Thursday, July 19, 2012

Elsewhere: Filibuster, The Crazy, Romney

Over at PP today, I noted that filibuster reform might be coming -- and pushed for everyone to think carefully about what a post-reform Senate should look like, and how to get there. Without, for better or worse, mentioning Superbill!

At Greg's place, I say that what John McCain did yesterday was good, and it's even better that many including John Boehner piled on today -- but it will only really help the GOP excise the crazy if they follow up by finding some real penalties for Michele Bachmann and her gang of neo-McCarthyites.

And one from yesterday: I talked about yesterday's hot campaign rumor that Romney was going to start "vetting" Barack Obama, and put it in the context of campaign incentives when there are two very different target audiences for Romney to deal with.

As long as I'm here: I don't know how many of you (especially those reading these posts) have been following the Watergate posts, but if you're drifting in and out of them you might want to read the one from last night. Not because it's startling (although the George Wallace stuff sort of is), but because I try to describe exactly what the cover-up was all about, which is pretty much the context for the next several months.


  1. Was the Watergate post shreddered?

  2. On the crazy, there have been some sanctions, at least for Bachmann. I can think of two examples; both are examples of negative punishments (to couch them in behavioral psychological terms).

    1) Bachmann runs for House leadership. Response: derisive laughter. Arguably, this could be seen as a signal to Bachmann that crazy is not rewarded, but frowned upon.

    2) Bachmann runs for President. Newsweek depicts the crazy. The pushback from GOP elites is, well, pretty weak. Fox and aligned media made a show of it, leading to CNN and others covering the coverage. But, notably, I don't recall Boehner or Cantor or McConnell or McCain or anyone knocking over any old ladies in their rush to the podium to decry the "sexist, elitist, and (why not?) racist" cover.

    Now, neither case is Gingrich shows a surge, and the GOP elite begin begging the public to use some sense. But, that could be because she was never a true threat to win either job anyway.

    Michelle Bachmann may be a useful idiot for the GOP. They aren't punishing her, but they aren't rewarding her either. Bachmann seems to be slightly a step too far, whereas there's real implicit support for the birther stuff ("I take Obama at his word"??!??!?!?!?)

  3. Your comparison is invalid. McCarthy was reckless in his allegations, but we now know that he was absolutely right that the State Department was infiltrated by communists, and that some of the people he accused really were Soviet spies.

    I very much doubt that there really are any Muslim Brotherhood agents inside USG.

    1. Disagree. It is true there were in fact some Soviet spies, and an active program by the Soviets to spy (and I agree that it's highly unlikely that there's a similar program by Islamists today)...but McCarthy was just talking out of his hat, which is similar. I don't think McCarthy deserves any sympathy at all over that.

    2. Sympathy for McCarthy is irrelevant, the question is one of party incentives, and how others react.

      If you think that (1) USG had a problem with communist infiltration and (2) supporting McCarthy put pressure on USG to clean up the problem, then it made perfect sense to support McCarthy, even if you believe (3) that McCarthy's specific allegations were reckless. Indeed, plenty of McCarthyites (most?) thought exactly that, in the same way that people nowadays who want deep cuts in government spending rally around Paul Ryan, even if they don't agree with the specifics of his proposals. This is why McCarthy became such a huge deal for a time, even though he was, as you say "talking out of his hat."

      The same incentives do not exist today for Bachmann et al.


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