Everybody knows the Republican Party is basically an all-white bastion, right? After all, even Colin Powell condemned the “dark vein of intolerance” that has flowed through his party since the post-civil rights era political realignment.
Now with President Barack Obama leading the Democrats into a second term — buoyed by overwhelming victory margins among African-Americans and Hispanics — it’s clear the GOP has some serious catching up to do.
This is why it might surprise you to hear that Republicans are by far the more diverse party when it comes to statewide elected officials such as senators and governors. On this front, they leave Democrats in the dust. And that’s why the GOP actually has a greater depth of diversity on their potential presidential bench looking to 2016 and beyond. Read More…
Chris Christie’s landslide reelection in a state President Obama won by 17 points offers the GOP a memo on how to win in 2016, if it wants one.
Don’t just fixate on the top-line numbers. They obscure the real story. Look instead at Christie’s initial exit poll margins among women, independent voters, moderates, the middle class, Hispanics, and African-Americans. In those cross-tab stats, you see the outlines of a candidate who can dig the GOP out of the demographic trap it’s facing. Read More…
Virginia is a cautionary tale for conservatives this year. And those Republicans who always argue that their party wins when it moves further to the right are going to have a lot of explaining to do after Election Day.
Polls show that “teavangelist” Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is going down to a decisive defeat in the governor’s race against an exceptionally flawed Democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman and Clinton fund-raiser.
The reason is simple: Cuccinelli is too extreme for swing voters in Virginia — and that neatly symbolizes the GOP’s problem as it looks to the congressional midterms of 2014 and the presidential campaign of 2016. Read More…
On the heels of Pope Francis’s triumphant visit to Brazil for World Youth Day, the humble pontiff is reinvigorating the Catholic Church after a time of scandal by reaching out, advancing reforms that threaten powerful special interests and leading by example.
Gone are the palatial apartments, ideological rigidity and red Prada slippers. In its place is a re-emphasis on heart and humility, a principled populist simplicity befitting the first Jesuit in the office. Perhaps not surprisingly, the neophyte pope—not even six months on the job—seems popular with everyone except perhaps the right wing of his own church. And it occurs to this political columnist that in the example of Pope Francis there might be some useful lessons for the modern GOP as they seek to reinvigorate and rededicate their own institution. Read More…
Profiles in courage are rare in our politics these days, but the Senate’s passage of comprehensive immigration reform is bright example of how Washington does not need to be a place where good ideas go to die.
Credit goes to the “Courageous 14” Republican senators who joined with the Democratic majority to make this legislation pass by a towering bipartisan margin of 68 to 32. Building squarely on the tireless efforts of the Gang of Eight—led by Marco Rubio, Chuck Schumer, Robert Menendez, and John McCain—the bill’s passage was a timely reminder that common ground is the only practical problem-solving space on Capitol Hill. That matters if you believe Congress should be more than an ideological debating society.
But the first among equals in the profile in courage sweepstakes is Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Of all the Gang of Eight senators, he was the most unvarnished in his advocacy and he has the most to lose. Read More…
Sometimes retirees are out of touch. But sometimes they’re freer to tell the truth. And that’s what happened when GOP mandarins Bob Dole and John Warner fired off warning flares about the rightward drift of the Republican Party.
Former presidential nominee Dole captured most of the attention when he told Fox News’ Chris Wallace that the Republican National Committee should hang “a sign on the national committee doors that says ‘closed for repairs until New Year’s Day next year’ and spend that time going over ideas and positive agendas.”
That’s tough stuff coming from a 90-year-old. But wait, there’s more. Dole frankly admitted that today’s Republican Party probably would not have room for him and even for Saint Ronald Reagan. Read More…
Conservatives should consider this a warning sign. The Republican National Committee’s former Hispanic outreach director for Florida has left the GOP and registered as a Democrat, citing a “culture of intolerance.”
Pablo Pantoja is a decorated Iraq war vet who began his brief career with the GOP by volunteering for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and serving as field director for Marco Rubio’s triumphant 2010 senate campaign. He says he was originally drawn to the GOP “because of my business-minded mentality. Fiscal issues are important for all families—Hispanics and non-Hispanics.”
But a recent anti-immigration report from the right-wing think tank Heritage Foundation sent the Puerto Rican–born Pantoja heading for bluer pastures this week. Not only did the paper tally the cost of immigration form at an absurdly high $6.3 trillion, but its author, Jason Richwine, was found to have written an overtly racist dissertation in 2009 that labeled American immigrants as having lower IQs than those of white natives.
Welcome to The Big Three — a CNN Radio podcast on the big three stories of the week, featuring three contributors who write for CNN Opinion — myself, my bride, Margaret Hoover, and political comedian Dean Obeidallah, who is of no relation (as far as we know).
We each come to the conversation from a different perspective — center, right and left — but we all share a commitment to smart, funny, civil conversation. And we’re all big Yalta buffs. Read More…
There’s no place where the paranoid style in American politics mixes with presidential aspirants quite like CPAC.
At this year’s conservative conclave, held at the Gaylord Hotel in Maryland, there is a mood of grim resignation after their rejection in the 2012 election, a determination to look for restoration along even stricter ideological lines.
What was once a decidedly fringe festival that Main Street Republicans have derided as a “Star Wars bar scene” has become a mandatory stop on the GOP presidential circuit, with Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, and Paul Ryan all making speeches this year. For conservative activists, it serves as an annual tribal gathering, selling special knowledge to those who feel at war with much of modern America and all of the Obama administration. And the media happily feed the beast because CPAC offers a one-stop shop for portraying the uneasy coexistence between constitutionalists and conspiracy theorists inside the conservative movement. Read More…
With the “Star Wars bar” of the Conservative Political Action Conference (in other words, a bunch of aliens) kicking off Thursday morning, it was no coincidence that among the first speakers were Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert, both known for their impulse to unleash hyper-partisan howlers that alienate anyone who isn’t a strident social conservative.
CPAC is useful because it clarifies the dividing lines of the GOP civil war. In the CPAC camp are co-sponsoring organizations like the Family Research Council, whose senior scholar recently stated that individuals who indulge in premarital sex should be “punished” by society.
On the other side of the GOP divide are figures with a demonstrated ability and determination to reach beyond the base and govern in a way that’s both effective and inclusive. Read More…
“You guys are crack addicts.”
That was Jeb Bush on “Meet the Press,” addressing journalists about their obsession with the 2016 presidential campaign, more than three years away.
The former Florida governor was joking and it’s a fool’s errand for anyone in the media to pretend to be offended. But as always, humor contains a kernel of truth.
Although the press corps isn’t collectively hitting the glass pipe, we are more than a little obsessive-compulsive when it comes to talking about the next election.
After all, the last presidential election just ended four months ago. The midterm elections are still 18 months away. This is the time for governing — that rare sweet spot in a two-term administration where Congress is not paralyzed by the immediate prospect of re-election and the president has maximum political capital to spend on the priorities that define a legacy. Read More…
Moon Reagan and Don Nixon never got this kind of reception.
But Jeb Bush, the brother and son of presidents, is already getting the full-court press to run for the White House in 2016. The Drudge Report went breathless with banner headlines on Monday when Jeb refused to rule out a future run on the Today show while promoting his new book with Clint Bolick, Immigration Wars.
The title of the book itself indicates that this isn’t a typical courtship. Jeb is presenting himself as a policy wonk and party reformer, not the typical approach to winning the GOP nomination. And for all the institutional benefits of being a Bush—a ready-made political and fundraising structure fueled by the promise of restoration to power—the reality is that his prospects would be far better if his last name were anything but “Bush.” Read More…
It’s official. Washington has no idea how to get out of the mess it created with the sequester. That’s the message Speaker John Boehner sent with his Meet the Press interview that aired Sunday.
“I don’t think anyone quite understands how it gets resolved,” he said with trace of hangdog sadness.
Host David Gregory pressed, asking, “In the end, you don’t really see a pathway here that’s open as you sit here?”
“If I did, the meeting at the White House this morning might have gone better,” Boehner replied, ruminating on Friday’s hourlong White House powwow while the rest of Congress had skipped town. Read More…
One hundred thirty-one Republicans signed an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court on Thursday arguing that marriage is a fundamental right that should not be denied to gay and lesbian Americans.
That is nearly double the number of Republicans who had publicly signed on to the amicus brief earlier this week, indicating a growing groundswell of support among conservatives who recognize the philosophic consistency of supporting the freedom to marry. Call them pro-freedom Republicans.
The coalition includes 12 current and former members of Congress, including New York’s Richard Hanna, California’s Mary Bono Mack, and Florida’s Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; 7 former governors, including Utah’s Jon Huntsman, New Mexico’s Gary Johnson, and Massachusetts’s William Weld; and 7 current state legislators. They join the 206 Republican state legislators who have supported the freedom to marry on a state basis to date. Read More…
The contentious Senate hearing for secretary of defense nominee Chuck Hagel divided starkly along partisan lines, with Republicans attacking their former colleague with the pitchfork zeal of heretic hunters.
Hagel’s calm recitation of consensus catechism on issues ranging from Iran to Israel to nuclear weapons didn’t seem to make any impression on his conservative critics.
This was personal. John McCain repeatedly interrupted his “old friend” and fellow Vietnam vet with palpable anger, his fury directed at Hagel’s opposition to the Iraq War and the 2007 troop surge. The core offense appeared to be Hagel’s contention that the invasion of Iraq was the worst foreign policy “disaster” since Vietnam—a parallel that infuriates McCain. Read More…
Bobby Jindal’s calling it “the Stupid Party.” Glenn Beck is showing images of elephants dying while cutting up cake. And David Brooks is calling for a second Republican Party.
There’s grumbling agreement even among the party faithful that the GOP is facing an existential crisis. The belated embrace of comprehensive immigration reform with nary a scream about “amnesty” by anyone except Rush Limbaugh and the House radicals is just the latest indication that the default formula of anger and obstruction isn’t working anymore. Read More…
It’s why the American people hate Congress. Unlike the people in Congress, we have actual responsibilities.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie dropped a bomb on Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Congress for refusing to allow a vote on Hurricane Sandy relief in the final hours of the 112th Congress. It was an instant classic of principled political outrage. It provided a strong dose of what Washington has been missing: blunt, independent leadership. Read More…
So this is what he meant by “One Tough Nerd.”
Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, has become public enemy No. 1 among liberals for his controversial decision this week to sign right-to-work legislation in Michigan—the birthplace of the American organized labor movement.
In 2010, he campaigned apart from the Tea Party tide, representing himself as a comparatively centrist technocrat, a CEO, and a CPA who would be relentlessly focused on balancing the state’s budget and improving its business climate. He rose from obscurity—beginning the race with virtually no statewide name recognition—to win office, largely thanks to a great TV ad that aired during the Super Bowl, introducing him as “One Tough Nerd.” Read More…
Apart from Stephen Colbert, the best pick South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley could make for Jim DeMint’s Senate seat is Congressman Tim Scott.
Happily, Scott is also reportedly DeMint’s first choice, though the current senator has nothing more than advisory powers in picking his successor.
Scott’s appointment would be historic for South Carolina and the Republican Party. More important, it would be constructive for the country. Read More…
President George W. Bush’s first postelection speech was a call for immigration reform—and an implicit rebuke of the failed GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
On Tuesday morning, the Bush Center held a conference on immigration and economic growth at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. It was only the second major policy speech the former president has delivered since leaving office, and Bush let himself wax poetic on the subject of immigration: “Not only do immigrants help build our economy, they invigorate our soul.”
The fact that Romney received just 27 percent of Hispanic vote, eight years after Bush got 44 percent, was not far from attendees’ minds, even though Romney’s name went unmentioned. Instead, the conference was an extended argument for the economic benefits of immigration, offering a new policy booklet to that effect (PDF). It was also by implication a meditation on the comprehensive immigration reform Bush backed in his second term, only to see it cannibalized by talk-radio conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh and those politicians who choose to pander to them, including Romney. Read More…
Who’s afraid of Grover Norquist?
Fewer and fewer Republicans, thankfully.
In recent days, the declarations of independence from Norquist’s absolutist anti-tax pledge have been coming fast and furious.
Add Southern Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Lindsey Graham to the growing list, along with Reps. Peter King, Steve LaTourette and Scott Rigell.
Chambliss kicked off the most recent outbreak of common sense by telling a Georgia TV station, “I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge.” He added, “If we do it (Norquist’s) way, then we’ll continue in debt.” Read More…
Republicans need to “stop being the Stupid Party.” That was a blunt postelection declaration of independence by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
“We’ve also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism,” continued Jindal. “We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people, and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.”
After being demographically left in the dust by President Obama, conservatives are regrouping, reassessing, and recognizing the need to evolve on social issues if they are going to connect with the millennial generation. Read More…
There’s been a lot of GOP spin about how this convention is Mitt Romney’s chance to “introduce himself to the American people.” This is ridiculous: the man’s been running for president for five years. If polls show he has a likability deficiency at this point, it’s his fault, not the public’s lack of attention.
But for one person at the convention podium, this is a real opportunity to introduce himself to the American people—and that, of course, is the VP nominee Paul Ryan. Read More…
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s keynote address is the substantive center-piece of this first night of the Republican Convention. But contrary to expectations that he will play the traditional role of attack dog, the former U.S. Attorney will instead lay out a positive Republican vision of change for the nation – rooted in policy, biography and his surprisingly bipartisan accomplishments in the Garden State.
In fact, Chris Christie is so intent on not playing the attack dog at tonight’s campaign, that his speech will not mention President Obama by name. Read More…
“Zero Percent of Blacks for Romney”—Oh, that headline hurts. And the WSJ/NBC poll can’t just be dismissed out of hand as the work of partisan hacks.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that no African-Americans will vote for the Romney-Ryan ticket, just that it will be within the margin of error and along the lines last time, when McCain-Palin somehow managed to score 4 percent of the black vote. Read More…
Chris Shays can’t believe this is happening. How does a longtime Newt Gingrich congressional ally who co-authored 1994’s Contract with America, helped achieve a balanced budget, and backed the Bush-era War on Terror to the hilt get called a Republican In Name Only?
Tuesday is primary day in Connecticut and polls show Shays, a popular Connecticut Republican who served six terms in the House, losing a senate bid in the state by more than 20 points to Linda McMahon, who helped build the World Wrestling Entertainment empire with her husband Vince. McMahon, who’s never held office, lost the 2010 senate race despite the Tea Party tide and spending more than $40 million of her own fortune. Read More…
One hundred years ago Monday, Theodore Roosevelt launched the most successful third party presidential bid in American history, declaring, “We stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord!”
It was the culmination of the Progressive Party Convention in Chicago on August 6, 1912. And its influence still echoes through our politics today.
Roosevelt, the former president, had tried and failed to wrest the GOP nomination from his successor, William Howard Taft. His supporters believed that the nomination had been stolen by the conservative power brokers and declared their independence. Read More…
The DISCLOSE Act was summarily executed via filibuster in the Senate last night. But this is one symbolic vote that mattered, because it offered at least an attempt to address the flow of hidden money into our elections.
But wait, you say—the promise of Citizens United was to balance unlimited money with unprecedented transparency. Well, brace yourself, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way. In fact, the trade of cash for transparency has been undercut by a variety of vehicles, especially the use of 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organizations grafted onto super PACs that allow for anonymous donations and big-ticket expenditures that we won’t see until the election is in the rearview mirror. Read More…
Marco Rubio’s memoir, American Son, is coming out on Tuesday. It will inevitably be a campaign document, scrubbed clean of unflattering details, intended to be an exhibit in his bid to be Mitt Romney’s VP nominee. Which is why The Rise of Marco Rubio by Manuel Roig-Franzia of The Washington Post is an especially valuable and well-timed look the man who might be Vice President.
It is a portrait of one young man’s rise to power in the swampy world of Florida politics. Rubio’s rise is propelled by a number of firsts—the first Cuban-American speaker of the state House of Representatives, the first member of Gen X to reach the upper echelons of American politics, among others. Read More…
This is what happens when politics starts looking like a cult: Jeb Bush gets attacked for being a traitor to the conservative cause.
The former Florida governor has been speaking with the freedom of someone not running for office, saying that both his father and Ronald Reagan would have had a hard time in today’s hard-right GOP and questioning the wisdom of Grover Norquist’s absolutist anti-tax pledge.
That set off a fascinating public fight between Bush and Norquist, two faces of competing factions within Republican Party. It is the latest evidence of a growing GOP backlash against the ideological straitjacket Norquist has attempted to impose on governing in the United States. Read More…
New Jersey’s Chris Christie and Cory Booker Swap Partisan Bickering for Collaboration – The Daily Beast
Is this the Golden Age of New Jersey politics?
After the chronic embarrassments of Governors James McGreevey and Jon Corzine, beyond the scores of mayors indicted for corruption, the Garden State is suddenly fielding a bipartisan team with national appeal.
They’re the ultimate political odd couple, a stereotypical comedy duo in a thin guy/fat guy, black guy/white guy sort of way. And now they’ve co-starred in their first online comedy feature, filmed for the benefit of the New Jersey Press Association Legislative Correspondents Club dinner, which quickly went viral. Read More…
It’s RINO hunting season, and Dick Lugar has a big target on his back.
The six-term Indiana senator was once Richard Nixon’s favorite Republican Mayor—but Tricky Dick looks like a hippie compared to the Tea Party crowd, and Lugar has several sins alleged against him that could lead his party to purge him on Tuesday.
First, he’s on speaking terms with some Democrats. Second, he once co-sponsored nuclear non-proliferation legislation with Barack Obama. Third, as the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he definitely knows who the president of Uz-becki-becki-stan is. Read More…
This is it, showdown at the Supreme Court corral—or Three Days That Could End America, as one conservative website put it.
At the heart of the apocalyptic rhetoric is the individual mandate—that not long ago was considered a conservative idea.
“Nobody was saying that it was creeping socialism or unconstitutional at the time. A lot of conservatives were for it,” former GOP senator Bob Bennett told me yesterday, looking back to the 1993 fight against “Hillarycare.” Read More…
The Vital Center is under siege on Capital Hill. “Congress is now more polarized than at any time since the late 19th century,” attests the data-driven blog Vote View.
It has gotten so bad that Sen. Olympia Snowe is throwing in the towel on her three-term career in disgust: “I do find it frustrating,” she said, “that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions.”
What’s worse, she doesn’t think it’s going to get better any time soon: “I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term.”
Quick: Name a young Hispanic Republican swing-state governor with a record of reducing the size of government and cutting spending while passing education reforms like ending teacher tenure and establishing merit pay, all with a Democratic legislature.
Stumped? Here’s another hint: he’s a former state attorney general and federal judge who left a lifetime appointment to the bench to successfully challenge a scandal-prone Republican incumbent.
The Conservative Political Action Conference’s annual Washington convention this week is not where you’d expect to find a new front in the gay civil rights movement. But that’s going to be the story this week at CPAC.
America has been going through a gay civil rights movement for more than a decade. One measure of its success is that it has finally reached the Republican Party.
Former first daughter Barbara Bush made news by announcing her support of gay marriage, joining the former GOP presidential nominee’s daughter Meghan McCain.
Last year, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman came out. These stands have exposed fundamental fault lines within the conservative coalition between libertarians and social conservatives, between a new generation and the old. Read More…
There has been more bipartisan accomplishment in Washington over the past two weeks than in the past two years.
That’s because the balance of power is back in the center of the Senate, a shift from the hyperpartisan trench warfare that characterized the first two years of the Obama administration.
Yes, the president deserves a great deal of credit for quickly internalizing the results of the election and resetting the tone in Washington with his tax-cut compromise.
But look at the litany of accomplishments from this lame duck—from the the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to ratification of New START—and you’ll see that an emerging group of centrist Republican senators made the margins of victory possible. Significantly, the name John McCain is not on that list. Read More…
From savior to heretic in one week—well, that was fast.
Some conservative activists are already taking aim at Massachusetts Senator-elect Scott Brown by calling him a RINO, or Republican in Name Only.
With Martha Coakley out of the way, they’ve belatedly discovered that Brown is (gasp) pro-choice. It’s an accusation that was always hiding in plain sight. A glance at his campaign Web site revealed that Brown believed “this decision should ultimately be made by a woman in consultation with her doctor.” It’s not that he was ever going to be on NARAL’s Christmas card list; he opposes partial-birth abortion and supports parental notification. But like a libertarian, or a centrist Republican, he believes that government shouldn’t ultimately make this most difficult personal decision for a woman outside reasonable restrictions. Read More…
When entering the wilderness after two consecutive election defeats, it is good to have a vigorous and clarifying debate — because something is not working.
Demographics are destiny, and election returns show that the GOP base is shrinking. The party is decisively winning only whites, regular church-goers, voters over age 60, and residents of towns with populations under 50,000. In a country that is increasingly diverse and urban, that is a recipe for long-term disaster. Read More…
We don’t know yet who will win or by what margin, but we know one thing for certain: This election represents the repudiation of Karl Rove and his play-to-the-base strategy.
There was always something dicey about stoking the fires of hyperpartisanship as a campaign and governing strategy, treating 51-49 victories as ideological mandates instead of an obligation to form broader and more durable coalitions.
Now we have the data to judge the results: a president who tried to unite his party at the expense of uniting the nation and failed to do both, repudiated by both candidates running to succeed him. Even John McCain admits to visitors at his Web site homepage, “the last eight years haven’t worked very well, have they?” Read More…