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The GOP’s McCarthy gene November 30, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in Ideology, Politics, Repiglicans.
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Courtesy The LATimes:

 

Ever since the election, partisans within the Republican Party and observers outside it have been speculating wildly about what direction the GOP will take to revive itself from its disaster. Or, more specifically, which wing of the party will prevail in setting the new Republican course — whether it will be what conservative writer Kathleen Parker has called the “evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy” branch or the more pragmatic, intellectual, centrist branch. To determine the answer, it helps to understand exactly how Republicans arrived at this spot in the first place.

The creation myth of modern conservatism usually begins with Barry Goldwater, the Arizona senator who was the party’s presidential standard-bearer in 1964 and who, even though he lost in one of the biggest landslides in American electoral history, nevertheless wrested the party from its Eastern establishment wing. Then, Richard Nixon co-opted conservatism, talking like a conservative while governing like a moderate, and drawing the opprobrium of true believers. But Ronald Reagan embraced it wholeheartedly, becoming the patron saint of conservatism and making it the dominant ideology in the country. George W. Bush picked up Reagan’s fallen standard and “conservatized” government even more thoroughly than Reagan had, cheering conservatives until his presidency came crashing down around him. That’s how the story goes.

But there is another rendition of the story of modern conservatism, one that doesn’t begin with Goldwater and doesn’t celebrate his libertarian orientation. It is a less heroic story, and one that may go a much longer way toward really explaining the Republican Party’s past electoral fortunes and its future. In this tale, the real father of modern Republicanism is Sen. Joe McCarthy, and the line doesn’t run from Goldwater to Reagan to George W. Bush; it runs from McCarthy to Nixon to Bush and possibly now to Sarah Palin. It centralizes what one might call the McCarthy gene, something deep in the DNA of the Republican Party that determines how Republicans run for office, and because it is genetic, it isn’t likely to be expunged any time soon.

The basic problem with the Goldwater tale is that it focuses on ideology and movement building, which few voters have ever really cared about, while the McCarthy tale focuses on electoral strategy, which is where Republicans have excelled. 

McCarthy, Wisconsin’s junior senator, was the man who first energized conservatism and made it a force to reckon with. When he burst on the national scene in 1950 waving his list of alleged communists who had supposedly infiltrated Harry Truman’s State Department, conservatism was as bland, temperate and feckless as its primary congressional proponent, Ohio Sen. Robert Taft, known fondly as “Mister Conservative.” Taft was no flamethrower. Though he was an isolationist and a vehement opponent of FDR, he supported America’s involvement in the war after Pearl Harbor and had even grudgingly come to accept the basic institutions of the New Deal. He was also no winner. He had contested and lost the Republican presidential nomination to Wendell Willkie in 1940, Thomas Dewey in 1948 and Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, three men who were regarded as much more moderate than he.

McCarthy was another thing entirely. What he lacked in ideology — and he was no ideologue at all — he made up for in aggression. Establishment Republicans, even conservatives, were disdainful of his tactics, but when those same conservatives saw the support he elicited from the grass-roots and the press attention he got, many of them were impressed. Taft, no slouch himself when it came to Red-baiting, decided to encourage McCarthy, secretly, sealing a Faustian bargain that would change conservatism and the Republican Party. Henceforth, conservatism would be as much about electoral slash-and-burn as it would be about a policy agenda.

For the polite conservatives, McCarthy was useful. That’s because he wasn’t only attacking alleged communists and the Democrats whom he accused of shielding them. He was also attacking the entire centrist American establishment, the Eastern intellectuals and the power class, many of whom were Republicans themselves, albeit moderate ones. When he began his investigation of the Army, he even set himself against his own Republican president, who had once commanded that service. In the end, he was censured in 1954, not for his recklessness about alleged communists but for his recklessness toward his fellow senators. Moderate Republicans, not Democrats, led the fight against him. His intemperance disgusted them as much as it emboldened his fans, Goldwater among them.

But if McCarthy had been vanquished — he died three years later of cirrhosis from drinking — McCarthyism was only just beginning. McCarthyism is usually considered a virulent form of Red-baiting and character assassination. But it is much more than that. As historian Richard Hofstadter described it in his famous essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” McCarthyism is a way to build support by playing on the anxieties of Americans, actively convincing them of danger and conspiracy even where these don’t exist. 

McCarthy, a Catholic, was especially adept at nursing national resentments among the sorts of people that typically did not vote Republican. He stumbled onto the fact that many of these people in postwar America were frightened and looking for scapegoats. He provided them, and in doing so not only won millions of adherents but also bequeathed to his party a powerful electoral bludgeon that would eventually drive out the moderates from the GOP (posthumous payback) before it drove the Democrats from the White House.

In a way, Goldwater was less a fulfillment of McCarthy conservatism than a slight diversion from it. Goldwater was ideological — an economic individualist. He hated government more than he loved winning, and though he was certainly not above using the McCarthy appeal to resentment or accusing his opponents of socialism, he lacked McCarthy’s blood- lust. McCarthy’s real heir was Nixon, who mainstreamed McCarthyism in 1968 by substituting liberals, youth and minorities for communists and intellectuals, and fueling resentments as McCarthy had. In his 1972 reelection, playing relentlessly on those resentments, Nixon effectively disassembled the old Roosevelt coalition, peeling off Catholics, evangelicals and working-class Democrats, and changed American politics far more than Goldwater ever would.
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Lieberman Contributed to GOP Senate, House Candidates November 27, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in '08 Election, Democrats, News, Politics, Repiglicans.
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Courtesy The Washington Post:

Here’s a story of the Thanksgiving spirit, forgiving and forgetting senatorial style.

When Democrats gathered last week to decide the fate of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), a pair of senators-elect, Tom Udall of New Mexico and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, stepped up to offer symbolically important speeches.

Having ridden the wave of support for President-elect Barack Obama, Udall and Merkley spoke out in favor of the spirit of reconciliation and moving on from the campaign, in which Lieberman was one of the highest profile supporters of the Republican presidential ticket.

But no one in the room knew, as Merkley spoke, that Lieberman had supported Merkley’s opponent, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.). Lieberman, through his Reuniting Our Country PAC, gave Smith’s reelection bid $5,000 on Oct. 10, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Lieberman’s support of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for the presidency was well known, punctuated by his nationally televised speech at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul criticizing Obama as not prepared to be president. His endorsement of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who has served as the top Republican beside him at the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also was well known in Democratic circles.

But not even Merkley knew of Lieberman’s backing of Smith in their critical Senate race, until Capitol Briefing alerted his staff today.

“We were surprised to hear this news, but it’s time to put the election behind us. Jeff Merkley is looking forward to working with all his new colleagues on an agenda that will put our nation back on track,” said Julie Edwards, spokeswoman for Merkley.

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Franken camp finds 6,400 uncounted absentee ballots November 26, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in '08 Election, Democrats, News, Voting.
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Courtesy Rawstory:

With the recount in the razor-thin Minnesota U.S. Senate race continuing into its second week, Democratic candidate Al Franken’s campaign says it has uncovered 6,400 rejected absentee ballots and will ask a state board to count at least some of those votes.

Campaign attorney Marc Elias said Tuesday that the campaign received the rejected ballots from 66 of the state’s 87 counties, according to the Associated Press. In some instances, clerical errors or oversight caused the ballot to be improperly rejected. 

Franken is running to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman. Elections officials have recounted nearly 80 percent of the more than 2 million ballots cast in the Senate race.

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Al Gore to lend star power to Georgia Dem’s Senate runoff November 24, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in '08 Election, Clinton, Democrats, Politics, Repiglicans.
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(CNN) — Add Al Gore to the list of big-name surrogates who are making campaign cameos in the last remaining Senate election this year. The former vice president will team up with Jim Martin at a campaign event Sunday in Atlanta, Georgia.

Martin is a former Georgia state lawmaker who is the Democratic challenger to Saxby Chambliss, Georgia’s freshman Republican senator, who’s fighting to keep his seat. The two candidates face off in a runoff election December 2.

Chambliss won a plurality of the vote on Election Day, but Georgia state law calls for the winner to grab at least 50 percent plus one vote. Because of the inclusion of a third-party candidate, Chambliss fell just shy of that threshold, forcing a runoff.

Gore‘s campaign appearance follows that of former President Bill Clinton, who teamed up with Martin on Wednesday in Atlanta.

President-elect Barack Obama is lending his voice to the Democrats’ efforts to win back the Republican-held senate seat in Georgia. Obama speaks out in a 60-second radio ad forMartin that hit the airwaves Friday.

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President-Elect Obama’s weekly Video Address (11-22-08) November 23, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in Economy, News, Obama, Politics, Video.
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Saxby Chabliss Reacts to Imperial Sugar Questions November 21, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in '08 Election, News, Politics, Repiglicans, Video.
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Courtesy FireDogLake

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Your Weekly Address from the President-Elect November 15, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in Economy, News, Obama, Video.
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Catholic Church cuts off ACORN funding November 14, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in '08 Election, News, Politics, Religion, Voting.
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(CNN) — The Roman Catholic Church is cutting off funds to the community organizing group ACORN, citing complaints over its voter registration drives in the November 4 election as part of the reason

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development froze its contributions to the group in June amid allegations that Dale Rathke, the brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke, had embezzled nearly $1 million.

This week, as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops met in Baltimore, Maryland, the campaign’s chairman said it was cutting all ties with the group.

“We simply had too many questions and concerns to permit further CCHD funding of ACORN groups,” Roger Morin, the auxiliary bishop of New Orleans, Louisiana, told his colleagues in a letter to the conference. Video Watch why fired board members allege a cover-up »

The CCHD has donated more than $7.3 million to ACORN-related projects over the past decade, including $40,000 to an ACORN chapter in Las Vegas, Nevada, that was raided before the election in an investigation into fraudulent voter registration forms. Among other questionable documents, the ACORN chapter submitted registration forms for members of the Dallas Cowboys football team.

ACORN contends it has tried to help head off election fraud.

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Iraq vet possible Senate replacement for Obama November 13, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in '08 Election, News, Obama, Politics, Vets.
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Courtesy  The Army Times:

Tammy Duckworth, who earned the Purple Heart for her service in Iraq, may be moving up with President-elect Barack Obama.

Duckworth, now the Illinois Veterans Affairs director, has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Obama in the U.S. Senate or as Veterans Affairs secretary in an Obama administration.

She accompanied Obama yesterday as the Illinois senator marked Veterans Day by placing a wreath at the bronze soldiers memorial between the Field Museum and Soldier Field in Chicago.

Duckworth, then a pilot with the Illinois Army National Guard, lost both her legs in Iraq in 2004 when her Black Hawk helicopter was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade.

She has said she would be interested in either the Senate seat or a post in Obama’s administration.

“I would be honored to be able to do that on a national level,” Duckworth told The Associated Press recently about the prospect of helping veterans.

U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, following a Veterans Day ceremony yesterday at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, said Duckworth’s experience and the respect she has garnered from other veterans would make her an excellent choice for Veterans Affairs secretary.

Akaka, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said Duckworth has appeared in front of his committee and has proven to be knowledgeable of the challenges facing military veterans and their families.

“She’s smart and she would be able to deal with the problems facing our veterans,” he said. “She has a feel for veterans issues. She’s one who has been through it and feels the needs.”

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Begich ahead by 3 votes in Alaska November 12, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in '08 Election, Democrats, News, Politics, Repiglicans, Voting.
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Courtesy Rawstory:

Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Democratic opponent Mark Begich are neck-and-neck for Stevens’ seat as Alaska continues counting absentee and early ballots not counted on Election Day.

On November 4, Stevens led by about 3,000 votes against Begich, the current mayor of Anchorage. The state’s Division of Elections, reports the Anchorage Daily News, has counted about 43,000 absentee ballots on Wednesday, with 35,000 more expected in the next week. As of Wednesday evening, Begich was in the lead by three votes, with 125,019 against Stevens’ 125,016.

Whether 84-year-old Stevens keeps his seat for long if he prevails is unclear. On October 27, he was convicted of seven federal felony counts for false statements made on financial disclosure forms between 1999 and 2006 to conceal over $250,000 worth of gifts and services from Alaska oil services contractor VECO, including a remodel of one of his houses. Regardless of the appeals process, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said on November 1, Stevens will face an ethics investigation followed by his ejection from the Senate, where he has served since 1968.

 

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