It’s Witch-Hunt Season by Paul Krugman

New York Times, August 29, 2010

Excerpt 

The last time a Democrat sat in the White House, he faced a nonstop witch hunt by his political opponents. Prominent figures on the right accused Bill and Hillary Clinton of everything from drug smuggling to murder. And once Republicans took control of Congress, they subjected the Clinton administration to unrelenting harassment — at one point taking 140 hours of sworn testimony over accusations that the White House had misused its Christmas card list.

Now it’s happening again — except that this time it’s even worse. Let’s turn the floor over to Rush Limbaugh: “Imam Hussein Obama,” he recently declared, is “probably the best anti-American president we’ve ever had.”

To get a sense of how much it matters when people like Mr. Limbaugh talk like this, bear in mind that he’s an utterly mainstream figure within the Republican Party; bear in mind, too, that unless something changes the political dynamics, Republicans will soon control at least one house of Congress. This is going to be very, very ugly.

So where is this rage coming from? Why is it flourishing? What will it do to America?…

And powerful forces are promoting and exploiting this rage. Jane Mayer’s new article in The New Yorker about the superrich Koch brothers and their war against Mr. Obama has generated much-justified attention, but as Ms. Mayer herself points out, only the scale of their effort is new: billionaires like Richard Mellon Scaife waged a similar war against Bill Clintonthere’s an extra level of craziness this time around: Mr. Limbaugh is the same as he always was, but now seems tame compared with Glenn Beck.

And where, in all of this, are the responsible Republicans, leaders who will stand up and say that some partisans are going too far? Nowhere to be found…Where are the statements, from the former president or those in his inner circle, preaching tolerance and denouncing anti-Islam hysteria? On this issue, as on many others, the G.O.P. establishment is offering a nearly uniform profile in cowardice…

It will be an ugly scene, and it will be dangerous, too. The 1990s were a time of peace and prosperity; this is a time of neither. In particular, we’re still suffering the after-effects of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, and we can’t afford to have a federal government paralyzed by an opposition with no interest in helping the president govern. But that’s what we’re likely to get… 

Full Text

The last time a Democrat sat in the White House, he faced a nonstop witch hunt by his political opponents. Prominent figures on the right accused Bill and Hillary Clinton of everything from drug smuggling to murder. And once Republicans took control of Congress, they subjected the Clinton administration to unrelenting harassment — at one point taking 140 hours of sworn testimony over accusations that the White House had misused its Christmas card list.
 

Now it’s happening again — except that this time it’s even worse. Let’s turn the floor over to Rush Limbaugh: “Imam Hussein Obama,” he recently declared, is “probably the best anti-American president we’ve ever had.”
To get a sense of how much it matters when people like Mr. Limbaugh talk like this, bear in mind that he’s an utterly mainstream figure within the Republican Party; bear in mind, too, that unless something changes the political dynamics, Republicans will soon control at least one house of Congress. This is going to be very, very ugly.
So where is this rage coming from? Why is it flourishing? What will it do to America?
Anyone who remembered the 1990s could have predicted something like the current political craziness. What we learned from the Clinton years is that a significant number of Americans just don’t consider government by liberals — even very moderate liberals — legitimate. Mr. Obama’s election would have enraged those people even if he were white. Of course, the fact that he isn’t, and has an alien-sounding name, adds to the rage.
By the way, I’m not talking about the rage of the excluded and the dispossessed: Tea Partiers are relatively affluent, and nobody is angrier these days than the very, very rich. Wall Street has turned on Mr. Obama with a vengeance: last month Steve Schwarzman, the billionaire chairman of the Blackstone Group, the private equity giant, compared proposals to end tax loopholes for hedge fund managers with the Nazi invasion of Poland.
And powerful forces are promoting and exploiting this rage. Jane Mayer’s new article in The New Yorker about the superrich Koch brothers and their war against Mr. Obama has generated much-justified attention, but as Ms. Mayer herself points out, only the scale of their effort is new: billionaires like Richard Mellon Scaife waged a similar war against Bill Clinton.
Meanwhile, the right-wing media are replaying their greatest hits. In the 1990s, Mr. Limbaugh used innuendo to feed anti-Clinton mythology, notably the insinuation that Hillary Clinton was complicit in the death of Vince Foster. Now, as we’ve just seen, he’s doing his best to insinuate that Mr. Obama is a Muslim. Again, though, there’s an extra level of craziness this time around: Mr. Limbaugh is the same as he always was, but now seems tame compared with Glenn Beck.
And where, in all of this, are the responsible Republicans, leaders who will stand up and say that some partisans are going too far? Nowhere to be found.
To take a prime example: the hysteria over the proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan almost makes one long for the days when former President George W. Bush tried to soothe religious hatred, declaring Islam a religion of peace. There were good reasons for his position: there are a billion Muslims in the world, and America can’t afford to make all of them its enemies.
But here’s the thing: Mr. Bush is still around, as are many of his former officials. Where are the statements, from the former president or those in his inner circle, preaching tolerance and denouncing anti-Islam hysteria? On this issue, as on many others, the G.O.P. establishment is offering a nearly uniform profile in cowardice.
So what will happen if, as expected, Republicans win control of the House? We already know part of the answer: Politico reports that they’re gearing up for a repeat performance of the 1990s, with a “wave of committee investigations” — several of them over supposed scandals that we already know are completely phony. We can expect the G.O.P. to play chicken over the federal budget, too; I’d put even odds on a 1995-type government shutdown sometime over the next couple of years.
It will be an ugly scene, and it will be dangerous, too. The 1990s were a time of peace and prosperity; this is a time of neither. In particular, we’re still suffering the after-effects of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, and we can’t afford to have a federal government paralyzed by an opposition with no interest in helping the president govern. But that’s what we’re likely to get…
 

 

Full text

 

The last time a Democrat sat in the White House, he faced a nonstop witch hunt by his political opponents. Prominent figures on the right accused Bill and Hillary Clinton of everything from drug smuggling to murder. And once Republicans took control of Congress, they subjected the Clinton administration to unrelenting harassment — at one point taking 140 hours of sworn testimony over accusations that the White House had misused its Christmas card list.
Now it’s happening again — except that this time it’s even worse. Let’s turn the floor over to Rush Limbaugh: “Imam Hussein Obama,” he recently declared, is “probably the best anti-American president we’ve ever had.”
To get a sense of how much it matters when people like Mr. Limbaugh talk like this, bear in mind that he’s an utterly mainstream figure within the Republican Party; bear in mind, too, that unless something changes the political dynamics, Republicans will soon control at least one house of Congress. This is going to be very, very ugly.
So where is this rage coming from? Why is it flourishing? What will it do to America?
Anyone who remembered the 1990s could have predicted something like the current political craziness. What we learned from the Clinton years is that a significant number of Americans just don’t consider government by liberals — even very moderate liberals — legitimate. Mr. Obama’s election would have enraged those people even if he were white. Of course, the fact that he isn’t, and has an alien-sounding name, adds to the rage.
By the way, I’m not talking about the rage of the excluded and the dispossessed: Tea Partiers are relatively affluent, and nobody is angrier these days than the very, very rich. Wall Street has turned on Mr. Obama with a vengeance: last month Steve Schwarzman, the billionaire chairman of the Blackstone Group, the private equity giant, compared proposals to end tax loopholes for hedge fund managers with the Nazi invasion of Poland.
And powerful forces are promoting and exploiting this rage. Jane Mayer’s new article in The New Yorker about the superrich Koch brothers and their war against Mr. Obama has generated much-justified attention, but as Ms. Mayer herself points out, only the scale of their effort is new: billionaires like Richard Mellon Scaife waged a similar war against Bill Clinton.
Meanwhile, the right-wing media are replaying their greatest hits. In the 1990s, Mr. Limbaugh used innuendo to feed anti-Clinton mythology, notably the insinuation that Hillary Clinton was complicit in the death of Vince Foster. Now, as we’ve just seen, he’s doing his best to insinuate that Mr. Obama is a Muslim. Again, though, there’s an extra level of craziness this time around: Mr. Limbaugh is the same as he always was, but now seems tame compared with Glenn Beck.
And where, in all of this, are the responsible Republicans, leaders who will stand up and say that some partisans are going too far? Nowhere to be found.
To take a prime example: the hysteria over the proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan almost makes one long for the days when former President George W. Bush tried to soothe religious hatred, declaring Islam a religion of peace. There were good reasons for his position: there are a billion Muslims in the world, and America can’t afford to make all of them its enemies.
But here’s the thing: Mr. Bush is still around, as are many of his former officials. Where are the statements, from the former president or those in his inner circle, preaching tolerance and denouncing anti-Islam hysteria? On this issue, as on many others, the G.O.P. establishment is offering a nearly uniform profile in cowardice.
So what will happen if, as expected, Republicans win control of the House? We already know part of the answer: Politico reports that they’re gearing up for a repeat performance of the 1990s, with a “wave of committee investigations” — several of them over supposed scandals that we already know are completely phony. We can expect the G.O.P. to play chicken over the federal budget, too; I’d put even odds on a 1995-type government shutdown sometime over the next couple of years.
It will be an ugly scene, and it will be dangerous, too. The 1990s were a time of peace and prosperity; this is a time of neither. In particular, we’re still suffering the after-effects of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, and we can’t afford to have a federal government paralyzed by an opposition with no interest in helping the president govern. But that’s what we’re likely to get.
If I were President Obama, I’d be doing all I could to head off this prospect, offering some major new initiatives on the economic front in particular, if only to shake up the political dynamic. But my guess is that the president will continue to play it safe, all the way into catastrophe. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/30/opinion/30krugman.html?th&emc=th

 

6 Right-Wing Zealots and the Crazy Ideas Behind the Most Outrageous Republican Platform Ever

By Peter Montgomery, AlterNet, August 28, 2012 |  

TAMPA, FLA. — The official 2012 Republican Party platform is a far-right fever dream, a compilation of pouting, posturing and policies to meet just about every demand from the overlapping Religious Right, Tea Party, corporate, and neo-conservative wings of the GOP. If moderates have any influence in today’s Republican Party, you wouldn’t know it by reading the platform. Efforts by a few delegates to insert language favoring civil unions, comprehensive sex education and voting rights for the District of Columbia, for example, were all shot down. Making the rounds of right-wing pre-convention events on Sunday, Rep. Michele Bachmann gushed [3] about the platform’s right-wing tilt, telling fired-up Tea Partiers that “the Tea Party has been all over that platform.”

Given the Republican Party’s hard lurch to the right, which intensified after the election of Barack Obama, the “most conservative ever” platform is not terribly surprising. But it didn’t just happen on its own. Here are some of the people we can thank on the domestic policy front.

1. Bob McDonnell. As platform committee chair, McDonnell made it clear he was not in the mood for any amendments to the draft language calling for a “Human Life Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution and legal recognition that the “unborn” are covered by the 14th Amendment (“personhood” by another name). McDonnell is in many ways the ideal right-wing governor: he ran as a fiscal conservative and governs like the Religious Right activist he has been since he laid out his own political platform in the guise of a master’s thesis at Pat Robertson’s Regent University.

His thesis argued [4] that feminists and working women were detrimental to the family, and that public policy should favor married couples over “cohabitators, homosexuals, or fornicators.” When running for governor of Virginia, McDonnell disavowed his thesis, but as a state legislator he pushed hard to turn those positions into policy. As the Washington Post noted, “During his 14 years in the General Assembly, McDonnell pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out in that research paper, including abortion restrictions, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor his view of the traditional family. In 2001, he voted against a resolution in support of ending wage discrimination between men and women.” As governor, McDonnell signed the kind of mandatory ultrasound law that is praised in this year’s platform. When his name was floated as a potential V.P. pick, Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood decried [5] his “deeply troubling record on women’s health.”

2. Tony Perkins. Perkins heads the Family Research Council, whose Values Voter Summit is the Religious Right’s most important annual conference, where activists rub shoulders with Republican officials and candidates. Perkins bragged [6] in an email to his supporters how much influence he and his friend David Barton (see below) had on the platform. Perkins was an active member of the platform committee, proposing language to oppose school-based health clinics that provide referrals for contraception or abortion, and arguing for the strongest possible anti-marriage equality language. Perkins also introduced an amendment to the platform calling on the District of Columbia government to loosen its gun laws, which Perkins says still do not comply with recent Supreme Court rulings.

The media tends to treat Perkins, a telegenic former state legislator, as a reasonable voice of the Religious Right, but his record and his group’s positions prove otherwise. Perkins has been aggressively exploiting [7] the recent shooting at FRC headquarters to divert attention from the group’s extremism by claiming that the Southern Poverty Law Center was irresponsible in calling FRC a hate group. Unfortunately for Perkins, the group’s record of promoting hatred toward LGBT people is well-documented. Perkins has even complained that the press and President Obama were being too hard on Uganda’s infamous “kill the gays” bill, which he described [7] as an attempt to “uphold moral conduct.” It’s worth remembering that Perkins ran a 1996 campaign for Louisiana Senate candidate Woody Jenkins that paid $82,600 to David Duke for the Klan leader’s mailing list; the campaign was fined [8] by the FEC for trying to cover it up.

3. David Barton. Texas Republican activist and disgraced Christian-nation “historian” Barton has had a tough year, but Tampa has been good to him. He was perhaps the most vocal member of the platform committee, and was a featured speaker at Sunday’s pre-convention “prayer rally.” During the platform committee’s final deliberations, Barton couldn’t seem to hear his own voice often enough. He was the know-it-all nitpicker, piping up with various language changes, such as deleting a reference to the family as the “school of democracy” because families are not democracies. He thought it was too passive to call Obamacare an “erosion of” the Constitution and thought it should be changed to an “attack on” the founding document. He called for stronger anti-public education language and asserted that large school districts employ one administrator for every teacher. He backed anti-abortion language, tossing out the claim that 127 medical studies over five decades say that abortion hurts women.

Progressives have been documenting Barton’s lies for years, but more recently conservative evangelical scholars have also been hammering [9] his claims about American history. The critical chorus got so loud that Christian publishing powerhouse Thomas Nelson pulled Barton’s most recent book – which, ironically, purports to correct “lies” about Thomas Jefferson – from the shelves. Of course, Barton has had plenty of practice at this sort of thing, from producing bogus [10] documentaries [10] designed to turn African Americans against the Democratic Party to pushing his religious and political ideology into Texas textbooks [11]. Barton’s right-wing friends like Glenn Beck have rallied around him. And nothing seems to tarnish Barton with the GOP allies for whom he has proven politically useful over the years.

4. Kris Kobach. Kris Kobach wants to be your president one day; until now, he has gotten as far as Kansas Secretary of State. He may be best known as the brains behind Arizona’s “show me your papers” law, and he successfully pushed for anti-immigrant language in the platform, including a call for the federal government to deny funds to universities that allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition – a plank that puts Kobach and the platform at odds with Kansas law. Immigration is not Kobach’s only issue. He is an energizing force behind the Republican Party’s massive push for voter suppression laws around the country, and he led the effort to get language inserted into the platform calling on states to pass laws requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration.

He also pushed language aimed at the supposed threat to the Constitution and laws of the US from “Sharia [12] law”; getting this language into the platform puts the GOP in the position of endorsing a ludicrous far-right conspiracy theory. Kobach hopes that will give activists a tool for pressuring more states to pass their own anti-Sharia laws. In the platform committee, he backed Perkins’ efforts to maintain the strongest language against marriage equality. Even an amendment to the marriage section saying that everyone should be treated “equally under the law” as long as they are not hurting anyone else, was shot down by Kobach. Kobach also claims [13] he won support for a provision to oppose any effort to limit how many bullets can go into a gun’s magazine.

5. James Bopp. James Bopp is a Republican lawyer and delegate from Indiana whose client list is a who’s-who of right-wing organizations, including National Right to Life and the National Organization for Marriage, which he has represented [14] in its efforts to keep political donors secret. As legal advisor to Citizens United, Bopp has led legal attacks on campaign finance laws and played a huge role in the issue of unlimited right-wing cash flooding our elections. Bopp chaired this year’s platform subcommittee on “restoring constitutional government,” which helps explain its strong anti-campaign finance reform language.

Bopp is also an annoyingly petty partisan, having introduced [15] a resolution in the Republican National Committee in 2009 urging the Democratic Party to change its name to the “Democrat Socialist Party.” In this year’s platform committee, Bopp successfully pushed for the removal of language suggesting that residents of the District of Columbia might deserve some representation in Congress short of statehood. His sneering comments [16], and his gloating fist [17]- [17]pump [17] when the committee approved his resolution, have not won him any friends among DC residents – not that he cares. He also spoke out against a young delegate’s proposal that the party recognize civil unions, which Bopp denounced [18] as “counterfeit marriage.” In spite of all these efforts, Bopp has been at the forefront of Romney campaign platform spin, arguing [19] in the media that the platform language on abortion is not really a “no-exceptions” ban, in spite of its call for a Human Life Amendment and laws giving 14th Amendment protections to the “unborn.”

6. Dick Armey. Former Republican insider Dick Armey now runs FreedomWorks, the Koch [20]- [20]backed [20], [20]corporate [20]- [20]funded [20], [20]Murdoch [20]- [20]promoted [20] Tea Party astroturfing group – or, in its words, a “grassroots service center.” Armey has been a major force behind this year’s victories of Tea Party Senate challengers like Ted Cruz in Texas and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, both of whom knocked off “establishment” candidates. FreedomWorks also backed Rand Paul in Kentucky and Mike Lee in Utah in 2010. As Adele Stan has reported [21], FreedomWorks’ goal is to build a cadre of far-right senators to create a “power center around Jim DeMint,” the Senate’s reigning Tea Party-Religious Right hero.

To put Armey’s stamp on the platform, FreedomWorks created a “Freedom Platform” project, which enlisted Tea Party leaders to come up with proposed platform planks and encouraged activists to vote for them online. Then FreedomWorks pushed the party to include these planks in the official platform:

•Repeal Obamacare; pursue patient-centered care

•Stop the tax hikes

•Reverse Obama’s spending increases

•Scrap the tax code; replace with a flat tax

•Pass a balanced budget amendment

•Reject cap and trade

•Rein in EPA

•Unleash America’s vast energy potential

•Eliminate the Department of Education

•Reduce the bloated federal workforce

•Curtail excessive federal regulation

•Audit the fed

An Ohio Tea Party Group, Ohio Liberty Coalition, celebrated [22] that 10 of 12 made it to the draft – everything but the flat tax and eliminating the Department of Defense. But FreedomWorks gave itself a more generous score, arguing [23] for an 11.5 out of 12. FreedomWorks vice president Dean Clancy said the platform’s call for a “flatter” tax “opens the door to a flat tax” and said they considered the education section of the platform a “partial victory” because it includes “a very strong endorsement of school choice, including vouchers.”

Honorable mention: Mitt Romney. This is his year, his party and his platform. The entire Republican primary was essentially an exercise in Romney moving to the right to try to overcome resistance to his nomination from activists who distrusted his ideological authenticity. The last thing the Romney campaign wanted was a fight with the base, like the one that happened in San Diego in 1996, when Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition delighted in publicly humiliating nominee Robert Dole over his suggestion that the GOP might temper its anti-abortion stance. Romney signaled his intention to avoid a similar conflict when he named Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to chair the platform committee.

Keeping Everybody Happy

The new GOP platform reflects Romney’s desire to placate every aspect of the party’s base. It also demonstrates both the continuing [24] power [24] of the Religious Right within the GOP, as well as ongoing efforts [25] to erase any distinctions between social conservatives and anti-government zealots, as demonstrated by Ralph Reed welcoming [26] Grover Norquist to his Faith and Freedom coalition leadership luncheon on Sunday.

 

Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/election-2012/6-right-wing-zealots-and-crazy-ideas-behind-most-outrageous-republican-platform-ever
Links:
[1] http://www.alternet.org
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/peter-montgomery
[3] http://www.alternet.org/election-2012/right-wing-finally-unites-behind-romney-anti-obama-hate-fest-tampa?akid=9276.229476.pdsq0L&rd=1&src=newsletter699502&t=3&paging=off
[4] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/29/AR2009082902434.html
[5] http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/abortion/236437-mcdonnell-tied-to-ultrasound-law-in-planned-parenthood-attack
[6] http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/religious-righting-republican-platform
[7] http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/religious-right-exploiting-tragedy-blunt-criticism-its-extremism
[8] http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2012/08/flashback-federal-election-commission.html
[9] http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/even-more-conservative-scholars-publicly-question-david-bartons-scholarship
[10] http://www.pfaw.org/media-center/publications/david-barton-propaganda-masquerading-history
[11] http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/texas-textbooks-what-happened-what-it-means-and-what-we-can-do-about-it
[12] http://www.salon.com/2012/08/21/gop_embraces_anti_sharia/
[13] http://www.kansas.com/2012/08/23/2460486/kobach-adds-touches-to-republican.html
[14] http://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2012/06/board-investigating-complaint-marriage-groups-refusal-disclose-donors
[15] http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0409/21638.html
[16] http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/gop-platform-committee-disses-dc
[17] http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/dc+statehood+bopp.gif
[18] http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79936.html
[19] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/08/24/did-republicans-actually-endorse-a-full-abortion-ban-maybe-not/
[20] http://www.alternet.org/story/148598/tea_party_inc.%3A_the_big_money_and_powerful_elites_behind_the_right_wing%27s_latest_uprising
[21] http://www.alternet.org/hot-news-views/tea-partys-cruz-vanquishes-gop-pick-us-senate-texas-run
[22] http://www.ohiolibertycoalition.org/republican-platform-committee-accepts-10-of-12-tea-party-platform-issues/
[23] http://www.freedomworks.org/press-releases/republican-party-adopts-majority-of-tea-party’s-“f
[24] http://www.alternet.org/story/153949/5_signs_the_christian_right_still_wields_too_much_power_in_america
[25] http://www.alternet.org/story/150622/tea_party_jesus%3A_koch%27s_americans_for_prosperity_sidles_up_to_religious_right_for_2012_campaign
[26] http://www.alternet.org/election-2012/right-wing-finally-unites-behind-romney-anti-obama-hate-fest-tampa?akid=9276.229476.pdsq0L&rd=1&src=newsletter699502&t=3
[27] http://www.alternet.org/tags/election-2012
[28] http://www.alternet.org/tags/kobach
[29] http://www.alternet.org/tags/mcdonnell-0
[30] http://www.alternet.org/tags/romney-0
[31] http://www.alternet.org/tags/armey
[32] http://www.alternet.org/tags/barton
[33] http://www.alternet.org/tags/perkins
[34] http://www.alternet.org/tags/bopp