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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: republican leadership

After Midterm Flop, Furious Carlson Rages At GOP Leaders (Except Himself)

Fox News star Tucker Carlson used Wednesday night’s broadcast to demand accountability over the GOP’s lackluster showing in the midterm elections.

“Republicans swore they were going to sweep a red tsunami. That's what they told us and we, to be honest, cautiously believed them, but they did not sweep, not even close to sweeping,” he complained. “The people whose job it was to win but did not win should go do something else now. We're speaking specifically of the Republican leadership of the House and the Senate and of the RNC.”

The problem with Carlson’s analysis is that Carlson, himself, is an influential GOP leader who bears responsibility for the party’s failings. He remains a key adviser to former President Donald Trump. He endorsed Republican candidates in the midterms and helped them win the party’s nomination. He suggested the midterms communications strategy that the GOP ultimately adopted. He can get top Republicans on the phone with ease and the party’s political operatives fear the prospect of him attacking their clients. By his own account, he and his colleagues provided a platform during the elections where “Republicans can communicate their message unencumbered.” Tonight, he will give the keynote address at an event for a faction that constitutes the majority of House Republicans.

He is the party establishment.

Carlson’s outsized influence in the GOP is a problem for the party. Any TV political talking head is likely to be out-of-touch with the concerns of the median American voter. But even by that standard, Carlson is a weirdo.

The Fox host is a millionaire, raised by a former ambassador and an heiress, who does TV commentary for a living because billionaires like his takes. He is a blood-and-soil nationalist who rejects America’s credal inheritance of liberty, equality, and democracy. He is steeped in white nationalist conspiracy theories about global elites importing brown foreigners to replace “legacy Americans” and is deeply invested in the success of foreign authoritarians.

Carlson spends a lot of time on his show talking about children’s genitals; blames wokeness for everything from the U.S. retreat from Afghanistan to the green and brown M&Ms becoming insufficiently “sexy”; and capes for both the insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and the violent QAnon conspiracy theory movement.

Most Americans aren’t like this! There are clearly people who are interested in this sort of commentary – Carlson’s show averaged nearly 3.3 million viewers in October, making it the second-highest-rated cable news program. But audience tallies that are extremely impressive for cable news ultimately represent a drop in the bucket for the American electorate.

It is dangerous for a major party to move closer to Tucker Carlson’s views. Those views are also likely to alienate normal American voters and make it more difficult for that party to win elections.

The types of candidates Carlson likes and tries to elect mimic his bizarre fixations and blindspots. They describe their political opponents as “childless cat ladies,” pay consultant fees to a virulent anti-semite, and hang out with a “prophet,” run ads featuring themselves “smashing television sets playing newscasts with a sledgehammer,” and distribute lawn signs promising not to “ask your pronouns in the U.S. Senate.”

This behavior may be attractive to Carlson, and to a Republican base that has been trained to want candidates who act like a Fox host. But it seems likely to turn off people who don’t spend their free time immersed in the right-wing media fever swamps, and makes those candidates a harder sell with voters. They can still triumph when the electorate is favorable enough, or if their opponent is weak enough – but it makes the party’s fight more difficult.

And while Carlson may be Fox’s oddest duck, he isn’t the only one in the pond. The network’s roster is stocked with commentators who have an outsized influence on Republican politics and use their platforms to engage in bizarre conspiracy theories about murder victims and raped 10-year-old abortion patients, pick fights with NBA stars and high school students, and rant about everything from lifesaving vaccines to children’s schoolbooks.

The GOP has a Fox News problem. The network’s propaganda megaphone is a valuable asset that strengthens the party’s ability to quickly generate a unified message in response to any news event, and keeps its base from straying out of the right-wing information bubble. But the network’s employees are toxic extremists who are deeply out of touch with the concerns of average Americans, so are the candidates it directly or indirectly supports, and in a close election, that matters.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Report: GOP, Business Leaders Fear Trump’s ‘Increasingly Erratic Behavior’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Even President Donald Trump’s allies are getting nervous as his behavior — never restrained or deliberative — has become more unpredictable and tumultuous in recent weeks.

In a new report from the Washington Post documenting what it called his last “twelve days of chaos.” journalists David Nakamura, Josh Dawsey and Seung Min Kim found that officials and business leaders are frightened by what could happen next out of the White House:

Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior over the past 12 days — since he first threatened to seal the border in a series of tweets on March 29 — has alarmed top Republicans, business officials, and foreign leaders who fear that his emotional response might exacerbate problems at the border, harm the U.S. economy and degrade national security.

The most recent sign of worry was Trump’s sudden purge at the Department of Homeland Security leadership — Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Secret Service Director Randolph Alles, and Acting Deputy Secretary Claire Grady have all been ousted, while the president withdrew his nominee for the ICE directorship. Congress was left baffled.

The Post details some of the machinations behind the leadership overhaul, which included the president fuming at Nielsen for being on a pre-planned overseas trip, causing her to fly back immediately in a desperate attempt to cling to her job.

Trump’s also been wildly levying and lifting threats and promises with no rhyme or reason. He has flip-flopped on plans for a new legislative push on health care while he’s gone back and forth on whether to close the U.S.-Mexico border — an extreme and unproductive step that would kneecap the nearby states’ economies.

But even before the year started, Trump was on a downward trajectory. He abandoned a federal funding deal he had agreed to with the Senate, only to shut down much of the government for nearly five weeks in an ultimately failed gambit to secure border wall funding. Having shot himself in the foot, he declared a national emergency at the border to seize military funds for the border wall in an extra-legislative power grab, only to rebuked by 12 Republican senators and face court challenges.

Trump and the White House have been relatively successful at spinning the completion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that ended without bringing any additional charges last month in his favor, but the president has failed to use the opportunity to claim higher moral ground. Instead, he and Attorney General Bill Barr are digging in for a major fight with Congress about releasing the final report, a move that is sure to bring only more chaos.

Danziger: The Elephant Wants To Forget

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.