GOP Fundraising Documents Cost Them A Donor

The recent accidental release of a presentation for donors prepared by the Republican National Committee continues to create embarrassment. The presentation shows how the GOP, lacking any real policies, tries to fool donors with appeals based upon fear. Ben Smith reports on one former donor who has decided not to contribute to the party:

A prominent Evangelical figure and Republican donor says he will end his contributions to the organized Republican Party in reaction to the leaked fundraising presentation that advised using “fear” to solicit contributions and displayed an image of President Obama as the Joker from Batman.

Mark DeMoss, who heads a major Christian public relations firm in Atlanta and served as a liaison to the Evangelical community for Mitt Romney in 2008, wrote Chairman Michael Steele yesterday that he was “ashamed” of the presentation, calling depictions of Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Majority Leader Harry Reid “shameful, immature and uncivil, at best.”

“I’m afraid the presentation is representative of a culture and mindset within the Republican National Committee,” DeMoss, a past member of the RNC’s “Eagle” program for top donors who gave the party $15,000 in 2008, wrote in the letter to Steele, which he shared with POLITICO. “Consequently, I will no longer contribute to any fundraising entity of our Party—but will contribute only to individual candidates I choose to support.”

Personally I think people should have become wise to the minset of the Republican National Committee when they sent out fund raising letters in 2004 trying to scare people by saying John Kerry would take away their bibles. Better late than never. The full text of the letter is under the fold:

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Orchestrated Protests and Misinformation Against Health Insurance Reform

Rolling Stone features a story on The Lie Machine which shows how the insurance industry and Republicans worked to spread misinformation, and get right wingers out protesting, in an attempt to block health care reform. From the story:

According to internal documents obtained by Rolling Stone, Conservatives for Patients’ Rights had been working closely for weeks as a “coalition partner” with three other right-wing groups in a plot to unleash irate mobs at town-hall meetings just like Doggett’s. Far from representing a spontaneous upwelling of populist rage, the protests were tightly orchestrated from the top down by corporate-funded front groups as well as top lobbyists for the health care industry. Call it the return of the Karl Rove playbook: The effort to mobilize the angriest fringe of the Republican base was guided by a conservative dream team that included the same GOP henchmen who Swift-boated John Kerry in 2004, smeared John McCain in 2000, wrote the script for Republican obstructionism on global warming, and harpooned the health care reform effort led by Hillary Clinton in 1993.

“The insurance industry is up to the same dirty tricks, using the same devious PR practices it has used for many years, to kill reform,” says Wendell Potter, who stepped down last year as chief of corporate communications for health insurance giant CIGNA. “I’m certain that people showing up at these town halls feel that they’re there on their own — but they don’t realize they’re being incited, ultimately, by the insurance industry and the other special interests.”

Behind the scenes, top Republicans — including House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Minority Leader John Boehner and the chairman of the GOP’s Senate steering committee, Jim DeMint — worked hand-in-glove with the organizers of the town brawls. Their goal was not only to block health care reform but to bankrupt President Obama’s political capital before he could move on to other key items on his agenda, including curbing climate change and expanding labor rights. As DeMint told an August teleconference of nearly 20,000 town-hall activists, “If we can stop him on this, the administration won’t be able to go on to cap and trade, card check and the other things they want to do.”

Choosing Your Facts and Rewriting History

In my field we read books and journal articles in order to find information to make informed decisions based upon the facts. In politics some might do this, but it is common to seek out books which confirm one’s own ideological prejudices. When Republicans don’t like the facts, they can also find a revisionist writer who will give them the facts they want.  The Politico reports that “House Republicans are tearing through the pages of Amity Shlaes’ ‘The Forgotten Man’ like soccer moms before book club night.” The reason is that the book differs from conventional historical and economic views of the great depression:

Shlaes’ 2007 take on the Great Depression questions the success of the New Deal and takes issue with the value of government intervention in a major economic crisis — red meat for a party hungry for empirical evidence that the Democrats’ spending plans won’t end the current recession.

“There aren’t many books that take a negative look at the New Deal,” explained Republican policy aide Mike Ference, whose boss, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia, invited Shlaes to join a group of 20 or so other House Republicans for lunch earlier this year in his Capitol suite.

As Steve Benen points out:

…the fact that House Republicans would seek out books critical of the New Deal tells us a little something about their approach to problem-solving. For these GOP officials, one starts with the answer — FDR bad, spending bad, government bad, Hoover good — and works backwards, seeking out those who’ll bolster their answers before the questions are even asked. To those ends, Shlaes fills an important Republican niche.

The book will make Republicans happy, but won’t necessarily provide them with any greater knowledge of economics or of the history of the depression.  Steve points out this review of the book by Jonathan Chait.  David Weigel also wrote about this back in February.

Some Republicans Support Stimulus Bill After They Voted Against It

Yesterday I noted that Arlen Specter let the fact slip out that many Republicans were actually in favor of the stimulus package but voted against it out of party unity. Some members of the House are also being careless in drifting away from the party line as they are now expressing support for the spending. McClatchy reports:

Rep. John Mica was gushing after the House of Representatives voted Friday to pass the big stimulus plan.

“I applaud President Obama’s recognition that high-speed rail should be part of America’s future,” the Florida Republican beamed in a press release.

Yet Mica had just joined every other GOP House member in voting against the $787.2 billion economic recovery plan.

Republicans echoed their party line over and over during the debate: “This bill is loaded with wasteful deficit spending on the majority’s favorite government programs,” as Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., put it.

But Mica wasn’t alone in touting what he saw as the bill’s virtues. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, also had nice things to say in a press release…

Yet later in the day Young — who recently told McClatchy that he would’ve included earmarks, or local projects, in the bill if it had been permitted — issued another statement blasting the overall measure.

So does Young support the bill, oppose it, or just wish he could have included some earmarks? While Young’s views are not clear, Rush Limbaugh, despite his many other faults, at least does make himself perfectly clear. Limbaugh wants Obama to fail and wants America to suffer. David Vitter also joins many conservatives in believing that the best chance for the Republicans to return to office is to hope for more misery for Americans:

According to Vitter, the GOP is basically betting the farm that the stimulus package is going to fail, and the party wants Democrats to go down with it. “Our next goal is to make President Obama and liberal Democrats in Congress own it completely,” he said. Instead of coming up with serious measures to save the economy, the party intends to devote its time to an “we told you so” agenda that will include GOP-only hearings on the bill’s impact in the coming months to highlight the bill’s purportedly wasteful elements and shortcomings.

While Vitter seemed to think this was a brilliant new political tactic, voters might be less enthusiastic than Federalist Society members about politicians who spend the next 18 months rooting for the economy to get worse, just to prove a point. But, in Vitter’s world, that’s the price you apparently have to pay for sticking to your principles, call girls be damned.

As I’ve noted previously, it is hard to take any claims by the Republicans that they voted against this out of opposition to deficits after the deficit they ran up when in power. Apparently to Republicans deficits to fight an unnecessary war, or to give tax breaks to the ultra-wealthy, is not as bad as deficits to improve the infrastructure or stimulate the economy.

Beyond the Republican spending record, First Read placed both the partisanship and the previous GOP lack of concerns for increasing the deficit into perspective:

With zero House Republicans voting for the stimulus — and with just three Senate Republicans expected to vote for it later this afternoon — it’s worth noting that 28 House Democrats and 12 Senate Democrats voted for the final passage of Bush’s big tax cut in 2001. (And remember, too, that Bush had barely won the presidential election the year before.) The size of that 2001 tax-cut package? $1.35 trillion.