The “swift boat” attacks in the 2004 presidential election were effective, in part, because they played on real public anxiety: “We’re fighting two wars, is now a good time to change leaders?” For a critical number of Americans, the answer was no, and John Kerry couldn’t overcome the sense that we shouldn't change horses in midstream (to use a cliché).
The widespread belief on the right that Barack Obama is a Muslim is one of the stranger features of this period in history. There are some of them who know that Obama says he's a Christian, but are sure that's all an act designed to fool people, while he secretly prays to Allah. But there are probably a greater number who haven't given it all that much thought, they just heard somewhere that he's a Muslim, and it made perfect sense to them—after all, he's kinda foreign, if you know what I mean. And rather remarkably, that belief has grown over time; as the latest poll from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows, fully 30 percent of Republicans, and 34 percent of conservative Republicans, now believe Obama is Muslim. These numbers are about double what they were four years ago.
And you can bet there aren't too many who think there's nothing wrong with it if he were. For many of them, it's just a shorthand for Obama being alien and threatening. So it leads me to ask: Can we say, finally, that no Democratic president has ever been hated by Republicans quite as much as Barack Obama?
In general, I’m not too concerned with civility in politics, but it’s hard not to be shocked by the nastiness and aggression of today’s Republican Party. Congressional Republicans routinely accuse Democrats of treason, or worse, with little rebuke from party leaders. Reliably conservative lawmakers—like Bob Inglis and Dick Lugar—are challenged nonetheless for their insufficient hatred of Democrats.
One of the strange things about living in Washington, D.C. is the ongoing presence of lots and lots of Republicans. In my adult life I've lived in two other large cities (San Francisco and Philadelphia), and in both of those members of the Grand Old Party are not only few in number but nearly invisible. Sure, there are a few cities where Republicans are plentiful (Dallas, I hear), but on the whole the more urban the area you're in, the more likely Democrats are to dominate the place's political, cultural, and social life.
But here in the nation's capital, Republicans are plentiful. You see them going in and out of think-tank offices, traipsing about Capitol Hill, even walking down the street in broad daylight. Famous ones, ordinary ones, ones in all sizes and ages and genders. They're everywhere...
Our conservative readers (and yes, there are some) might be interested to know how liberals view the rise of Newt Gingrich to a clear lead in the race for president, and the answer is, we're gobsmacked. We just can't believe the Republican Party would be foolish enough to nominate a man who has so many weaknesses and is so plainly (from our perspective, anyway) repellent.
For most of this year, it’s fair to say that liberals have been angry with President Obama’s reluctance to attack Republicans or build a liberal narrative with his rhetoric. And while some critics took this complaint to comical extremes—see: Drew Westen—the frustration was real, even among those who were (and are) skeptical of the bully pulpit.
As of late, however, Obama has grown a lot more aggressive in his attacks on the GOP; since introducing the American Jobs Act in September, the president’s political strategy has centered on demands for new stimulus, vocal attacks on the GOP for its defense of the wealthy, and a constant push to create contrasts between himself—as a defender of the middle-class—and the Republican Party.
Ron Paul wasn't the only Republican presidential candidate to display his regressive racial politics this weekend; on Friday, while addressing the Georgia Republican Party convention, Newt Gingrichcalled President Obama "the most successful food stamp president in modern American history":
I knew it was official when I received an e-mail from Glenn Beck denouncing Obama’s “war for oil” in Libya. It’s like déjà vu in Wonderland --- the same, but all turned around.
All of the sudden the same Republican hawks who were complaining that Obama was not taking military action to protect the people of Libya are now complaining that he took action without sufficiently asking their permission first.
I’m not weighing in here on whether the military action required congressional approval or oversight. My point is, Obama could have brought a resolution to Congress on a silver platter, and Republicans would be all over the news complaining it should have been gold.
If we've learned anything in the last couple of years, it's that the costs of political looniness are limited and localized. The Republican Party has galloped to the right, with some of its most visible spokespeople being ... well, let's just say not a group of wise and reasonable statesmen. Yet they certainly didn't suffer much for it at the polls in November. Yes, some of their craziest candidates lost, but the extremism of people like Sharron Angle did little to impede the GOP wave.
Had Michael Steele forcefully criticized Rand Paul's views on the Civil Rights Act prior to other leading Republicans, he might have diminished the sense among black Democrats that his presence in the Republican Party is meant to do little more than exonerate the GOP from charges of racism. Instead, Steele waited until most of the leadership had already distanced themselves from Paul's statements, and then he went on the Sunday shows armed with mild criticisms.
Republican Congressional Candidate Corey Poitier, who is running for Kendrick Meek's seat in Florida, is working hard for some angry white votes:
From WPLG in Miami: "Corey Poitier, who is running for U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek's seat, delivered a passionate speech against the health care reform bill Monday night to Broward County Republicans. During the speech, Poitier addressed the President by saying 'Listen up, Buckwheat…'