Posts Tagged ‘Rick Santorum’

Obamaville

Monday, March 26th, 2012

I love this Santorum ad.

Watch how Amadinejad’s face is replaced with Obama’s for just a split second.

Santorum’s all class.

The GOP’s Contraception Fiasco

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Last week’s Limbaugh fiasco was the culmination of a month of hell for the Republican party.

It started with the Obama administration’s decision that employers would now be required to provide contraception coverage for women in the health plans they provided. As part of this ruling, there was an exception given to churches, but not to charities or schools affiliated with churches. The Republican presidential candidates quickly jumped on this one, with Newt in the lead, declaring that the Obama Administration had basically “declared war on the Catholic Church.” In reality, it wasn’t as dramatic as Newt made it out to be, since there are similar laws in 28 states and 20 of those states (including Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts) do not exempt Catholic affiliated institutions.

Still, not much penetrates the Republican bubble, and to a party that still contains people who are fighting the social battles that were settled 50 years ago, this seemed like a good issue to start a partisan debate over. As one of their first actions, Darrell Issa’s House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, convened a panel to discuss the issue. The panel consisted of 6 male clergy members of varying faiths. Democrats requested to let Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown, speak but were told that she would not be able to speak since the hearing was about “religious freedom” not contraception. Democrats were quick to pounce on the ridiculous scene of an all male panel discussing a contraception mandate, with Democratic Senator Patty Murray saying that “it was like stepping into a time machine and going back 50 years.”

The Obama Administration responded with what could only loosely be defined as a “compromise” measure: instead of requiring the church affiliated organizations to negotiate with providers to offer contraception, the health plans themselves would be required to extend this coverage. Surprisingly, this new measure was enough to split the Catholic community, with Sister Keehan of the Catholic Health Organization declaring that it resolved the controversy while the Bishops continued to protest. On an issue that close to 98% of Catholics disagree with the Church’s teaching, this was enough to take the pressure off of the Administration. 

But Republicans decided to press their luck and they quickly coalesced around a provision offered by Senator Roy Blunt, who proposed a broadly written provision that would allow any employer to refuse to provide any health coverage for treatments that they had “a moral objection” to. As many pointed out, this amendment would effectively gut the Health Care Law, in theory allowing employers to refuse to provide coverage for any number of things including immunizations, HIV treatment, pre-natal care for unmarried mothers as long as they could claim any moral objection to the treatment.

On February 28, Mitt Romney won the Michigan primary. The very next morning he was asked his position on the Blunt Amendment and responded “I’m not for the bill, but look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a women, husband and wife, I’m not going there.” It took him about an hour and a half to flip-flop on this one. “Of course I support the Blunt Amendment” Romney said later that day, protesting that he just misunderstood the question.

Blunt added his provision to a Highway Funding Bill and Harry Reid called his bluff, scheduling a day’s worth of debate on the measure. Amazingly, only one Republican senator voted against the Amendment, effectively putting them all (including two who are facing reelection in swing states) on record against public opinion in a debate that was increasingly defined as being about contraception.

To be fair to the Republicans, if you don’t think that the government ought to be mandating any health care, then it follows that you wouldn’t want government to force employers to provide health insurance that somehow violated their morals, but that was becoming a hard position to defend since Republicans have a long history as the party of moral scolds, the Republican Presidential “Front Runner” of the week was on record publically stating his opposition to contraception, and the Virginia Legislature was simultaneously debating whether to require what is referred to as a “trans-vaginal ultrasound” before they could get an abortion in the Commonwealth. Still, despite the public black eye, this might have been a plausible argument.

That is until Rush Limbaugh opened his big fat mouth.  

Speaking on his radio show he attacked Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown student who was denied the ability to speak before Congress on the contraception issue. Limbaugh called Fluke a “prostitute” and “a slut” for arguing that women should be allowed access to contraception under their health plans and said that his proposition for her was that they could have access to those contraceptives if they posted videos of themselves having sex online. In a brilliant political move, as the outrage spread, President Obama called Fluke just as she was about to appear on Andrea Mitchell’s show on MSNBC to inquire about her wellbeing and tell her that her parents should be proud of her.

This, of course, was a blatantly political move, but it worked in a number of ways for Obama. First, it cemented the belief of most people that this debate was more about women’s rights than religious freedom. Second, it guaranteed that most prominent Republicans would be given the choice of repudiating Limbaugh (and angering the legion of dittoheads that decide Republican primaries), or put them in the ridiculous position of defending Limbaugh’s statements.  Third, it put Obama on the side of every parent of girls (no matter what their gender), and fourth, it once again elevated the misogynist Rush Limbaugh as the face of the Republican party. On Meet the Press last week, Savannah Guthrie suggested that the gesture on the part of the president might have been a “a bit of an oveerreach” but Republican Mark Halperin called it like he saw it: “classic triangulation” and “a brash political move.”

Limbaugh complained last week that Democrats were doing a good job of “pretending they don’t have a sense of humor,” but I think that, if anything, Obama’s move proves that they do.

Rush just doesn’t appreciate that, this time, the joke’s on him.

Scarborough: How Santorum Blew It

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Here’s Joe Scarborough on how Rick Santorum’s lack of discipline cost him a historic chance at derailing Mitt Romney’s nomination. Although the media will continue to pump up the upcoming contests, Santorum’s loss on Tuesday increasingly make it look as if Mitt Romney will go on to win this thing.

Scarborough:   

When Santorum should have been talking about his grandfather’s working-class roots, he was talking instead about your wife’s birth control pills. When he should have been connecting with blue-collar Catholics, he was instead insulting their martyred president. And when Mr. Santorum should have been talking about how the grandson of a coal miner graduated college with two advanced degrees, he instead mocked the aspirational idea that we should send more of our kids to college.

Or, as Bill Maher said in a slightly more impolitic manner, “the only thing more popular than Kennedy is fucking and college, and he attacked those too.”

Santorum had something good going. His working class midwest roots, passion and Catholicism were a contrast with Romney’s Ivy League “vulture capitalism” experience and fundamental uncomfortability in his own skin. As a frustrated GOP operative said “All Santorum had to do to win Michigan was turn his Iowa speech into a fucking TV ad and stick to it on the stump.” But Santorum couldn’t keep the focus on the economy, because that’s not really his passion. He’s a rabid cultural conservative at heart and he couldn’t hide it.  

If Romney lost in Michigan, all of the political discussion this week would have been on how Romney had shown fatal weakness and how GOP establishment members were plotting to sabotage his candidacy in order to nominate someone else at a brokered convention. Instead, the conversation is about how Santorum could have collapsed so spectacularly, why Romney keeps sabotaging himself with gaffes and flip flops after key wins, and why the GOP is arguing about issues that were settled by the American people over 50 years ago. To be sure, Romney doesn’t like this narrative either, but it sure as hell beats “how do we get rid of this stiff?”

And so, the last non-Romney falls. Certainly, Santorum and Newt may continue to dog Mitt for the months leading up to the convention, but it’s increasingly likely that Mitt will be taking on President Obama in November.

Operation Hilarity

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

As I write this, we’re just over an hour away from poll closings in the state where Mitt Romney was born and the nation waits to see if he might lose, thereby throwing the race for the Republican nomination wide open. The race is so tight that Nate Silver’s election prediction model has forecasted a tie.

In an attempt to prolong the nomination process, Marcos Molitsas has started Operation Hilarity, which encourages Democrats to cross party lines and vote for Santorum in the Republican primaries. Some labor groups have jumped on Molitsas’ bandwagon, encouraging their members to vote for Santorum and against Romney. In a tight election, this could be the difference.

This Republican campaign has been an absolute disaster for the party, most recently with nominal front runner Mitt Romney averaging close to 3 gaffes a week in his attempt to seem like a regular guy, Rick Santorum continuing to squander the opportunity he has been given by consistently betraying his extreme worldview and President Obama’s approval numbers continuing to increase

Still, Alex MacGillis sounds a note of caution, pointing out that the emergence of a Republican White Knight (Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels or Paul Ryan) would be the worst case scenario for Democrats and that they should just let the wounded Romney win the nomination. Being a glass-half-empty person by nature, I’m sympathetic to this argument, but (for a number of reasons) I just don’t believe that’s going to happen this year and I’m willing to take the chance.

So I’ll be on my couch tonight with a big bowl of popcorn saying “Go Rick, Go.”

Let’s keep this baby going.

Please Nominate This Man

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Just one of the totally off the wall things that Rick Santorum has said over the past few days, including saying President Obama’s political positions are based on a  “phony theology…not a theology based on the Bible” and comparing voting for Democrats in this election cycle to early 1940′s appeasement of Hitler.

Add that to Santorum’s past comments about contraception and women in combat, last week’s House hearing on health care, birth control and religion, where only men were called to testify, the “trans-vaginal ultrasound” bill proposed by the VA legislature, and the comments by Santorum’s Sugar Daddy that women wouldn’t need to worry about contraception if they just kept their legs closed. It almost seems like the GOP is intentionally trying to lose this election.

I’m sure they’ll be fine, though. Women can’t be much more than 50% of the electorate this year, right? As long as they can get close to 100% of the men, they should be fine.

The Fight for 2nd Place in New Hampshire

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Students at St. Anselm College in Manchester serve as stand-ins for presidential candidates during rehersal for the ABC/Yahoo debate Saturday evening in Manchester, N.H.

Here’s Real Clear Politics Scott Conroy on the four way fight for 2nd place in New Hampshire. With Mitt Ronmney expected to win New Hampshire walking away, the focus now shifts to who will emerge as a possible challenger to him in South Carolina and beyond. Now that Perry’s support has collapsed in New Hampshire and throughout the country, the race for 2nd in NH comes down to Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich. To date Ron Paul has held 2nd place in New Hampshire, but is something close to a consensus that Paul’s floor of 15% isn’t far from his ceiling of about 25%. Meanwhile, Santorum, Gingrich, and Huntsman are all clustered at around 10%. 

If Paul comes in 2nd, this is good news for Romney, almost guaranteeing that the 2nd tier will continue to be divided bwtween a number of candidates, allowing Romney to continue to win primaries with pluralities.

If Santorum takes 2nd place by a large margin, that’s also not a bad scenario for Romney. It is possible that you will see the cultural right coalesce around Santorum as the social conservative in the race much as they did Mike Huckabee in 2008, with probably a similar outcome, a short run of primaries with Santorum making a symbolic stand against eventual nominee Romney.

If Newt comes in 2nd, look out. He’s taking the drubbing he took at the hands of Romney surrogates in Iowa personally and he’s on a one man mission to wound Romney. A head of steam going into South Carolina could once again make this a Gingrich-Romney race.

Perhaps the most interesting outcome would be a 2nd place finish for Huntsman in New Hampshire. While Huntsman isn’t expected to compete seriously in South Carolina, a strong Huntsman finish would setup a dangerous situation for Romney, with the conservatives continuing to snipe at him as the race moved on to other states and Huntsman waiting in the wings as the heir apparent of the “most electable” title. Just yesterday the idea of a Huntsman surge seemed unlikely, but a new ARG poll out today puts Huntsman in exactly that spot. Whether this is an outlier or a trend is still to be determined, but one thing is sure: New Hampshire is make a break for Huntsman. He’s staked his campaign on it and, if he doesn’t have a strong performance there, he’s done.

The stakes can’t be much higher for Romney’s four challengers. A new Time/CNN Poll shows him pulling away from the field in South Carolina and losing the nomination after wins in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina would be unprecedented for a Republican candidate.

Should make for an interesting debate tonight.

Toto, We’re Not in Iowa Anymore

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Talking Points Memo’s writeup on how Santorum’s God and Gays message is falling flat in New Hampshire.