Sunday, February 22, 2015

Round One:The Fight On the Right Gets Ugly

It's so early, we're at the beginning of the beginning of the 2016 presidential election yet the Republican Party is clearly intent on making sure that they nominate a candidate who is farther to the right than Mitt Romney claimed to be in 2012. That might make the right wing base very happy, but it could turn out to be a problem for more moderate voters and independents who've shown an inclination, though not a clear majority, to support candidates who want to keep the social safety net and the Affordable Care Act while making sure that the middle class can have access to economic security, college educations, reproductive rights and immigration reform.

Breathe.

Rudy Giuliani is, thankfully, not running for president this cycle, but his nostalgia for the good old days of questioning President Obama's patriotism, love of country and otherness is quite touching, if what we're touching is the backs of our throats with our fingers. Today, in fact, marks the fourth day in a row that Rudy has questioned Obama's American bona-fides. I understand that the Republican Party has cornered the market on who's a real American, a monopoly they've had since Senator Joe McCarthy infected the Senate with his unproven accusations in 1950, but these attacks do nothing but remind us that many on the right still see the president as an alien. As we celebrate George Washington's birthday today, I could see Rudy in 1789 questioning the great man's patriotism because, after all, GW wasn't born in the United States, but in the colonies.

And speaking of ad nausem, or at least, just the nauseum part, I've already written about Governor Chris Christie's sudden epiphany on the Common Core Curriculum and education in general. Christie will release his budget for the next fiscal year this week and he's going to have to make some clear choices. One is whether to call for tax increases in order to fund the soon-to-be-bankrupt Transportation Trust Fund and to make a full state payment to the New Jersey Pension system. Both are starving for money, but raising taxes will not make the far right and the Koch Brothers happy, yet letting the fund go under would be an unmitigated disaster for the state. And if Christie is going to run on the pension and benefits reform bill, yet not abide by its provisions, then he'll have a problem with moderate voters. Perhaps he'll just tell us all to shut up and claim that he's just being Chris Christie so at least we know what we're getting. My view is that this is exactly the problem.

Finally, the latest dreamboat candidate, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, has clearly gone all-in to the right on abortion by chucking his previous let's leave “the final decision to a woman and her doctor,” to now championing personhood amendments. He's also refused to reject Rudy Giuliani's attacks on the president and hasn't yet made a decision on immigration or marriage equality. The Supreme Court will relieve him of having to use brain power on the latter issue, but his answers and non-answers are disturbing. And this from a guy whose most potent decision, in my mind, was to leave college in the spring semester of his senior year. And he never went back.

Jeb Bush has kept to the narrow middle trail for now, and for good reason, but he'll pop up with some right wing chum soon enough. The party is demanding that from its candidates. And the maw must be stuffed.

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