AR-Sen: A Lesson in Empty Republican Bullying
by Senate Guru, Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 09:45:57 AM EDT
Roll Call has a new article online focusing on Republican attempts to win in 2010 the Senate seat held by Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln for the last ten years. The content of the article is a clear statement on how Senate Republicans' only weapon besides obstruction-by-filibuster is toothless bullying.
The article begins by telegraphing how Republicans will attack Senator Lincoln over the course of the 2010 cycle:
This cycle, the NRSC has stepped into the Arkansas race early, attempting to soften Lincoln's poll numbers with attacks on her support for the stimulus legislation and for sending "mixed signals" when it comes to the Employee Free Choice Act, according to an NRSC press release. And when Lincoln announced late last month that Vice President Joseph Biden would join her at her 2010 campaign kickoff this weekend, the NRSC was quick to blast the two-term Senator for being out of touch with voters back home.
"Senator Lincoln's support for runaway Washington spending and her refusal to take a position on `card check' despite representing a right to work state, are among a few of the important issues we are bringing to the attention of her constituents," NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh said on Monday.
Let's take a look at the foolishness contained in this passage:
(Much more below the fold.)
1) The NRSC attacks Senator Lincoln as being "out of touch" with Arkansas voters because Vice President Joe Biden is attending her campaign kick-off. So, um, how popular is the Obama-Biden administration right now? I believe the levels are historically high (as are the folks at the NRSC, apparently). Here is a link to the rather comical release. Among the 'reasons' that the NRSC gives for why 'palling around' with Vice President Biden proves Senator Lincoln is "out of touch" with Arkansans is that McCain-Palin won Arkansas' electoral votes in 2008. I wonder if the NRSC staff will apply that same standard when they opine about the re-election bids of Iowa's Chuck Grassley and Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter, as well as the campaigns of those who win the Republican nominations for Senate in Florida, New Hampshire, and Ohio. Note to Senator Lincoln: Republicans will call you "out of touch" no matter what you do. If you dive to the right in order to deflect their attacks, it won't work because they'll keep attacking no matter what.
2) The NRSC attacks Senator Lincoln's support for what they call "runaway Washington spending." The NRSC's ridiculous attack press release linked above does not reference a single vote of Senator Lincoln's, only criticizing Vice President Biden's record as a U.S. Senator. However, the NRSC has already dispensed a stock attack against Senator Lincoln for her support of the economic stimulus bill earlier this year. Note to Senator Lincoln: Republicans will claim you support "runaway Washington spending" no matter how you vote. Even if you oppose every bill that includes a dime of spending, Republicans will attack you. If you dive to the right in order to deflect their attacks, it won't work because they'll keep attacking no matter what.
3) The NRSC attacks Senator Lincoln on what they call "card check," refering to the Employee Free Choice Act. If Senator Lincoln strengthens American workers by supporting the Employee Free Choice Act, Republicans will attack her, sure. Although, if Senator Lincoln caves to Republican bullying and votes against it, all that will do is drive a wedge between her and organized labor, a key source of support for Democrats. However, caving to Republicans on this issue won't bring an end to Republican attacks. Note to Senator Lincoln: To put it simply, Republicans will attack you no matter how you vote. The more you cave to their attacks, the more credence you give their attacks. Work to gain the approval of Arkansas' families and workers, not the NRSC.
After offering the silly stock Republican attacks against Senator Lincoln, the article goes into who the Republicans might recruit to oppose Senator Lincoln:
When it comes to taking on the Lincoln machine, the Republicans mentioned most often right now include state Sen. Gilbert Baker, who represents a Little Rock-based district, and Little Rock Attorney Tim Griffin, a former special assistant in the Bush White House who briefly served as U.S. attorney in Arkansas. ...
Outside of Griffin and Baker, Republicans are also looking to Rogers Mayor Steve Womack and Little Rock banker French Hill -- who served as a special assistant under Bush for economic policy -- as possible 2010 Senate candidates.
Let's take a look at what this list of potential recruits says about Republican prospects against Senator Lincoln:
1) Nowhere in the article is Republican Rep. John Boozman mentioned. Rep. Boozman is the only Republican member of Arkansas' Congressional delegation. Given that every - I repeat: every - Constitutional officer in Arkansas is a Democrat, Rep. Boozman is basically the top elected official in Arkansas. That the NRSC didn't even see fit to make sure his name was included means he is out.
2) Similarly, the absence of any mention of former Gov. Mike Huckabee reiterates Gov. Huckabee's insistence that a 2010 Senate run isn't in his future.
Two of the four mentioned possible recruits are guaranteed to turn AR-Sen, in no small part, into a referendum on George W. Bush more than on President Obama or Senator Lincoln.
3) Tim Griffin is a Karl Rove protege who Cheney-Bush-Rove tried to install as a U.S. Attorney amid their notorious Attorney Purge. Griffin is also a former RNC staffer credited with engaging in the racist voter-suppression tactic of "vote caging." Speaking of Griffin being a Rove protege, even Twitter betrays Griffin's Rove-philia:
4) The other Bushie mentioned as a possible candidate is French Hill, whose name sounds a little - what's the word? - French! As the article notes, French Hill was a "special assistant under Bush for economic policy." Hmmm, someone refresh my memory. How does the public regard George W. Bush's economic record? Really, I beg the AR-GOP to put French Hill forward as their Senate candidate.
5) The first non-Bushie possible recruit mentioned is state sen. Gilbert Baker. Though not a member of George W. Bush's administration, he has not managed to avoid scandal. First, Baker went to bat "as a character witness for a campaign worker and Republican officeholder who'd repeatedly brutalized a woman and was subsequently convicted of kidnapping. Some supporter of women." Here's the situation:
Recently, Baker sent out a press release claiming the issue of women's rights is one he takes "seriously". However, in 2005 Gilbert Baker asked the 1st Division Faulkner County Circuit Court for "leniency and mercy" for a campaign worker of Baker's who repeatedly beat his female victim, held a knife to her throat, smothered her until she threw up, and using a cigarette lighter burned her multiple times.
Baker testified repeatedly as a character witness to help the defendant, also an elected Republican constable. The defendant was accused of rape, and convicted of kidnapping and assault against a Faulkner County woman. According to Circuit Court documents, Baker testified twice for the man, after knowing the horrible facts of the case and even admitted the defendant had "done wrong."
Baker acknowledged that this heinously degenerate person had "done wrong" and he still offered his testimony as a character witness multiple times (because this degenerate was a campaign worker?). Pretty grotesque. Another scandal, far less grotesque but nonetheless inappropriate, was also aired for public consumption. Baker's son allegedly received preferential treatment at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) and Baker used public property belonging to UCA for a campaign fundraiser while Baker delivered over half a million dollars to in public money to UCA. The credibility of the allegations (particularly as a possible quid pro quo) were furthered when it was revealed that UCA President Lu Hardin used money from his discretionary fund to buy gifts for Baker. Will the AR-GOP and the NRSC turn to this person, who appears to abuse his political power and defends his campaign workers when they abuse women?
6) The last possible recruit is Rogers Mayor Steve Womack. Rogers is a city of about 50,000 residents, putting in the bottom half of Arkansas' top ten most populous cities, and Womack was first elected Rogers' Mayor in November '98. By not being a Bushie or a character witness for someone who brutalized a woman, Womack should automatically become the most desirable of the four recruits to the NRSC. I don't know much about Womack aside from an episode of anti-immigrant fervor. Womack wanted to task local law enforcement officers with enforcing federal immigration policy. When the Mexican consulate in Arkansas wanted to discuss the issue with Womack, Womack gave the consulate the cold shoulder:
It was a bad week for ...
ROGERS MAYOR STEVE WOMACK. He treated rudely a request by the Mexican consul in Little Rock to talk about Womack's plan to use police officers to crack down on immigrants, pleading more important business at a golf tournament. Womack intends to send cops full bore after people without proper working papers, not, you may be sure, the people who hired them.
Womack could simply veil his anti-immigrant policy under the guise of populism. Womack is, perhaps, the most unknown of the named possible recruits - and that might be his greatest strength as a Republican candidate in 2010.
After running through the underwhelming list of possible Republican Senate recruits, the Roll Call article ends with Republicans warning Senator Lincoln that, if she doesn't vote the way they want her to, she'll be in big, big trouble:
"Right now, we're all watching her card check vote," said Karen Ray, whose last day as Arkansas Republican Party executive director was Monday. "If she votes yes on it, the repercussions here will just be enormous." ...
Griffin said he too would be watching Lincoln's votes carefully.
"There will be a number of other pieces of legislation where she will have to decide between being an Arkansas conservative or being a Washington liberal," he said.
I have two responses to this closing section of the article:
1) "The repercussions here will just be enormous." Senator Lincoln, watch out! If you don't vote the way the National Republican Senatorial Committee wants, they will attack you. However, if you vote the exact way they want you to every single time, they will... they will... they'll still attack you! These "enormous repercussions" that Republicans rattle on about are absolutely meaningless. I truly hope that Senator Lincoln recognizes this and has the spine to stand up to idiotic Republican attacks.
2) For the AR-GOP, the only two types of people that exist are "Arkansas conservatives" and "Washington liberals." That's why the AR-GOP is so successful. Need I remind you that Arkansas' Congressional delegation includes only one Republican and every single statewide Constitutional officer is a Democrat. Further, the 35-member Arkansas state Senate consists of 27 Democrats and only 8 Republicans; and, the 100-member Arkansas state House of Representatives consists of 71 Democrats and only 28 Republicans (and 1 Green). Aside from the Presidential election, these are partisan electoral leanings you'd more likely see in Rhode Island than in the South. Yet Karl Rove protege Tim Griffin wants to turn the race into a political caricature about "Arkansas conservatives" vs. "Washington liberals." And Republicans expect Senator Lincoln to quake at their threats. Once again, that's why the AR-GOP is so successful.
I'll close with a reiteration of sentiments given above. Note to Senator Lincoln: Republicans will attack you as "out of touch" or as a supporter of "runaway Washington spending" no matter how you vote. Even if you vote the way Republicans want you to every single time, Republicans will attack you. The more you cave to their attacks, the more credence you give their attacks. If you dive to the right in order to deflect their attacks, it won't work because they'll keep attacking no matter what. The best way to keep your job for another six years is to do your job. Look out for the best interests of Arkansas' families and workers, and don't give a second thought to the toothless, empty bullying of Republicans.
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