Tuesday The Thirteenth

Todd Akin, like one of those Jasonesque characters in a sequel-begetting fright flick, just won’t go away.

A sometimes Democrat-friendly polling firm, Public Policy Polling, finds that Akin is only down 48-44 to Claire McCaskill (women support Claire 55-38), even after Dr. Todd shared his pre-Neanderthalic understanding of rape and the female reproductive system with Missouri voters.

The survey found that although Akin’s favorability rating is at only 29%—that’s not a typo—his good standing among Republicans in this state has gone up from 74% to 79%. Apparently, a vast majority of Missouri Republicans have decided that Akin’s medieval pseudoscience, which claims that women’s bodies have special recognition devices that can detect sperm planted through “legitimate” violence, is the kind of science that GOP Jesus loves.

Surprisingly, among independents the race is, uh, tied, 46-46. What that means is that some of those who claimed they are independents are lying through their conservative teeth or don’t have the slightest idea what “independent’ means (not out of the question here in Missouri). Those who claimed they were not Republicans or Democrats amounted to 32% in this survey. And no one can convince me that 46% of true independents are voting for the pre-Neanderthal in this race. If that is so, Allah help us.

Also, it appears some extra dough is finding its way into the state in support of Dr. Todd.  The New York Times’ “The Caucus” reports that Akins “is receiving an influx of more than $2 million in the final days of his campaign.” The skinny:

Nearly a million of those dollars on television ad buys are coming from Mr. Akin’s campaign, while the rest is from outside groups, and there is speculation that organizations that previously distanced themselves from the six-term Congressman could be behind some of the new spending.

One of those organizations suspected of sending Akin money is the National Republican Senatorial Committee (chaired by Texas Senator John Cornyn, who is so conservative that he once almost compared homosexual marriage to a man marrying a box turtle—I kid you not), which had pulled the plug on Akin when it appeared he would not survive his lecture on evangelical gynecology. But now that he is, like Jason, alive and well, Cornyn may be funneling money to the state Republican party, which has never stopped its support of Dr. Todd.

But I want to pass on something that may help those of you who, like me, have feared that the pre-Neanderthal can pull off a win and not only embarrass Missouri, but help speed up the ongoing erosion of women’s rights.

On Sunday, I was helping to contact local potential McCaskill voters. Several times we ran across Republican women who were voting for Claire, despite the fact their husbands were not. One woman said to us:

Tell her I am a rock-ribbed Republican but I am supporting her.

I took that as good news that although the race will be mind-mindbogglingly close—considering what kind of candidate Akin is—there is a goodly number of Republican women out there who haven’t yet lost their minds.

Away In A Manger

How stupid do they think we are?

This morning on Morning Joe, Mike Barnicle asked that question relative to the comments made by Republican Senators Jim DeMint and Jon Kyl yesterday, who suggested that Harry Reid was disrespecting the Christian faith by keeping the Senate in session through the normal Christmas break.

Here is the START treaty obstructionist Jon Kyl’s remark:

It is impossible to do all of the things that the majority leader laid out without doing — frankly, without disrespecting the institution and without disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians and the families of all of the Senate, not just the senators themselves but all of the staff.

Now, forget about the fact that there is still a lot of legislative work to be done because of Republican obstructionism.  And forget about the fact that Harry Reid himself is a Christian, and presumably is fond of the whole wrapped-in-swaddling-clothes-lying-in-a-manger thing.  And forget about the troops all over the world who aren’t taking a Christmas break.  Or others here at home that may get off half a day on Christmas Eve, then the weekend, and it’s back to work on Monday.

Forget about all that, but remember this: Some Republicans, particularly in the United States Senate, have become so arrogant that they think they can say or do almost anything with impunity.  They think they can take the most extreme positions and still count on the support of the voters in their states, who often unflinchingly reelect them.

In other words, they think their voters are idiots and fools.

Just yesterday, Senators John Cornyn and John Thune held a press conference for the purpose of ridiculing the $8 billion dollars worth of earmarks in the 1900-page omnibus budget bill. The bill is more than $1 trillion dollars.

The problem with the press conference idea was that some reporters in the room were aware of the Republican scheme, particularly ABC’s Jon Karl, who grilled the two senators on their own earmarks—tens of millions of dollars worth—in the bill. 

“How do you have any credibility on this?” asked Mr. Karl. 

“Because we’re going to vote against the bill,” Cornyn replied.  “This is the wrong way to do business.”

“Senator, were you wrong when you put these earmarks in before?” Karl asked.

“Karl, this is not just about earmarks,” said Cornyn.

Except, that it was just about earmarks. That was the point of the press conference, remember?

You see, what these Republican Senators thought would happen was that the Democrats, who have the responsibility of governance, would pass the budget bill that included GOP earmarks, and the Republicans could oppose the bill, but still get goodies for their states with clean hands. 

Except someone dared to commit journalism and ruined the whole thing.

Here is ABC’s report on the issue (after a too-long commercial): 


The Truth Behind The Phony Outrage

From Michael Steele to Liz Cheney to Senators Jon Kyl and John Cornyn to nearly every conservative pundit, the right wing is making much of Harry Reid’s racially-tinged comments about Obama found in Game Change, by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann:

He (Reid) was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama – a ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,’ as he later put it privately.

Steele laughingly said Reid should resign; Kyl, too, invoking the Trent Lott controversy over sympathetic remarks Lott made about a real racist, Strom Thurmond, said Reid should step down.  Cheney predictably said liberals were protecting one of their own and ignoring his “racist” remarks.  In a fight with none other than George Will yesterday, she said,

The comments were outrageous … I don’t think it’s okay if you say it in private or public. The excuse by liberals is inexcusable.

First, notwithstanding phony outrage from conservative Obama-haters, Reid’s comments were not “racist” in the same way that Bill Clinton’s alleged remarks about Obama—found in the same book—were.   As quoted,  Clinton supposedly said to Ted Kennedy in 2008, while the former president was seeking Kennedy’s endorsement of his wife,

A few years ago this guy would have been getting us coffee.

Now, those are racist remarks, pure and simple, and if Clinton made them (which, of course, will probably never be confirmed) then he deserves condemnation from all sides, including liberals.

But Reid’s comments were in a different class, albeit they do demonstrate a certain “polite” or “genteel” kind of racism we might call racism-lite.  

However, no matter what one thinks about Reid’s remarks, what he said says more about us as a culture than it says about Harry Reid, who is prone to making dumb statements. The truth about America is that it has travelled a long way in overcoming its racial past, from abolishing slavery, to overturning Jim Crow, to electing its first African-American president. But a deeper and darker truth is that our country is a long way from treating all blacks as equals and Harry Reid’s comments reflect a reality very few want to acknowledge.

During the Obama campaign in 2008, I attended a meeting locally with some union activists who supported Obama and were preparing to work to get him elected.  During a talk, one of the activists who was working on behalf of the AFL-CIO, was talking about the difficulties of campaigning for a black candidate around these parts (a realistic concern) and said something like this:

When you run into someone who is sympathetic to Obama’s views, but has problems with him because he is black, remind them that he is only half black and encourage them to vote for the “‘white half.”

Now, I knew this person and I knew he was not a racist in any way I could discern, but as we all acknowledged at the time, there is something sad about the truth he was expressing.  Light-skinned blacks do fare better in our culture than dark-skinned blacks.  And, à la Harry Reid, blacks who talk like educated whites do fare better than blacks who don’t.

Naturally, Democrats, including Obama, are giving Reid the benefit of the doubt.  Reid is an Obama supporter and the top Democrat in the Senate, who is steering health care reform through some rough seas in Congress.  And quite as naturally, Republicans are crying hypocrisy on every news channel.

But the larger truth shouldn’t get lost in the charges of hypocrisy, whether applicable or not.  As Americans—Republicans and Democrats, blacks and whites—we have a long way to go before we are truly color blind.

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