Chaos At The Southern Republican Leadership Conference

Earlier, I'd said I was really looking forward to finding out the results of the 2008 straw poll being held at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference this weekend in Memphis. I take it back. It seems that Republican infighting has likely rendered the results largely useless. Taegan Goddard of Breaking Blue fame (who also writes for a little site called Political Wire) uncovered two interesting and related stories out of the SRLC.

First, John McCain, one of the clear front-runners for the 2008 nomination, decided to throw a monkey wrench into the whole process by telling conference-goers not to vote for him, but rather to write-in President Bush's name instead. "For the next three years," McCain said, "with the country at war, he's our President, and the only one who must have our support today." It's an eye-roller to be sure, but if you're thinking this is McCain once again sucking up to Bush, it's not that simple. I'll come back to this in a bit.

The real chaos kicked in when Trent Lott, himself a McCain ally, attacked the credibility of the straw poll's results, saying that it was being fixed in favor of Bill Frist. Here's what he told CNN.

"Frist is bussing people in," Lott said, referring to Senate Majority Bill Frist (R-Tennessee), whose political organization is working to ensure he wins this unscientific early test of election viability. "These are not real delegates. These are people being bussed in to produce the results. It is a rigged deal. It doesn't matter."

That possibility -- that Frist might bus supporters to Memphis for the event -- is one that I raised in my first post about the SRLC. And if it turned out to be true, then Lott's suspicions might have been correct. But crying to CNN about a rigged election before the election's even held is pretty unfair, as it prejudges the outcome and calls the validity of the whole process into question.

What's so interesting to me about these stories is the fact that the only two people openly trying to wreck the straw poll are McCain and one of his supporters. In urging attendees not to vote for him and instead write in Bush, McCain set himself up in a position where he can't lose. It's a total cop out in that, if he performs poorly, he can point to the fact that he wasn't trying to win anyway, going so far as to endorse someone else. And Lott calling the whole process "rigged" by Frist is the icing on that cake, stripping what remained of the poll's credibility. This is nothing but scorched earth. McCain obviously didn't feel he was strong enough to win the poll, so he had to tear it apart instead.

Outlawing Choice No Longer Exists In The Abstract

As you've undoubtedly already heard, Governor Mike Rounds has signed into law a bill banning abortion in the state of South Dakota. While there is an exception in the bill if the life of the mother is at risk, there are no exceptions for cases of rape, incest, or situations where the health of the mother is compromised. The South Dakota ban is likely to be followed shortly by a similar ban in Mississippi, which does allow exceptions for cases of rape and incest. Right now, each state only has one abortion clinic.

Now, neither of these bills is really going to outlaw abortion in either state. Yet. Rounds openly admits that the South Dakota ban will be bogged down in the courts for years to come. Both (again, as you've undoubtedly already heard) are designed to challenge the precedent of Roe v Wade in the Supreme Court, where their backers expect to find a receptive audience with John Roberts and Samuel Alito. This is the moment that every pro-choice voter who has ever voted for a Republican never thought would come. They voted for Republican tax cuts, confident that the social agenda was just some sort of ruse to win over the Falwell crowd. For example, in September of 2004, polling indicated that in the crucial state of Ohio, support for Bush among self-identified pro-choice voters was much higher than support for Kerry among self-identified pro-life voters. This is a critical point. Throughout the pro-choice electorate, there has long been this assumption that the woman's right to choose is not seriously threatened. It has always been an incredibly stupid and undisciplined thing to assume. Elected Republicans haven't been pandering to the Falwell crowd. They are the Falwell crowd.

And this fight isn't over. It doesn't end with Bush naming Roberts and Alito to the Supreme Court. If not Bush, the next President will name a replacement to John Paul Stevens, whose death Republicans are gleefully hoping for because it will likely push the court decisively one way or the other (or at least more than it has already been pushed). A quick review of Republicans likely to run for their party's nomination in 2008 shows that ignoring choice at the ballot box is no longer an option. John McCain, George Allen, and Mitt Romney have all promised that, like Rounds, they would sign the South Dakota ban, as has darkhorse candidate Mike Huckabee.

Advocates for choice have been warning voters about this for years. Obviously, after a while, those warnings sounded alarmist and unrealistic to some. Unfortunately, they were neither. So here we are. This issue no longer exists in the abstract.

There's more...

John McCain's Corrupt Friends - PA Edition

Well, gosh, I almost teared up watching McCain drool all over Rick Santorum. Seems McCain thinks that Senator Man-on-Dog is a "good and decent person" who "represents family values."

There's more...

Truth per Hutchinson, McCain, Lugar, and more

What is truth?  In January of 1999, several United States Senators outdid themselves in calling for `truth' `honesty' and `integrity in the oval office. Anything less would confuse our children and destroy our society.

Here is my second diary from researching the Congressional Records, I have pointed out statements that are so powerful they still reverberate today. As with my first diary, I did not take their statements out of context, or play with quotes to change their meaning.

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Treachery From BushCo on Ports "Compromise"

The very first mention on DWT of Bush's outrageous ports sale was called "Why Is The Republican Congress Letting Bush Sell Off Our Ports To A Shaky Arab Emirate?" (exactly a week ago, Monday, February 20). A lot of hot air has been expelled and righteous indignation has been played out in front of the TV cameras but, the question still remains the same. Although every survey and poll shows that Americans overwhelming-- and vehemently-- reject this deal (today's AOL poll shows that only 9% of respondents want to see it go forward Bush is still pushing this through.

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