Hey everyone, John McCain’s back! And lithate his GOP brethren, he’s grasping at straws to oppose the Democratic health care reform bill:

This afternoon, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced the first Republican amendment to the Senate’s health care reform bill. The so-called ‘motion to commit’ would send the legislation back to the Senate Finance Committee and instruct that committee to remove the $491 billion in proposed reductions from Medicare and Medicaid program

Keep that $491 bn number in your head, it’s important.

Here’s an excerpt from McCain’s floor speech:

I will eagerly look forward to hearing from the authors of this legislation as to how they can possibly achieve a half a trillion dollars in cuts without impacting existing Medicare programs negatively and eventually lead to rationing of health care in this country. That is what this motion is all about. This motion is to eliminate those unwarranted cuts.

And here’s the kicker:

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Right-Wing Insanity

This is just crazy:

The new national poll from Public Policy Polling (D) has an astonishing number about paranoia among the GOP base: Republicans do not think President Obama actually won the 2008 election — instead, ACORN stole it.


The poll asked this question: “Do you think that Barack Obama legitimately won the Presidential election last year, or do you think that ACORN stole it for him?” The overall top-line is legitimately won 62%, ACORN stole it 26%.

Among Republicans, however, only 27% say Obama actually won the race, with 52% — an outright majority — saying that ACORN stole it, and 21% are undecided. Among McCain voters, the breakdown is 31%-49%-20%. By comparison, independents weigh in at 72%-18%-10%, and Democrats are 86%-9%-4%.

[Emphasis mine]

You read that right–a majority of Republicans believe Barack Obama did not legitimately win the 2008 election. They believe that, instead, the community organizing group ACORN stole it for him. Nearly twice as many Republicans believe the election was stolen than believe Obama legitimately won.

Remember, Obama won 2008 in a landslide–he won 53% to 46%, 365 electoral votes to McCain’s 173. For ACORN to have stolen the election, they would have had to manufacture more than 9.5 million votes–Obama’s national margin of victory. ACORN would have had to flip FL, OH, IN, NC, VA, NM, and IA from Republican to Democratic (those being the closest blue states which, combined, gave Obama an electoral vote majority).

I know the right is trying to make ACORN out into some kind of all-powerful left-wing boogeyman, but they’re just a community organizing group, and not a particularly well-funded one at that.

ACORN has received slightly more than $50 million in federal funds in the past 15 years, which averages out to slightly more than $66,000 per state per year–certainly not enough to build a national apparatus capable of stealing 9.5 million votes and 7 swing states.

Maybe this poll is horribly inaccurate, but if it isn’t than the GOP has gone off the deep end. Perhaps this kind of unhinged, off-the-wall craziness is why only 20% of Americans identify themselves as Republican.


Conservative blogger Patrick Ruffini discusses Sam “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher:

Joe the Plumber — a one or two day campaign gimmick — has become a poster boy for conservatism. To say that the McCain campaign milked Joe Wurzelbacher’s story and then some would be the understatement of the century. Now, conservatives are making him a foreign war correspondent and he is sure to be feted at CPAC — so I’m sure to get a certain amount of grief for what I’m writing now.

If you want to get a sense of how unserious and ungrounded most Americans think the Republican Party is, look no further than how conservatives elevate Joe the Plumber as a spokesman. The movement has become so gimmick-driven that Wurzelbacher will be a conservative hero long after people have forgotten what his legitimate policy beef with Obama was.

I think “gimmick-driven” is, quite possibly, the most astute criticism of the Republican Party I have ever heard.

Remember when John McCain “suspended” his Presidential campaign to fly to Washington and fix the economic crisis? Remember when McCain chose Sarah Palin to be his running mate?

Remember the GOP’s response to the economic stimulus package, which turned into a never-ending circus of embarrassing political gimmicks? Republican lawmakers complained about how many pages the bill was, even though—obviously—the length of a bill has no impact whatsoever on whether or not it’s a good piece of legislation. They complained about the cost of the bill, which would have been a worthy criticism had they not made it in the stupidest way possible, gabbing on about how high a stack of 1 trillion $1 bills would reach or how, if you spent a million dollars a day since the birth of Jesus, you wouldn’t spend as much money as was contained in that bill.

Yes, the stimulus bill had a big price tag, but nobody was trying to hide it. President Obama and the Democrats said from the start that we needed a large stimulus package; it wasn’t like everyone needed the GOP to tell them what the bill cost.

The sheer cost of the bill wasn’t important; what was important was the return on investment, how much economic growth that money would create. In the end, the GOP gave no coherent, worthwhile reason to oppose the bill. Where was their economics?

The list of gimmicks goes on and on: embracing Twitter as quick-fix to their poor messaging, hosting pointless “tea parties,” forcing a Michael Steele hip-GOP image makeover, etc. The right is hoping they’ll stumble across a magic bullet that will rocket them back into the majority, which is the kind of short-sighted, shallow thinking that’s going to keep them in the minority.

As Ruffini says,

Conservatives should not need Joe the Plumber to prove their middle class bona fides. We are naturally the party of the middle, and we don’t need gimmicks to prove it.

I agree with part of Ruffini’s point–the GOP shouldn’t need gimmicks, their policies should  be able to speak for themselves.  For instance, picking a random middle-class person to read your talking points doesn’t prove you’re the party of the middle class; embracing policies that help the middle class prove you’re the party of the middle class.

Somewhere along the way, Republicans forgot that the underpinning of politics is policy and they jettisoned political substance in favor of whatever stunt they hope will win the day’s news cycle.  Getting the conservative movement to kick it’s gimmickry habit and getting them to be serious once again should be the first step toward any kind of Republican revival.

Week 1

Not a bad start to the Obama administration:

On his first full day in office, Mr. Obama will order American military leaders to plan the speedy withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq and will direct his economic advisers to do everything possible to avert a prolonged downturn and double-digit unemployment, his top aides said Sunday

Within the first week, he might also issue executive orders calling for the closure of the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba even though the process might take time, Robert Gibbs, the incoming press secretary, told “Fox News Sunday.”

“We’ve talked about banning torture and closing Guantanamo, the process by which that will happen,” Mr. Gibbs said. In addition, Mr. Obama would issue executive orders tightening ethics and transparency rules affecting current and outgoing government workers.

“I think those are probably the big things that could happen as early as the first week,” Mr. Gibbs said.

And if you ever needed proof as to the honorability of Obama’s character, consider this:

Obama Reaches Out for McCain’s Counsel

Not long after Senator John McCain returned last month from an official trip to Iraq and Pakistan, he received a phone call from President-elect Barack Obama.

As contenders for the presidency, the two had hammered each other for much of 2008 over their conflicting approaches to foreign policy, especially in Iraq. (He’d lose a war! He’d stay a hundred years!) Now, however, Mr. Obama said he wanted Mr. McCain’s advice, people in each camp briefed on the conversation said. What did he see on the trip? What did he learn?

It was just one step in a post-election courtship that historians say has few modern parallels, beginning with a private meeting in Mr. Obama’s transition office in Chicago just two weeks after the vote. On Monday night, Mr. McCain will be the guest of honor at a black-tie dinner celebrating Mr. Obama’s inauguration.

Over the last three months, Mr. Obama has quietly consulted Mr. McCain about many of the new administration’s potential nominees to top national security jobs and about other issues — in one case relaying back a contender’s answers to questions Mr. McCain had suggested.


Fred I. Greenstein, emeritus professor of politics at Princeton, said: “I don’t think there is a precedent for this. Sometimes there is bad blood, sometimes there is so-so blood, but rarely is there good blood.”

I know it’s customary for Presidents-elect to reach out to their defeated opponents right after an election, but is there a precedent for this–not only giving your rival a courtesy call, but actually consulting with him on major issues and appointments? If there is, I can’t think of one.

McCain ran a poor campaign and I still wouldn’t trust him with the Presidency.  But he does have a lot of experience and can offer a depth and breadth of knowledge and insight to the President-elect that will be useful.  In addition, it’s worth noting that Obama and McCain have some common ground that puts McCain at odds with his own party; McCain could play a major role shepherding certain legislation through Congress on behalf of the Obama administration.

This is true bipartisanship, not the bipartisanship-in-name-only that usually passes for bipartisanship in Washington.  I’m glad to see this occurring and I hope it continues–the more inroads Obama builds among Republicans, the easier of a time he’ll have solving our nation’s problems.  Not all Republicans are Roadblock Republicans, and the more moderates Obama can befriend, the better.

John McCain Is Right!

I never thought I’d say it, but the man has a point:

Sen. John McCain, who once referred to Barack Obama as a “young man with very little experience,” Friday urged his Republican colleagues to work with the president-elect to pass a massive stimulus package and revive the U.S. economy.

Unusual action is required in these most unusual times. The question is will we do it right,” McCain told Fox News


McCain called Obama’s new national security team “excellent,” and said he has spoken to Obama multiple times since Election Night. He said he was “feeling fine” after his defeat, and that he believes the Republican Party will eventually recover.

[Emphasis mine]

I understand that both parties have to put up a certain minimum amount of partisan bluster in order to keep up appearances–that’s how Washington goes.  But we have some significant challenges ahead of us, and the American people are looking to the government for solutions.

In their weakened state, the GOP can’t afford to block economic recovery for the sake of partisan gain–the more they obstruct Obama’s economic recovery proposals just for the sake of spiting Democrats, the worse off they’re going to be.

I agree with McCain that the GOP will, eventually, make a recovery.  But how long it takes them to dust themselves off and get back in the ring–whether it’s a few years or a few decades–is entirely up to them.  If they continue down the road they’re on, if stand in the way of economic recovery and political progress, Republicans will relegate themselves to the minority for a long, long time.

Republicans, listen to your Presidential candidate–buck the far right wing of your party and do what’s best for your country.  Radical conservatives have been dragging you down for years; now is the time to declare your independence and take your party back.  In the end,by doing what’s right for America, you’ll also be doing a favor for your party; by standing with the President and working to solve our economic crisis, you’ll show the American people that you can be trusted with their government after all.

So now the ball’s in your court–will you be the party of Lincoln or the party of Hoover?

It’s Official

The Electoral College–that antiquated little bit of Americana–met and cast their votes today, ratifying the results of November’s election. As expected, Barack Obama received 365 electoral votes while John McCain received 173.

Watch as the joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives give the results a standing ovation:

Of course Dick Cheney–who had to record and count all the votes–probably wasn’t having a very good time, considering the outcome of the vote.

Part Of The Problem

Mac is back:

Former Republican presidential candidate and Arizona Sen. John McCain is re-emerging on the political scene following his November defeat with Country First, a political action committee aimed at rebuilding the Republican Party, according to an email sent to supporters today.

Uh, John? You do know that you’re largely why the GOP needs rebuilding in the first place, right? Particularly because you suffered a devastatingly-huge defeat at the hands of Barack Obama two months ago.

Also, if you’re trying to fix the GOP, you could start by ditching the hollow slogans from your failed campaign; it might not help if you’re constantly reminding everyone why they abandoned you in the first place.

Just a thought.