Tag Archives: Joshua Green

The Passion Of The Newt

David Brody at CBN:

Newt Gingrich, who is expected to run for President tells The Brody File that he “felt compelled to seek God’s forgiveness” over his past marital infidelity and now that he’s at the grandfather stage he is “truly enjoying the depths of my life in ways that I never dreamed it was possible.”

The Brody File sat down with Gingrich Monday afternoon at The Machine Shed Restaurant in the suburbs of Des Moines before the big Iowa Faith and Freedom event.

We’re posting three clips from the interview below with transcriptions.

There will be those Evangelicals who can’t get past Gingrich’s transgressions from earlier in his life. But let’s remember. Evangelicals know all about grace and redemption too and if Gingrich can connect on issues important to Evangelicals (especially in Iowa and South Carolina) then look out. He has a path to the nomination. Don’t write him off. He can compete strongly for the Evangelical vote.

Newt Gingrich: “There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.  And what I can tell you is that when I did things that were wrong, I wasn’t trapped in situation ethics, I was doing things that were wrong, and yet, I was doing them.  I found that I felt compelled to seek God’s forgiveness.  Not God’s understanding, but God’s forgiveness.  I do believe in a forgiving God.  And I think most people, deep down in their hearts hope there’s a forgiving God.  Somebody once said that when we’re young, we seek justice, but as we get older, we seek mercy.  There’s something to that, I think.  I feel that I’m now 67 I’m a grandfather.  I have two wonderful grandchildren.  I have two wonderful daughters and two great sons in law.  Callista and I have a great marriage. I think that I’ve learned an immense amount. And I do feel, in that sense, that God has given me, has blessed me with an opportunity as a person.  Forget about all this political stuff.  As a person, I’ve had the opportunity to have a wonderful life, to find myself now, truly enjoying the depths of my life in ways that I never dreamed it was possible to have a life that was that nice.”

Doug Mataconis:

Newt Gingrich is out with a rather unique reinterpretation of his marital infidelities

Josh Green:

I have greatly enjoyed Donald Trump’s hilarious, boastful attempts to explain why his divorces should not trouble social conservatives. Last week, Trump told the Des Moines Register, “One of the reasons I was divorced is because I worked very hard. And, you know, that’s a good reason. But I worked very, very hard building up a great company.” So I guess that justifies it, right?

I had assumed that this said more about Trump’s Olympian self regard than it did anything about the Republican Party. But after watching David Brody’s interview with Newt Gingrich on the Christian Broadcasting Network, I’m starting to wonder. Here’s how Gingrich explained his divorces: “There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”
That sounds an awful lot like Trump’s excuse, and shares the similarity of seeming more concerned with complimenting one’s own hard work, patriotism and overall greatness than with, you know, penitently explaining the reasons why one’s marriages keep falling apart.

John Podhoretz at Commentary:

See, he worked far too hard because he loved his country too much and then he acted wrongly, but fortunately God forgives, plus God blessed him with an opportunity as a person.

I’d spend some time parsing this, seeking to show how he simultaneously takes responsibility and doesn’t take responsibility and how he actually praises himself when he’s supposedly criticizing himself. But what’s the point? He’s a fascinating, and occasionally brilliant, political thinker, but one thing the merciful and forgiving God who has so blessed him did not bestow upon Newt Gingrich was a sense of when to stop talking.

Philip Klein at The American Spectator:

While he is admitting that he did something wrong, he’s also trying to justify his behavior by aggrandizing himself. My own view is, when you’re owning up to something, you own up to it fully. You don’t try to explain or justify it yourself. The problem Gingrich faces when it comes to his personal problems is that the best possible argument a politician can make in these cases is that people should separate personal indiscretions from performance in office. Yet as leader of the effort to impeach President Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Gingrich is in the worst possible position to make that argument. So we’ll have to keep a close watch on how this goes over with the base.

In the meantime, I wouldn’t recommend any cheating guys tell their wives/girlfriends, “Sorry honey, I was just acting on my passion for my country.”

Jeffrey Goldberg:

I didn’t want it to happen, of course. No one does. When you take the marriage vows, you take them for life, right? So at first, I suppressed those unwanted feelings. Sure, I noticed her purple mountain majesties as soon as she walked in the room. I mean, who didn’t? Believe me, in a sweater, those purple mountains sure were majestic. And her amber waves of grain? I couldn’t pry my eyes away. So lush and, well, ambery. What was I to do? Maybe it’s because my defenses were down — I was working so hard at the time — that my mind soon wandered to her fruited plains. Bad, bad thoughts! But I just couldn’t help myself.

At first, of course, I didn’t say a word. I tried to confirm my soul in self-control. Oh, how I tried! And she played it straight, even when she caught me staring at her alabaster cities. But then I succumbed. I succumbed to sin. It was a business trip, of course. What a trip! It took us from the redwood forests all the way to the gulf stream waters. I was working so hard! Did I mention that I was working so very hard?

On that perilous night, when I first lifted my lamp by her golden door, she was dressed in broad stripes and bright stars. I was always a sucker for broad stripes and bright stars. It happened after a long day of exceedingly hard work. Boy, was I tired from all that hard work! She knew I wanted her. And I knew she wanted me. In a flash, our clothes fell to the floor, and she whispered huskily in my ear, “Give me your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,” and before I knew it, I saw that golden valley. Oh, the rockets’ red glare! The bombs bursting in air!  In that moment of indivisible union, I screamed out, “America, America! God shed His grace on thee!”

I was hopelessly, irretrievably in love. I guess that makes me a sinner. But it also makes me a patriot.

Wonkette:

“I hope you can forgive yourself, God, for making this country so damn fuckable. Jeez Louise, this country is fucking hot! It’s actually your fault I had sex with women outside my marriages, because you shouldn’t have dressed up the United States in those skimpy borders. What am I saying? It’s not even wearing any clothes!”

Many politicians say they love this country. But few have the strength to admit to the U.S. they want to take it in the back room and cum on its face. THOSE POLL NUMBERS ARE GONNA CLIMB NOW!

 

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Live, From CPAC, It’s Friday Afternoon!

David Weigel:

First, a word about hecklers: It’s awful that they get so much attention. A few bad apples in a room of thousands can create the impression of massive dissent, when it really isn’t there.

That said, boy, was there a lot of heckling when Donald Rumsfeld arrived at CPAC to accept the Defender of the Constitution Award. The ballroom for big events fills up many minutes in advance. In this instance, the people who wanted to hear Rand Paul speak at 3:45 had to arrive around 2:30, and stay there. If they did, they sat through a speech from Donald Trump (a surprise to attendees who weren’t checking the news frequently), and used every possible moment to yell “RON PAUL” at the Donald. When Trump responded to one of the heckles, and said that Paul “can’t win” the presidency, there were loud and righteous boos.

It takes a while to exit the ballroom. This means that hundreds of Paul fans — recognizably younger and sometimes beardier than the median CPAC attendee — are in the room or in lines as Donald Rumsfeld is introduced.

“I am pleased to recognize our chairman, David Keene, to recognize Donald Rumsfeld,” says emcee Ted Cruz.

There are loud boos.

Robert Stacy McCain:

Total CPAC attendance is more than 10,000, among whom are hundreds of Paulistas – more than 10 percent of the total attendance, due not only to the fanaticism of Paul’s following but also because Campaign for Liberty has paid the way for his student supporters to attend the conference.

As might be expected, the Paulistas are at odds with most conservatives on foreign policy and this coincidence of scheduling that had many of the anti-war libertarians in their ballroom seats during the Rumsfeld recognition is just typical of the unexpected happenings at CPAC. And this unfortunate incident of inexcusable rudeness should help put the whole GOProud “controversy” in perspective. Are conflicts between anti-war libertarians and pro-war neocons really any different than the clash between gay Republicans and pro-family social conservatives?

Grant that these would seem to be what might be called irreconcilable differences, and yet if the broad coalition of the Right is to cohere — as it was powerfully coherent in 2010 — the disagreements must be tamped down. Courtesy and forebearance would seem to be requisite to the endeavor.

Dana Milbank at WaPo:

Republicans may not yet have the ideal candidate to take on President Obama in 2012. But at least they have an apprentice program.

“This is the largest crowd we have ever had in eager anticipation of our next speaker!” Lisa De Pasquale, director of the Conservative Political Action Conference, told the annual gathering this week. “We have overflow rooms filled! This ballroom filled!”

The reason for this eager anticipation, and for the whoops and hollers from the crowd: “someone who is thinking about tossing his hat in the ring for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.”

The sound system played the theme from NBC’s “The Apprentice.” A puff of orange hair appeared on the stage, and somewhere underneath it was the billionaire Donald Trump, giving a flirtatious, finger-wiggling wave to the crowd.

“You’re hired!” a woman in the front called out to him.

Basking in the adulation, Trump announced: “These are my people!”

Oh? The last time Trump tested the presidential waters, as a prospective Reform Party candidate a decade ago, he favored abortion rights, campaign finance reform and universal health care. He’s thrice married and has had many girlfriends in and out of wedlock. He’s behaved erratically in his handling of the Miss USA competition. He’s contributed to Democrats as recently as four months ago. And – unbeknownst to most in the audience – he was invited to CPAC by a gay Republican group, GOProud, whose participation in the conference sparked a boycott by social conservatives.

“Over the years I’ve participated in many battles and have really almost come out very, very victorious every single time,” the Donald said. (Except for the bankruptcy, that is.) “I’ve beaten many people and companies and I’ve won many wars,” he added. (Though he didn’t serve in the military.) “I have fairly but intelligently earned many billions of dollars, which in a sense was both a scorecard and acknowledgment of my abilities.”

Joshua Green at The Atlantic

Jennifer Rubin:

Mitt Romney’s wife Ann introduced Romney, trying to humanize a candidate that in 2008 seemed remote if not plastic. However, this line didn’t exactly make him seem warm and cuddly: “When the children were young and Mitt would call home from a business trip on the road, he would often hear a very tired and exasperated young mother, overwhelmed by our rambunctious five boys.” She’s an attractive lady and her battles against MS and cancer make her especially sympathetic; she however needs better material.

Romney’s delivery was more relaxed and quick-paced than in the past. His use of humor was perhaps the most noticeable change. (This got a hearty laugh: “The world – and our valiant troops – watched in confusion as the President announced that he intended to win the war in Afghanistan….as long as it didn’t go much beyond August of 2011. And while the Taliban may not have an air force or sophisticated drones, it’s safe to say… they do have calendars.”) Romney is a polished and professional pol.

As for the substance, he made clear he’s not a pull-up-the-drawbridge Republican. In fact he began his speech with a foreign policy riff:

An uncertain world has been made more dangerous by the lack of clear direction from a weak President. The President who touted his personal experience as giving him special insight into foreign affairs was caught unprepared when Iranian citizens rose up against oppression. His proposed policy of engagement with Iran and North Korea won him the Nobel Peace Prize. How’s that worked out? Iran armed Hezbollah and Hamas and is rushing toward nuclear weapons. North Korea fired missiles, tested nukes, sunk a South Korean ship and shelled a South Korean island. And his “reset program” with Russia? That consisted of our President abandoning our missile defense in Poland and signing a one-sided nuclear treaty. The cause of liberty cannot endure much more of his “they get, we give” diplomacy!

But the heart of his speech was the economy. But, for obvious reasons, he limited his focus to job creation, entirely ignoring ObamaCare. His attention to jobs was effective insofar as it went:

Fifteen million Americans are out of work. And millions and millions more can’t find the good paying jobs they long for and deserve. You’ve seen the heartbreaking photos and videos of the jobs fairs around the country, where thousands show up to stand in line all day just to have a chance to compete for a few job openings that probably aren’t as good as the job they held two years ago. These job fairs and unemployment lines are President Obama’s Hoovervilles.

Make no mistake. This is a moral tragedy–a moral tragedy of epic proportion. Unemployment is not just a statistic. Fifteen million unemployed is not just a number. Unemployment means kids can’t go to college; that marriages break up under the financial strain; that young people can’t find work and start their lives; and men and women in their 50s, in the prime of their lives, fear they will never find a job again. Liberals should be ashamed that they and their policies have failed these good and decent Americans!

Curiously his only mention of debt was this: “Like the Europeans, they grew the government, they racked up bigger deficits, they took over healthcare, they pushed cap and trade, they stalled production of our oil and gas and coal, they fought to impose unions on America’s workers, and they created over a hundred new agencies and commissions and hundreds of thousands of pages of new regulations.”

Reason

Michael Scherer at Time:

The heirs to Ronald Reagan’s conservative legacy gathered Thursday in a hotel ballroom to exchange variations on the dominant theme in today’s Republican politics: It is evening in America.

“The Germans are buying the New York Stock Exchange,” announced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. “The U.S. is becoming the laughing stock of the world,” exhorted reality television star Donald Trump. It’s “a national reckoning unlike any I have seen in my lifetime,” explained former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Rick Santorum, a one-time Pennsylvania senator preparing a run for president, rounded out the collective cry of Cassandra by announcing that the nation was being run by a heretic. “This is someone who doesn’t believe in truth and evil in America,” he said of President Obama. (Read about what to expect from CPAC 2011.)

For decades, the Conservative Political Action Conference has been a bellwether of conservative thought. And the first day of this year’s event, with record attendance boosted by ever multiplying scores of college students, did not disappoint. For journalists looking to crack the code on the right’s narrative for the 2012 election cycle, it was evident in nearly every speech delivered in the main ballroom.

The next election, different speakers argued in different ways, would not just determine the occupant of the Oval Office, but the very survival of the country as a global superpower. “This is a crossroads of American history. This is a moment,” said Santorum. “Were you there? Did you see it? Did you understand what was at stake?”

As can be expected, much of the blame for America’s precipitous state was laid at the feet of Obama and the Democratic agenda, which Rumsfeld poetically described as “the gentle despotism of big government.” Several speakers accused Obama of not believing in the exceptionalism of America, or understanding American power, and therefore precipitating the country’s declining influence. Downstairs, in the exhibit hall, supporters of Mitt Romney distributed stickers that read only, “Believe In America,” as if his Democratic opponents did not.

Erik Hayden at The Atlantic with a round-up

Tim Mak at FrumForum:

The new chair of the American Conservative Union, Al Cardenas, today distanced his organization from GOProud, telling FrumForum in an exclusive interview that “it’s going to be difficult to continue the relationship” with the gay conservative organization.

The ACU, which annually organizes the Conservative Political Action Conference, has faced some criticism for including GOProud as a co-sponsor for the second year in a row. Socially conservative organizations have denounced the move, and the Heritage Foundation claimed that GOProud’s inclusion was part of their decision to opt-out.

Cardenas, who was selected yesterday to replace outgoing chairman David Keene, told FrumForum that he disapproved of GOProud’s response to the furor.

“I have been disappointed with their website and their quotes in the media, taunting organizations that are respected in our movement and part of our movement, and that’s not acceptable. And that puts them in a difficult light in terms of how I view things,” said Cardenas.

GOProud had asserted that Cleta Mitchell, the chairman of the ACU Foundation, was pushing conservative groups and individuals to boycott CPAC because of GOProud’s inclusion. Chris Barron, the chairman of GOProud, recently said in an interview that Mitchell was “a nasty bigot.”

“It’s going to be difficult to continue the relationship [with GOProud] because of their behavior and attitude,” Cardenas told FrumForum.

Asked for GOProud’s response, the group’s chairman apologized for his comments about Cleta Mitchell.

“For the past six months, we have watched as unfair and untrue attacks have been leveled against our organization, our allies, our friends and sometimes even their families. Everyone has their breaking point and clearly in my interview with Metro Weekly I had reached mine. I shouldn’t have used the language that I did to describe Cleta Mitchell and for that I apologize,” said Chris Barron.

Asked about whether he values a big tent approach to conservatism, Cardenas said that he did – but that his vision applied principally to reaching out to different minorities and ethnic groups.

“There are not enough African-Americans, Hispanics and other minorities here. That diversity is critical – you don’t need to change your value system to attract more diversity into the movement… [but] I’m not going to – for the sake of being inclusive – change the principles that have made the movement what it is,” said Cardenas.

“David [Keene] invited these folks [GOProud] in an effort to be inclusive… Having friends of ours leaving… presents difficulties to me,” he said. “There’s always going to be some tension, [but] there should never be any tension between time-tested values.”

Asked if someone who supported gay marriage could be a conservative, Cardenas replied, “Not a Ronald Reagan conservative… I will say this: we adopted a resolution unanimously at ACU advocating traditional marriage between a man and a woman, so that answers how we feel on the issue.”

Cardenas says that his priorities as the new ACU chairman will be focused on “making sure that our true friends never leave the table.”

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Cainmania Hits The Nation

Erik Hayden at The Atlantic with the round-up.

Mark Hemingway at The Washington Examiner:

Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and Member of the Board of Directors for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, has announced he’s running for President. Or at least thinking about it, anyway. You can read the statement on his website here.

Whether or not Cain will gain any traction remains to be seen. Being popular on the Tea Party lecture circuit doesn’t exactly scream “presidential frontrunner.” On the other hand, the whole point of the Tea Party is to encourage people with real world experince to get involved and lower the barriers to entry in politics. No matter what happens, Cain has the potential to add a lot to the political debate.

Jim Geraghty at NRO:

He spoke to NRO’s Jim Geraghty about it on Thursday.

NRO: Let’s get this out of the way: The last person whose first elected office was the presidency was Dwight Eisenhower, and he had led the war in Europe. What is your case to Americans that they should elect you straight to the Oval Office before any other elected position?

HERMAN CAIN: I think that American voters are ready for a problem solver, and not just another politician. I think people are becoming much more aware that successful businessmen are problem solvers, and that’s how they become and stay successful. I’ve gotten this impression over the last two years. What offices you’ve held before isn’t going to be their number one criterion.

What I am hearing from people I’ve talked to is, “What are the problems you want to focus on?” I’ve identified those, as well as what I would do about them. I have identified many of the ideas that I call low-hanging fruit, commonsense solutions that resonate with people.

Let me give you a few examples. One of the first questions I always get when I do one of my talks or Cain coffees or town-hall meetings is, “What would you do about the economy differently?” First of all, make the tax rates permanent, because extending them for two years just extends the uncertainty hanging over this economy for two more years. Secondly, I would ask the Congress to lower the top corporate-tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. Why? Because we are the only developed nation in the world that has not lowered its top corporate-tax rate in the last 15 years. The other thing I would do is lower the capital-gains-tax rate, because we punish risk too much in this country. We’re never really going to stimulate the economy in a big way until we do that.

Here’s one piece of low-hanging fruit that just amazes me that Washington doesn’t do it — it’s kind of like a no-brainer. Profits that have been generated overseas by multinational corporations — if they bring those profits back to the United States in the form of repatriated profits, then, in many cases, companies are going to have to pay double taxation. So they leave the money offshore. The last time we had a tax holiday for repatriated profits, back in 2003 under President Bush, nearly $350 billion came back into the country. It’s been estimated that we now have over $800 billion that could come back into our economy.

The other response to when people say, “You’ve never held public office,” is, “That’s true. Most of the people in Washington, D.C., have held public office before. How’s that working out for you?” The answer is, we have a mess. The biggest thing that we lack is leadership. My record in business speaks for itself when it comes to my ability to identify real problems and make sure that we have the right people in place who understand how to address them.

David Weigel:

I had the pleasure of talking to Herman Cain before he announced his presidential exploratory committee this week, and you can expect a fuller piece on who he is in a few days. (Some truly horrible breaking news intervened between the interview and the writing.) So far, as he continues his media tour, I don’t hear much about the reason he got into politics — his opposition to health care reform in 1994, and a televised townhall battle with President Clinton that became conservative lore. Bob Cohn and Eleanor Clift reported on this at the time; curiously a video of the battle went inactive on Cain’s old site, and is now gone.

Ben Smith at Politico:

The quixotic presidential bid of Godfather’s Pizza chief Herman Cain has prompted quite a number of memories of the chain — and of its, er, distinctive television ads.

The one above is via Paul Knipe on Twitter, who wrote that the pizza “was awful. But the horrible commercials were rad.” (Godfather’s still exists, mostly attached to convenience stores.

Joshua Green at The Atlantic:

After posting this profile of Herman Cain, the Tea Party-backed, African-American former CEO of Godfather’s pizza and current radio talk-show host who just launched a presidential exploratory committee…(pause for breath)…some of us at the magazine got to wondering how the rest of the GOP field would react to Cain’s challenge. The first thing you do with an unknown opponent is see what’s out there on the internet. Curious about Cain’s tenure at Godfather’s Pizza, some of us started poking around YouTube for old commercials. It’s safe to say that 1980s pizza ads were pretty wacky affairs (remember the Noid?) and hard to imagine one of them becoming an issue now–but not impossible. Anyway, this 1988 Godfather’s ad, starring the “The Studney Twins”–one black, one white–stood in a class by itself. Let’s just say it does little to temper racial stereotypes*

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Aqua Buddha A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop

Ray Gustini at The Atlantic with the round-up

Jason Zengerle at GQ:

What’s truly interesting about Rand Paul and Baylor is not the issue of whether or not he graduated; it’s what he did at Baylor during the two-and-a-half years he spent there. As I discovered in the course of reporting a story about Paul for GQ, he wasn’t your typical Baylor student.

Baylor seemed like a natural fit for someone like Paul. Located in Waco, it’s the world’s largest Baptist University and has a long history of educating the children of prominent Texas conservative politicos. As the son of Houston-area Congressman Ron Paul, young Rand—or Randy, as he was known back then—appeared to be following in that tradition. But when Paul showed up in Waco, he didn’t conform to type. According to several of his former Baylor classmates, he became a member of a secret society called the NoZe Brotherhood, which was a refuge for atypical Baylor students. “You could have taken 90 percent of the liberal thinkers at Baylor and found them in this small group,” recalls Marc Burckhardt, one of Paul’s former NoZe Brothers. Sort of a cross between Yale’s Skull & Bones and Harvard’s Lampoon, the NoZe existed to torment the Baylor administration, which it accomplished through pranks and its satirical newspaper The Rope. The group especially enjoyed tweaking the school’s religiosity. “We aspired to blasphemy,” says John Green, another of Paul’s former NoZe Brothers.

And so the NoZe Brothers would perform “Christian” songs like “Rock Around the Cross”; they’d parade around campus carrying a giant picture of Anita Bryant with a large hole cut out of her mouth after the former beauty queen proclaimed oral sex sinful; and they’d run ads for a Waco strip club on the back page of The Rope. In 1978, the Baylor administration became so fed up with the NoZe that it suspended the group from campus for being, in the words of Baylor’s president at the time, “lewd, crude, and grossly sacrilegious.” During Paul’s three years at Baylor, according to former NoZe Brothers, if the administration discovered a student was a member of the NoZe, the punishment was automatic expulsion.

[…]

The strangest episode of Paul’s time at Baylor occurred one afternoon in 1983 (although memories about all of these events are understandably a bit hazy, so the date might be slightly off), when he and a NoZe brother paid a visit to a female student who was one of Paul’s teammates on the Baylor swim team. According to this woman, who requested anonymity because of her current job as a clinical psychologist, “He and Randy came to my house, they knocked on my door, and then they blindfolded me, tied me up, and put me in their car. They took me to their apartment and tried to force me to take bong hits. They’d been smoking pot.” After the woman refused to smoke with them, Paul and his friend put her back in their car and drove to the countryside outside of Waco, where they stopped near a creek. “They told me their god was ‘Aqua Buddha’ and that I needed to bow down and worship him,” the woman recalls. “They blindfolded me and made me bow down to ‘Aqua Buddha’ in the creek. I had to say, ‘I worship you Aqua Buddha, I worship you.’ At Baylor, there were people actively going around trying to save you and we had to go to chapel, so worshiping idols was a big no-no.”

Nearly 30 years later, the woman is still trying to make sense of that afternoon. “They never hurt me, they never did anything wrong, but the whole thing was kind of sadistic. They were messing with my mind. It was some kind of joke.” She hadn’t actually realized that Paul wound up leaving Baylor early. “I just know I never saw Randy after that—for understandable reasons, I think.”

Ben Smith at Politico:

Paul spokesman Jesse Benton didn’t respond directly to Zengerle’s question about the incident; I’ve e-mailed him to ask whether that story is true, and am also trying to reach the accuser.

UPDATE: Benton repeated his non-denial to me in an e-mail, adding: “We’ll leave National Enquirer-type stories about his teenage years to the tabloids where they belong.”

Josh Green at The Atlantic:

I’ll bet they were listening to Rush.

David Kurtz at TPM

Dan Amira at New York Magazine:

Just … wow. Kidnapping, drug use, sacrilege — how could the Paul campaign possibly explain all of this to its many conservative supporters?

Steve Benen:

A lot of folks had some rowdy experiences in college, but I suspect the number of Senate candidates who kidnapped a fellow student, forced her into some bizarre ritual, and worshiped the “Aqua Buddha” is fairly low.

This is, by the way, the same Baylor University that Paul didn’t graduate from, despite some suggestions to the contrary.

In the grand scheme of things, Paul’s radical ideology — he’s the one who opposes the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act — is far more relevant than his ridiculous behavior in college. But given the right-wing ophthalmologist’s razor thin public record — he’s never sought or held public office at any level — incidents like these help flesh out a better understanding of Rand Paul’s background.

And as we’re learning, Paul is a weird dude.

Wonkette:

Anti-statist Senate candidatista Rand Paul didn’t actually finish college because he did well on his MCAT and got into Duke Medical School, which is actually sort of “bad-ass.” Now, according to Gentlemen’s Quarterly, it turns out “Randy” Paul was part of a SECRET SOCIETY at Baylor made mostly of LIBRULS who smoked POT and did PRANKS and put out a SATIRICAL NEWSPAPER criticizing the university administration. Nowadays, that sort of thing would segue you into a high-paying management-professional job at your Wonkette, but back then it turned you into an ophthalmologist.

UPDATE: Greg Sargent

Alex Pareene at Gawker

Allah Pundit

Steve Benen

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Break Out The Pocket Constitutions: Robert Byrd 1917-2010

Josh Green at The Atlantic:

In his later years, Sen. Robert Byrd, who died this morning, was often viewed–not without some justification–as a self-important windbag who embodied all that was wrong with the fusty and sclerotic institution that he served and worshiped. His 2005 memoir was, to be blunt, absolutely terrible and thoroughly unilluminating–quite a feat given the book’s length of 832 pages. I mentioned in an earlier post that Byrd was the subject of an Atlantic Monthly cover story in 1975 titled “The Man Who Runs The Senate.” The piece, by Sanford J. Ungar, captures Byrd at the peak of his career. He was gearing up to run to for president in 1976. He did not become president, of course, and went on (and on and on) to have an influential career in the Senate. But he was never again thought of as “presidential material.” The Atlantic piece captures the Robert Byrd currently being memorialized as a powerful force, historic figure, etc. You can read it here.

Robert Costa at The Corner:

For a decade, Robert Byrd enrolled in night law-school classes, first as a congressman, and then as a senator. Finally, in 1963, he received his law degree, cum laude, from American University. President Kennedy, his “old colleague,” was there to congratulate him, as AU’s commencement speaker.

[…]

According to the Washington Post, Senator Byrd was the only member of Congress to put himself through law school while in office. R.I.P.

David Boaz at Cato:

Senator Robert C. Byrd, who died today at age 92, had a long and varied career. Unlike most senators, Senator Byrd remembered that the Constitution delegates the power to make law and the power to make war to Congress, not the president. He often held up the Cato Institute’s pocket edition of the Constitution as he made that vital point in Senate debate. I have several emails from colleagues over the years reading “Senator Byrd is waving the Cato Constitution on the Senate floor right now.” Alas, if he really took the Constitution seriously, he would have realized that the limited powers it gives the federal government wouldn’t include many of the New Deal and Great Society programs that opened up whole new vistas for pork in West Virginia.

[…]

To purchase copies of the Cato pocket edition of the Constitution, which also includes the Declaration of Independence and an introduction by Roger Pilon, click here.

Let us hope that some other senator takes up Senator Byrd’s vigilance about the powers of Congress and the imperial presidency.

Nick Gillespie at Reason:

The cheap shot against Byrd is that he was back in the day an Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan and writing letters as late as 1946 that “The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia and in every state in the nation.” I consider it a cheap shot because he did apologize for and disown his participation in the group. Better late than never, I suppose, even if it does make you wonder about all those politicians of his generation, even ones from the Deep South, who never felt a need to recruit for the KKK and never prattled on about “white niggers” like some back-country Norman Mailer.

But it’s Byrd’s status as the Babe Ruth of pork-barrel spending and taxpayer-funded narcissism that is his real legacy and the one we should never forget or forgive. Here lies a man who pushed his home state to build a statue of him in defiance of a rule that such honorees be dead for 50 years.

John Walker at Firedoglake:

Robert Byrd was in the Senate in 1975 when the number of votes needed for cloture was dropped from 67 to 60. Two years later, in an attempt to circumvent cloture, Senators Howard Metzenbaum (D-OH) and James Abourezk (D-SD) performed a post-cloture filibuster (PDF). They did this by offering a slew of amendments without debate, forcing a roll-call vote for each. Now elevated to Senate Majority Leader, Byrd decided he’d had enough, and he created a plan to destroy the possibility of a post-cloture filibuster by changing Senate precedent. With the help of then-Vice President Walter Mondale, Byrd raised a point of order to require the chair to rule all post-cloture dilatory amendments out of order. When Metzenbaum and Abourezk lost their appeal of the chair’s ruling, Byrd used the new precedent to rule all of their amendments out of order. With this he created the precedent that a bill, after securing the needed cloture vote, could not be stopped.

Just one year later, Byrd set in motion another plan to change how the Senate was run to get around a filibuster, this time of a nominee. Byrd was afraid that the nominee would face a double filibuster: the motion to proceed to executive session and then the motion to proceed to the first nominee. So when the moment came, Byrd offered a motion to proceed to executive session to consider the first nominee. This was declared a violation of Senate precedent, but Byrd won a simple majority appeal of the ruling by a 54-38 vote and in effect changed how the Senate operated.

Similarly, in 1979, Byrd faced the possibility of a filibuster of several of his proposed rule changes at the beginning of a new Congress. He stated clearly that he believed in the right of a simple majority of Senators to change the rules as Congress began its session. The threat, while never executed, helped Byrd enact many changes to Senate rules.

What’s the relevance of these instances? They show that the Senate’s rules and precedents are not fixed in stone since the birth of the Republic. They are modified and changed, often in a blunt manner, by the majority of members who serve in the chamber. Even Byrd, the man who was seen as the great defender of Senate tradition, did not hesitate to use a simple majority vote to change the rules and precedents so the chamber could do its actual work of governing. Byrd defended the rules of the Senate, but he rewrote, exploited and officially ignored those rules when it fit his needs.

Ezra Klein:

Instead, I want to talk about the Senate that Byrd leaves behind. Byrd was, famously, a master of the body’s arcane rules. He wrote a four-volume history of the institution. At a recent lecture on the history of the Senate, the speaker said that there were only ever two people in the room who knew what was going on: The parliamentarian and Robert Byrd.

This was a skill born of necessity. Byrd didn’t have the back-slapping bonhomie that sped the rise of most of the body’s famed members. “Dour and aloof,” writes Holley, “a socially awkward outsider in the clubby confines of the Senate, Mr. Byrd relied not on personality but on dogged attention to detail to succeed on Capitol Hill.” That attention to detail eventually got him elected party whip, and then majority leader. Sen. Howard Baker, who led the Republicans when Byrd led the Democrats, once told me that he cut a deal with Byrd on his first day in office. If you never use the rules to surprise me, he told Byrd, I’ll never use them to surprise you. Byrd thought it over till the afternoon. Then he agreed.

The deal held. That was the nature of the Senate in Byrd’s day: It was thick with rules that could be used to tie the institution in knots, but those rules were governed by norms that were used to keep the institution functioning. It was this tradition that led Byrd to write a letter opposing filibuster reform earlier this year. “If the Senate rules are being abused,” he wrote, “it does not necessarily follow that the solution is to change the rules. Senators are obliged to exercise their best judgment when invoking their right to extended debate.” In other words, the Senate needed to reestablish its norms, not change its rules.

But the situation is too far gone for all that. The Senate is now a place of blanket holds and routine filibusters and anonymous obstruction and party-line votes. The thing about norms is that once broken, they’re generally dead forever. Republicans tell the story of Trent Lott and Orrin Hatch explaining to their colleagues that judicial filibusters simply weren’t done, only to see Democrats filibuster Miguel Estrada. Now Republicans filibuster judicial nominees constantly. Conversely, Democrats tell the story of George W. Bush using the budget reconciliation process to pass tax cuts — the first time the mechanism had ever been used to increase the deficit. That left them cold to Republican cries that the process was limited in design and couldn’t be used to finish health-care reform.

Nate Silver:

UPDATE: 11:50 AM. I’m now hearing from a well-placed source that the Secretary of State’s office is very likely to interpret the law as requiring a special election in 2012, rather than in November, because the candidate filing period for this year has already passed and because there is a court precedent on the books which supported this interpretation.

If this scenario comes to transpire, there would actually be both a special election and a general election on the ballot in November 2012 — although the winner of the special election would only serve during the lame duck period between the elections and when the new Congress convened in January, 2013.

The West Virginia Secretary of State will hold a press conference at 4:30 today at which an official decision is announced.

ORIGINAL STORY: 9:16 AM. I just got off the phone with Jake Glance, the Public Affairs and Communications officer for West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant.

Glance told me that no decision has been made yet on when a special election would be held to replace Robert Byrd, who passed away early this morning. Various interpretations of the law might require the special election to be held this November — or not until November, 2012, when Byrd’s term was set to expire anyway.

“There are a lot of sections on state code that apply to this kind of thing and we’re examining each one of them and we’ll be making an announcement soon,” Glance told me. “We just need to make sure that what we say fits this specific situation.”

Glance added that it had been a difficult day at the office. “It’s really difficult to imagine this state without Robert Byrd,” he said. “Everything has his name on it out of appreciation for what he did.”

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The Getting Back Of One’s Life Is Best Done On A Boat Named Bob

Joshua Green:

In a classic Friday afternoon news dump, BP has apparently demoted the bumbling Tony Hayward. According to the New York Times:

A day after he came under relentless attack at a Congressional hearing, BP chief executive Tony Hayward was displaced as the man in charge of the company’s response to the spill.

This move might have made sense a month ago, when it first became clear that Hayward had been born, tragically, without a smidgen of self-awareness. But after yesterday’s performance before Congress, I’m not so sure this is justified or wise for BP: whatever Jedi mind trick Hayward employed to compel Joe Barton’s apology seems like a most useful asset. Most of the reaction today wasn’t about “evil BP” but about what a blinkered moron Barton was for apologizing. If I were running BP, I wouldn’t be so quick to give that up.

Nicole Allan at The Atlantic:

After his grueling testimony before Congress yesterday, BP CEO Tony Hayward is being moved out of the limelight. Carl-Henric Svanberg, chairman of the company, has announced that Hayward will no longer be overseeing day-to-day clean-up operations in the Gulf. He will return to England while BP’s managing director, Robert Dudley, takes over the company’s spill response effort.

Dudley’s appointment is a clear attempt on BP’s part to re-brand its reaction to the spill. He grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and often spent summers on the Gulf Coast. He has expressed horror at the damage the spill has levied on the region and lends a more sympathetic, in-touch, and, significantly, American presence to BP’s leadership team.

Hayward, on the other hand, has been pegged as an arrogant, unfeeling Brit. The American media slammed his cold, complacent demeanor at yesterday’s hearing, but the U.K. papers took a different stance. The Daily Mail ran a story titled, “Sliced and Diced on Capitol Hill: BP Boss Treated Like Public Enemy No. 1 by American Politicians,” while the Daily Express compared the hearing to a “public execution.” Hayward has not done much to endear himself to the reeling residents of the Gulf Coast, notoriously saying that he wants to get the spill under control because he’d “like [his] life back.”

Brian Merchant at Treehugger:

Of course, Hayward’s dismissal from US public operations, means little to the elements of the spill that truly matter — like stopping it, for starters. Whether or not Hayward is around to make an ass of himself and his company probably has little bearing on how the cleanup effort is orchestrated (though if his public remarks have been any indicator, his common sense may be, well, lacking …).

Regardless, the well keeps on gushing oil, crude continues to make landfall, and life around the Gulf continues to be threatened. So let’s all bid our pal Tony adieu — I mean, the poor guy is finally getting his life back.

Danny Groner at Huffington Post:

With word that Hayward is out as a spokesperson, bloggers delivered the expected and necessary snark upon word of his dismissal. They did their jobs in eerily similar ways, taking Hayward’s words and using them against him. Here, a collection of some of the headlined punch lines being hurled at the executive:

“Tony Hayward, BP CEO, gets his life back, no longer in charge of running Gulf cleanup operations”- New York Daily News

“Tony Hayward Gets His Life Back”-Time

“Rejoice: BP’s Tony Hayward Will Get His Life Back”-Gawker

“Tony Hayward Gets His Life Back”-DealBreaker

“BP’s Hayward ‘Gets Life Back’ in Demotion”-NewsMax

“BP CEO Tony Hayward Relieved Of Day-To-Day Gulf Duties, Gets Life Back”-Mediaite

“BP CEO Tony Hayward Does Not Want His Life Back Anymore”-New York magazine

Here’s hoping Carl-Henric Svanberg steps down and in turn gets repeatedly labeled a “small person” for it.

Joe Coscarelli at The Village Voice:

For Tony Hayward, after dealing with the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history every day for 60 days, it’s vacation time. He’s currently attending a yacht race around England’s Isle of Wight, where his 52-foot boat named “Bob” is participating. “He’s spending a few hours with his family at a weekend. I’m sure that everyone would understand that,” said a BP spokesperson, insisting it was Hayward’s first break since the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig April 20. Sixty days and nights! As for the race, Hayward is “well known to have a keen interest in it.” Straws, camels, backs, etc. Tony, get used to vacation. Though it seemed like Hayward’s time running (ruining?) operations in the Gulf of Mexico was over, today it’s merely a brief reprieve, according to the New York Times:

BP officials scrambled on Saturday to say that Tony Hayward, their embattled chief executive, was still in charge of all BP operations in spite of comments from the company’s chairman the day before indicating that Mr. Hayward was relinquishing his duties in the Gulf of Mexico.

Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Shit Sandwich, called it “part of a long line of PR gaffes and mistakes.” At this point, the only question remaining is how many hours until the official Hayward-getting-yanked announcement comes through. Or if someone’s going sink his boat. “To quote Tony Hayward, he’s got his life back,” Emanuel continued.

If Hayward is around when I am next Saturday, I’ll eat my shoe and put it on YouTube.

Jeff Neumann at Gawker

Hugh Collins at Politics Daily:

The race’s website describes it as a “great opportunity to watch world-renowned sailors racing against families and first time racers.” Every boat receives a memento to mark the race and there are over 60 prizes up for grabs, according to the website.

Hayward’s boat finished fourth in its class, Fox News reported.

“This will be seen as yet another public relations disaster for him from people who have got exceedingly upset about this whole thing,” Hugh Walding of the environmental organization, Friends of the Earth, said, according to The Daily Mail. “He should at least be managing the image of the company better.”

Yesterday, BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said that Hayward would be taking a back seat in the Gulf clean-up operation. Svanberg acknowledged that some of Hayward’s comments in the aftermath of the disaster had harmed the company.

“It is clear Tony has made remarks that have upset people,” Svanberg told Sky News.

Hayward’s blunders include downplaying the size of the spill by saying, “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean” and commenting that growing health problems among clean-up workers may be related to food poisoning, rather than their exposure to crude oil and dispersants.

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Little Person, Big Catchphrase

Radar:

Gary Coleman has died at 42, RadarOnline.com is first to report.

Coleman had been hospitalized in Provo, Utah since Wednesday, May 26, after suffering what his family called “a serious medical problem.”

As RadarOnline.com previously reported, Coleman had slipped into a coma and was on life support after suffering an intracranial hemorrhage.

He was pulled of life support Friday morning and later passed away. His wife Shannon Price and her father were at the hospital Friday.

Josh Green:

As someone who grew up loving “Diff’rent Strokes” (yeah, I admit it) and also took guilty pleasure in the vaguely sad antics of the more recent, post-ironic Gary Coleman, his death today of a brain hemorrhage at age 42 came as more of a shock than I would have guessed. Coleman obviously was never a picture of good health, but still…

Victorino Matus at The Weekly Standard:

I actually wrote about Coleman on this site in 2003 when I gave the actor my official endorsement during his run for governor of California. (Somehow that endorsement had little effect.) But more recently I had mentioned him in my review of the Todd Bridges memoir (partly a how-to for crack-dealers), Killing Willis. I admit I got my cheap shots in there, including my reference to the Dana Plato erotic film Different Strokes. And yes, this latest turn of events gives “Different Strokes” yet another whole new meaning. (Sorry.) But the week the review was published, Plato’s son committed suicide. And now Coleman is dead. One reader called me the Angel of Death today.

I’m not overly superstitious but I do admit the timing is uncanny. In fact, this hasn’t happened to me since I profiled the cast of Poltergeist.

James Poniewozik at Time:

Coleman, who suffered from congenital kidney disease that limited his growth, was also figuratively preserved in his fans’ minds as that pudgy-faced kid. But he’ll also be remembered for his well-publicized life as a former child actor, with everything that “former child actor” signifies in pop culture and on E! specials—in his case including run-ins with the law, numerous health problems, a stint working as a security guard and a lawsuit against his own parents and manager over their use and handling of his fortune.Just as we saw when Corey Haim died (or for that matter, Coleman’s Strokes co-star Dana Plato in 1999), there’s a kind of ritual fascination with the stories of troubled former child stars. Part of it is garden-variety voyeurism. But another part is what they, and the contrast with their idealized characters, tell us about our lives.

Mourning celebrities is always to some extent about mourning yourself. That’s how celebrity nostalgia works. When you mourn the passing of a celebrity who died at an advanced age, you’re remembering them, but you’re also remembering your own mortality. When a child star like Coleman or Haim dies, though, it’s also about how the hopes of childhood turn into the realities of adulthood.

Troy Patterson at Slate:

Here was a pair of fantasies about class and money. A critic with an eye for ’80s sitcoms more dispassionate than mine ought out to write about their complicated relationships with Hollywood Reaganomics. The Diff’rent Strokes half of the essay should begin by finding a more elegant way to state the following: Eight-year-old Arnold and older brother Willis, two black kids from Harlem, move into a fancy Park Avenue apartment formerly cleaned by their late mother. Even before their mother’s untimely death, the boys were struggling, sociologically speaking, as evidenced by Willis’ surly attitude and their inability to buy another E for the word “diff’rent.” Paternal and paternalistically liberal, Mr. Drummond interceded and raised the kids as his own and bought the kids some fancy new bootstraps. Dana Plato was pretty cute. To be perfectly frank, Mrs. Garrett was a richer and more complex character as portrayed on The Facts of Life.

Coleman sold the show and owned his scenes, as no one has described better than the critic Donald Bogle in Blacks in American Films and Television, calling him “a hip, modern, savvy, sepia Little Lord Fauntleroy—brazenly independent and aggressive, a born survivor.” Bogle comes to praise Coleman and to cast a glance at the show’s problematic racial subtexts and, finally, to venture what went wrong with the career: “As Coleman grew older on the series, it was sometimes painful to watch him. Because of his health problems … his growth had been stunted and his face often looked puffy and worn. The scripts tried maturing him. But it never worked.” This is a short-person joke that isn’t funny.

Alan Sepinwall:

The show’s premise (noble white millionaire takes in the black orphaned sons of his deceased employees) hasn’t aged well, but Coleman’s performance still holds up as one of the best Cute Sitcom Kids ever. It wasn’t that he seemed natural, because you were always aware that this was a (little) actor who was very aware of how the audience was responding to him, but he was so confident that the calculated nature of what he did only made him seem more likable.

But as Coleman aged but did not grow, there was nothing but sadness and humiliation for him and his co-stars. The show’s ratings decline in its later years (including a one-season move from to ABC after NBC canceled it) were blamed on the notion that Coleman wasn’t cute enough to be funny anymore. His managers and parents ripped off most of the money he’d earned on the show. Because of his size, the audience’s intense identification with him in this one role, and his erratic personal behavior, he became unemployable as an actor. Meanwhile, his on-screen siblings Todd Bridges and Dana Plato fell in and out of trouble with drugs and other crime, and Plato died a decade ago from a prescription overdose.

Coleman ultimately spent more of his life as the butt of jokes then as the actor who delivered them And that makes me sad. A lot of people younger than me know him only as a cautionary tale and tabloid punchline, and I suspect even a lot of my contemporaries immediately think of his post-show misfortune and missteps before they remember how quick he was to deliver a comeback to Willis or Mr. D.

Jon Bershad at Mediaite:

While many wonder what the actor’s legacy will be (in this nice article, TV critic Alan Sepinwall hopes that he will be remembered for his amazing talent and not his off-camera struggles), part of him will live on tonight in performances of the hit musical Avenue Q. The show, which features a parodic version of Coleman as a character, has vowed not to change the show following his death. The question now is, how will audiences respond?The popular show, which has run on and off Broadway and all over the world since 2003, has a fictional version of Gary Coleman (traditionally played by a woman) as a supporting character, the landlord for the rest of the cast. Coleman himself has gone on record as saying he’s not a fan of the show or the depiction. In fact, in this video, he says that he “wishes there was a lawyer on earth who would sue them” for him. While he didn’t like it, the show and the character were beloved by both critics and fans.

Many wondered, following Coleman’s death, whether or not the show would keep the Coleman character. There are versions of the script without him in it for the West End production, so there is precedent. However, the questions were answered with this tweet from the producers:

So “Gary Coleman” will live on even though Gary Coleman has left us. But will audiences still be able to laugh?

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