Archive for December, 2011

A quick update to my very popular post on the SNL spoof of Al Sharpton and his blueberry pie: Rev. Al responded on his own program with some very funny (even meta-funny) cutaway reax shots. It is just me or is Rev. Al confused about what camera to look at during the clips of him being parodied for not knowing what camera to look at?

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In case you missed it…SNL’s brilliant little pastiche on the Rev. Al Sharpton’s MSNBC show. Also featuring the first appearance of POLITICO (or “Politick-o, period-com”)!

Here is the original “Blueberry Pie” spot that SNL is spoofing:

And the Sharpton teleprompter flub….”and we must, much….”

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Bob Dole Memorial Third Person Award: Rick Perry, for referring to himself as Rick Perry. Cue Conan O’Brien.

Lt. Uhura Star Trek Award: Newt Gingrich, for defending the space program.

Block that Metaphor Award: Tie. Rick Santorum, for comparing our Federalist system a-la Jack Kemp to “laboratories of democracy” to “petri dishes” — and Michele Bachmann for comparing K Street and lobbying to Rodeo Drive.

Lloyd Bentsen Memorial “You’re no Jack Kennedy” Award: Mitt Romney, for noting that Newt Gingrich “Is a friend of mine.” Irony, anyone?

There Was A Third Man Award: Jon Huntsman. Where were you? Donald Trump is not to blame.

Fred Dalton Thompson Award: Fred Dalton Thompson. For hawking reverse mortgages during the ad break. Better career path?

Dean Martin Taking It Easy Award: Rick Perry. Looks smooth, regardless of the rhetorical flubs. (How many choices did we have after the drone was retrieved? 2? Or 3? Who cares? Hit it, Jimmie!)

Ogden Nash Oddly/Comically Ironic Wordsmith Award: Michele Bachmann, for “Newt Romney.”

Mark Twain Stranger Than Fiction/Bad Lip Reading Award: Ron Paul. Sorry, friend


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In the wake of media reaction to the New Hampshire Union Leader’s endorsement of Newt Gingrich and his rather unexpected rise in the polls, I was reminded of another GOP candidate who received the nod some years back. Let’s get in the conservative way-back machine — back before the paper’s eventually prescient endorsements of John McCain and Ronald Reagan; before the less than prescient endorsements of Pete DuPont, Pat Buchanan, and Steve Forbes.

In 1972, a Republican from Ohio named John Ashbrook launched a longshot campaign against Richard Nixon — from the right. Ashbrook, who is a legend in conservative circles for his role in building the modern movement, was part of the team that convinced Barry Goldwater to run for president and nurture institutions like the American Conservative Union. He became one of Nixon’s fiercest critics, criticizing his (surprisingly progressive) policies on everything from China to OSHA, EPA, civil rights, and social welfare. The Union Leader endorsed him.

When I discovered Ashbrook as a young student at the University of Virginia I began in earnest a deeper, lifelong exploration of how Nixon, the ultimate non-ideologue, fueled the fires on the hard right and created — sometimes in spite of himself — the current polarized political universe.

I’m reminded of this now as we watch Mitt Romney being pilloried for his own ideological flexibilities. As with Ashbrook, the influential New Hampshire paper has now decided to back another conservative gadfly. A primary difference, though, is that Ashbrook never thought he was going to win; a veteran of movement politics who was comfortable in his own skin, he lacked Gingrich’s outsized image and expectations. His run against Nixon was symbolic, and he understood that. But symbols matter, and for movement conservatives, the overthrow of Nixon’s non-ideological “Modern Republicanism” was eventually achieved. Ashbrook wasn’t trying to be president. He was part of something larger — something that started with Goldwater and led to Reagan. Gingrich is a different animal altogether: His ’94 revolution crashed and burned, and his emergence among the 2012 candidates is mostly a symptom of the chaos on the right today.

There have been pundits a-plenty, including Chris Matthews,  who are invoking Nixon — not the ’72 campaign, but ’68 — when Mitt’s dad was challenging Nixon. Matthews has drawn comparisons between Gingrich’s badmouthing of Occupy Wall Street and the Nixon/Agnew attack on anti-war hippies. Others are drawing Nixon parallels simply because I suggest that ’68 is the wrong year for reference: It’s ’72. Romney is the non-ideologue this time, all too “flexible” in his policy record.

Gingrich is not Nixon in the current scenario; Romney is. But Newt Gingrich is also no John Ashbrook — a person who movement conservatives still remember as someone who put the bigger project first and wasn’t in the game for himself. Anyone who has cut their teeth in the conservative movement will tell you this, Union Leader notwithstanding.

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Herman Cain’s finished. To the end, he denied…or almost denied, the accusations of sexual harassment and marital infidelity being made against him.

As I noted in POLITICO, Cain today repeatedly used the rhetorical formulation of “false and unproven” allegations/accusations. If false, why include “unproven”? False means untrue. Unproven means possibly true  — but not (yet) shown to be so. If there truly was a vast deceitful conspiracy against Cain, and all of his female accusers are liars, he could and should have stopped at “false.” But “unproven” (and last week, “baseless”) are the rhetorical equivalent of poker tells.

To quote Rick Perry, “ooops.”

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