Quote of the Day

“What else would you expect from Mastro, the former baseball-bat-wielding deputy mayor under womanizing Rudy Giuliani?”

Linda Stasi, New York Daily News, on Randy Mastro’s million-dollar Bridgegate report, which Stasi calls “Fifty Shades of Bullshit.”

Sing, Bridget, sing.

Christie Employees Loving Them Some Fifth Amendment Rights

Christie’s former Deputy Chief of Staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, has refused to respond to the New Jersey Legislature’s subpoena about Bridgegate, instead asserting her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.  She was the one who sent the “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email to David Wildstein, who replied, “Got it,” and has himself taken the Fifth in a live appearance before the New Jersey Assembly.

Bill Stepien, who ran both of Christie’s gubernatorial campaigns and served as a deputy Chief of Staff in between, has also pleaded the Fifth.  Stepien had been on track to become head of the New Jersey GOP and probably Christie’s 2016 campaign manager, because, you know, he did such a bang up job on President Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 campaign.  His rising star has now been sucked into the black hole that is Team Christie.

These folks are happy to tell what they know, they just want immunity from prosecution before they do it.  And when the fat lady sings, it will be all over for the fat boy.

The South Carolina Race

From “Behind Mark Sanford’s turnaround,” Alex Isenstadt, Politico*:

“In Colbert Busch, Sanford was running against a rookie opponent who made some rookie mistakes. While the former governor barnstormed the district, Colbert Busch seemed to be in hiding. She rarely held public events — and when she did, she was sometimes in a hurry to leave.

“At a Chamber of Commerce forum last week, the Democrat delivered four minutes of remarks and was then hustled out of the room by a team of handlers. As baffled reporters trailed, Colbert Busch made a beeline for the parking lot.

“For a still largely unknown candidate who needed to introduce herself to voters, it was a head-scratcher of a moment.

“’I’ve never seen a candidate sprint like that,’ one reporter said at the time.

“Though she turned in a strong performance in the sole debate she agreed to, at other times Colbert Busch had difficulty articulating her positions. Any Democrat running in a conservative district has to thread the needle when it comes to talking about issues, but Colbert Busch had particular trouble. Asked in a CNN interview on Tuesday whether she would support the Manchin-Toomey gun control bill, she struggled to come up with an answer.”

Although Colbert Busch ultimately lost by about nine points, a couple of weeks ago, she seemed to have a nine-point lead.  So she decided to coast and not take any risks.  But as a newcomer and a Dem in a GOP district, she had to reassure voters that she would respect and represent their views and she had to do it with policy specifics.  Certainly House Dem leadership would have given her a pass to vote against them more often than other Dems.  She needed to make that abundantly clear, and to specify precisely where she would differ from her party.  Her vagueness really cost her and allowed Sanford to portray her as way too liberal for the district, as Nancy Pelosi’s twin.  She had to run against both Sanford and Pelosi. 

You don’t win by hiding and ducking.  If she’d presented herself aggressively and consistently as a conservative Dem who would sometimes subordinate both her own and her party’s positions to honor the wishes of her district, she would have had a better shot.  I’m thinking here of Rudy Giuliani’s second run for mayor, after he lost the first time.  He was told he couldn’t win without Upper West Side women, and he couldn’t win Upper West Side women without supporting abortion rights.  So he told them that while he personally opposed abortion, as mayor, he wouldn’t do anything to change or restrict abortion rights in the city. 

Congressmen are known as “Representative.”  Colbert Busch needed to convince South Carolina’s First District that she could be their representative, and she failed.  Maybe it was just a bridge too far for both her and the voters of her district.  

Mitt, A Noun, A Verb, and 9/11

From “Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani Still Not Ready for Prime Time,” Dan Collins, HuPo:

Mitt Romney rolled out Rudy Giuliani on Tuesday in a bid to inoculate himself from Democratic suggestions that he is too weak to have whacked Osama bin Laden. The presumptive GOP presidential nominee and Old 9/11 visited a firehouse in lower Manhattan to mark the first anniversary of the terror chief’s death.

It was not the stuff of legends. Looking at the two men standing together, it became clear how completely the Giuliani magic had vanished. The former mayor wore a suit and looked as if he had been stuffed by a taxidermist for the occasion. Romney, in his white shirt and tie, looked positively casual and loose by comparison.

When you hit a point where you make Mitt Romney look cool, you know your day is over.

Everything seemed to be knee-deep in irony. At a time when the Romney camp was attacking President Obama for politicizing bin Laden’s demise, Mitt himself was hanging out with Rudy, who was always front and center when the Republicans needed someone — someone other than Dick Cheney — to suggest that whenever the Democrats win, so do the terrorists.

But the magic is gone — Rudy accompanied Mitt to a Greenwich Village firehouse that had taken a heavy hit in 9/11 fatalities. The terror-fighting duo brought pizza for the firefighters — a photo-0p that flopped when one of the well-cordoned-off photographers hung around long enough to get some pictures of Romney and Giuliani dumping their pizza boxes on an aide, who presumably actually took the food into the waiting blaze battlers.

Looking at the two men standing there together, you had to remember that four years ago, Rudy was for a while the front-runner for the presidential nomination, while Mitt ran back with the pack. But today Romney is the all-but-official Republican nominee. Rudy is a second-tier talking head on cable news shows who is no longer taken seriously by the media, the other Republicans, or most of the public.

Romney didn’t even give Giuliani the starring role in his day. He also visited with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who appeared to be the subject of far more intense romancing. Bloomberg has dropped hints that he might consider endorsing in the presidential race, and the Romney camp was clearly much more interested in that possibility than in trotting out Rudy Giuliani.

If things get any worse for Giuliani, the next Republican presidential nominee will stick him with carrying the pizza.

Santorum Gets the Scary People

You won’t be surprised to learn that Rick Santorum has the support of the very scary, very secretive Council for National Policy (CNP).  If you tried to get to the right of these people, you’d fall off the edge.

Ken Vogel has the tale up at Politico, “Secretive group backs Santorum”:

“The Council for National Policy, which was created in 1981 to counter what conservatives perceived as a liberal slant at the Council on Foreign Relations, brings together some of the right’s biggest donors…with leaders of influential conservative groups focusing primarily on social issues and foreign policy.

“The council meets in secret three times a year under tight security.

“The group’s rules forbid members from discussing it, and the media is barred from covering its meetings.”

One of their meetings was last weekend in Houston and they pledged almost $2 million to Santorum, who addressed them on Saturday.

Foster Freiss, the “aspirin between your knees” guy who has been Santorum’s biggest benefactor, is a past president of CNP.

Richard Viguerie was one of CNP’s founders.  If you follow conservative politics, you’ll remember him as the father of direct mail.  Now he’s helping Santorum “on a pro-bono basis on direct mail, the Internet, telemarketing….”

CNP worked against those liberals Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani in 2008.  But Ayatollah Rick is all right.




I’m With Jeb and Rudy

Here’s Jeb Bush:  “I used to be a conservative, and I watch these debates and I’m wondering, I don’t think I’ve changed, but it’s a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people’s fears and emotion rather than trying to get them to look over the horizon for a broader perspective.”

Here’s Rudy Giuliani on the GOP and social issues:  “It makes the party look like it isn’t a modern party, it doesn’t understand the modern world we live in.”

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, I think the Republican Party has left me.  “Back to the Future” is an entertaining movie, but it doesn’t work well as a 2012 presidential campaign slogan.

The Knives Are Out for Newt

And they’re not slicing baloney.  I’m not a big fan of Elliott “Iran Contra” Abrams, but he has a great piece up at National Review Online (“Gingrich and Reagan”) accusing Newt of dishonesty and hypocrisy in calling himself Ronald Reagan’s BFF.  You’ve probably noticed that Newt says “Reagan” as often as Rudy Giuliani says “9/11.”

The whole column is worth reading, but here are some excepts:

“[N]o candidate has wrapped himself in the mantle of Ronald Reagan more often than Newt Gingrich.  ‘I worked with President Reagan to change things in Washington,’ ‘we helped defeat the Soviet empire,’ and ‘I helped lead the effort to defeat Communism in the Congress’ are typical claims by the former speaker of the House.

“The claims are misleading at best. … Mr. Gingrich equally often spewed insulting rhetoric at Reagan, his top aides, and his policies to defeat Communism.  Gingrich was voluble and certain in predicting that Reagan’s policies would fail, and in all of this he was dead wrong.

“Thus Gingrich concluded as he surveyed five years of Reagan in power that ‘we have been losing the struggle with the Soviet empire.’  Reagan did not know what he was doing, and ‘it is precisely at the vision and strategy levels that the Soviet empire today is superior to the free world.’

“There are two things to be said about these remarks.  The first is that as a visionary, Gingrich does not have a very impressive record.  The Soviet Union was beginning to collapse….  The policies Gingrich thought so weak and indeed ‘pathetic’ worked, and Ronald Reagan turned out to be a far better student of history and politics than Gingrich.”

If Newt continues to surge against Mitt, expect more of this from “house organs” of the GOP establishment like National Review.  They are very, very afraid.

Given How Much They Hate Abortions…

Given how much they hate abortions, the GOP is certainly quick and eager to abort Newt Gingrich’s and Rick Perry’s attacks on Mitt Romney and Bain Capital.

Newt is now telling his Super PAC to correct the anti-Mitt movie “King of Bain:  When Mitt Romney Came to Town” or else take it off their website.  Newt is all mouth, no guts.

The GOP claims that attacks on Mitt are attacks on capitalism.  but that’s ridiculous.  It’s the same thinking that leads to cover-ups when a member of the military commits an atrocity or when pedophile priests rape children.  It’s saying that calling individual bad actors to account is an attack on the military or the Catholic Church as a whole, which is simply not true.  If Mitt perverted capitalism, it doesn’t mean capitalism is bad, it means he is.

Mitt is using his experience running Bain Capital as one of his major credentials and qualifications for becoming president.  If he’s making those claims, GOP primary voters, and the country as a whole, are justified in finding out if he’s telling the truth, which I very much doubt.

What’s on the line here isn’t capitalism, it’s Mitt’s candidacy.  So when folks from Rush Limbaugh to Rudy Giuliani to John McCain to Sean Hannity tell you they’re defending capitalism from “socialists” like Newt and Perry, don’t  buy it.  They’re just defending Mittens, and making themselves look as desperate as he does.



Republicans Can’t Handle the Truth

Last month, Rudy Giuliani was declaring his love for Newtie, saying he was the stronger candidate against President Obama compared to Mitt “Vulture” Romney.

This morning, not so much.  Now he’s calling Newt (and Rick Perry) “ignorant and dumb” for criticizing poor little Mittens for his ruthlessness running Bain Capital.

Rudy asked rhetorically on Fox this morning,”What the hell are you doing, Newt?”  Um, telling the truth, finally?