Thursday, June 27, 2013

Republicans "React" to New Political Landscape

Was the divided reality of U.S. politics and culture roiled by the Supreme Court decisions, coming as they did in the middle of the immigration debate.

Let's do a survey of white-wing not-so-much reactions as a combination of re-uppings, restatements, and regressions:

First, remember how the Republican Party will languish nationally if they aren't at least perceived as being a little bit Latino friendly? Well, not if Alabama senator Jeff Sessions can help it:
WASHINGTON -- Day after day, Sen. Jeff Sessions argues against an immigration overhaul bill that GOP party leaders, and a sizable share of his Republican colleagues, say is critical to any chance of a national comeback for the party out of power in Washington.
The legislation headed for passage in the Senate would cost the nation jobs and depress wages, Sessions says in the Judiciary Committee, on the Senate floor, in hallway interviews and to just about anyone who asks. It's not paid for, he argues. Nor, Sessions adds, would it guarantee better border enforcement.
Lawmakers don't really know what the bill does, seeing that it consumes 1,100 pages, according to Alabama's junior senator.
The 66-year-old former prosecutor used a similar approach to help defeat an immigration overhaul in 2006 and 2007, when a president of his own party, George W. Bush, declared it a priority. Now that Democrat Barack Obama has it atop his domestic agenda, Sessions is again the face of Republican opposition to a path to citizenship for millions of people living in the U.S. illegally. The playing field has changed since then, but the path toward a bill actually becoming law is no clearer than it was six years ago now that a sizable tea party faction holds sway in the House.
 As for Republican support for the gay, which after today are no longer the pariahs they were twenty or thirty years ago, let alone just yesterday, don't expect the straight-wing Republicans to hop aboard the love-who-you-want love train:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) blasted the Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, calling it "wrong."
"I don’t think the ruling was appropriate," Christie said Thursday on his "Ask the Governor" radio show, according to Politico. "I think it was wrong."
Christie criticized the justices, calling Kennedy's opinion "incredibly insulting" to President Bill Clinton -- who signed DOMA into law in 1996 -- and to the "340-some members of Congress who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act."
"[Kennedy] basically said that the only reason to pass that bill was to demean people," Christie said. "That’s heck of a thing to say about Bill Clinton and about the Republican Congress back in the ‘90s. And it’s just another example of judicial supremacy, rather than having the government run by the people we actually vote for."
In February 2012, Christie rejected a bill allowing same-sex marriage in New Jersey, vetoing the measure and renewing his call for a ballot question to decide the issue.
Great. Chris Christie, the new, pugnacious, pragmatic "face" of the Republican Party actually feels Bubba's pain. That's rich. And putting it on the ballot? Sounds democratic, but it'll never happen, and, uh, Chris, you'd get your butt kicked anyway. And if you did get it on the ballot and win, boy, will that get you cred on the national stage, where it's already over. Real smart for a guy wanting to run in 2016. Or does he?

As for voting rights, the white-wing Republicans aren't wasting any time going after "voter fraud." With the ink barely dry on the Voting Rights Act decision, red states get ready to keep it that way, with voter ID laws set to be rammed through now that no one can "scrutinize" them:
With the Supreme Court's ruling Tuesday on the Voting Rights Act, Mississippi and Texas announced they're ready to move forward with their controversial voter identification laws.
Eleven states in the past two years have approved laws that would require voters to show identification at voting booths. But Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act required some of those states with a history of voter discrimination to get "precleared" by the federal government before making any changes to voting laws.

A separate part of the law known as Section 4 relies on a federal formula to determine which states would be covered under that "preclearance" regime.
Requests by Texas and Mississippi for clearance in their voter ID laws were pending with the federal government when the high court struck down the constitutionality of the act's Section 4 on Tuesday, which also appears to have nullified Section 5.
I wonder how many of those eleven states set to pass new laws or declare their old attempts to now be established law are red states. All of them would be my guess. Just why is that? No voter fraud in blue states? (Hint: no voter fraud anywhere.)

As for the gay marriage issue, the straight-wing Republicans have a problem:
Both House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia signaled that they believed the debate now moves out of the purview of Congress and to the states.
"While I am obviously disappointed in the ruling, it is always critical that we protect our system of checks and balances," Mr. Boehner said in a statement. "A robust national debate over marriage will continue in the public square, and it is my hope that states will define marriage as the union between one man and one woman."
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky had no comment on the rulings. A spokesman said only that he supports "traditional marriage."
To date, three of the Senate's 46 Republicans support gay marriage, with all of them having shifted to that view in recent months.
Right on cue, we've got the first Republican -- from Kansas, no less -- coming out for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage:
The Supreme Court ruling Wednesday that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional isn't stopping Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) from trying to block same-sex marriages through another route: by amending the U.S. Constitution.
Huelskamp said he plans to introduce the Federal Marriage Amendment later this week, a measure that would define marriage as between one man and one woman. DOMA did the same thing, but was a federal law, not a constitutional amendment. As such, the Federal Marriage Act is more far-reaching but also a tougher climb. It requires the support of two-thirds of the House and Senate, and ratification by three-fourths of the states, or 38 states.
"This would trump the Supreme Court," Huelskamp told The Huffington Post.
Good. Let's just trump that mean ole (conservative) Supreme Court.

Josh Marshall of TPM puts the Voting Rights Act Republican conundrum in perspective:
Of course, maybe I’m wrong. But how many Republicans want to vote against “the Voting Rights Bill” in the Senate. I think very few. So maybe it dies there. But at the cost of a lot of pain for the GOP. I’m not even sure they’d need 60 votes. And I suspect they’d get a lot more.
So now we have “the Voting Rights Bill” passed out of the Senate and lands over at the House. Does Boehner invoke the Hastert Rule and refuse to bring it to a vote because a majority of his caucus doesn’t support it? Quite possible. But again, toxic politics.
I strongly suspect that you’d have a lot of GOP elites - and by that I just mean professional Republicans at the national level who are concerned about winning national elections - really not liking that outcome. And I also suspect there’d be a non-trivial number of Republican representatives who’d be saying, hey I don’t want to be part of this, for a mix of political reasons and reasons of simple belief. At the same time you’re going to have a lot of members from the South who are going to have a hard time putting their state legislatures back under the review of the dread ‘Obama Regime Justice Department.’ Taken together it puts the sectional divisions within the GOP under real pressure.
One thing I’m certain of is that it’s a situation the GOP really really wants to avoid.
So to come back to the beginning, I’m not saying this or the next Congress will be able to resurrect section 4 of the VRA. On balance, I figure it doesn’t happen. But if the attempt is made, every step along the way is going to be acutely painful for the GOP.
Very true, Josh.

 I just found this video of Stephen Colbert explaining all this with the help of Slate's Emily Bazelon. Let's let them have the last word:

We should just let Stephen Colbert run the country. He'd make the zaniest dictator. He just might be able to straighten us out. He could appoint Jon Stewart to the Supreme Court. That would sure straighten them out.

Update. Boy, do the Supremes need some straightening out. Right on cue, they toss the blocking of the Texas Voter ID law as well as the nullification of the anti-minority Texas redistricting, both of which then could immediately become law, pending lower-court review. This is going to be some wild ride. Watch the red states for signs of whiplash.

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