Republicans are preparing to attack Clinton for being old. Michael Tomasky on why it will probably backfire.
So now the Republicans, having tried sexism against Hillary Clinton for two decades, say they’re ditching that and going for ageism. Of course whether the party of Todd Akin and involuntary vaginal probes really can ditch sexism remains doubtful, so let’s amend the above to say simply that they’re adding ageism to the list of indictments. They actually have a bit of a point. If Clinton seeks the presidency in 2016, she’ll be old enough for her age to be an issue—Ronald Reagan turned 70 just three weeks into his presidency, and Clinton would do so nine months into her first year as president. Where the planned attack melts into comedy, though, is in the idea that Republicans can springboard from the simple actuarial question of her age to selling young voters on the idea that it is they, not the Democrats, who are with it. Here, they’ll make the same pathetic mistake they always make of assuming that X voting bloc is stupid enough to fall for symbolism.
Former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton laughs as she gives a speech during a ceremony honoring her at the Pentagon in Washington on February 14, 2013. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
The story appeared in yesterday’s Times, if you missed it, with several GOP operatives telling Jonathan Martin the message would be that it’s time for Clinton’s generation to step off the stage. The comparative youth of many of the GOP’s leading candidates—Marco Rubio is 42, Paul Ryan is 43, Rand Paul is 50—renders the theme all the more tempting. Karl Rove told Martin: “The idea that we’re at the end of her generation and that it’s time for another to step forward is certainly going to be compelling.”
The Rove quote suggests a war that will be waged on two fronts. First, her age and physical condition; second, the question of which candidate can better “relate” to young voters. On the first point, there will be questions Clinton will need to answer. That fainting spell and concussion last year saw to that. And she probably can’t quip the issue away. Reagan famously said in a debate with Walter Mondale, when the issue of his age came up, that he wouldn’t hold Mondale’s relative “youth and inexperience” against him. Ho ho ho, end of issue.
This is just great, from Deadspin a while back, which I'd missed initially. It seems that Danny "I'm doing my best George Preston Marshall imitation" Snyder enlised a Native American chieftain, a certain Chief Dodson, to step forward on the May 3 of the R-----s Nation TV show to say that he thought the team's name was cute and endearing.
Nice strategy. One problem:
Alas, there's a lot of evidence that Chief Dodson—whose real name is Stephen D. Dodson—ain't the perfect pitchman that Snyder and Goodell want him to be. It turns out that the "full-blooded American Inuit chief" is neither a full-blooded American Inuit nor a chief in any formal sense of the term.
Let's start with that last part. Apparently nobody but Dodson says Dodson's really a chief. The work shirt from Charley's Crane Services that Dodson wore on Redskins Nation had "Chief Dodson" stitched into it alongside the company's name. But the only references I could find to Dodson and "Chief" that predate his appearance as "Redskin"-lovin' aboriginal royalty appeared in court records in Maryland. Case files from some of Stephen D. Dodson's scrapes with the law—involving theft, paternity, and domestic violence matters—have "Chief" listed as one of the defendant's AKAs.
Forget creating a big tent. Some Republicans want their party to simply try to win more white votes.
You, unsuspecting citizen, probably take the view that the Republican Party is too white. It’s the conventional wisdom, after all, and last year’s election results would seem to have proven the point resoundingly. But you’re obviously not up with the newest thinking in some conservative quarters, which is that the party isn’t white enough, and that the true and only path to victory in the future is to get whiter still. Some disagree, which gives us the makings of a highly entertaining intra-GOP race war playing out as we head into 2016. But given this mad party’s recent history, which side would you bet on winning?
John Boehner and other House Republicans won't budge on the immigration bill. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
The situation is this. The immigration reform bill passed the Senate yesterday. It will now go to the House. A few weeks ago, as I read things, there were occasional and tepid signals that the House would not take up the Senate bill. Now, by contrast, those signals are frequent and full-throated. For example, yesterday Peter Roskam, a deputy GOP whip in the House, said this: “It is a pipe dream to think that [the Senate] bill is going to go to the floor and be voted on. The House is going to move through in a more deliberative process.”
“Deliberative process” probably means, in this case, killing the legislation. House conservatives, National Journal reports, are increasingly bullish on the idea that they may be able to persuade John Boehner to drop the whole thing.
In case you didn't notice, it was revealed this week that the words "Occupy" (as in Wall Street) and "progressives" were also targeted by IRS employees in charge of awarding nonprofit status to applicant groups. So there goes that political conspiracy. Well, not to everyone--some people will no doubt just say "Ah, but you see, Obama, being the Manchurian that he is, was clever enough to instruct that some progressive groups be targeted, just enough to provide cover." This is insane, World Net Daily kind of stuff, but some will inevitably believe it.
There is, however, another political conspiracy afoot, perhaps. You may be wondering, why wasn't this news public until this week? The answer is that the Democratic staff on the relevant House committees didn't know until this week. Republican oversight chairman Darrell Issa, in his original letter, asked Treasury inspector general Russell George only about "tea party" groups, and that's all the information George provided.
Further: At a hearing back in May, George was asked by Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly if he knew of the screws having been put to any liberal applicants. He said his people "were unable to make that determination" because "in many instances the names were neutral."
And so, we have some questions. Did Issa in the first place know that liberal applicants were involved but decide to tailor his request to the IG only to tea party groups? That, of course, would make the whole matter look partisan and far more conspiratorial on the IRS's part. Did George and Issa in some way plot together? George has a pretty long history as a Republican staffer, although he once was a friend (and possibly a short-lived companion) of Michelle Obama in law school. At that May hearing, did George knowingly mislead Connolly? "In many instances" the names were neutral...but not in all? Were there tip-offs in any names that applicants were left-of-center?
They just said on NPR a little while ago, Nina Totenberg I suppose it was, that the Obama Justice Department has a slew of technical legal issues to deal with as a result of yesterday's gay-marriage rulings. There are, as you've probably heard, more than 1,000 federal benefits that redound from the matrimonial state, and DoJ attorneys have to figure out how to enforce the rulings in all these complicated particulars.
Which made me think: What if Obama were still against same-sex marriage? Not at all a crazy thought, right? Remember when he supported the policy last year, after Joe Biden got out "ahead of his skis"? It was a policy shift that happened sort of by accident.
So we could very easily be sitting here watching Obama issue a statement yesterday not hailing the decisions but tepidly, awkwardly, and hypocritically denouncing them. And all that Justice Department machinery would be put into motion not for the purpose of enforcing the rulings but to the end of fighting them. Imagine how vastly different a situation that would be.
Or, perhaps, Obama would have used the occasion of these decisions finally to say that okay, he would support the Court and change his personal position. That might be more likely than the above scenario. But even in this case, it would have meant that Obama had to be dragged against his will to the right side of history by the Supreme Court. By Anthony Kennedy!
The Senate today passed the border security amendment 69-29. Again that sounds like a resounding victory. But again, it might not be.
Look at the vote. There are five Republicans in their party's leadership: McConnell of course, and Jon Cornyn, and John Thune, and John Barrasso, and Roy Blunt. Blunt missed the vote. The other four voted no. What kind of signal do you think that sends? Remember--this is their own bill! From two of their own, Bob Corker and John Hoeven.
Now imagine that you are a conservative House member from a conservative district. To the extent that the Senate matters to you, you study the roll call. You notice this. Trust me, this is orchestrated. McConnell is certainly not dumb, whatever else he is. He could have directed two of them to vote aye.
Meanwhile, thinking a little more about the impact of the DOMA ruling on immigration. In theory, it has no impact. The Supreme Court just made the Leahy amendment unnecessary, so there's nothing legislatively for Rubio and McCain and the others to oppose.
Another quick reaction: Obviousy, this is great. Anthony Kennedy!
I'm still reading up on all the ramifications, but clearly the Court's majority has done a great thing here, on the DOMA case and on not hearing the Prop 8 case. Apparently same-sex marriage will be legal again in California, although that's not 100 percent clear yet and there could be future challenges.
Scalia...did you see his line, re the DOMA ruling, about how the Court lacks the standing "to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation." Funny, he didn't seem to say that yesterday. Amazing, this guy. Putz. Yep.
Obama’s environmental proposals are admirable. But why does he sell them so poorly?
There are a number of bases on which Barack Obama can be criticized, but I’d hope we’d be past the point where liberals whack Obama for policy proposals that aren’t bold enough. Back in 2009, it was possible to believe, I suppose, that he could have pushed through a public option with greater assertion of presidential will. But by now, everyone should be able to accept that he could hardly get a street-name change through this Congress. It’s going to have to be more modest than liberals would want.
People rally in front of the Supreme Court in Washington on March 27, 2013. (Alex Wong/Getty)
But I don’t even find the climate proposals Obama spelled out under an appropriately baking sun on a quaint little quadrangle at Georgetown University today modest. Calling on the EPA to set carbon-emission limits from existing and new American power plants for the first time is bold. Increasing fuel-economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles is, too. There’s a lot in the plan. Individually, they’re small slices of the pie. But they add up to something. So I don’t think it’s fair to question his commitment. What I question, though, is how well he sells it, which unfortunately is not very.
When I hear Obama give speeches like this, I always wonder whom, exactly, he thinks he’s talking to. He has this ideal American in his head, or his speechwriters do, who is a blank slate, a kind of pure vessel of evidence and reason who listens to his factual case and thinks, “By golly, he’s right, and I’m going to call my congressman!”
I have to run to go cover Obama's climate speech, but I wanted to get something up quick about this. I am just sort of thinking out loud here.
Context: There are states and localities across the country that have to have legislative district lines "precleared" by the Justice Department. That map was determined back in 1965. But because of that don't think that it's been completely static since then. States and localities can apply to Justice saying we don't need to be covered anymore, and it's my understanding that there have been some changes to the map over the years as a result of those applications. A current map is here.
What the Court said is that that map is out of date and invalid. So now, those states and regions won't have to have their district lines precleared. (They would if Congress were to draw a new map; yeah, right.) So what's it mean?
First of all, let's think about Congress. It would seem to me that this decision can't have any real impact at the federal level until 2022, after the next census. Not sure I'm right about that. You tell me if I'm not.
So the Senate voted last night to let the immigration bill proceed, surpassing the needed 60 votes by seven for a final 67-27 tally. Here's the roll call.
That makes everybody feel good and talk about how the system can work and so on, but I see the glass as half-empty. This tally means that a majority of Republicans voted against the bill--27 against and just 15 for. Of the four R's who voted against, my guesstimate is that three of them would have voted no, so basically, R's made a rather strong statement that they oppose immigration reform. Mitch McConnell, their leader, voted no--remember, not on the substance of the bill, just on the idea of moving it forward.
It was said before the vote that 75 yeas would have meant that about half of R's voted for it, and that was considered a kind of benchmark that might have signaled to the House that the GOP as a party wanted reform. That signal has not been sent.
In fact, I don't think the House cares much about the Senate's signals one way or the other. And I wouldn't put too much stock in Paul Ryan's strongly pro-bill stance; he's just positioning himself to get credit if it passes, which will make him and Marco Rubio the two pro-reform 2016 candidates. This apparently is his gamble, and it isn't crazy: One pro-reform candidate will make it to the final two, and he has reason to think it'll be him, not Rubio.
So I was in the Target last night with Margot (my daughter, just shy of three). It being an off time, 7:30-ish on a Sunday night, only a few of those multiple check-out lanes were open. I looked furtively around, as one does, and noticed that Lane 8 had only a couple of people, so I headed that way.
As I did I noticed a woman in front of me. She had no shopping cart and was carrying nothing. As she took her place in line in front of me, she turned around and said to me, in a pretty aggressive tone of voice: “Excuse me.” She pointed behind me. Here came her husband, pushing the buggy. The very full buggy.
What to do? In my view, this was ethically dubious on her part, and extremely so. You can’t do that to someone. Her merchandise was behind me. Had I been in her shoes, with my spouse trailing behind her with our merch, I have no doubt I would have waved her through. I was pretty shocked at her. But in the event I just let it go, because I didn’t want to create a ruckus in front of the kid, and because (this was the main thing, truth be told), I couldn’t quite (in the two or three seconds I had) figure out a way to object with enough moral clarity that she and her spouse would be properly chastised.
And that’s what made this such a great “Curb Your Enthusiasm” moment. As is the case in the funniest CYE situations, Larry David (i.e., my good self, in this instance) is actually in the right, but he’s such an asshole about it that he fritters away the moral advantage. I worried that that would be my fate. Larry D., if you somehow happen to be reading this, and you ever make a new season, this would make for a great episode, I humbly submit. Key point: Their cart is bulging full, while yours has just a few items. I envision that famous use of the camera as your eyes, three successive tighter-and-tighter shots of their cart as the realization hits that they're going to cost you 25 minutes.
If this South China Morning Post story is right, Edward Snowden isn't admirable in the least and is nothing more than a spy:
Edward Snowden secured a job with a US government contractor for one reason alone – to obtain evidence on Washington’s cyberspying networks, the South China Morning Post can reveal.
For the first time, Snowden has admitted he sought a position at Booz Allen Hamilton so he could collect proof about the US National Security Agency’s secret surveillance programmes ahead of planned leaks to the media.
“My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked,” he told the Post on June 12. “That is why I accepted that position about three months ago.”
On this heavy news day, I wish to draw your attention not to the Supreme Court or Edward Snowden's whereabouts but a study, by the Sunlight Foundation, that is arguably more interesting than either of those first two topics. The report, by Lee Drutman, explains a lot about US politics:
In the 2012 election, 28 percent of all disclosed political contributions came from just 31,385 people. In a nation of 313.85 million, these donors represent the 1% of the 1%, an elite class that increasingly serves as the gatekeepers of public office in the United States...
...One sign of the reach of this elite “1% of the 1%”: Not a single member of the House or Senate elected last year won without financial assistance from this group. Money from the nation’s 31,385 biggest givers found its way into the coffers of every successful congressional candidate. And 84 percent of those elected in 2012 took more money from these 1% of the 1% donors than they did from all of their small donors (individuals who gave $200 or less) combined.
This elite 1% of the 1% dominated campaign giving even in a year when President Barack Obama reachednew small donor frontiers (small donors are defined as individuals giving in increments of less than $200). In 2014, without a presidential race to attract small donors, all indicators are that the 1% of the 1% will occupy an even more central role in the money chase.
The decisions the justices will announce this week, says Michael Tomasky, should remind us just how important the Supreme Court will be in 2016.
Today begins one of the biggest weeks in the Supreme Court’s recent history. Certainly the biggest since it decided on Obamacare almost exactly a year ago, and I would say even bigger, because while that was a huge deal in a news sense, these decisions will drill right into the muscle and bone of our competing constitutional theories in this country—whether the Constitution is a living document that permits judges to use it to reach conclusions about changing social morality (the liberal view), or whether it should do no such thing and judges should never think about “outcomes” (the conservative one). The decisions should certainly focus liberals’ minds on what a crucial role the Court plays in shaping our lives, and the fact that we have four justices, two on each side, age 75 or older is a reminder of how the next president may well shape the nature and size of the Court’s majority for at least a generation to come, maybe two.
People rally in front of the Supreme Court in Washington on March 27, 2013. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
Let’s start with the cases at hand. As you read this Monday, the Court might already have announced its decision on the affirmative-action case before it, the voting-rights case, or the two same-sex marriage cases it is considering. A ruling against the University of Texas’s use of race as a sort of second-tier admissions consideration could spell the end for race-based admissions across the country. Similar changes have already led to a sharp decline in black enrollment at elite schools in Texas, California, and Florida, so the question would be whether a conservative decision in Fisher v. University of Texas would decrease black enrollment down the food chain.
The voting-rights case arose in Shelby County, Alabama, which had been drawing its districts so as to make likely the election of one black member of the city council in the town of Calera. But new lines were drawn, and the black candidate lost (it was all much shadier than that, and if you think Section 5 remedies are old-fashioned, I implore you to read this excellent account of the facts of the case in Calera by Lou DuBose).
The farm bill was defeated in part because they got fewer yea votes out of Democrats than they were hoping for. This happened, according to moderate Democrat Collin Peterson of Minnesota, because of a last-second amendment from Eric Cantor that sought to impose sterner work requirements on recipients of food stamps. Democratic whip Steny Hoyer says it took a bipartisan bill and turned it into a partisan bill.
This was just a cat-piss mean amendment that you have to think was almost designed to push Democrats away. Fraud in the food-stamp program (known by the acronym SNAP) is a frightening 1 percent, according to Think Progress. And existing work requirements are pretty stringent already. If you live in Cantor's Virginia and want food stamps, here's what you have to do, according to the state's web site:
If you are age 18 to 50 and able to work, you may be subject to a work requirement in order to receive SNAP. This requirement would limit the number of months for which you could receive SNAP to three months in a 36 month period. After you receive SNAP for three months, you may be able to receive three additional months if you complete certain work related requirements. You may be exempt from this work requirement if you are currently working or participating in an approved work program; responsible for the care of a child; pregnant; medically certified as unable to work; meet one of several work registration exemption reasons; or live in an exempt locality.
I can't find what these "certain work requirements" are, but it seems to me that having re-meet them every three months provides a pretty constant check on people and meets a high standard of being responsible with the taxpayers' money.
From 'principled fiscal conservative protest' to 'Obama derangement syndrome:' John Avlon talks to CNN's Carol Costello on the fifth anniversary of the Tea Party.
For all the urgency in the 2012 post-mortem’s directive to reach out to minority voters, the GOP’s vanguard still isn’t offering them anything new—not that anyone’s listening anyway.