Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr
Back in March, the Republican National Committee released its long-anticipated “autopsy report” on what when wrong in the 2012 presidential election, and how the GOP can remain competitive in the future. The “Growth and Opportunity Project” suggested that the party reach out to women and minorities, and soften the militant tone that scared so many voters away in 2012.
“The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself,” the report reads. “We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.”
A little more than half a year later, the GOP has completely and utterly failed to solve the problem. And there is perhaps no better example of the party’s failure to leave the “ideological cul-de-sac” of which the RNC warned than the 2013 Values Voter Summit.
The annual conference, which is organized by the Family Research Council — an anti-gay hate group — plays host to a mixture of mainstream Republican politicians and some of the most extreme figures on the right-wing fringe. From October 11th through the 13th, more than 60 speakers will preach the right-wing gospel from the stage at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, right in the middle of Washington, D.C. — a city that has been paralyzed by the intransigent politics typified by those on stage.
The three-day conference has been running for not even 10 hours, and already it has featured some startling rhetoric that certainly won’t help repair the GOP’s tattered brand.
Here are five lowlights from the 2013 Values Voter Summit (so far).
H/t to Right Wing Watch for providing the videos
During a discussion with Family Research Council leader and potential congressional candidate Tony Perkins, right-wing radio host Mark Levin rattled off a list of things that he considers to be tyrannical — including the president using executive orders, Congress passing bills at night, regulatory agencies enforcing regulation, and the Supreme Court ruling on laws — before getting to his main point.
“It’s time for [President Obama] to sit down and shut up!” Levin declared, to a standing ovation from the crowd.
While it’s tempting to write Levin off as just another talk-radio extremist, he is mainstream enough within the Republican Party for the RNC to consider him as a 2016 presidential debate moderator.
After attempting to fill her right-wing bingo board by linking the government shutdown to the 2012 attack on the American mission in Benghazi, Rep. Bachmann (R-MN) unleashed one of her trademark attacks against the Affordable Care Act.
“This egregious system that will be ultimately known as ‘Death Care’ must be defeated,” Bachmann darkly warned. “This is our line in the sand of ‘police state’ vs. ‘constitutional republic.’ This is it. When the federal government controls your health care, they literally control life and death.”
Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) was his usual unhinged self at the Value Voters Summit, claiming at various points that President Obama is attacking Catholics and will be “coming for the Baptists and everyone else next,” and that Americans side with the Republican Party’s “intelligent and rational” budget proposal (ignoring the overwhelming evidence to the contrary).
Gohmert’s accusation makes McCain just one in a long list of Americans whom the Texas congressman has accused of being a terrorist sympathizer.
Dr. Ben Carson, a former neurosurgeon, current Fox News contributor, and noted homophobe, declared during his speech that the Affordable Care Act is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”
“It is slavery because it aims to make all of us subservient to the government,” Dr. Carson continued. “It was never about health care. It was about control.”
He later added that Democrats were inspired to pass the law by Vladimir Lenin, who knew that “socialized medicine is the keystone in the establishment of a socialist state.”
Senator Cruz’s speech, which was repeatedly interrupted by hecklers (whom Cruz insisted were “Obama’s paid political operatives”), seemed to take place in an alternate reality. At various points, the proud “wacko bird” claimed that the public supports shutting down the government to stop Obamacare (it doesn’t), that “Democrats are feeling the heat” over the crisis (they aren’t), and that the Obama administration is “determined to violate every single one of our Bill of Rights” (who knew that President Obama was so insistent on quartering soldiers in your home?).
But perhaps the strangest part of Cruz’s speech was his offhand joke that President Obama will try to kidnap him:
“This afternoon President Obama has invited the Senate Republicans to the White House. So after leaving here, I’m going to be going to the White House,” Cruz said. “I will make a request. If I’m never seen again, please send a search and rescue team. I very much hope by tomorrow morning I don’t wake up amidst the Syrian rebels.”
Notably, while CNN and MSNBC broadcast Cruz’s speech in full, Fox News opted not to air it at all.