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.
Mitt Romney is scheduled to give a speech this afternoon in Des Moines, Iowa, where he’ll focus “on the unprecedented growth of government, spending and debt under President Obama.” The American Spectator has excerpts from the address, and they are–for anyone who cares about truthfulness–rage inducing:
President Obama started his days in office with the trillion-dollar stimulus package – the biggest, most careless one-time expenditure by the federal government in history. And remember this: the stimulus wasn’t just wasted – it was borrowed and wasted. We still owe the money, we’re still paying interest on it, and it’ll be that way long after this presidency ends in January.
I briefly mentioned this in my previous post, but the latest Romney video offers a view from Iowa, where—if the narrative is any indication—the economy is in terrible shape. But this message is undermined by actual facts on the ground. For example, the joblessness rate in Iowa has dropped over the last year to 5.2 percent, which is close to full employment:
The centerpiece of Mitt Romney’s campaign today is a web video on the human cost of the “Obama economy.” It focuses on three individuals, still out of work, and ends on this note: “Hope and change has not been kind to millions of Americans, but they still believe in this great country, and deserve a leader who believes in them: Mitt Romney.” The video is a little long, but worth watching in full:
The Tea Party’s power may have waned with the public writ large, but as TheNew York Timesshows, the brand still has plenty of currency with Republican primary voters:
In Arizona, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas, Republican Senate candidates are vying for the mantle of Tea Party outsider. A number of them say that they would seek to press an agenda that is generally to the right of the minority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and that they would demand a deeper policy role for the Senate’s growing circle of staunch conservatives.
The 111th Congress was practically defined by Republicans who turned an extraordinary measure–the filibuster–into a routine tool of obstruction. GOP senators invoked holds and filibusters on virtually everything that came from Senate Democrats, resulting in a session that saw more filibusters than any previous session in history. This nifty graph is illustrative:
If same-sex marriage will harm anyone in this election, it’s not President Obama; his position is supported by most Democrats and independents, as well as important portions of his liberal base. By contrast, Mitt Romney is in a serious bind. If he shifts his rhetoric to emphasize opposition to marriage equality, he could energize the conservative base, and deepen his support among evangelicals and other members of the religious right who doubt his commitment to the cause. Already, he’s made steps in that direction. Yesterday afternoon, Romney reiterated his stance on marriage:
This morning, Mike Allen lamented the loss of Indiana Senator Dick Lugar with—predictably—a complaint about partisanship on both sides:
Look at the two Blue Dogs who lost primaries in Pennsylvania last month, plus the Lugar result, and the quick extinction of moderates in both parties over the past decade, and there is one inescapable conclusion: This town could get even more ungovernable and polarized in November.
If you haven’t already, you should read Ed Kilgore and Greg Sargent on Mitt Romney’s speech yesterday in Michigan, where he tried to clarify and contrast his approach on the economy. The message was typical of Romney’s rhetoric; an attempt to flip an attack and direct it at his opponent. In this case, Romney decried Obama as the purveyor of failed policies, and presented himself as a reform conservative in the mold of Bill Clinton and the New Democrats.
Three years ago, Mitt Romney was a naysayer on the auto bailouts, warning that they would result in the destruction of the American auto industry. But now that President Obama is running on the success of the bailout, Romney has decided that he’s responsible for the revival of auto manufacturing:
“I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy, and finally when that was done, and help was given, the companies got back on their feet,” Romney told a Cleveland TV station while visiting a local auto plant Monday. “So, I’ll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry has come back.”
Yesterday, I wrote on Barack Obama “evolving” position on same-sex marriage, and pointed to a Gallup poll from last year that showed majority support for marriage equality. If Obama could count on public opinion in 2011—with 53 percent of Americans in favor of gay marriage—then there’s no question that he could do the same in 2012, and gain from announcing his support for marriage equality.
A new Gallup survey shows a slight reduction in support for same-sex marriage. 50 percent of Americans say that marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by the law as valid, compared to 48 percent who say otherwise:
Republicans haven’t always been opposed to stimulus. In 2008, under George W. Bush, congressional Republicans joined with Democrats to pass the Economic Stimulus Act, a $152 billion package which gave tax cuts to individuals and married couples, tax breaks for businesses, and $40 billion in direct spending. Going back further, again under President Bush, Republicans touted the initial round of Bush tax cuts as stimulus that would boost the economy.
“I think there are 60 votes in the Senate to solve the budget challenge and to secure Medicare and Social Security,” Kerrey said Saturday.
“The Democratic and Republican caucuses are the problem.”
Those organized party caucuses stand in the way of bipartisan cooperation on difficult problems that continue to grow larger and become more urgent as the Congress remains paralyzed by partisan gridlock, Kerrey said.