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.
Democrats in Iowa’s 2nd District may gloat today because we have re-elected Dave Loebsack for a 5th term in Congrss. In a year of an unfathomable Republican coup brought on by corporate money and corporate media, Dave has been able to persevere because he has built a solid connection with his constituents through his hard work for Iowans week in and week out.
Dave is proof that Democracy still lives, even if it has had mud thrown all over it by the corporate media and corruption.
A Democratic activist I know commented that while she was knocking on doors yesterday she was shocked at how many young people said they were not voting because it didn’t matter because both sides are the same. If you are guilty of repeating this defeatist, nonsensical attitude, regardless of what prominent intellectual espouses it, please stop saying it out loud. Because it is not helpful and nothing could be further from the truth, as you can witness in Iowa’s 2nd District.
Another activist said, “if young people want things to be different, they’d better get their asses out there and get involved and vote.”
Yesterday, Iowans sent a person to represent us in the U.S. Senate who has stated publicly that she would use her personal weapon to defend herself against government; she would have anyone implementing the Affordaable Care Act, the law of the land, arrested; she refused to answer questions by Iowa’s newspapers; she referred to the President of the United States as a tyrant.
Yep, Iowans gave Tom Harkin’s senate seat to that person. Take a moment and let that sink in.
Today is a dark day – no doubt about it – as our own Mr. Smith in Washington, Dave Loebsack might say. But we should not give into despair. Representatives like Dave Loebsack are proof that Democracy still lives.
We have to press on with the fight.
Bruce Braley is not afraid to face the Iowa press and answer tough questions. If you would like to know more details about where he stands on the issues and what was the deal with the (way overblown) “Grassleygaffe” from ages ago, Ron Steele asks him about that and some other great questions. Bruce explains and says what he has done to amend and correct it – way more than his opponent Joni Ernst has done about things she has said (the president is a tyrant who should be impeached, for example… or when she was caught on tape praising the billionaire oil barons for launching her career “trajectory”). These things are way worse in our view, but received less media coverage and she has never apologized or illuminated voters on why exactly she would make these statements as far as we know.
Iowa City, IA – Representative Dave Loebsack will be visiting all 24 counties in Iowa’s Second District on his Middle Class First tour. Loebsack will talk directly with voters and thank local volunteers at each stop. During this campaign, stark differences between Dave and his opponent have become clear. Dave is fighting for strengthening and expanding the middle class, while his opponent has made it obvious that she values special interests and millionaires over hard working Iowans.
Middle Class First Tour – Monday, Nov 3
Cedar County Democratic Party HQ
503 Cedar St
Clinton County Democratic Party HQ
224 22nd Place
2300 Park Ave
Walk around downtown businesses
Steelworkers 105 Hall
880 Devils Glen Rd
Johnson County Democratic Party HQ
623 S. Dubuque St.
In Iowa today, Hillary Clinton claimed that Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst has disqualified herself from office by refusing to answer questions.
“I have concluded that Iowans take politics really seriously,” Clinton said. “You test your candidates, you actually force them to be the best they can be and they have to be willing to answer the tough questions.” Democrat Bruce Braley “has been willing to do and his opponent has not,” she said.
“It truly seems like it should be in disqualifying in Iowa of all states to avoid answering questions,” Clinton added to a sustained round of applause.
Clinton’s remarks in Iowa struck on a latent hypocrisy. Republicans and Beltway media insiders like NBC’s Chuck Todd claimed that Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes disqualified herself from office by refusing to say who she voted for in 2012. The same media and talking heads have had nothing to say about Republican Senate Joni Ernst canceling several meeting with newspaper editorial boards in Iowa.
Grimes may not want to discuss who she voted for as a private citizen, but Ernst is refusing to tell the voters what she stands for and what she will do if she gets elected.
Republicans opened the door to the disqualification questions. Hillary Clinton walked right in and knocked them on their backsides. The Iowa Senate race is very close. Ernst’s refusal to tell the voters what she will do if she wins is a way for her to try to run out the clock and backdoor her way into the United States Senate.
It may not matter to voters in Kentucky who Grimes voted for, but the folks in Iowa deserve to know what they are getting themselves into if they elect Joni Ernst.
Hillary Clinton called out a giant hypocrisy, and with less than a week to go, Democrats are sending a loud message that Joni Ernst won’t be allowed to keep her positions to herself.