Jim DeMint’s Phony Federalism

Sen. Jim DeMint on federalism (May 2, 2009):

We can argue about how to rein in the federal Leviathan; but we should agree that centralized government infringes on individual liberty and that problems are best solved by the people or the government closest to them.

Freedom Republicanism is about choice — in education, health care, energy and more. It’s OK if those choices look different in South Carolina, Maine and California.

Sen. Jim DeMint on federalism (December 14, 2009):

“Marriage is a religious institution. The federal government has no business redefining what it is,” DeMint says. This is one issue where he doesn’t support states’ rights; state government shouldn’t have the right to permit gay marriage: “Governments should not be in the business of promoting a behavior that’s proven to be destructive to our society.”

DeMint’s ideas about federalism are schizophrenic at best.

In the first quote, DeMint takes a principled stance on limiting the role of the federal government.  In the second, he advocates a values-dependent brand of state sovereignty, a system of government in which powers not delegated to the United States are reserved to red states. At least if gay marriage is involved.

Note to Jim DeMint:  The road to hypocrisy is paved with fair weather federalism.

Why Moderate Republicans Should Dump Dede Scozzafava

Three candidates are vying for the NY-23 congressional seat, but only two have any business running for office. And GOP darling Dede Scozzafava ain’t one of ‘em.

Conservatives have thrown their support to Doug Hoffman, a Republican running on the Conservative Party line, and he’s leading the race.  Now it’s time for moderates to dump Dede too.

Most of Hoffman’s supporters aren’t looking to “purge the party of anybody who doesn’t agree with us 100 percent,” as Newt Gingrich recently suggested.  In fact, my views on same-sex marriage are more in line with Dede Scozzafava’s than Doug Hoffman’s.  But moderate Republicans need to understand that the huge show of support for Hoffman isn’t just about wedge issues and ideological purity tests. And it isn’t a referendum on big tent ideals.

It’s about rejecting a piss poor candidate who heartily embraced the use of thuggish Castroite tactics to intimidate and silence a member of the press.  Whatever your views on social issues, that ought to be a deal breaker in America.

Dede Scozzafava cares more about her fleeting discomfort in the face of tough questions than she does about liberty and the First Amendment rights of a reporter.  That’s why her husband, a local union boss, filed a false police complaint against Weekly Standard reporter John McCormack.

Here’s how the Scozzafava campaign described the encounter to Politico:

This self-described reporter repeatedly screamed questions (in-your-face-style) while our candidate was doing what she is supposed to be doing: speaking with voters (remember, those who will decide this election?). And then he followed the candidate to her car, continuing to carry on in a manner that would make the National Enquirer blush. I have no doubt he intended to follow her home, too. His actions were reprehensible. Those are the facts.

While Scozzafava denies that calling the police was her suggestion, she expressed her support for the decision.  “I’m not going to be physically intimidated or threatened,” she said. “He has every right to ask questions, but he doesn’t have a right to ask them in the manner that he did last night.”

An audio recording later confirmed that the Scozzafava campaign lied about reporter John McCormack’s style of questioning:

In the audio recording of the reporter’s questioning played for The Associated Press by McCormack, the reporter didn’t raise his voice, but repeated his unanswered questions several times, including one about abortion.

Dede Scozzafava’s casual disregard for the crucial role of a free press is unforgivable.  It is a weakness that cannot be tolerated in public officials.

As if that isn”t enough to undermine Scozzafava’s appeal, don’t forget that she favors federal card check legislation and supported the President’s stimulus package.  You remember the stimulus, that $787 billion boondoggle that has created or saved a grand total of 656 jobs for Scozzafava’s home state. She also voted for tax increases over fiscal restraint often enough that her Democratic opponent is attacking her record on taxes.  According to John McCormack:

She won’t say if her no-taxes pledge means she’d oppose a health care bill that raises taxes. She refuses, in fact, to say how she’d vote on a comprehensive health care bill. And this summer her husband was in discussions with Democratic leaders about her potentially running as a Democrat for the seat she is now seeking as a Republican.

Exactly how would her election be a boon for the Republican Party?

Scozzafava has garnered the blessing of the Republican establishment and endorsements by heavy hitters like Newt Gingrich. Even after the false police report debacle, the GOP and Gingrich haven’t backed down.  They’re operating under the bizarre notion that continuing to dig will somehow get them out of the colossal hole they’ve created.

It’s time to put down the shovel because they’re dead wrong.

No laundry list of cherry-picked conservative credentials enumerated by Newt Gingrich will make Scozzafava less of a bully or more of a Republican.  Even Scozzafava’s far left supporter Markos Moulitsas may want to rethink his endorsement.

So let’s postpone the philosophical discussions about the relative merits of third parties and make sure Dede Scozzafava stays put in the New York state asssembly.  As reliably Republican as I am, when it comes to the NY-23 race I think those disenchanted Hillary supporters had it right: Party Unity My Ass.

Meghan McCain: She’s What’s For Dinner

Meghan McCain has a lot of conservative panties thoroughly bunched.  It’s not just that she’s the spawn of failed presidential candidate John McCain, or that she’s only been a Republican for a year.  It isn’t even her fairly mild attack on Ann Coulter.

The real reason conservatives have declared Meghan McCain public enemy du jour is that she’s a Republican with media visibility who dares to challenge conservative orthodoxy.  Her columns don’t rail against the “drive-by media” and she doesn’t pepper her appearances with accusations of RINOism and odes to Rush Limbaugh.  She embraces Republican principles, and rejects conservative demagoguery.  But perhaps her greatest affront is in having the gall to stray from lockstep adherence to partisan dogma on the issue of gay marriage.

Here’s an excerpt of Meghan’s current column, My Beef With Ann Coulter:

I am not suggesting that extreme conservatism wasn’t once popular, nor am I suggesting I should in any way be any kind of voice for the party. I have been a Republican for less than a year. Still, even after losing the election, I find myself more drawn to GOP ideals and wanting to fight for the party’s resurgence. And if figureheads like Ann Coulter are turning me off, then they are definitely turning off other members of my generation as well. She does appeal to the most extreme members of the Republican Party—but they are dying off, becoming less and less relevant to the party structure as a whole. I think most people my age are like me in that we all don’t believe in every single ideal of each party specifically. The GOP should be happy to have any young supporters whatsoever, even if they do digress some from traditional Republican thinking.

I’m often criticized for not being a “real” Republican, and I have been called a RINO—Republican In Name Only—in the past. Many say I am not “conservative enough,” which is something that I am proud of. It is no secret that I disagree with many of the old-school Republican ways of thinking. One of the biggest issues from which I seem to drift from the party base is in my support of gay marriage. I am often criticized for previously voting for John Kerry and my support of stem-cell research. For the record, I am also extremely pro-military and a big supporter of the surge and the Iraq war.

Peg Kaplan is the only blogger I follow who wrote something positive about Meghan’s column.  The rest of the blogospheric criticism is what you’d expect: Meghan is a tool with no credibility who should shut her trap because Conservatives don’t care what she thinks. There’s also the ever popular insult levied at right-leaning women that all she has going for her is her shapely backside.

Hey, come to think of it, this story sounds all too familiar: a bright, attractive Republican woman opens her mouth, only to have factions in her own Party clamoring for a chance to shut her up with as much snark and venom as they can muster.  Sarah Palin endured this treatment from the self-anointed conservative intellectual elite during campaign season, and Meghan McCain is getting it from conservative ideologues who didn’t bother to show up at the polls and then bitched when her dad lost the 2008 presidential election.

And really, what better way to bolster their conservative bona fides than by purging Meghan from the Republican Party.  Just imagine all the contented purrs and affectionate tongue baths they’ll get from their ideological bretheren when Meghan McCain’s RINO head is mounted right above the fireplace.

Of course, that will do nothing to undermine the chances of a permanent Democratic majority, but who cares about winning elections when you can win the conservative pissing contest?  Members of the Republican Party really can’t seem to help eating their own.

Meghan isn’t trying to offer sophisticated political analysis.  She’s a politician’s kid with a unique perspective on Republican politics and a bigger than average soapbox thanks to her father’s recent candidacy.  But that doesn’t make her views on the Republican Party any less instructive.

Michael Steele should be taking notes here: there are tons of liberty loving, fiscally conservative Meghan McCains out there, and most of them are registered Democrats because of what they’ve heard about the angry, hateful bigots in the GOP. It’s self-defeating for Republicans to ignore Meghan when her wing of the Party could be just as reliable at the polls as this nebulous “Republican base” we hear so much about.

The base can do their damnedest to oust Meghan from the Party, but she seems to have intuited what many GOP leaders refuse to acknowledge: undying fealty to conservatism is not a criterion for membership in the Republican Party.  Like many conservatives, Meghan believes in a strong military and thinks Bobby Jindal is a brilliant rising star in the GOP.  Why should anyone care if she feels the label “progressive Republican” gives her a little bit of hipster street cred or gasp, best describes her positions?

As for Meghan’s beef with Ann Coulter, she’s hardly the first faithful Republican to find Ann’s style too abrasive.  I never had much interest in Ann until I saw her on Red Eye. In a more relaxed setting, she has a good sense of humor and comes across as far more thoughtful and much less combative than I expected.

I respect Ann Coulter’s amazing talent for manipulating the media into airing just the right sound bytes to rile up her faithful fans and enrage her detractors.  She’s like Rush Limbaugh with an education.

But Meghan McCain doesn’t need to like or even respect Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh to be worthy of membership in the Republican Party.  Simply believing in Republican ideals is just fine.  And despite threats to the contrary, the chattering classes can’t actually lock her out of the Republican clubhouse or revoke her GOP decoder ring.

Meghan McCain and Ann Coulter are both welcome in my tent.  I probably wouldn’t seat them next to each other, but they’re both welcome.

Michael Steele Accepts RNC Chairmanship

Today is a good day to be a Republican.

Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele has been selected as the next chairman of the Republican National Committee. After six ballots, Steele won the election with 91 votes, beating out incumbent Mike Duncan, Ken Blackwell, Katon “All White Country Club” Dawson, and Saul “Gay Baiter” Anuzis.

Steele is an inclusive, big tent Republican who has what it takes to lead the Party with integrity and focus. He brings the enthusiasm, experience, and personality necessary to unify and strengthen the Republican Party.

Congratulations to Chairman Michael Steele and kudos to the RNC members who elected a fine man and the right candidate for the job.

Will Republicans Get An Inclusive RNC Chair?

At the height of Palinmania, liberal feminist author Rebecca Walker wrote a piece for The Huffington Post boldly calling for a bigger feminist tent. She criticized the “habitual distancing of women [like Sarah Palin] who don’t serve the progressive feminist agenda” and addressed “the necessity of finding commonality with women who don’t hold progressive views.”

You can imagine how well that went over with the “progressive” HuffPo crowd.

Many commenters dismissed Walker’s ideas. They reveled childishly in the opportunity to smear Palin with the usual chorus of “she’s not a real woman” and “she doesn’t get to call herself a feminist.” Also included, a generous sprinkling of “she’s a terrible mother,” “conservative women are tools of the patriarchy,” and the ever popular insult, “Bush in a skirt.”

I’m reminded of the venomous responses to Walker’s HuffPo post as I consider the current state of the RNC Chair race. Many of the 168 voting Committee members are clamoring for a uniformly conservative Party that brands social moderates, libertarians, and centrists as ideologically impure. Even those who pay lip service to Ronald Reagan’s notion of a big GOP tent seem comfortable marginalizing Republicans whose conservative bona fides don’t measure up to their questionable standards.

Minnesota GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis donned his RINO-huntin’ gear early in the race for national Chair and set his sights on Michael Steele, the former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland. James Richardson explains:

Shortly after launching his campaign for RNC Chairman in mid-November, Saul Anuzis, the beleaguered MIGOP Chairman, began circulating news of LGBT (read: moderate) support for former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele to prominent social conservative committee members.

Steele’s past work with Christine Todd Whitman’s centrist Republican Leadership Council, his dissenters argue, disqualifies him to lead the Republican Party as the faithful opposition to President Obama’s social agenda and economic recovery plan.

Later, when the Log Cabin Republicans reached out to each of the RNC candidates, an Anuzis operative named Katie Packer responded on his behalf, calling him “a reasonable individual who does not seek to grow the party by dividing it.”

Right. So first Anuzis uses gay support as a not-so-subtle litmus test to indicate an opponent’s failings, and then his rep cozies up to the Log Cabin Republicans. But wait, there’s more:

After news of Team Anuzis’ correspondence broke, Saul quickly distanced himself from Packer and said he had approved no such outreach, nor did he seek Log Cabin’s endorsement. Still working to build inroads in the social conservative community, Saul simply couldn’t afford the perception that he was seeking to “grow the party” with the help of, gasp, gay and moderate Republicans.

I understand that many Americans, President Obama included, do not support full equality for gays and lesbians, but is it really required political posturing for an RNC Chair candidate to publicly distance himself from gay outreach? Is Anuzis worried his RNC buddies will think he picked up GRIDS cooties from contact with the gays?

Last November, Senator McCain won more of the gay vote than any other Republican presidential candidate has ever received – 1.3 million votes and 27% of the LGBT vote, according to exit polls. Let’s hope we can continue that trend with an RNC Chair who understands and believes in a big Republican tent, not one who makes nice to gay Republicans and moderates in private while publicly rejecting their support and excluding them from Party politics.

Required Reading: Proud to be a Republican

Liberals often promote the idea that they have a monopoly on inclusivity and acceptance, while the GOP is the party of homophobia, racism, sexism, and a host of other -isms. It’s a myth I bought into for an embarrassingly long time, a myth that contributes to the inability of the GOP to appeal to more blue staters.

B. Daniel Blatt of GayPatriot has written a piece for the Washington Blade that should be required reading for liberals. In Proud to be a Republican, he describes how his experience as an openly gay republican at the RNC helped him confirm that “it’s easier to be openly gay among conservatives than it is to be openly conservative among gays.”

Lately I’ve been somewhat disheartened by my own skepticism about the existence of a big tent, but B. Daniel Blatt’s account of how he was received at the Convention gives me hope and makes me proud to be a Republican.