Republicans hope to make Pres. Obama into Nixon; they may wind up with Bill Clinton.
The Fix, Washington Post: You could forgive Republicans for thinking they had happened upon an electoral golden goose over the past five days.
The twin investigations into the IRS’s flagging of tax-exempt status applications for conservative groups and the secret seizure of reporters’ phone records by the Justice Department, as well as the ongoing GOP drumbeat regarding the terrorist attack last fall in Benghazi, Libya, have thrust the Obama administration (and the Democratic party) into a defensive crouch. It’s a rare moment since President Obama’s reelection last fall when the GOP can play offense.
And yet, there are real concerns within the Republican establishment that members of their party won’t look before they leap when it comes to the right strategic path forward, taking a major political opportunity and blowing it, à la the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s.
“Republicans need only remember 1998 when they overplayed Monica Lewinsky and turned a promising midterm into almost losing the House,” said former Virginia congressman Tom Davis (R). “The Republicans have a political buffet in front of them. No need to gorge themselves…. [They] need to pace themselves.”
There is already some evidence that Republicans in Congress aren’t heeding Davis’s advice. “Of all the great cover-ups in history — the Pentagon papers, the Iran-Contra, Watergate and all the rest of them — this … is going to go down as the most serious, the most egregious cover-up in American history,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said during an appearance on a radio show regarding Benghazi. “People may be starting to use the I-word before too long,” Inhofe added. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) also has raised the possibility of impeachment on Benghazi but has insisted that’s not his goal.
The problem is that Republicans have invested so much hope and hype in Benghazi that it’s really hard to drop it like the dead thing that it is. Even if Washington Republicans accepted reality and tried to let their Benghazi conspiracy theory die quietly, the wingnut media would take up the cause and continue to make it an issue. Republicans will have to keep beating this dead horse for a while, in order to stave off accusations from the base of “caving” on the Greatest Scandal in American History(tm).
But the rest of the public doesn’t feel the same way that Republican voters do — which isn’t really much of a surprise, they never do. And while the base is howling for blood, the average voter just wishes this circus would end. The result: political grandstanding that’s painfully obvious to everyone other than the very people who would keep it going. Having started this bandwagon in order to help Mitt Romney get elected, they’re finding that — in their rush to get it on the road — they forgot to include brakes. Benghazi hysteria is like a runaway train, hurtling toward disaster, with the Obama administration waving farewell from the station.
Every nutjob who wants to win a GOP primary will be wall-to-wall Benghazi, 24/7. Meanwhile, general election voters see it as a blatantly political timewaster. Benghazi will win them primaries, but voters in the general will be a lot less enthused with candidates who promise to make Benghazi the central focus of their time in Washington.
Thirteen years, three different presidents, three similar tragedies.
Talking Points Memo’s David Kurtz put together a “mashup of Clinton, Bush and Obama reacting to the news of Littleton [AKA Columbine], Blacksburg, and Newtown.” The effect is striking. Is that old saw about those who don’t know the past being doomed to repeat it ever true or what? It’s like a skipping record, playing the same rotten song over and over and over. 13 years since Columbine and we’ve made no progress whatsoever.
We can’t let this just fade into history like every other mass killing. We have to do something this time. And if that means changing Americans’ attitudes toward guns and shifting public opinion back to sanity, then so be it. If it’s a long slog, it’s also a necessary one.
Who said this? ‘The tax increase will kill jobs and lead to a recession, and the recession will force people out of work and onto unemployment, and actually increase the deficit.’ That’s Newt Gingrich, in 1993, on the Clinton tax increase, and those of us who were working on the other side of that tax increase, Newt, have been waiting for your apology for 20 years for being completely wrong about that.
Democrats seek to cement Baldwin’s status as favorite.
Former President Bill Clinton voiced his support for Democratic Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin in an ad released Tuesday, the same day that her challenger Tommy Thompson campaigned with Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.
Baldwin spent Tuesday in the Fox Valley, an important swing area in the state that leans Republican but where there are enough independent voters for Democrats to make headway. Thompson was originally scheduled to be in nearby Green Bay, but those plans got scuttled at the last minute so he could instead campaign with Ryan in western Wisconsin, where they were meeting with supporters and filling hurricane relief packages.
In the new Clinton spot, the former president praises Baldwin’s support of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law, noting that young adults under age 26 will still be covered under their parents’ plan. Clinton was scheduled to appear in Wisconsin later in the week to campaign for Obama.
Baldwin is currently about the 4-in-5 favorite to win the race — 83% chance of winning at FiveThirtyEight and 76.3% at PredictWise. Clinton’s ad is clearly to lock in a win that will protect the democratic majority in the senate.
It’s obviously largely coincidental, but it seems like reality is trying to punctuate a point Bill Clinton made last night — that Democratic presidents vastly outperform Republicans in terms of job creation. “Since 1961, for 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24,” Clinton said. “In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private-sector jobs. So what’s the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 [million].” PolitiFact rates the statement as true.
And today, the Department of Labor reports that “First-time claims for state unemployment benefits declined by the largest amount in more than a month in the latest week.”
“The number of initial claims in the week ending Sept. 1 fell 12,000 to 365,000,” MarketWatch reports. “The consensus forecast of Wall Street economists was for claims to fall a slight 1,000 to 373,000.”
Steve Benen explains, “In terms of metrics, when jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it’s considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape, and when the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are being created rather quickly. We’ve only managed to dip below the 370,000 threshold seven times in the last 22 weeks, but the more encouraging news is that we’ve been below 370,000 in six of the last nine weeks.”
As I say, it’s largely coincidental that a marked improvement in employment seems to be happening at this moment, but it’s not a coincidence that it’s happening during a Democratic administration. Where Republicans go for a bass-ackward “trickle-down” economic theory where everyone’s fate is supposedly tied to that of the very, very wealthy, Democrats believe in a long-proven economic policy based on a pretty common sense notion — what lefty commentator Jim Hightower describes as “Everybody does better when everybody does better.”
And that notion has been a common argument from the Democratic National Convention; that the “job creators” aren’t employers, they’re consumers. Republicans argue that employers hire as many people as they can afford, regardless of the number of employees they actually need. It’s a stupid argument, which explains why they never put it exactly that way, but that is basically the argument. If you give rich people big, fat tax cuts, they’ll go on a hiring binge because… Well, that’s not extremely clear. Just because, I guess. For Republicans, everybody does better when the one percent does better. Not that it ever works out that way in the real world — eight years of Bush pretty much proves the failure there.
But if — as Democrats believe and history has proved — consumer demand drives growth, then employers hire only the workers they need. And they need those workers because of demand. Those jobs exist because those jobs need to get done, not because some trust fund baby decided on a whim that they’d finally made enough profits to hire someone they may or may not need. If people are spending money, people are making money. If everyone’s spending money, everyone’s making money. Everybody does better when everybody does better.
So it’s no surprise that Democrats are better at job creation. They know how it’s done, while Republicans know how they wish it were done.
This convention is done. This will be the moment that probably re-elected Barack Obama.
I can just hear it now, on Wednesday. All those people that poured all this money into Wisconsin, if you don’t show up and vote, will say, `see, we got them now. We’re finally going to break every union in America. We’re gonna break every government in America. We’re gonna stop worrying about the middle class. We don’t give a riff whether poor people get to work their way into it. We got our way now. We got it all. Divide and conquer works.’