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Monday, October 24, 2016

WASHINGTON — Are conservatives interested in new ideas, or are they merely infatuated with the idea of new ideas? Are they really reappraising their approach, or are they trying to adjust their image just enough to win elections?

One way to look at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference is as a faceoff between the “No Surrender” cries of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and the “Let’s Try to Win” rhetoric of such politicians as Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). Seen in this light, Republicans truly are having the internal debate that Ryan called “messy,” “noisy,” and “a little bit uncomfortable.”

But Ryan may have revealed more than he intended when he downplayed conservative divisions. “For the most part,” Ryan insisted, “these disagreements have not been over principles or even policies. They’ve been over tactics.”

In which case, this is not an argument over ideas at all, but a discussion of packaging.

Christie was quite direct on this point. “We don’t get to govern if we don’t win,” he said. “Let us come out of here resolved not only to stand for our principles. Let’s come out of this conference resolved to win elections again.”

To which Cruz had a ready reply: that Republicans are better off saying what they actually think. With Cruz, at least, you get the unvarnished right-wing gospel, preached without equivocation.

No doubt there’s intellectual ferment among the right’s leading thinkers and some of its politicians, often reflected in the pages of the conservative journal National Affairs. Conservatives seem keen these days to acknowledge the need for some kind of social safety net. And while many on the right still deny or dismiss the problem of growing economic inequality, many are at least grappling with the crisis in upward mobility.

But so far, it’s hard to find evidence of any fundamental rethinking. Conservatives want to say that they’re devoted to more than the well-being of the wealthy, but their tax and regulatory policies remain focused on alleviating the burdens on the “job creators,” i.e., the rich. They say they want to do better by the poor, but the thrust of their budgets is to reduce assistance — sometime savagely, as in the case of food stamps — to those who need it.

Ryan no longer refers to social programs as a “hammock” for the idle, but he still wants to cut them. And he cited Eloise Anderson, a Wisconsin state official, to tell a story in his CPAC speech — it got more attention than he now wishes — about “a young boy from a very poor family” who “would get a free lunch from a government program.”

The young man “told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch, one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him. This is what the left does not understand.”

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    • Budjob

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      • idamag

        These ads are scams and it is too bad people fall for them.

    • old_blu

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      • neeceoooo

        and when you are done with blu, call me

        • old_blu

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          • neeceoooo

            I know, I should never have lowered myself to that, but I just couldn’t help myself.

  • Dominick Vila

    Judging by the straw poll at the CPAC, where Rand Paul won easily, with Ted Cruz ending in second place, it looks like it is business as usual for the GOP. The more radical their candidate’s ideas are, the more they like them. It is true, however, that the GOP establishment seems to be trying to project an image of moderation that contrasts with their record during the last 5 years. We can only wonder how many people will take the bait. I live in Florida and I cannot believe how many neighbors, relatives and friends are referring to Gov. Scott as a very moderate and pragmatic governor now that he realized his re-election chances depended on abandoning his original Tea Party ideas, especially his attacks against public education, and is now becoming the pseudo champion of liberal policies…while using Federal monies to take credit for the economic improvements that are evident nationwide.

    • old_blu

      You’re right Dominick. I notice the closer we get to November the more some of the GOP (that ‘were’ Tea Partier’s) is trying to distance themselves from the Tea Party.

    • sigrid28

      For the sake of hundreds of thousands nationwide and many in Florida without health insurance or Medicaid, I wish Scott, and other Republican governors, would try even harder to convince constituents that a Republican can be is concerned about the well being of all of their constituents.

      • Dominick Vila

        That would be nice, but judging by what he said during his State of the State address, he prefers to take credit for the economic improvements that are evident, and for his sudden support to education. Needless to say, he was careful not to acknowledge that improvement has been achieved as a result of using Federal money, some of it slated for MEDICAID purposes.

  • Budjob

    If they have an R behind their name,be very leery of any of them.It is likened to a wolf sitting down with a sheep to discuss what they are going to have for dinner.

  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    E.J., have you been drinking Kool-Ade? Imagine accusing the Right of having “thinkers” let alone “leading thinkers”. If they had anyone capable of an independent thought they would have realized the Tea Party types and the Evangelical Fundamentalist Christians who, though in the minority, have managed to hijack their party, and would have, in the immortal words of Howard Jarvis, “thrown the bums out”!
    CPAC did nothing more than bring out the worst of the Right by making their most extreme members appear to be their mainstream. Why anybody would vote for these guys when it is against their own self interest still amazes me. These guys use fear and intimidation to convince millions of people to vote against their own best interests and support a group of people who want to eliminate not only the social safety net, but remove every iota or regulation that keeps the “job creators” from removing life safety protections, banking rules, etc.
    Where are Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower when you really need them?

    • Annemb

      An excellent post!

    • Allan Richardson

      I am sure he is not drinking the right wing Kool Aid, he is just giving them the “hypothetical” benefit of the doubt. As for T.R. and Ike, they have been posthumously condemned as Communists just like Obama by this crowd of loons (with apologies to the actual, feathered creatures of that name).

  • paulyz

    Because of the far-left turn of the Democrat Party, everything the Right does seems radical to them. Indeed, many members of the Democrat Congress are trying to “run-away” from their own policies such as Obamacare. It is good that the GOP has discussions that deal with different points of view within their Party instead of the loc-step mentality of the Democrats.

    • mah101

      Funny! I like sarcasm!

    • Grannysmovin

      The Republican Party just says “NO” even to policies they use to support. The ACA needs to be fixed, I agree, but your party rather than work to fix it waste millions of dollars holding house votes to repeal it, 50 to date. They offer no solutions and just want to repeal the law and have all those individual loose health care coverage. They b^tch and moan, but offer no solutions. The only things they are in favor of: Ending Social Security and Medicare, Food Stamps, Welfare and all other programs to help those in need. Taking away a woman’s right to choose personal reproductive choices. Taking away the vote from targeted groups of people, you know voter suppression laws. Forcing their religious beliefs on everyone else. Denying climate change, science and evolution. They want war whenever they can create it.

      • plc97477

        You forgot lower taxes on the super wealthy.

    • idamag

      I do not belong to any party. I do not believe in political parties. Thomas Jefferson,George Washington and James Madison warned us against them, saying they would create division and chaos. Their predictions have come to pass. However, because I am objective and you are not; the Democrat Party is going right. Not whack-nut-job-right, but right and the Republican Party is going nuts.

    • old_blu

      paulyz do you mean they discus how they are going to say “NO” this time?

    • Sand_Cat

      Nice projection and display of ignorance.

  • idamag

    Ted Cruz is obviously a nut job, but Lyin’ Ryan is more devious.

    • neeceoooo

      Let them continue to spew their lies and theories which will help us win in the next election.
      Let them continue to divide the republican party and this will help us to win in the next election.

      • Independent1

        I sure hope that’s what happens!!

        • sigrid28

          The ground game to register new voters and get Democratic and Independent voters to the polls is our only hope to overcome the pernicious effects of gerrymandering, which gives weak Republican candidates some advantages. If we could pick up voters who are not registered and get Democrats and Independents to go to the polls when they often fail to, we could win.

          • neeceoooo

            I am behind you all the way……

          • 4sanity4all

            This is so true. Each and every one of us must get at least one other person to come out and vote Democrat, because there are still many single issue voters out there who will vote for Republicans because they don’t want their guns taken away, or they don’t want anyone to have an abortion. And they will die on that hill; it is that important to them. There are people at my church who vote Republican because of the abortion issue, and they disregard the Republican stand on justice to the poor, equal rights for women, healthcare, or fair pay. Sadly, they do not see that Jesus would have fed the poor, made healthcare available, and built affordable housing. They are blinded by visions of dead babies, and it is all they can see. We have to make sure that everyone knows how to access early voting in our communities, and everyone is well informed. We cannot let people be swayed by ridiculous attack ads on television. We cannot let people get so cynical that they think their vote will not count. Each one must teach one.

          • Independent1

            What you’re describing about folks voting Repulican because of the abortion issue is actually very unfortunate, because folks who vote for Republicans on the abortion issue fail to realize that banning abortion clinics is not going to reduce abortions – it is only going to result in more women dying during abortions that they get from quacks who often aren’t doctors but pretend to be.
            America simply would go back to before Roe vs Wade when there were always stories in the news of women being found dead in an alley or warehouse or wherever who apparently died because of a botched abortion. And these will be the least advantaged women, those who can’t afford to drive across the border to a state that allows abortions or jet to some foreign country that does.
            People who vote for Republicans because of abortion are not only delusional, because all they’re succeeding in doing is 1) putting more women’s lives at risk and 2) actually increasing abortions; because believe it or not, despite what Republicans like to say, abortion clinics (including Planned Parenthood) actually counsel women about the downsides of an abortion before they agree to perform one. So abortions actually are higher where abortions are illegal because women wanting an abortion don’t get this counseling which sometimes changes their minds.

          • sigrid28

            Thanks for your thoughtful post. If I remember correctly, I think we are both former teachers. If campaigns weren’t dedicated to hiring recent college grads, the sons and daughters of relatives and cronies, Democrats could do much more to motivate voting and register voters. Instead, when it comes to hiring, they act just like the businesses that are contributing to unemployment by refusing to hire based on merit. If Democratic campaigns sought out retired teachers and others who have been put on the sidelines by this recession, where the longer you are unemployed the worse it gets, they would have experienced educators and salespersons to do their bidding or create a decent plan based on local circumstances and the idea of achieving results. Instead, they think very little of their ground game, and show this by seeking out inexperienced hires and weak IT teams.

            Sink’s campaign in Florida didn’t even get its website to operate adequately on all servers–or I would have made quite a few calls over the last two days to get voters to the polls. If I had been able to access their website, would there have been a script for me to use to inform voters about hours for voting or the location of the polls? Teachers like you and me would have seen to that.

            While the website wasn’t adequate to help me make phone calls, the campaign did ask me to send $8. Even if I were not enraged by these constant asks for my grocery money, in amounts that mean nothing to any campaign, why would I do this on election day!

            To keep the House in November, Democrats have to HAVE a ground game. Forget about humiliating voters whose monetary gifts are nothing compared to those Democrats need from their elite donors for media spots to fight lies the Koch brothers pay for. I wish Democrats would concentrate instead on building very good websites for the 2014 election and hiring a team of experts for the gound game, who are capable of creating a strategy that works and carrying it out.

        • neeceoooo

          You and me both, independent1

    • 1standlastword

      Lyin’ Ryan is a flaming narcissist totally in love with his own conflicted self image and the need for the constant approval of others which explains his neurosis, mythomania….it’s like a post pubescent tic disorder

  • elw

    EJ is right, the GOP is so deeply ingrained in what they believe to be true that they think all they have to do is repackage how they present their ideas. They are typical of addicts who are not ready to give up their addictions, and just think if only they could explain it better the pressure will come off to change and they can stay the same and keep doing the same old things.

    • neeceoooo

      It is like an alcoholic who says “I can quit anytime”.

      • elw

        Yep, exactly – they still cannot see the error of their ways.

    • Vinny Gordon

      They are true believers, when presented with facts that contradict them, they demonize you. Hence the term lame stream media.

      • elw

        A political party is not the media. You cannot blame the media for reporting what people actually say and do. .

        • tobyspeeks

          You’re misunderstanding the comment. The term “lame stream media” is a direct result of right-wing-nut-jobs being discredited by the media. They don’t like facts and all that truth stuff so their only retort is to name call and pass blame.

          • elw

            Oh, I missed the sarcasm and broke my own rule of never taking anything too seriously. sorry about that.

        • idamag

          Actually, the media can shape beliefs and we do have a media that does just that. We also have a couple of brothers who are attempting to buy newspapers and television stations.

      • Lee
  • Allan Richardson

    Some years ago, a comic strip by a right wing cartoonist featured an argument between two characters about ownership of a volcano, a very transparent attempt to present the Israeli side of the Palestinian question. One character asked the other if he would quit hating him if they shared the volcano; the other character replied no, but he would be willing to SIGN a paper SAYING he had quit hating the first character.

    This is what the “debate” between right wing Republicans is about: one side ADMITS that, if we vote for them, they will impose policies A, B, C, etc. even if it hurts millions of Americans (including those who vote for them) to do so. The OTHER side admits that they intend to SAY they will not impose policies A, B, C, etc. while campaigning, but will impose them anyway if they win.

    So which salesman do you buy from? The one who admits the car is a lemon, or the one who, selling the same car, claims it is in perfect condition (but won’t let you have it checked)? Personally, I would go to the other dealership where they are selling cars that I KNOW, from my own experience and that of people I trust, are actually WORKING.

  • Sand_Cat

    So far, the dishonesty and malice in the GOP base soaks through the packaging every time. Let us all hope that continues until – if ever – the malice and dishonesty are gone from the GOP.

  • Lynda Groom

    Perhaps they have new suits, but they are still empty.

  • jointerjohn

    The reason Cruz, and Ryan, and all the other darlings of the present right wing will continue to get themselves in trouble with voter groups is that no matter how hard they try to contain themselves, they still feel superior. They try not to say it in public but because they feel superior to others it eventually and always will come out. This is why the Christian Right and the Tea Party appeal so powerfully to low-skill, low education, and low-information voters. They offer them the opportunity to belong to something that can help them feel superior for the first time in their lives. One can join their team and look down on immigrants, look down on women, look down on brown-skinned people, oh, yeah, and those homos too! They offer the chance to think, “I may not be much, but at least I’m not one of those lazy welfare bums bankrupting our country.” When these characters like Cruz and Ryan express superiority it’s because they feel it. The worst part is, that is also what they are selling, and that’s why they get away with it.

    • tobyspeeks

      Sociopathic-superiority complex.

    • holyreality

      I hate to agree with you here, but facts are stubborn. While you describe feelings, this “superiority” is palpable.

      IOW, you hit the bullseye. The Koch Brothers cultivated this Tea Party outrage based exactly on this superiority, how else would normally intelligent people vote against their interests?

      The Reagan narrative has a lot to do with this, I blame him for making it OK to be Proud to be an American, Lee Greenwood wrote the anthem and it is the most superior sounding bag of crap that I can remember. American Exceptionalism has roots in your described meme, this superior feeling is the foundation of the entire modern conservative movement.

      • Independent1

        I wish giving Republicans a superiority complex was all that America’s worst president ,Reagan, ever did; but on top of that, he succeeded in destroying the basic fabric of America.

        Reagan destroyed the bond between company management and workers (you work hard for me I’ll do right by you) by summarily firing all the Air Triffic Controllers and appointing 2 union haters to the NLRB. It was during his administration when companies began forgetting about being loyal to their workers and instead are today totally focusing on the bottom line; often letting the company’s best and most loyal workers go just to replace them with new people they can pay less. Entrepreneurs and CEO’s across America began to realize: If the president of the united states doesn’t feel it’s necessary to bargain with workers in good faith – why should we?

        And it was Reagan who instilled the “trickle-down” economics fantasy in Republicans minds which is why they still think budget and tax cuts (austerity) is the solution to every problem; and why he and the two Bushes had no problem and running up America’s debt by 15 trillion dollars through cutting taxes and spending like drunken sailors to fill the pockets of their rich donors and cronies.

        And it was Reagan who’s partly responsible for America’s healthcare being the most expensive in the world byt signing a flawed law that requires our healthcare sector to often run up thousands in medical bills for people who can’t afford it (because they don’t have insurance) just because they claim to be having a medical emergency; even though it’s often not an emergency, hospitals and doctors can’t take the chance of being sued for malpractice in the rare case that they may be wrong about the diagnosis.

        And all the above is just the beginning of the disasters Reagan created for America, and millions of dellusional Republicans still hold onto the notion that he was some kind of super president – he was super alright – super bad!!!

        • holyreality

          This Reagan zombie ideology will be the demise of the modern GOP, TP zealots LOVE St Ronnie and the Reagan Narrative will only be pried from their cold dead fingers.

    • 4sanity4all

      Sadly, that is why a lot of their fans identify with them. When I try to have a discussion with Republican friends, their smugness just oozes out of them. They look down on poor people, minorities, and everyone else that the Republican party despises. I remind them that we all emerged from the people and places they hate, but they look incredulously at me, insisting that it was their willingness to work hard that got them where they are. I point out that many of our old friends worked just as hard, but life handed them more than the usual number of setbacks. But they just can’t acknowledge that what I say is true. They just can’t reconcile it with what they hear on talk radio, therefore, they decide that I am nuts.

      • jointerjohn

        Smugness and self-satisfaction are easy. Anybody can do those. Empathy and compassion are hard. They impart a sense of duty, a sense of societal responsibility many are not willing to exert. The late great Molly Ivans once said of G.H.W. Bush, “he was born on third base and he thinks he hit a triple.” The republican party now markets that attitude. Remember how they flipped-out when President Obama said “you didn’t build that”, in reference to our common infrastructure? He rightfully challenged their sense of superiority and lack of social solidarity and it horked them off.

  • FredAppell

    No way! They’re incapable of change for the good of the whole country. Every time one of them starts to feel secure, they end up becoming brazen enough to spew what they really believe and it ain’t pretty. CPAC must have been a very scary and strangely fascinating place to be this past weekend. All those GOP presidential hopefuls preening and trying to prove their conservative credentials must have been quite a thing to witness.

  • holyreality

    “Ryan didn’t understand that this was a made-up story.”

    His name is butchered into Lyin’ Ryan BECAUSE HE LIES ABOUT THESE THINGS. (apologies for yelling)

    EJ is far too kind giving him the benefit of the doubt and offering that Ryan “didn’t understand”. Ryan is far too intelligent to actually believe his story is close to real but the new Koch message tactic is to just lie, lie big, and lie bigger, TPers eat it up feeding their indignation and yes superiority(thx jointerjohn) these ideas that are nowhere close to fact.

  • Charvi3

    I e-mailed, Ted Cruz, who says he believes in, Jesus Christ and God…to refer to Deuteromony Chapter 15 verse 7 & 8 that is under the Title of “Generosity To The Poor” where it says “If there is among you a poor man of your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs”. Then go to Chapter 19 of Matthew verse 24 and that is under the Title “With God All Thing Are Possible” and read them and the latter states..”Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”….and believe me…he will wonder what side of the fence he has been on…you all can look those Chapters and verses up…and you will agree with me…he is in the wrong party….the Republican Party….he is so double-minded it isn’t even funny…on Martin Luther King’s Day…he got 166 republicans and 17 republicans to vote to ‘FUND” the ObamaCare…and then changes his mind once again…something is wrong here..The Republican Party is just for pleasing themselves and making themselves happy…they look down at the middle class and the needy and the poor…so, what planet does even, Ted Cruz come from…one minute he does a “good deed” and then retracts his actions?

  • yobenny

    I yam what I yam.