23 December, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Whelp.  It's Christmas week, which means political news is thin on the ground, folks probably aren't paying all that much attention to pollyticks, and embarrassed politicians are trying to slip their embarrassing news in under the radar.  Politicians like Parker Griffith, who finally admitted what he really is:
Alabama's 5th congressional district is among the most conservative in the country to represented by a Democrat. After Blue Dog Parker Griffith abandons his party and becomes a Republican today, the pairing will make a bit more sense.
According to two senior GOP aides familiar with the decision, the announcement will take place this afternoon in Griffith's district in northern Alabama.
Griffith's party switch comes on the eve of a pivotal congressional health care vote and will send a jolt through a Democratic House Caucus that has already been unnerved by the recent retirements of a handful of members who, like Griffith, hail from districts that offer prime pickup opportunities for the GOP in 2010.
The switch represents a coup for the House Republican leadership, which had been courting Griffith since he publicly criticized the Democratic leadership in the wake of raucous town halls during the summer.
By any reasonable measure, any time a party gets a member to switch sides, it's something of a coup. But in this case, Parker Griffith has practically been the definition of a DINO (Democrat In Name Only). Just this year, he voted against the economic recovery package, the federal budget, health care reform, energy policy, and Wall Street reform. The guy even voted against equal pay for women when Congress approved the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

For all intents and purposes, Parker Griffith has been a far-right reactionary since the day he took the oath of office. He fit in with congressional Democrats about as well as Dick Cheney would fit in at Netroots Nation.
He's out of the closet.  Good for him.  And, might I say, good riddance to him.  The fewer closet Cons in the Democratic party, the better.

The poor schmuck's making the same calculation Arlen Specter did when he swapped the R for the D, but in Parker's case, it won't be nearly so easy.  You see, the Dem base can be wooed by a change of heart, and there's room in the big tent for Conservadems (not that a pending primary has meant that Specter's been all that conservative, mind).  But the Con base consists of rabid right-wing reactionaries, and they're giving him a different sort of warm welcome than poor old Parker might've expected:
Two prominent names in the conservative movement -- Erick Erickson at RedState and The Club For Growth -- have promised Griffith will have a tough time convincing Republicans to vote for him, despite the fact that he's now one of their own. Griffith, a self-professed Blue Dog Democrat, has been far to the right of House Democrats this year, even promising to vote against another term as Speaker for Nancy Pelosi.
But those stances aren't enough for Erickson and the Club, both of which say the GOP primary will be a tough one for the Democrat-turned-Republican.

From Erickson's post:
Being a Republican should be about more than just the letter next to a person's name. We can improve that seat. 
Here are Griffith's earmark requests. He voted for Pelosi for Speaker. He's actually been more regularly with Pelosi than Jim Marshall (D-GA). We can pick this guy off and get a real Republican in that seat.
Again, changing the letter next to your name does not magically make you one of us.
At the Club For Growth's website, Andrew Roth breaks down the conservative group's take on the Griffith switch. Though, like Erickson, the conservative group sees the switch as bad news for President Obama, the Club says Griffith doesn't make the conservative grade...
Not feeling the love, there.  And remember, these folks are fanatics - he won't win them over by turning on a dime.  No, they want somebody pure.

As for his electoral chances.... um, not too good:
When Rep. Parker Griffith (the brand-new R-AL) switched parties today, he increased the number of candidates he has to face before getting reelected by a factor of three.

Both Republicans who were already vying for the chance to face Griffith in the general election next year say they'll stay in, eager to square off against Griffith sooner rather than later. And in a fiery statement this afternoon, the state Democratic party promised to find a new candidate to run for the seat.

All I can say is: enjoy lying in that bed you made, Parker.

At least there's one less Blue Dog to contend with.  Now, if some of the other Cons in Dems' clothing would be so kind as to make the official switch, we can focus less on primary challenges and more on finding strong candidates to run against the newly-minted Cons, who will be busy discovering just how little love the Con base shows to former Dems, and everything will be much simpler and more entertaining.

In other news, it appears that while Michael Steele has been busy humiliating the RNC publicly, he's also been running a nice little racket for himself on the side:
Michael Steele was able to parlay a series of failures and fiascoes into becoming the clownish chairman of the Republican National Committee. After securing the gig, Steele was able to parlay his chairmanship into becoming a surprisingly well paid personality on the speaking circuit.
Michael S. Steele, Republican National Committee chairman, is using his title to market himself for paid appearances nationwide, personally profiting from speeches with fees of up to $20,000 at colleges, trade associations and other groups - an unusual practice criticized by a string of past party chairmen.
Mr. Steele, elected in January to the $223,500-a-year RNC post, is working with at least four outside agencies in Washington, New York, Boston and Nashville that book the speaking engagements. He charges between $8,000 and $20,000 for an address, plus first-class travel and lodging expenses.
The Republican National Committee has been awfully tolerant of Steele's incompetence, mismanagement, and humiliating gaffes this year. But this is a revelation that may put Steele's job in jeopardy.

Several former RNC chairmen said on the record that Steele's lucrative little scheme is hard to defend. Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., RNC chairman under Reagan, said, "Holy mackerel, I never heard of a chairman of either party ever taking money for speeches.... The job of a national chairman is to give speeches. That's what the national party pays him for."
Well, apparently, Steele doesn't think they pay him enough.  Either that, or he figures he's got a very narrow window of opportunity: after all, the RNC's probably going to get rid of his arse as soon as they decently can, and then he won't have the title to attract all those undeserved dollars.  But it certainly tells you what his priorities are.  Hint: they ain't the Con party's well-being.

There's bad news for anti-ACORN crusaders: no damned proof at all of any funding violations whatsoever.  Not that a good debunking's ever stopped right-wing fanatics, but perhaps it'll help keep innocent folks from being deluded by their shrieking.

And, finally, your laugh o' the day:
President Bush’s presidential library at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas (the “George W. Bush Presidential Center”) will house a think tank called the George W. Bush Institute, which will promote ideas centered around “the principles of freedom, opportunity, responsibility and compassion.” The Huffington Post reports that the Institute will co-produce a new television show titled “Ideas In Action”...

"Ideas In Action."  ZOMG.  Well, we know there's not going to be any truth in it whatsoever, or it would've been called "Bad Ideas in Action."  Prepare yourselves for lies, damned lies, and more unintentional hilarity than you could possibly keep up with.

Maybe it's a good thing we're about to get a couple of relatively quiet days.  We'll need that time to prepare ourselves for the onslaught of stupidity sure to come...

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