Election 2012

Republicans (Probably) Don't Have to Reform on Immigration

Jens Schott Knudsen / Flickr

Here’s why I don’t expect Republicans to sign on to comprehensive immigration reform, even as they understand a need to better appeal to Latino voters and other immigrant groups.

Mitt, Biggest Fibber of the Year

In the last frantic days of the 2012 campaign, Mitt Romney turned to desperation. His campaign realized that Ohio was slipping out of contention and turned to untruths to peel white, working-class voters away from Obama. They rolled out a campaign ad charging that, under Obama's auto bailout, Chrysler would be shipping Jeep manufacturing over to China. That, of course, was an outright lie. Even Chrysler jumped in to dispute the claims, but Romney was not dissuaded, assuming the public wouldn't be smart enough to parse through the dispute.

Election Officials Defend Their Partisan Status

Flickr/Steve Rhodes

This campaign cycle, even election rules were grounds for partisan fighting. Republican Ken Detzner, Florida’s secretary of state, attempted a purge of the voter rolls, prompting accusations of discrimination. In Colorado, Secretary of State Scott Gessler, also a Republican, tinkered with a similar effort. Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Commonwealth Carole Aichele, another Republican appointed by Governor Tom Corbett, openly supported the state’s voter-ID law. Most famously, there was Jon Husted, Ohio’s Republican secretary of state, whose decision to limit early-voting hours to keep them consistent across the state prompted cries of outrage.

The Billionaires' Long Game

AP Photo

I keep hearing that the billionaires and big corporations that poured all that money into the 2012 election learned their lesson. They lost their shirts and won’t do it again.

Don’t believe that for an instant.

It’s true their political investments didn’t exactly pay off this time around.

Dick Morris, Con Artist

And I mean that literally

A few weeks before the election, the invaluable Rick Perlstein published a lengthy article in The Baffler titled "The Long Con," about how successful conservative entrepreneurs have been at separating the right-wing rank and file from their money over the past few decades. If you were to sign up for updates from the likes of Human Events or World Net Daily, you'd be inundated not only with come-ons from political groups but with innumerable offers for miracle cures for every ailment under the sun. "The strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers points up evidence of another successful long march," Perlstein wrote, "of tactics designed to corral fleeceable multitudes all in one place—and the formation of a cast of mind that makes it hard for either them or us to discern where the ideological con ended and the money con began."

In today's political universe there may be no pundit more ridiculous than Dick Morris, who never hesitates to offer a prediction and is almost always wrong. Like many of his brethren, Morris has found that opportunities for income are not restricted to a Fox contract and best-selling "books." While Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Bill O'Reilly offer "premium" content on their web sites you can pay for (if the four or so hours a day of their television and radio shows aren't enough for you), Morris decided this year that the fervid desire that 80-year-old angry white guy shaking his fist at the television screen has to get rid of Barack Obama was a business opportunity that couldn't be passed up. What if you could say to that angry old man, "Give me your money, and I'll use it to defeat Obama," but then you actually, you know, kept the money for yourself? It might require a little creative accounting, but Morris was up to the task. Ben Dimiero and Eric Hananoki of Media Matters report:

Can the Republican Party Move Back to the Center?

Those two guys in the front knew how to do it. (White House/Pete Souza)

Shaping the next phase in the history of the Republican party is an ongoing project that won't really be completed until they have another president, and their 2016 nominee could well be that person. Part of what makes this process interesting is that there is no obvious choice. Republicans are famous for nominating the person who is "next in line," usually someone who ran previously and lost. Every Republican nominee dating back to Richard Nixon has fit this pattern, with the exception of George W. Bush in 2000 (and Gerald Ford, who is obviously a special case). But the people who lost to Mitt Romney in 2012 revealed themselves to be an extraordinarily unappealing group; Paul Ryan didn't exactly emerge from the race looking like a giant; and there are multiple governors like Bobby Jindal and Mitch Daniels who could be strong competitors. So the next GOP nominee could be a hard-right conservative, or a relative moderate, or something in between.

As E.J. Dionne points out in his column today, when a party spend some time in the wilderness, its path back to power usually involves some ideological accommodation:

It Isn't Easy Being Fox

Karl Rove on election night, insisting it wasn't over.

Fox News has been in the news a bunch over the last two days, with stories like Roger Ailes' wooing of David Petraeus, and now the discovery by Gabriel Sherman of New York that the network has benched Karl Rove and Dick Morris, though for slightly different reasons. Morris is just an embarrassment because he's always so hilariously wrong about everything, while Rove apparently angered top management by challenging the network's call of Ohio for Obama on election night. "Ailes's deputy, Fox News programming chief Bill Shine, has sent out orders mandating that producers must get permission before booking Rove or Morris." This highlights something we liberals may not appreciate: it isn't easy being Fox.

For starters, MSNBC and CNN don't get nearly as much attention for their internal conflicts as Fox does. That's not only because there's a healthy appetite among liberals for these kinds of stories, but also because there seem to be many people within Fox who are happy to leak to reporters about what goes on there, presumably because they don't like their employer's politics. Without them, we'd never know about these things. But more importantly, Fox has a lot of people and factions to keep happy. To see what I mean, let's start with Ed Kilgore's explanation for the sidelining of Morris and particularly Rove:

Do Republicans Really Believe ACORN Stole the Election?


If this poll from Public Policy Polling is any indication, a fair number of Republicans have convinced themselves Barack Obama won re-election with fraud and other nefarious efforts:

49% of GOP voters nationally say they think that ACORN stole the election for President Obama. We found that 52% of Republicans thought that ACORN stole the 2008 election for Obama, so this is a modest decline, but perhaps smaller than might have been expected given that ACORN doesn’t exist anymore.

The Importance of Elizabeth Warren

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The Boston Globe, Politico, and Huffington Post are all reporting that Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren has been granted her wish to get a seat on the Senate Banking Committee.

This victory for progressives is huge. It means that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid—who makes the committee selection, later ratified by the Democratic caucus—did not cave to pressure from either the financial lobby or from Senate Banking Committee Chairman, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, who is effectively part of that lobby. (South Dakota gutted its usury laws decades ago to make the state hospitable to the back office operations of the biggest banks.)

Election Counterfactuals

Jamelle Bouie / The American Prospect

At National Journal, Jill Lawrence presents four ways the 2012 campaign could have led to a different president.

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

Since President Obama unveiled his proposal for the fiscal cliff last week, Republicans have been complaining that it’s nothing new. “After the election, I offered to speed this up by putting revenue on the table and unfortunately, the White House responded with their la-la land offer that couldn’t pass the House, couldn’t pass the Senate, and it was basically the president’s budget from last February,” House Majority Leader John Boehner told reporters this afternoon.

As such, there’s been some anticipation about what Republicans would offer. If the GOP is so opposed to old ideas, then surely they’d come up with something new and exciting to break the impasse over the fiscal cliff?


Conservative Pundits Fail Again

The Aspen Institute

The conventional wisdom on fiscal cliff negotiations is that President Barack Obama holds most, if not all, of the leverage. If Republicans refuse to budge, the government automatically imposes policies that Republicans fear—higher tax rates and sharp cuts to military spending.

How to Talk about a Changing America

New American citizens at a naturalization ceremony at the Grand Canyon. (Flickr/Grand Canyon NPS)

After the election revealed the central demographic problem the GOP faces—it is emphatically the party of white people in a country that grows more diverse by the day—there was some triumphalism among liberals about this state of affairs. But the always humane and thoughtful Harold Pollack reminds us that we should reserve some sympathy for the people who feel unsettled by the rapid pace of change in 21st century America:

Sad Mitt Is Sad

Jamelle Bouie / The American Prospect

Over the weekend, The Washington Post profiled a post-election Mitt Romney. The picture, according to friends and associates, is of a man who—for the first time in his life—is aimless.

Party of Rich Guys Suffers from Image as Party of Rich Guys

Typical Republican youth.

Losing is never good for your party's image, but Mitt Romney may have left the GOP in a particularly bad position by reinforcing the party's most unappealing characteristic. As a son of privilege worth hundreds of millions of dollars, Romney would have to have labored hard to convince voters he wouldn't just be a representative of his class, perhaps in the way George W. Bush did 12 years before (though buying a ranch, putting on a cowboy hat, and clearing brush might not have worked as well for Romney). Instead, he did just the opposite, again and again drawing attention to the fact that he was a rich guy representing a party of rich guys ("Corporations are people, my friends," "47 percent"). Combine that with the current argument over upper-income tax cuts, and Republicans are going to have a particularly difficult time in the near future convincing voters they have their interests at heart.

Not that this is a new problem. As John Sides explains, "Party images do not change quickly or easily. They reflect the accretion of political agendas and actions—big and small, symbolic and substantive." Nevertheless, over the years the GOP has successfully widened its electoral appeal to include some lower- and middle-class voters, but those are almost entirely white voters, and mostly in the South and lower Midwest (contrary to popular belief, Barack Obama performed perfectly well with white voters everywhere but in the South). They did it with a combination of racial and cultural appeals, some of which were more defensible than others. But their problem is that there just aren't enough voters who respond to those appeals about snooty coastal latte-sippers and parasitic welfare recipients to make a majority. Some thoughtful Republicans are trying to grapple with this issue, but the fact is that Republicans are always going to struggle with their image as the party of, by, and for the wealthy.

The reason that won't change is pretty simple: That's who they are.