Nel's New Day

August 12, 2013

GOP Uses Subversion, Blackmail to Win

The dog days of August are here, and Congress has gone to their town hall meetings. But before they left Washington, they laid some plans. The House Republican Conference put together a planning kit, “Fighting Washington for All Americans,” to help survive those awkward meetings with the constituents. The focus is a “fierce hatred of all things Washington.”

The planners must have forgotten that the House has a GOP majority led by GOP Speaker John Boehner and GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Even Boehner missed the irony when he insisted that voters “don’t trust a Democratic-controlled Washington.”

Following are a few brilliant NRC ideas:

  • Create and share six-second videos through Vine, a social-media tool. (That way they might not say all those things that get them in trouble!)
  • Publish op-eds in local media on the IRA scandal. (There IS no IRS scandal!)
  • Plant questions at local events “to get the conversation rolling in the right direction.” (But no advice about what to do when somebody doesn’t follow that direction!)
  • Go on an “Energy Production Facility Tour” and be sure to “wear a hard hat,” posting this and other events on Vine. (Does that mean right next to all the oil spills in the pipelines?!)

There’s also a list of talking points for the media prepared by conservatives including Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, Ginn,i for “a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation.” according to documents obtained by Mother Jones. Called Groundswell, the coalition includes congressional GOP aides and such notable wingnut as former ambassador John Bolton, former Rep. Allen West (R-FL). and GOP Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX). Their plans include getting media coverage for their positions on issues such as voter ID, immigration reform, the sequester, and scandals while developing “action items.”

Groundswell has come up with ideas to attract minorities and lose racist terms such as “GOP.” A replacement term, according to the group, could be “Fredrick Douglas Republican.” (They might want to spell “Douglass” correctly.) They think that conservatives need to drop issues such as “immigration, gay marriage and boy scouts” to concentrate on slamming President Obama’s record and touting Benghazi as a full-fledged scandal.

While Groundswell is trying to attract minorities, states are busily disenfranchising as many of them as possible and alienating the rest of them along the way. The anti-immigration reform contingent is driving away Latino voters, and GOP policymakers have continued their crusade against women’s reproductive rights.

Reince Priebus, head of the Republican National Conference, has assured the religious right extremists that the party is not in danger of becoming more “tolerant.” On Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, David Brody said that conservative evangelical voters were nervous that the GOP thinks “we have to be more tolerant.”

Priebus reassured Brody. “I don’t know if I’ve used the word ‘tolerance,’ I don’t really care for that word myself. I don’t have a problem with it, I just think it has another meaning politically that can go the other direction.” The party chairman said that the GOP will continue to represent “things that are very square with our beliefs as Christians” and recognize that “there’s only one sovereign God.” According to Priebus, the party will continue to embrace life and marriage.

This statement is a move backward from his position four months earlier:

“We do have a platform, and we adhere to that platform, but it doesn’t mean that we divide and subtract people from our party. I don’t believe we need to act like Old Testament heretics. [Republicans] have to strike a balance between principle and grace and respect.”

Priebus moved on to threatening NBC and CNN with a boycott of GOP primary debates over the possibility of films on both networks about Hillary Clinton. He accused them of flagrant “support” of a Democratic candidate for President of the United States, despite the fact that she has not declared herself a candidate.

He went farther in his complaints about the networks on Sean Hannity:

”In 2012 you had all these liberal networks with Republican primary candidates. Pitting one against the other, asking wedge question issues, then would later be used by the Democratic candidate. Isn’t that right?”

CNN is far from being “liberal,” and most of us think that the purpose of debates is to find out what the candidates think—or don’t, in the case of several on the stage last time. Yet Priebus continued whining:

“The problem we have now is we’ve got a bunch of moderators in the business of making news at the expense of the party and our candidates and we just can’t do it anymore. The moderators pushed the candidates in hypothetical directions that would never be reality.”

One of those hypotheticals was “What would you do in your first day of office?”

Priebus’ interview with Erin Burnett on CNN’s Up Front was pretty much the same until she showed a old clip at the end of the program with a statement from Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes:

“Any candidate for high office of either party who believes he can blacklist any news organization is making a terrible mistake about journalists. And any candidate who cannot answer direct, simple, and even tough questions from any journalist runs a real risk of losing the voters.”

Fox’s chief political correspondent continued Ailes’ message during another Priebus interview:

“Historically national political parties have had no control over presidential primary debates. The media, sometimes partnering with other organizations, sets the terms and lets the candidate decide it’s in their interest to take part or stay on the sidelines.”

What Priebus really wants is a drastic reduction in the number of GOP presidential debates. He described the 2012 round as “a 23-debate traveling circus” with “those people that are actually spending their time and money promoting our opponents.” Too many candidates in a debate is “an unhealthy thing for our party,” Priebus said.

Both Priebus and the media have glossed over the last Hillary Clinton movie that caused the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United that allowed corporations to buy elections. A law prohibited corporations and unions from funding “electioneering communications” (aka broadcast ads naming candidates) within 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election, but the FEC permitted the showing of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, criticizing George W. Bush’s response to the terrorist attacks.

The non-profit group Citizens United pretended to be a commercial filmmaker and produced “documentaries” about candidates. When the organization tried to run ads in early 2008 on Hillary: The Movie which it planned to run on DirecTV, a federal court ruled that the ads violated the law because the sole purpose was to discredit her candidacy for president. The Supreme court not only overturned the lower court ruling but also permitted corporations to give vast amounts of anonymous monies to support candidates.

Priebus doesn’t care that NBC News, which would run the debates, is completely separate from NBC Entertainment, which would run the film. Priebus doesn’t care whether the documentaries might be partly uncomplimentary. But he’s not upset about the fact that Fox News, the media arm of the GOP, might be included in the production company of the unnamed mini-series that would star Diane Lane as Hillary Clinton. Priebus told CNN’s Candy Crowley that this was fine because Fox would simply be assembling the project, not airing it.

The RNC chair said that he plans to reject debate moderators unless he considers them sufficiently “interested in the future of the Republican Party and our nominees.” If Priebus can’t use the law to stop the showing of any documentaries about non-candidates, he’ll use blackmail.

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