In my view there is functionally no such thing as a moderate Republican today. What I mean by that is, if it is a choice between a candidate that offers relatively sane policies, or a sure win with a Koch brothers funded, right wing crazy tea party candidate, the Republican “establishment” will go with the crazy tea party candidate because they value winning more than they value sane public policy.
The extremist candidate cannot usually win however, by touting their extreme policy positions in front of the general public. They win by pretending to be moderate and lying about their positions on the issues. GWB’s 2000 presidential campaign seems to have faded from our collective memory. But I clearly remember Bush campaigned as a moderate (no nation building – nice, harmless guy you want to have a beer with – even Democrats were buying this) but the Bush administration obviously did not turn out to be one of moderation and they were certainly totally into nation building. Ronald Reagan presented himself as a moderate too, but here we are in a post-Reagan society where it is considered cool to say that you hate government (Reagan: “government is the problem”) and the Republicans are still trying to drown it in the bathtub as Grover Norquist said.
Fast forward to Iowa, 2014. Joni Ernst also had to pass herself off to the voters as a moderate. She was told by her handlers to tone it down on the crazy talk about personhood, killing the EnvironmentalProtectionAgency, shooting up the government. I believe many Iowans who voted for her had no idea of her extremism, but just thought she was a nice lady who they assumed was qualified because she is a veteran and a state senator. They liked her because she seemed familiar, like any other typical Iowan. They reacted to the hog ads as cute and very Iowa (okay that part I won’t pretend to understand). When the Braley campaign had no choice but to point out her extremities, people became upset because they had already decided she was their friend, and the Braley camp was accused of negative campaigning. I don’t blame the Braley camp for bad strategy although maybe it was. But this is the kind of dilemma that the extremist liars and the complicit media create.
Joni’s moderate facade almost went down the tubes at one point as the campaign progressed. Ernst had a terrible interview with the SCJ where she was politely asked about personhood and some other things and she told the truth about her positions for the most part (although she did already have a sound byte available to minimize the personhood thing which was, “don’t worry, it’s never going to happen.”). But all agreed that the interview still went badly, and after that the campaign wisely kept her away from the newspaper editorial boards.
When they successfully kept her away from the newspaper editorial boards, particularly the Des Moines Register, with no consequence (although I give huge credit to Hillary Clinton for attempting to impose one) this was in my view when it was clear that they won the campaign. There was barely a peep in response to this clear f-you to the Iowa media and more importantly, to the citizens of Iowa, who deserved to know who she really is.
Apparently the newspapers decided that the only thing they could do in response was to endorse Braley based on his policy ideas, his voting record in Congress and on Ernst’s extremist views – wrong for Iowa – which they should have done anyway. Not coincidentally, voters seemed unaware that she had even done that or perhaps they didn’t care because they had already made up their minds about who they thought she was.
The polls before the election showed Braley clearly ahead with women and I didn’t see those numbers after the election but I believe women who were paying attention at that point were more likely to know where she actually stood on issues of importance to them). She kept saying in ads and on the campaign trail that she would always defend and protect women’s right to birth control, etc. We shall see, but her support of a personhood amendment and previous vote on that issue in the Iowa senate indicates otherwise.
So Joni is no moderate. I think it is more than fair to say that the Iowa press overall, failed to point this out enough. They kept hammering on Braley’s one gaffe and the chicken nontroversy — it was the Dean scream all over again. In contrast, Ernst’s extremist views, being named in a sexual harassment suit, handing out lucrative contracts to her father’s business, in a clear conflict of interest, while county auditor, got mentions, but they were not hammered upon to say the least. By the time she made fools of all of them by telling them to f-off after they coddled her through the campaign, they seemed slightly offended but no one thinks they learned their lesson, anyway, I don’t.
The following is an excerpt from an article in Salon about how the national press simply makes up a narrative that they like and then they repeat it over and over and that narrative never changes, it is locked in, impervious to facts. Gaffes made by opponents are pounced upon and exaggerated by the media because they fit the narrative. This year the chosen narrative was that the sane Republican “establishment” was taking back the party from the tea party crazies and they pointed to tea party candidates like Ernst as an example of a mainstream, moderate Republican — which of course, is completely the opposite of true.
The GOP establishment decided that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Rather than allow the Tea Party to challenge them, they went out and found Tea Partyers to groom and train to win statewide office. They smoothed out the rough edges, gave them talking points that successfully covered their more extreme views and otherwise ran “personality” campaigns designed to make the press deaf to the whistles of the Tea Kettles.
A Nexis search shows that the Post has had four references to Ernst and Agenda 21—all by Greg Sargent on his blog from the left, The Plum Line, and none on the news pages of the paper. But there have been dozens of references to Braley’s spat over the neighbor’s chickens, including a front-page story. The New York Times had zero references to Ernst and Agenda 21, but seven, including in a Gail Collins column, to Braley and chickens.
As Ornstein makes clear, it wasn’t ideological bias that created this narrative, it was a desire among the press (likely pushed pretty hard by the GOP establishment) to write that the “grown-ups” were back in charge. But the truth is that the GOP grown-ups decided that the best way to keep the kids in line is to give them what they want. After all, all the GOP grown-ups really want is to beat the Democrats. If all it takes is a little charm school for Tea Partyers, it’s a small price to pay.
The GOP did send a new “crown jewel” to the Senate this week but not for the reasons he thinks. They’ve realized the value of the Ted Cruz faction to their long-term plans and found some stealth Tea Partyers to join it. “Charisma” had nothing to do with it.
Chuck Grassley is NOT an attorney.
And after FIFTY SIX years in DC, he is also NOT a farmer.
The governor pushed for a gas tax hike today. Gee, what’s new? That branstard has never met a gas tax he didn’t hike. (How does a guy run on a 5-year plan — then get re-elected after 4 years?)
I don’t even want to mention the Queen of Darkness. She scares me like Sarah Palin never did.
“The conservative view of democracy has radically false consequences. It is immoral because it lacks empathy, but it is also just plain false.” Ernst is the epitome of that –a nasty home wrecker and environmental hater. Iowa values. Time to move before we all get cancer.