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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

This week we were reminded that Republicans are masters of blaming everything—but their own beliefs.

Why did Mitt Romney lose? It couldn’t be because the GOP is wrong on taxes, health care, women’s rights, immigration, education, marriage, regulation, diplomacy, climate change, evolution, science, polling, jobs numbers, fashion, sex, Kid Rock, Ted Nugent, Meat Loaf…

No, it had to be Hurricane Sandy, ORCA, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, mean ole Barack Obama actually daring to release negative ads, one New Black Panther, a mural in one polling place

The truth is two Republicans and two Democrats—besides President Obama and his indomitable team, who came up with the ninja idea of taking Mitt Romney’s health care plan—deserve credit for defeating Mitt.

But before I reveal who the heroes and goats are, let me clearly state that none of this would have been possible if the GOP wasn’t just flat-out-100-percent-Dick Morris-wrong about everything.

Now I can tell you that the two Democrats most responsible for Romney’s defeat are Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton.

In 2008, Kennedy gave Paul Begala a roadmap for defeating Mitt Romney. Kennedy said, “Don’t underestimate Romney. He’s smart and resourceful and will say anything, take any position.”

Kennedy explained how his staff tracked down ex-Bain employees and let their stories of Romney’s disregard for labor undo his ambitions. Begala had Kennedy’s advice ready when he went to work with the Priorities USA Super PAC:

The Priorities USA team set out to find people who lost their jobs as the result of a Bain deal, culling news reports and public records to find subjects. They eventually filmed interviews with 18 former employees of Bain-owned companies, some of which were too scathing to air.

Bill Clinton, of course, is the second Democrat who most helped defeat Romney in two distinct ways.

According to reports, the former president advised the Obama campaign not to focus on Mitt Romney’s tendency to flop on any issue as if he’s a goldfish in a two-year-old’s hand — that might actually appeal to moderate voters. Clinton was proven right at the first debate when Romney’s knack for reinvention shook the course of the whole race. Instead, Clinton supported exposing Romney’s Bain record and painting Romney as “Bush on steroids.”

What was even more important was Bill Clinton’s role as the Secretary of Explaining Sh*t.

As a witness for the defense, he was incomparable. With his 65 percent approval rating, he testified to President Obama’s successes and the virtue of his plan going forward. He also inoculated the president against criticism by repeatedly reminding voters that the same people attacking the president said terrible things about him—though they were now praising him as if he’d suddenly become Diet Reagan.

Now, you can guess the first Republican to blame for Mitt Romney’s loss—Mitt Romney.

He was so bad at seeing what was as plain as the nose on his face that he didn’t have a concession speech prepared—though he likely did have an amended tax return ready to get back the deductions he overpaid so he could pretend his tax rate is 14 percent.

As Daily KosDavid Waldman points out, Mitt Romney proved the problems of the Bain Capital consultancy model by being ripped off by consultants left and right.

But Romney’s worst choice of the campaign—besides being honest about his belief that Detroit should go bankrupt to really punish the unions—was the man he picked as his running mate: Paul Ryan.

People wondered what Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney had in common besides being born into rich families and a profound belief that poor people are lazy. Now we know: they both lost their home states. Heck, they both lost their hometowns.

LOL.

The main reason Ryan still has his seat in the House is the only reason the GOP still has control of the House—gerrymandering.

Few Republicans blame Paul Ryan for Romney’s loss because they’re so in love with what Ryan believes—the government should ask less from the rich and more from the poor.

The right still doesn’t realize that President Obama and his team picked Ryan as a foil after the 2010 election, when he was dumb enough to use a mandate not to cut Medicare as a mandate to privatize Medicare.

Desperate to win over a base that didn’t trust him, Romney fell for the trap. He picked Paul Ryan. Then after a convention speech where he lied about a GM plant in his hometown of Janesville and a debate where he seemed stiff, yet blithe and thirsty, Ryan went into hiding.

World Net Daily’s Christopher Ruddy is one voice on the right who gets how bad of a choice Paul Ryan really was.

Not only did Ryan fail to offer any leadership, foreign policy experience or demographic appeal to the ticket, he was wedded to the GOP’s dumbest idea ever: “I am not sure what the GOP was smoking when they decided to propose demolishing or radically altering the cherished health care program for seniors.”

Republicans had an unbeatable advantage in 2010—President Bush’s economy. They took that win as a belief that what people wanted was Paul Ryan’s view that a safety net makes veterans, seniors and single moms too comfortable.

With Ryan, Romney married his disregard for the fate of the middle class with a plan that would basically get rid of the middle class.

Instead of playing against the framing that would cost him the election, Mitt Romney wrapped himself in it. He picked a running mate so consistently right (read: wrong) that his move to the center rang false. And he committed the cardinal sin in politics: He believed his own BS.

Two of the greatest names in Democratic politics united to give America President Obama for another term. But they certainly couldn’t have done it if the GOP hadn’t bought into the unconscionable beliefs that have become personified by one blue-eyed, Ayn Rand-loving man: Paul Ryan.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Al Behrman

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

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