Ben Buchwalter


GOP Hijinx!
January 30, 2009, 3:07 pm
Filed under: 2010 and 2012, Race, Republicans, Scandals | Tags: , , , ,

Un.Be.Lievable.

So here’s what has happened so far in the GOP’s quest for a new leader of the Republican National Committee.

  1. The incumbent, Duncan, narrowly wins the first ballot, but does not receive enough votes to clinch.
  2. Duncan and Steele, an African American, tie on the second ballot.
  3. Steele pulls into the lead on the third ballot.
  4. Duncan drops out.
  5. Dawson, who used to belong to a “whites only” country club and received 20 votes in the first ballot compared to Steele’s 46, pulls into the lead with 62 votes.

Odd, to say the least.  I may be reading too much into this, but is it a racial backlash against Steele? Blackwell, the other African American candidate, has dropped out to endorse Steele.

From TPM:

This is now pitting Steele, an African-American conservative who has criticized the GOP for failing to reach out to minority voters, against Dawson — who until recently belonged to an all-white country club, and has said he got involved with politics as a teenager in opposition to busing programs.

RESULTS UPDATE: The GOP averted bigot catastrophe today. But that does not mean the process was not hilarious and embarrassing for the Republican Party. Michael Steele, the African American Lt. Governor from Maryland became the Chairman of the Republican Party on the sixth ballot. This was after a fringe candidate who once belonged to a “whites only” country club – Katon Dawson – gained nearly 50 votes to lead Steele when it looked like he would win. For a while there, it seemed like the old white party was desperately clinging to that standard.

The GOP now must rush through the elections for lower leadership positions to make way for a wedding taking place in the same space later tonight.

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Friday Brain Dump

A scandal ends, GOP basing continues, and a new Republican will be elevated to their party’s highest position today. This is an exciting Friday.

  • Rod Blagojevich, the country’s favorite asshat Governor, was impeached by a vote of 59-0 yesterday. Without a doubt my favorite Blago quote: “I did a lot of things that were mostly right.” Stunning appeal to keep his job.
  • The big debate in the blogosphere this week has been about the economic stimulus package that passed with no Republican votes. Some say that this is a big defeat for Obama. Some say it will bite the GOP in the heiny. Some, myself included, have said that it is a great strategic move for Republicans but a boon to bipartisanship. I think Kos has the best commentary on bipartisanship: “there is nothing inherently good about ‘bipartisanship’. The only thing that matters is whether a solution is good or not.”
  • The Republican National Committe will vote on its new leader today. The leading candidates are the current RNC head, Mike Duncan, and Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele. On the first vote, no one received a majority. I tend to like Steele because he has consistently chastized the Republican Party for not paying enough attention to Black voters. Either way, its good for the GOP that former Tennessee Governor Chip Saltsman, the man who released a CD to friends with a song titled “Barack, the Magic Negro” to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon” is no longer in the running. UPDATE: Duncan and Steele tied on second ballot. Still, neither has a majority.
  • Superbowl this weekend! I’ve been hesitantly going for the Cardinals because I still have not forgiven the Steelers for beating the Seahawks in 2006. But MoJo makes a pretty good argument for why progressives should support the Steelers. 

Have a good weekend.



More on Stimulus
January 29, 2009, 12:55 pm
Filed under: 2010 and 2012, Barack Obama, Economy, Republicans | Tags: ,

Jonathan Stein points out the three steps President Obama took to present the economic stimulus bill in a bipartisan light. He did this by 

(1) fashioning roughly 1/3 of the package out of tax cuts, which the GOP loves; (2) going to the House Republican caucus and asking for their input; and (3) pulling provisions from the bill that Republicans didn’t like (see previous post). House Republicans acknowledged all of this,thanked the President, talked smack about the House Democrats, and voted against the bill anyway.

He then asks, “So what does Obama do now?”

Obama needs to begin playing to win. Bipartisanship is a laudable goal. But when one side refuses to engage for its own political benefit, the goal becomes pointless as the other side repeatedly sacrifices without benefit. 

Ruthlessly opposing Obama’s agenda will benefit Republicans if Democrats don’t fight back. Yglesias writes that the GOP did this in 1993-1994 and was rewarded with a huge electoral victory to take back Congress in 1994. The Democrats, on the other hand, played dead while in the minority between 2001-2002. And they were crushed once again in the 2002 midterms. 

Obama’s popularity remains upwards of 70%. He needs to use that strength to push through a progressive agenda. He should not work too hard to gain Republican favor; they’ve already proven they are not interested in collaboration. If Obama remains strong, then the GOP’s political calculation could shift from all-out opposition to Obama’s agenda to an effort to align with the overwhelmingly popular President.



Blue is the New Red
January 29, 2009, 9:17 am
Filed under: 2010 and 2012, General Politics | Tags: ,

Gallop released its “State of the States” poll last night, which shows a pretty definitive Democratic advantage in national opinion. Nate Silver examines

As you can see from the picture above, there are now only five solid Republican or Republican leading states. This is a very different picture from four years ago and is encouraging for 2010 and 2012 Democratic prospects.

UPDATE: Map from 6 years ago




Stimulus Passes House, 0 Republican Support
January 28, 2009, 8:08 pm
Filed under: 2010 and 2012, Congress, Economy, Republicans | Tags: , , ,

I have come to firmly believe that the Republican Party is trying to ruin the country. The stimulus passed, but only after the Democrats spent all week dumbing it down to chase a few straggler Republican votes. Still, all 178 Republican Reps voted against it, just as Americablog predicted.

Bi-partisanship only works when both sides come to the table. The GOP leaders are like little children. If they don’t get their way 100%, they won’t play. They don’t seem to understand the precarious situation we’re in. Or, maybe they don’t care. The message from today should be pretty simple: A “NO” vote is a vote for a depression.

Republican menace aside, this is a sound strategic move for the GOP. Whether the stimulus succeeds or fails, this is Obama’s bill. He will receive the credit if the economy rebounds quickly and he will be blamed if we fall further and further into crisis. But if it fails, then the Republicans can say that they were against it the entire time, and their plan would have done the trick while saving tax payers a fortune. This could get a few more Republicans elected in 2010 and 2012.



So Stupid It Hurts
January 28, 2009, 2:58 pm
Filed under: Economy, Republicans | Tags: , , ,

If I spent five dollars today and got free sandwiches for the rest of the week, I’d call that a good deal. It would be an even better deal if the sandwiches prevented disease.

Republicans are whining that the economic stimulus package is too large and contains unnecessary and wasteful spending. But much of this spending will directly save the government money in the long run. You’d think that getting elected to national office would mean you have some kind of foresight or basic competence. But I guess shameless politics trumps those virtues in Washington DC. 

Alex Koppelman examines some of the GOP’s complaints about money allocated to health programs in the stimulus package. Brief rundown:

  • $150 Million “to carry out activities to implement a national action plan to prevent healthcare-associated infections … of which not less $50,000,000 shall be provided to States to implement healthcare-associated infection reduction strategies.” In 2000, healthcare related infections costed the government more than $5 Billion. Anyone worth anything would recognize its worth spending a little upfront to make this number go down. 
  • $335 million for STD prevention. This is also a large number, but a 2000 study found that the direct medical cost of STDs each year is $6.5 Billion.

As Atrios observes, this is just the Republicans “squealing OH NOES DEMS HEART TEH SEX, the media giggling like tweens, and the Dems running for cover from the BIG SCARY VAGINA.” Also, since when is disease prevention a bad thing?

Maybe the Republican Party would become relevant again if it started to, you know, try to make the country better instead of shoot it in the proverbial foot.

More on this from Think Progress.



Oh So Secy
January 28, 2009, 9:41 am
Filed under: 2008 Election, Random

Hillary Clinton (Secy of State), Janet Napolitano (Secy of Homeland Security), and Susan Rice (Ambassador to the UN), despite decades of experience between them, have been branded “Obama’s Angels.”  Spencer Ackerman and Matthew Yglesias mock.