Politics postsWednesday June 11, 2014
Cantor, Now Castrato
Yesterday Eric Cantor (R-VA), the House Majority Leader, lost his primary to a Tea Party challenger, David Brat, a university professor. Apparently it's the first time a House Majority leader has ever lost a primary battle.
In one respect, it's been a long time coming. Here's Cantor's vote totals in general elections since he was elected in 2000:
Those are general election totals, not primaries, but you can see the trend downward. The longer he stayed in office, the less popular he became.
What does this primary defeat mean? I can see him losing because he's a douche, but he seems to have lost because he isn't douche-y enough for Republicans in Virginia's 7th congressional district. The media has focused on his mild support for immigration reform as the reason for his downfall. Nate Cohn of the Times isn't quite sure but adds this sad, inevitable thought:
Regardless of the exact reason for Mr. Cantor’s defeat, the news media’s focus on immigration is likely to deter Republicans from supporting comprehensive immigration reform.
And what to make of David Brat? A university professor where? According to the Boston Globe ...
He teaches economics at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. Brat, who has a Ph.D. and a Masters of Divinity, teaches mostly introductory economics classes at the college, a small liberal arts school outside of Richmond. ... Brat’s previous research includes a study titled, ‘‘An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand.’’ (Brat says he is not a Randian.) He frequently trumpeted the six elements of the ‘‘Republican Creed’’ on the campaign trail, which you can read at his website.
His Republican creed can be found here. I asume he's not a Randian because of the divinity thing.
Here's more reaction via Andrew Sullivan's site.
The bigger question relates to Cantor's falling general election totals. What's going on in Virgina's 7th? (The fightin' 7th!) Were folks voting against Cantor because he was a douche, an insider, or because he was leaning too far right at a time when the 7th was becoming more centrist? We'll see in November. I'd love to be able to post this headline then: “Brat, Spanked.” But that's up to Virginia.
'Doctor, Always Do the Right Thing': Confidence Abroad in Obama
Lately, Peter Beinart of The Atlantic has been hearing Dick Cheney and Karl Rove and other Bush alums spout off about America's standing in the world: how we have “strained relations with allies” (Rove) and how “the perception around the world is increasingly negative” (Cheney).
Don't even get me started on The Economist.
So Beinart did the Nate Silver thing and crunched the numbers. In his piece, “Is the World Really Losing Faith in Obama?” he realizes ... they're not:
“Again, the numbers come from Pew, which has been asking people in key countries every year whether they have 'confidence' in America’s president to 'do the right thing in world affairs.' Obama’s popularity is down since 2009. Still, in Mexico and Argentina, the president’s 2013 numbers (the most recent we have) are 33 percentage points higher than Bush’s in 2008. In South Korea, the margin is 47 points. In Japan, it’s 45 points. In Brazil, it’s 52 points. In Britain, it’s 56 points. In France, it’s 70 points. In Germany, it’s 74 points.
”In case you’re reading quickly, 74 points isn’t Obama’s approval rating in Germany. It’s the gap between his approval rating and Bush’s. In George W.’s final year in office, 14 percent of Germans had faith that the president of the United States would do the right thing internationally. Last year, 88 percent did.“
I love that 74-point gap. In Rotten Tomatoes' terms, that's basically the difference between Adam Sandler's ”Blended“ (14%/Bush) and the new ”Captain America" (89%/Obama).
Obama in Europe in 2008. He still has an 88% approval rating in Germany vs. just 14% for Bush.
The Worst Op-Ed?
I know. So many options.
But this one comes from The Economist, which is usually smarter, and it's the lead-in to their cover story: WHAT WOULD AMERICA FIGHT FOR? THE QUESTION HAUNTING ITS ALLIES.
My immediate thought upon seeing the cover line was: What wouldn't America fight for? Well, I guess genocide in Rwanda. But aluminum tubes? Send in the Marines.
The Op-Ed is worse. Bottom of the second graf:
But when America’s president speaks of due caution, the world hears reluctance—especially when it comes to the most basic issue for any superpower, its willingness to fight.
Immediate thought: How the fuck do you know what the world hears?
We get more of these vague lines: “Doubt has spread quickly ...” “Doubt feeds on itself ...” “For every leader deploring Mr. Putin's tactics, another is studying how to copy them.”
Evidence? Anything? Bueller? McFly?
Then we get this line more than halfway through:
The critics who pin all the blame on Mr Obama are wrong. ... the president has often made the right call: nobody thinks he should have sent troops to Crimea, despite the breaking of the 1994 agreement.
(TE: Doesn't this graf contradict the entire premise of the piece? Curious. — EL)
The art for the article, by the way, shows a grinning fox eyeing a lolling Uncle Sam, his shephard's staff on the ground beside him, while keeping a paw on a very, very scared sheep. The sheep's fur is dotted with the continents of the world.
The article also has a sidebar, titled “Unrivalled, for now,” in which the authors expound on the insane advantage the U.S. has in terms of military budget compared to everyone else. Key line: “China and Russia combined spend less than half what America does ...” And The Economist is worried why? Oh right, because it knows what the world hears.
What's Your Favorite Conspiracy Theory from the Militia Members at the Bundy Ranch?
Cliven Bundy believes in the American flag but not so much to the republic for which it stands.
Caty Enders of Esquire did the dirty work so we didn't have to: She hung out at the Bundy Ranch even as FOX News and Sean Hannity were skedaddling in the wake of the Cliven Bundy's racist comments last weekend. Read her piece, it's very, very unpleasant, particularly when Bundy starts talking about receiving word from God. Then take the poll below. Afterwards, we'll have a special screening of “Capricorn One.” Nah, we'll watch Stephen Colbert's masterful takedown on both Cliven Bundy and Sean Hannity, which is about the best thing I've seen on television in years. Also worthwhile: Slate's Amanda Marcotte on why Bundy is no welfare queen. No, he's much, much worse.
North Carolina: Now with Less Tar, More Heels
In his profile of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, “Holder v. Roberts,” the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin makes a pass through North Carolina and lets us know what's happened there since they elected a Republican governor, Pat McCrory, in 2012, and the GOP expanded its hold on both houses:
At that point, the Republicans went on a legislative tear, ending benefits for the long-term unemployed, declining the expansion of Medicaid offered by the Affordable Care Act, and cutting taxes and government spending, especially for education.
Then in the wake of Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the general assembly, led by Sen. Bob Rucho, passed House Bill 589, which Rick Hasen of the University of California at Irvine calls “the most sweeping anti-voter law in decades.” It includes:
- the elimination of same-day registration
- the elimination of a week of early voting
- the end of pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds
- the end of straight party ticket voting
- the repeal of public finance provisions for elections
- an increase in maximum campaign contributions
- a strict voter I.D. requirement that excludes student and public employee I.D.s
It was signed into law last August.
The state motto of North Carolina is Esse quam videri: to be rather than to seem. So true. They no longer seem racist.