Music is a passion of mine. In finding the music that most interests me, I’ve found Derek Webb. His album “Stockholm Syndrome” (one of my favorites) is a must have for anyone who has ever thought that maybe Christians were entirely missing the point on some current political and social issues. One of the songs on “Stockholm Syndrome” is a catchy little tune called “Jena & Jimmy.” It’s about date rape.
Well, kind of. ”Jena & Jimmy” is a political metaphor for the way grassroots movements often get intoxicated with power – power that ultimately brings the demise of the movement.
I often wonder if the Tea Party movement will become like Jena in this song. I certainly hope not, but I get concerned when I see so many Tea Party leaders working to spread their influence rather than working to advance the principles they claim to value.
For example, look at the Republican Senate primary in Nebraska. A candidate (Deb Fischer) won the election last night, largely because she was sporting endorsements from Sarah Palin and Herman Cain. Meanwhile, somebody like Don Stenberg (endorsed by Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund, FreedomWorks, and Club for Growth) goes home a loser.
We really can’t fault Fischer for seeking out endorsements from Sarah Palin and Herman Cain; they certainly have sway with voters, and in a tight race, you need every edge you can get. The real issue here is the lack of vetting candidates by the people perceived as leaders in the Tea Party movement.
Why do people like Cain and Palin latch on to candidates who aren’t really great? Is it the attention they get? Is it the way people swoon at the site of them behind a microphone? Are they just looking for a way to extend their political influence?
Jason and Brett jump into 2010 with a podcast, joined by two guests, Jason Cecil, current Southeast Director for Young Democrats of America and immediate past president of Young Democrats of Georgia, and Jimmie Bise, political and pop culture commentator at The Sundries Shack blog and The Delivery podcast.
The discussion went so well (and long), they split the podcast into two installments, with the second part publishing tomorrow available here.
In the first part, they discuss:
Editor’s note: While the larger point of the post is a good topic for debate, Fortenberry was a bad example. According to the scorecards released by the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, Fortenberry hasn’t been a friend to the taxpayer on fiscal issues. Thanks to Matt Hoskins for bringing this to our attention.
Author’s note: Yes, kudos to Matt Hoskins. I’ve added an update below.
Last week, Rod Dreher at the American Conservative magazine wrote about John Fortenberry, a Republican congresscritter from Nebraska who is considering a run for the seat of retiring Republican Senator Mike Johanns. What has Dreher annoyed —understandably — is that the Senate Conservatives Fund has come out against Fortenberry. Why? Because Fortenberry is “too liberal” on taxes:
“We can already say that we won’t be able to support Congressman Fortenberry if he runs. His record on spending, debt, and taxes in the House is just too liberal. Republicans in Nebraska deserve better,” said Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins. SCF, which was started by conservative Jim DeMint and involved itself in the 2012 Nebraska Senate GOP primary, is looking to identify a candidate it can get behind, Hoskins added.
Dreher argues that’s completely bunk. In an interview with the Congressman last year, he wrote:
Conservatives and Tea Party groups have been working recently in several states to influence Republican Senate primaries. You know that Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) was recently defeated by Richard Mourdock. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) could face a similar fate at the hands of Dan Liljenquist, though that’s less likely. And with more money being sent to help Ted Cruz in Texas, they could see another huge victory there.
However, conservatives are divided in Nebraska. Jon Bruning, who was once seen as the frontrunner in the GOP Senate primary in the Cornhusker State, has been beaten and battered, but thanks to endorsements by prominent figures and grassroots groups, the conservative vote has been split, leading Matt Lewis to conclude that they may have missed an opportunity:
Things were so much simpler just one week ago, when Sen. Dick Lugar was the obvious villain and Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock was the conservative alternative. One short week later, with no squishy incumbent to oust, all three Nebraska Republicans are vying to occupy the conservative mantle.
And thanks to the seemingly schizophrenic endorsements of prominent national conservatives, the waters are thoroughly muddied.
We noted last week that former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) decided to make another run for his old job, after promises were made to him by Democratic leaders, after Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) decided not to seek re-election.
Kerrey’s candidacy means a tougher challenge for the GOP, but the state has been very strongly Republican in recent years, even more so during President Barack Obama’s administration. But if a new poll from Rasmussen is any indicator, the GOP should pick up Nebraska in the fall with either current Attorney General Jon Bruning or former Attorney General Don Stenberg.
Here is how the poll works out.
Bob Kerrey v. Jon Bruning
- Kerry: 33%
- Bruning: 55%
- Other: 4%
- Not sure: 7%
Bob Kerrey v. Don Stenberg
- Kerry: 34%
- Stenberg: 52%
- Other: 5%
- Not sure: 9%
Kerry, who is to the left of Nelson on many issues Nebraskans are concerned about, is underwater with his favorables — 51% view him unfavorably, while his potential GOP challengers are doing well, both over 50% in their favorables.
Republicans had hoped that they would not only maintain or build on their majority in the House in 2012, but also take control of the Senate since a number of Democrats are up for re-election this year. While that prospect is still in play since the GOP only needs four seats for a majority in the Senate, it just got a bit tougher.
As you know, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) decided against a bid for re-election. The writing was on the wall for him. Polls showed him down to prospective Republican challengers, thanks to his votes for the stimulus and ObamaCare; not to mention that he is a Democrat in a “red state.” But former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) has talked into running by Senate Democrats after promises were made to him.
Cook Political still has the at “Likely Republican” and no polling has come out since Kerrey announced his candidacy, but he does present a more formible challenge for Republicans.
Republicans were dealt a more serious blow in Maine this week after Sen. Olympia Snowe, who generally viewed as a moderate, announced that she wouldn’t run for re-election. There has been some speculation that Ron Paul supporters booing her when she showed up at the GOP caucus last month may have had something to do with her decision. This is now listed as a “Toss Up” by most observers.
Jon Bruning, the Attorney General in Nebraska and a Republican candidate for United States Senate, is running a great web ad hitting Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) for his support of ObamaCare and the Cornhusker Kickback:
According to a poll released earlier this month, Nelson trails Bruning by double-digits in a potential match up in 2012, 50% to 39% with 11% undecided. The poll shows that 50% of Nebraskans disapprove of Nelson’s job performance.
At the end of last year, polls showed Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) trailing a potential Republican opponent by 31 points. The latest polling out of the Nebraska shows him trailing two GOP opponents, though by smaller margins, with only 29% of the state’s voters believing Nelson deserves re-election:
Fifty-nine percent of Nebraska voters said it was time to give a new person a chance to represent the Cornhusker State in the Senate, making for a possibly difficult path to victory for Nelson in 2012.
Two state Republicans, Attorney General Jon Bruning and Treasurer-elect Don Stenberg, enjoy early leads over Nelson, according to a Magellan Research Group poll conducted last week.
If the 2012 election were held today, Bruning would best Nelson, 52-38 percent, with 10 percent undecided.
Stenberg enjoys a smaller margin over Nelson. Forty-six percent of Nebraska voters would elect Stenberg, while 40 percent would vote for Nelson.
While Nelson is more conservative than many of this fellow Democrats, he will have to answer for his votes on the stimulus and ObamaCare. As I often said about Harry Reid in this past cycle; we’re still a long way off, anything can happen.
WASHINGTON — The battle over health care is poised to move swiftly from Congress back to the country as Democrats, Republicans and a battery of interest groups race to define the legislation and dig in for long-term political and legal fights.
President Obama plans to open a new campaign this week to persuade skeptical Americans that the bill holds immediate benefits for them and addresses the nation’s shaky fiscal condition. Republicans said they would seek to repeal the measure, challenge its constitutionality and coordinate efforts in statehouses to block its implementation.
The politics of health care are fragile — and far from certain — in the eight-month midterm campaign that will determine which party will control Congress next year. But both sides steeled for a fight to extend well beyond November, involving state legislative battles, court challenges and, ultimately, the next presidential race.
Even before the final vote, Republicans began relentlessly assailing lawmakers who supported the legislation, suggesting Democrats are spendthrift and proponents of big government. Democrats said they would seek to capitalize on the momentum from their success and strive to move beyond the political arguments in hopes of demystifying the complicated legislation.
“We ought to focus on not the political stakes, but the stakes for the country,” David Plouffe, an adviser to Mr. Obama, said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We’re going to go out there and not just talk about what we’re for, but what the Republicans are voting against.”