An open letter to ‘Hack Wilson’ & White America

Dear Hack Wilson & White America:

A screengrab from the 1991 video of Barack Obama hugging Derrick Bell after introducing him at a race equality rally at Harvard.

I respectfully write to you today to discuss Derrick Bell and a post on hackwilson.blogspot.com. In this letter, I will not shove my liberal opinions down your throat, nor will I demand answers. I will not plug in my own self-interest to undermine your argument, nor will I block out what you have to say in response.

I want to start a discussion. I want to listen to your responses and I want to learn from a democratic talk. If you’re open to doing the same, please read on… Continue reading “An open letter to ‘Hack Wilson’ & White America”

Subject Change

Like a lot of political nerds I was eagerly anticipating Game Change, the excellent HBO movie about the 2008 presidential campaign of John McCain and Sarah Palin. Since I live on the Civilized West Coast, it started at 6 PM here, and so I had to record it and watch it after the kids were asleep. Since I wasn’t worried about spoilers, it was kind of interesting checking Twitter during the live broadcast premier and checking the reactions of some of the people who were actually covering the campaign.

Anyway, there are plenty of reviews about the movie and I don’t see a need to add another one here. I liked it a lot. I thought it was simultaneously sympathetic to Ms. Palin as a person thrust into a difficult situation, and uncompromisingly brutal to her as a potential leader, and I think that’s exactly right.

Because I hate my brain, I watched this clip from yesterday’s Morning Joe, where McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt showed up to talk about his reaction to the film. It was an interesting discussion and Schmidt confirmed what many people already knew: that the movie was “very accurate” and that the vetting process for Palin had been rushed and had proven inadequate.

Schmidt goes on to say something that is pretty remarkable for its honesty, something we are not accustomed to from political operatives: that the selection of Palin was ultimately reckless, and that there are “worse things than losing.” He said that the decision to put Palin on the ticket was a political decision, and not a presidential decision, and that selection of a vice president should be a presidential decision. Considering that Schmidt was one of the people responsible for that decision, this really is an amazing admission, and he deserves credit for saying it.

I think the notion of Sarah Palin being president of the United States is something that frightens me, frankly, and I played a part in that. And I played a part in that because we were fueled with ambition to win. — Steve Schmidt.

That quote deserves to be called out as being refreshingly honest. Unfortunately, he kept talking.

The reality is that both parties have nominated people in the last decade who were not prepared to be anywhere near the Oval Office. John Edwards in the Democratic Party; Sarah Palin in the Republican Party. — Also Steve Schmidt, seconds later

Sigh.

I know John Edwards. I voted for John Edwards in a Primary in 2004. John Edwards was a candidate of mine. You, Sarah Palin, are no John Edwards. For good and bad.

This is just more of the “both sides do it” false equivalency crap that the media just can’t resist. Selecting Sarah Palin was a disastrous and ultimately disqualifying political decision by John McCain. She had no business being vice president. She was completely unqualified for the position.

Whatever John Edwards personal failings are, and they are certainly serious, he was not unqualified to be vice president when he was selected in 2004. Just as a small point of comparison, he very clearly understood that Saddam Hussein did not attack us on 9/11. I’m just saying.

Further, the failings that Edwards exhibited in his personal life and campaign finance misconduct that resulted from it were not discovered in 2004 because, wait for it, they hadn’t happened yet. As much as Steve Schmidt would like to change the subject and drag John Kerry’s campaign and the Democratic Party down to his level of country buggering, there is no valid comparison to the selection of John Edwards and the selection of Sarah Palin as running mates.

You can make an argument that the country dodged a bullet by not electing Edwards to the vice presidency because his character failings would have eventually come to light. But that’s a completely different argument than saying that the selection of Edwards was a failure of vetting in the same way that the selection of Palin was. Schmidt and McCain didn’t see Palin’s flaws because they didn’t want to see them. They wanted her to help them win, and they overlooked the obvious because it was inconvenient.

And while we are comparing Democratic vice presidential candidates to Republican vice presidential candidates, let’s reflect just a bit on Joe Biden, who was not exactly an electric pick by Barack Obama. It wasn’t a gimmick. It wasn’t a potential successor to groom. It was a sober pick of someone who would be qualified to assume the presidency if necessary.

Any attempt at a “both sides do it” narrative by Republicans is self-serving and dishonest.

And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

I’ve been thinking of the last couple of months as the GOP has devolved into the never-ending clown show that has been keeping political nerds so entertained.  It’s just been really really weird.  My wife and I were talking about all of this and she was at a loss for words trying to grapple with what should really be two mutually exclusive facts: 1) the GOP leadership is making contraception an electoral issue, and 2) it’s 2012.

There’s a joke over at Balloon-Juice about something called “Peak Wingnut” (based on Peak Oil) or the “Wingularity” (from the Singularity) where all the right-wing rhetoric finally reaches critical mass because it just can’t get any more crazy.  The punchline, of course, is that “Peak wingnut is a lie,” meaning it can always get crazier.

I wonder if mythical moderate Republicans ever just sit around and wonder what has happened to their party, or if rational conservatives (another increasingly pink unicorn) wonder when Barry Goldwater started sounding comparatively moderate. How did they get here?

Make no mistake, the road to this modern GOP started with the Southern Strategy, outlined by Nixon strategist, Kevin Phillips:

From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.

You start with that, and then you embrace resentment, with a candidate that talks about “welfare queens” and “young bucks buying T-bone steaks.”  That works for a while, but starts to wear off, so you start to embrace outright ignorance with a successful presidential candidate who brags about getting bad grades in college.

You start using a so-called fair and balanced cable news network run by a former Nixon adviser to disseminate all your party-line talking points and since most of your constituents use it as their primary means of information, you get the added bonus that they don’t even hear opposing views.  By now the formula is working so well that when studies appear that say that viewers of this network are actually less informed than viewers of a fake news show, they just dismiss this information as more evidence of liberal bias.

Don’t believe me on that last point?  Read this, published yesterday:

Regarding the letter, “Become informed, stop watching Fox,” (Feb. 10), perhaps the writer is unaware that Fox News is the number one rated cable news channel whose viewers outnumber those of all the other news channels combined. It seems highly unlikely that people would continue to favor a news channel that didn’t keep them informed.

Farleigh Dickinson University’s little poll that finds Fox News viewers are “less informed than those who don’t watch any news at all” is so ludicrous as to be laughable. There is a liberal bias against Fox News because that news network always offers opposing sides of an issue.

As its motto states, “We report; you decide.”

Things are spiraling out of control but I’m not even sure if the GOP establishment is capable of recognizing what they have become anymore.  Four years ago, they actually nominated this person to be one 72-year old heartbeat away from the presidency:

And this guy was one of eleven different candidates to have at one time led in nationwide polls for the GOP nomination.

So was this guy:

This is a party that doesn’t just embrace ignorance, they wanna have contraception-free sex with it. The current national poll leader for the GOP nomination is a guy who believes that contraception is “not okay.”

The GOP has spent the last 40 years deliberately catering to a shrinking segment of the population that is somehow able to simultaneously believe that abortion is the worst thing imaginable, but also that mandating insurance companies cover contraception for women who choose to use it represents tyranny on par with fascism.

The most prominent supporter of Rick Santorum has this enlightened approach to the issue:

And you may say to yourself, my God, what have I done.

CPAC 2012 is going on right now

As you may know, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) began today and will run through this Saturday.  This is the conference to attend if you like your conservative crazy extra concentrated and not all watered down.

Charles Johnson, over at littlegreenfootballs, has written about CPAC’s inclusion of White Nationalist Peter Brimelow.  He quotes Right Wing Watch who says this about Brimelow:

Brimelow, an immigrant from Great Britain, expresses his fear of the loss of America’s white majority,blames non-white immigrants for social and economic problems and urges the Republican Party to give up on minority voters and focus on winning the white vote. He also said that a New York City subway is the same as an Immigration and Naturalization Service waiting room, “an underworld that is not just teeming but also almost entirely colored.”

Yep, this is the guy who will be speaking at the same conference that Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum will all be speaking at.  Go go GOP Minority Outreach Program!  Sarah Palin will be given the honor of the final speaking slot at the conference, because, well, because of course.

But CPAC 2012 isn’t just about conservatives giving speeches about evil Kenyan Mooslim Usurpers.   There are also many many panels where you can learn all sorts of new and exciting things about conservatism.  Here is the schedule of the event, and I’ll list some of the actual panels:

  • Now or Never: Saving America from Economic Collapse with Jim DeMint
  • The Red Tape War: How the Regulatory Burden and Growing Nanny State Threaten Prosperity
  • Fire From the Heartland: The Awakening of the Conservative Woman
  • Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media’s Attack on Christianity
  • The Failure of Multiculturalism: How the pursuit of diversity is weakening the American Identity (Editor’s note: HOLY REAGANBALLS!)
  • Citizens United Productions Hosts Blogger Briefing
  • Is Disarming America Smart Politics? The Security and Economic Costs of Obama’s Policies

It goes on and on like that.  Anyway, some very clever people on the TwitterTweetMachine have been suggesting other useful #CPACpanels that maybe should be added to the conference:

http://twitter.com/#!/ericschroeck/status/167666400146632704

http://twitter.com/#!/ericschroeck/status/167658818187169792

(Shout out to the LiberalBias Blog!)

So much win.