It stands to reason that former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), like every other Republican seeking their party's presidential nomination, will have some unkind words for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D). This, however, seems like a mistaken avenue for the former governor.
Responding to news that the Clinton foundation had not notified the State Department when it previously accepted a donation from a foreign nation, Perry argued that Clinton was disloyal.
"I think it falls flat in the face of the American people when it comes to, are you going to trust an individual who has taken that much money from a foreign source? Where's your loyalty?" Perry said in an interview that aired on CNN's "State of the Union."
As Clinton moves forward with her apparent presidential plans, scrutiny of the Clinton foundation and its donors seems entirely legitimate. That said, Perry's description of what we know isn't quite right -- Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, runs an international charitable foundation, which has received support from contributors located around the world.
Given the available evidence, there's no reason to assume there's anything untoward about any of this, and more importantly, there's no reason to believe Hillary Clinton herself has "taken that much money from a foreign source." Unless the Texas Republican can back the allegations with something specific, the former governor seems to be playing fast and loose with the details.
But even putting that aside, "Where's your loyalty?" is an exceedingly difficult question for Rick Perry, of all people, to ask.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) agreed on Friday to appear on "Face the Nation" when he was confident his Homeland Security bill would pass. As he learned soon after, it didn't -- Boehner's own members ignored him and killed his legislation -- making yesterday's interview on CBS a bit more awkward than the Speaker had hoped.
At one point, host Bob Schieffer asked Boehner whether he can still lead his party effectively on issues like immigration. "I think so," the Speaker said.
The timidity of his response is matched by the uncertainty surrounding Boehner's weak political standing. Politico reports:
Boehner's allies are concerned after Friday's setback that his critics inside the Republican Conference may try to oust him as speaker if -- as expected -- he puts a long-term DHS funding bill on the House floor next week. While Boehner shrugs off such speculation, close friends believe such a move is a real possibility.
"There is a lot of speculation about this," said a GOP lawmaker who is close with Boehner. "People are watching for this very, very closely."
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), one of Boehner's closest allies, said late last year, "He's never wanted to just be Speaker. He's wanted to be a historically significant Speaker."
In case it's not obvious, becoming the first modern Speaker to be removed from office during the congressional session would, indeed, make Boehner "historically significant."
For much of President Obama's first two years in office, Democrats accomplished an enormous amount, but not quite as much as they would have liked. On a variety of key issues, Republican filibusters in the Senate blocked important progressive priorities, and at times, stopped the Democratic majority from even trying.
There were instances in which legislation would enjoy the support of a House majority, the White House, and 57 senators, but the bills would die anyway -- the GOP minority set a 60-vote minimum on literally every measure of any significance. If Dems didn't like it, Republicans said at the time, they'd just have to work harder at building bipartisan consensus.
In the years since, the congressional parties' fortunes have shifted and it's now the GOP in the majority. And wouldn't you know it, now that Democrats are playing by the same rules and employing the same tactics, Republicans now find their own tactics intolerable.
On NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday, Chuck Todd talked to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) about whether his Republican brethren in the Senate should use a new "nuclear option" to end filibusters altogether. Here's the exchange:
TODD: You brought up the Senate and said senate Democrats. One way that this could change is since Republicans do have the majority [in the Senate] is that Mitch McConnell invokes the so-called nuclear option. Right now there are no filibusters for any executive appointments -- judicial or in the executive branch. But on legislation, the filibuster is still there. Do you want senate Republicans to go nuclear?
MCCARTHY: I don't think going nuclear when you have 57 percent of the Senate voted for to cause the amendment that would take away the president's action, that is not nuclear when 57 percent of the American representation says it's wrong. That's not in the Constitution. I think they should change the rules.
For context, McCarthy was referring to a Senate vote on Friday to destroy President Obama's executive actions from November 2014. The measure failed on a procedural vote with 57 supporters, three short of what Republicans needed to overcome a Democratic filibuster.
This, evidently, was the proof the House Majority Leader needed -- it's time, he told Chuck Todd, to "change the rules" and stop the tactics Republicans perfected.
Take a bit of out-of-control Reagan worship, add some anti-union preoccupation, and throw in a dash of unpreparedness. The result is a presidential hopeful who seems less prepared for the White House with each passing day.
Walker contended that "the most significant foreign policy decision of my lifetime" was then-President Ronald Reagan's move to bust a 1981 strike of air traffic controllers, firing some 11,000 of them.
"It sent a message not only across America, it sent a message around the world," Walker said. America's allies and foes alike became convinced that Reagan was serious enough to take action and that "we weren't to be messed with," he said.
Walker made similar comments at an event two weeks ago, but these new remarks, delivered at a Club for Growth gathering, mark the first time Walker has described the firing of air-traffic controllers as "the most significant foreign policy decision" of his lifetime.
It's also an incredibly foolish thing for anyone, least of all a White House aspirant, to say out loud. This is an important stage for Walker's national campaign, and these comments might be the most striking evidence to date that the governor hasn't yet prepared for the task at hand.
As last week got underway, the political world was faced with unsettling circumstances. With five days remaining before the Department of Homeland Security ran out of funds, Republicans were at odds with one another, struggling to craft a coherent strategy.
As this week gets underway, the circumstances seem ... surprisingly familiar.
Late Friday, soon after House Republicans once again betrayed House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and ignored his resolution to the DHS fiasco his party created, Congress grudgingly approved a one-week extension to current Homeland Security funding, avoiding a shutdown and setting the stage for another week of drama on Capitol Hill.
But while last week's chaos was humiliating for Boehner and his leadership team, it was also a surprisingly informative series of developments. We may have ended up at a similar point, but we've learned a few key lessons in the interim.
1. Speaker Boehner is as weak in the 114th Congress as he was in the 113th and 112th Congresses.
When the new year got underway, the House Speaker felt pretty good about his political standing. Boehner was poised to lead the largest Republican conference America has seen in generations, giving him new leeway to advance must-pass legislation. Sure, in the four previous years, Boehner proved to be the weakest Speaker in modern times, but it was a new day -- gains in the 2014 midterms offered new promise for the accomplishment-free GOP leader.
Last week, those promises were thrown in the trash. Boehner's conference may be larger, but so too is the embarrassment that comes with failure -- the Speaker urged his own members to follow his lead on DHS funding, and in a familiar response, House Republicans ignored him.
2. The House GOP leadership team lacks basic competence.
After Eric Cantor's constituents rejected him, House GOP lawmakers assembled a new leadership team intended to give Republicans their best chance at success. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was awarded with the key, Majority Whip post -- and protected after a racially charged controversy in December -- because he had a unique connection to the party's far-right flank.
But this team is as inept as the last. It's not just that the party's rank-and-file members ignored their ostensible leaders; the problem is compounded by the fact that GOP leaders had no idea their members were poised to defeat their own party's plans. A leadership team that can't persuade its members has a problem; a leadership team that can't count to 218 has a more serious problem.
First up from the God Machine this week is an alarming poll, which found a significant number of Americans who like the idea of establishing an official national religion.
A majority of Republicans nationally support establishing Christianity as the national religion, according to a new Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday.
The poll by the Democratic-leaning firm found that 57 percent of Republicans "support establishing Christianity as the national religion" while 30 percent are opposed. Another 13 percent said they were not sure.
The irony is rich. Many Republican activists like to describe themselves as "Constitutional Conservatives," but under the Constitution -- at least in this country -- the very idea of a national religion is antithetical to the American tradition. Indeed, the opening words of the Bill of Rights explicitly say, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."
There's nothing "conservative" about a theocratic agenda in which one faith tradition is endorsed by the government above all other belief systems.
But this week, it wasn't just the poll results that highlighted the problem. A county Republican Party in Idaho pushed a resolution that intended to identify Idaho as a "formally and specifically declared a Christian state." One local activist told reporters, "We're a Christian community in a Christian state and the Republican Party is a Christian party."
The resolution was ultimately defeated by the state party, but the fact that it was considered, and enjoyed a fair amount of support, was unsettling for supporters of church-state separation.
Frank Thorp, NBC News Capitol Hill producer, and Kelly O'Donnell, NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent, report live as the House passes a last minute one-week extension to fund the Dept. of Homeland Security after House Republicans failed to get it done. watch
Tony Messenger, St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial page editor, talks with Rachel Maddow about the strange circumstances surrounding the suicide of Missouri state auditor Tom Schweich, and the bitter Republican primary for Missouri governor in 2016. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on a settlement reached between Exxon Mobil and New Jersey in a case of Exxon Mobil polluting hundreds of acres of wetlands. Though the state sought $8.9 billion, Christie settled for $250 million ahead of a judge's ruling. watch
Frank Thorp, NBC News Capitol Hill producer, and Chuck Todd, political director for NBC News, talk with Rachel Maddow as Congress scrambles to fund the DHS in the wake of John Boehner's failure to rally the Republican votes to get the job done. watch
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