists who—what was it again? Oh, right, he killed Osama bin Laden. It got so bad that Newsweek actually ran a story titled “Is Sarah Palin Over?”

Well, electorally, she was done long ago. But as a celebrity, not so much. And now, Sarah Palin is back, with not only the bus tour, but a self-produced “documentary” on—what else?—Sarah Palin. And right now, that’s driving the rest of the GOP hopefuls—and strategic geniuses like Karl Rove—as batshit as Bachmann.

I used to beg my journalistic colleagues to ignore Palin; and, yes, I was enjoying her absence. But even as my soul cringes at her return, the Democrat in me welcomes it with open arms, knowing that Mitt, T-Paw and whoever else are pulling out tufts of hair and grinding their teeth to nubs, as SarahPac’s greedy fame-whoring overshadows their efforts to capture press and public interest. The more Palin makes herself the face of the GOP, the better.

Along with Paul Ryan and that rogue’s gallery of Republican swing-state governors—Rick Scott, Scott Walker, John Kasich and Rick Snyder—Sarah Palin is one of Barack Obama’s greatest assets.

So, Sarah, reload, hit the road and babble on….

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One of the most entertaining shows in American politics at the moment is the spectacle of conservative intellectuals like George Will and Charles Krauthammer, among others, desperately trying to lock Sarah Palin in the attic like the mad wife in Jane Eyre. When Republican and independent voters hit the pillow at night, these small-government sages want them fantasizing about the vast, sweeping forehead—and the considerable brain underneath—of Mitch Daniels, not SarahPac’s sophomoric smirk.

You could have called it. With the 2012 Presidential race looming, lamestream Republicans are trying with all their might to push Palin under the bus. With her approval ratings at an all-time low, they’re ganging up to finish her off. Even Roger Ailes has criticized her for that grotesquely narcissistic display of victimhood in the wake of the Tucson tragedy. You can just see them all huddling with Karl Rove, planning their lines of attack.

The reasoning is obvious: Palin is utterly unelectable. To thoughtful advocates of conservative political philosophy, she is beyond an embarrassment. And to everyone outside her aggrieved, white, fundamentalist, know-nothing base—in other words the current base of the Republican Party—she is at best a figure of fun, at worst a vicious, hate-mongering moron.  Indeed, from the moment a desperate John McCain chose Palin for the 2008 ticket, some grownups on the Right cringed. Remember when a live mike during an MSNBC commercial break caught Peggy Noonan and Mike Murphy essentially saying the Palin pick had doomed the GOP?

And that was before they knew the monster McCain had loosed upon the world. Before they knew that Sarah Palin would suck the air out of all American politics to the right of Bill Clinton, and become the GOP rock star. The face of the party. And that she would become a media-enabled juggernaut, stopping at nothing to fuel her own celebrity and wealth.

Now they want desperately to put her back into the bottle.

Too late, guys. And you should know by now that the one thing NOT to do to Palin is attack her—otherwise you’ll wind up being called “impotent” and “limp” and you’ll have her in your face for a few more news cycles.

The real problem is that Palin does strike a chord with the hardcore right wing base. Today’s ABC-Washington Post poll tells the story: Nationally, Palin’s approval ratings are in a bus station toilet; among Republicans generally, she’s lost a great deal of ground; but among conservative zealots, the kind who vote in primaries, she’s stronger than ever:

“Palin has a 58 percent net favorable rating among Republicans, and a 37 percent net unfavorable rating. While that rating is still positive, it’s the worst she’s had with Republicans since she emerged on the national stage; her previous low was 63-31 percent…”

But don’t get too cocky, Mitt, Newt and T-Paw:

“Among strong Tea Party supporters, strongly favorable views of Huckabee and Palin are highest, at 45 and 42 percent, respectively; strongly favorable views of Gingrich and Romney drop off in this group to 35 and 31 percent, respectively…..” And among “Republicans who say they are “very” conservative. Palin and Huckabee (at 45 and 44 percent) again attract much higher strongly favorable ratings among strong conservatives than do Gingrich and Romney (30 and 28 percent).”

Another revealing trend in the poll is Mike Huckabee‘s continued high rating: It explains his recent descent into wingnut birtherism—obviously Huck saw a recent survey showing that 51 percent of Republicans think President Obama is foreign-born. That underscores the can’t-live-with-’em-can’t-live-without-’em dilemma that drives the conservative intelligentsia nuts: They can expound on Adam Smith and Edmund Burke and Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman all they want—Republicans need their Yahoos, their Ignoramiat. You can’t win primaries without them. Since they’re your base, you can’t compete in general elections without them, either. And yet ultimately, elections are won in the center—which recoils at extremist wingnuttery.

Of course, the whole GOP has moved sharply to the right and arguably dragged the political center with it.  There are the radical plutocrats like the Koch Brothers, who bankroll stooges like Scott Walker, John Kasich and Rick Snyder; the Teabaggers and the Christian Theocrats, groups that overlap with the Yahoo-Ignoramiat Palinistas—those aggrieved white know-nothings who revel in their reactionary ignorance while wrapping themselves in Jesus, Old Glory and the Constitution—well, at least the Second Amendment.

And don’t underestimate the racial element. Ever since the GOP pursued its “Southern Strategy” Republicans have captured the white vote, usually by healthy margins.

% Votes White Republican Democrat Other
1976 89 52 48
1980 88 56 36 8
1984 86 66 34
1988 85 60 40
1992 87 41 39 21
1996 83 46 44 9
2000 81 55 42 3
2004 77 58 41 1
2008 74 55 43

These stats are heavily skewed by the South, of course. Consider that Barack Obama won just 9 percent of the White male vote in Mississippi against 91 percent for John McCain (of course the black vote was similarly imbalanced). But John Kerry didn’t exactly tear it up, losing 18-81 against George W. Bush in Ol’ Miss.

The problem that by pandering to whites, painting the Democrats as the party that takes hard-earned money out of your pocket and gives it to drug addled “welfare queens,” suggesting President Obama is an un-American “other,” Republicans made their own bed. Those aggrieved, poor and middle –class whites were ripe for a demagogue, and Palin has more than filled the bill. They love her. Attack her, you attack them.

And then you set up one of the central themes of her victimhood politics: The Washington elites—conservative ones in this case—versus the 5-college Real American ignoramus. Them versus Us. And now Rush Limbaugh has come to Palin’s defense, which makes it worse—attack her, you attack Rush. And that’s something you just don’t do.

Palin may well not run for president in 2012.  For one thing, it would certainly entail a huge pay cut. But she’s not going anywhere.  Even if she doesn’t enter the race, she’ll continue to be a huge, air-sucking distraction, with her inane, snarky Tweets and comments, her feuds, her breathtaking ignorance.  And she will overshadow everyone in a blandly uninspiring GOP field.

So conservatives: Own Sarah Palin. She’s all yours.

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Madison

 

 

Not to put too fine a point on it, but much of the time, many of us Americans—and I don’t exempt myself for a minute—essentially have our heads up our butts. You can’t entirely blame us. We’re trying to get through the day, consumed with the moment-to moment events of our own circumscribed lives, with our loved ones, with our homes, with our jobs (if we have one), with having sex, not having sex, losing the weight, changing our hair, avoiding our colonoscopies. (Which actually brings this paragraph full circle).

Lately, we’re obsessing over whatever iGizmo it is we’ll never surrender till someone pries from our cold, dead hands. If we focus on the outer world, it’s pure escapism—sports & Snooki.

But when it comes to history and politics, that’s when we Americans really rear our buttheaditude. Two illustrative stories come to mind:

1) A recent Gallup Poll of 1,015 adults asked to name the nation’s greatest president.

2) The Battle of Wisconsin.

WTF?

As for the presidents: For most historians, naming the top three is a gimme—Lincoln, Washington, and FDR. Only the order is in dispute.

Not so for Gallup’s sampling of regular folks in Feb. 2011:

Ronald Reagan — 19%

Abraham Lincoln — 14%

Bill Clinton — 13%

John F. Kennedy — 11%

George Washington — 10%

Franklin Roosevelt — 8%

Barack Obama — 5%

Theodore Roosevelt — 3%

Harry Truman — 3%

George W. Bush — 2%

Thomas Jefferson — 2%

Reagan? Seriously?

Well, no. Liberals of course, argue that he set the country back 50 years, empowering repressive social conservatism and promoting the trickle-down economics that helped create the ever vaster economic chasm between the rich and the rest of us.  But leaving aside ideology I don’t even think Nancy Reagan would give Ronald Reagan the gold. Nor, to be fair, would any sane person rank Clinton third or the 34-month term of JFK fourth, or Obama in seventh, above TR and Truman. And when was the last time W and Jefferson were mentioned in the same sentence?

The point is that these surveys always skew wildly toward contemporary presidents. This is the year of Reagan’s centennial, he’s in the news again, Teabaggers are summoning his memory (though, as many point out, he’d probably not survive a primary today). At the same time, if you asked these same 1,015 folks to name the worst POTUS, I suspect W, Bubba, Ronnie and Barack would poll very high—certainly better than Harding (Warren, not Tonya) or Buchanan (James, not Pat).

Now, to current events: How many Americans are really aware of the Battle of Wisconsin—specifically the fight over collective bargaining—and if they are, do they know the stakes?

How many Democrats, moderates and ordinary working stiffs realize that Scott Walker’s anti-union purge is part of a nationwide effort by the GOP—backed by powerful right-wing forces like the Koch Brothers and U.S. Chamber of Commerce—to use “fiscal responsibility” as a weapon to crush the Democratic Party? To make Karl Rove’s wet dream of a permanent GOP majority reality? And in the process, wage nuclear class warfare, obliterating workers’ rights and recourse, suppressing wages and benefits and maximizing profits for a very few?

For insight into the GOP strategy, look at the Citizens United decision delivered by our tea-stained Supreme Court, which allows corporations and labor unions to flow unrestricted cash into the political campaigns.

Corporations tilt heavily toward Republicans; unions tilt Democratic. Shutting down unions is like cutting off the Dems blood supply. And it’s not just money; unions are crucial to getting out the vote, and registering new voters—who historically trend Democratic. Squelching unions is key to GOP voter suppression plans—the same reason they waged a vendetta against ACORN, why they’re pushing voter ID legislation, and trying to end same-day voter registration. The more new voters, the higher the turnout, the better for Democrats—at least most of the time.

But as Andrew Levine, Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, writes in CounterPunch:

“Even this is not the main reason why Madison matters. It isn’t just Democratic-leaning unions that Walker and his Tea Party colleagues want to undo – it’s public sector unions. This matters for reasons that are much more obscure than the others but that are plainly related to many of our contemporary afflictions — the financialization of contemporary capitalism, the globalization of manufacturing and trade, and, more generally, the world-wide assault on social and economic advances won at great cost over the past century and a half. The problem, in short, is that to survive, capitalism must expand – and, with so few areas left for expansion, the public sphere is a target too tempting to resist.”

That’s a hell of a lot harder to digest than, “I gotta cut the budget which means those overpaid public workers have to suck it up and STFU.”

All we know is what’s in our own, narrow frame of reference. And, when it comes to contemporary politics, what’s quick and easy to digest. What’s in front of our face—and we take most of that at face value. Bumper sticker stuff. That’s why Fox News is so effective—it spews out falsehood, opinion and wild speculation as fact. And as Mark Twain said, more or less, a lie can circle the globe before the truth can put its shoes on.

Indianapolis

And yet, truth may be gaining ground. The thousands of peaceful anti-Walker protesters in Madison seem to be getting their message across. According to polls, a significant majority of Wisconsin voters oppose Walker’s attempt to crush collective bargaining. Now, faced with a similar revolt in Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels—perhaps keeping in mind his presidential ambitions—has backed off union-busting “Right-to Work” legislation in his state.

Whatever one thinks of the Koch-Tea Party, it has dominated endless news cycles and shifted the national conversation  with its anti-government, anti-labor, Obamaphobic demagoguery.

Maybe the progressives, union members and Democrats making their stand in Madison can change the subject

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