Archive for November, 2008

Kathleen Parker versus the Oogs, Boogs.

In Kathleen Parker’s latest article in the WaPo she makes the case for the GOP dumping GOD.

here’s the money:

The evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.

I agree. America’s conservative party shouldn’t be America’s Christian party.

Parker jokes that the people that are currently the dominant voice in Republican politics used to be “relegated to wooden crates on street corners.”

That’s not quite right – the people on the wooden crates are still on the corner. The people she means are the intolerant cheap-suit fakers. They are the ones the Republican party enlisted to deliver, congregation by congregation, saved-soul by saved-soul, political victories in two national elections.

The only reason Kathleen Parker has changed her tune is that this time they lost. The problem for Parker isn’t the intolerance, bigotry, and fundamentalism of these people. It’s that not enough of the country is intolerant, bigoted, and fundamentalist along with them:

Suffice it to say, the Republican Party is largely comprised of white, married Christians. Anyone watching the two conventions last summer can’t have missed the stark differences: One party was brimming with energy, youth and diversity; the other felt like an annual Depends sales meeting.

So instead of saying, “let’s take responsibility for playing on people’s xenophobia and ‘traditional’ values because it’s wrong to hate people who are different, and that’s what’s distracted us from our conservative vision of good governance.”

She’s saying: “there ain’t enough votes in xenophobia and the oogedy-boogedy”

Time for the Republicans to modernize. If the basic fight between conservatives and liberals is a 3-5 percent change in the tax rate, and what to spend the difference on – then let’s fight about that. Not about who’s more American or more righteous.

So good on you Parker, for seeing the need to kick out the evangelicals – it’s long overdue.

But what’s missing is that the Republicans should take responsibility for inviting them in, buying into their rhetoric, and electing the latest disaster that their kind of religiosity has spawned: George W. Bush.

The Minnesota Recount

The Notebooks begin to empty

Now that the race is over,  (I’m happy, grateful, and still numb) reporters will begin to release all the good nuggets that they didn’t find time or occassion to report during the campaign.  Here are a couple good ones from a Newsweek dump.

When he was preparing for them during the Democratic primaries, Obama was recorded saying, “I don’t consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, ‘You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.’ So when Brian Williams is asking me about what’s a personal thing that you’ve done [that’s green], and I say, you know, ‘Well, I planted a bunch of trees.’ And he says, ‘I’m talking about personal.’ What I’m thinking in my head is, ‘Well, the truth is, Brian, we can’t solve global warming because I fucking changed light bulbs in my house. It’s because of something collective’.”

True that. How many stupid questions has this man been asked, that he graciously answered – because answering questions is what candidates do.  I’m looking at you, Sarah Palin.

Which is exactly what she wants us to do.  Here’s another Newsweek tease:

At the GOP convention in St. Paul, Palin was completely unfazed by the boys’ club fraternity she had just joined. One night, Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter went to her hotel room to brief her. After a minute, Palin sailed into the room wearing nothing but a towel, with another on her wet hair. She told them to chat with her laconic husband, Todd. “I’ll be just a minute,” she said.

Mark, Steve... come on in...

Mark, Steve... come on in...

If you find more tidbits like this tumbling out of reporters’ back pockets, let me know.

MPR Senate Debate Reaction

The three Minnesota senate candidates met for their last debate tonight at the Fitzgerald theatre. You can find audio and a write up of the debate here.

(MPR Photo/Bill Alkofer)

(MPR Photo/Bill Alkofer)

Gary Eichten moderated. He’s the host of MPR’s Midday program. The debate was held in front of a live audience but not on TV. Which I think probably worked to Franken’s advantage. He’s familiar with the radio format, and many things which can come across as abrasive about Franken on TV didn’t on the radio.

Franken generally spoke in short sentences and took nice long rhetorical pauses. I think that from the performance/theatrical perspective, he won the debate.

I also think that Franken won on the issues. He hit Norm Coleman hard on lobbying and corruption. Franken got a big assist from the way the Nasser Kazeminy issue came up. Right out of the gate, Coleman was on the defensive (“Attacking my wife is crossing the line.” Also on that point – Coleman found himself seriously in the weeds when he charged that Franken writing “pornography” crossed a similar “line” to someone attacking Coleman for corruption.) Franken framed the issue as being a Coleman problem, not having anything to do with him.

Franken followed up with his “question” which he used to ask Coleman about the “revolving door” problem. How long should members of congress have to wait before joining a lobbying firm? Coleman dithered, saying basically, we’ve got bigger fish to fry.

(I agree that there are worse things than ex-congressmen getting payouts for votes they made while still serving. Health Care, Iraq, the Economy. Nonetheless, it’s a real problem, one that serious people should be working on.)

The headline from this debate will be something like “Franken hits Coleman hard on corruption.” Because that was the major punch landed, Coleman tried to go after Franken on technicalia – what bills Al would have voted for or against.

This trick is pretty silly. There are a million reasons to not vote for a given bill, and I think that people know that they are sometimes not getting the whole story when political opponents charge one other with supporting or not supporting this or that.

Franken being “excited” at the prospect of Green jobs was his high point, in terms of making a positive argument for himself. He was OK on healthcare. I was surprised to hear that all three candidates consider healthcare a “right”.

A word on the closing arguments. Here’s what I remember, and let’s pretend that that’s some kind of barometer of how well the candidates punched through.

Al Franken said, “let’s hold congress accountable.”

Norm Coleman referenced someone calling him a lying sack of shit.

Dean Barkley said that people come up to him all the time and say, I wish I could vote for you but I can’t.

If that’s what sums it up, I think Barkley supporters break something like 20 – 10 – 70, F – C – B. And that could give Franken the seat. My guess is, if any ticket splitters for Obama heard this tonight, or read the coverage, I think Franken did himself some good. Although he could have cozied up to Obama more than he did.

And when you do a debate reaction, you always gotta grade the moderator. I think that Gary had a rough night. He was unable to restrain the crowd at all. There were serious Coleman and Franken supporters at the Fitz and they made their feelings and reactions known. Gary snapped “I don’t want to be a traffic cop.” He asked some good tough questions, like kicking off the debate with the Nasser Kazeminy flap. He was chided by Barkley about not asking him questions, so Gary obliged and asked him some more.

I think that was the right thing to do, but I’m not sure that Gary was in charge for the whole event. He was sort of buffeted between the candidates, the audience at the Fitz, the unseen audience on the radio, and his own civic desire to get to the meat of the issues.

But this was a really intense debate. Franken and Coleman have real dislike for each other, and its more personal than it is professional. Coleman called Franken “unMinnesotan” which isn’t quite like calling someone “unAmerican” but it’s in the ball park.

Franken stopped short of calling Coleman corrupt, but he sure thinks he is.

In any case, it’s over soon. I think Barkley’s support deflates, and in a way that will benefit Franken more than Coleman. Maybe this debate even furthered that outcome.