I've been fascinated of late by Republican praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but as Rachel noted on the show last night, Rudy Giuliani appears to have taken this affection to a new level. For those who can't watch clips online, here's the former mayor talking to Fox's Neil Cavuto yesterday.
GIULIANI: Putin decides what he wants to do and he does it in half a day, right? He decided he had to go to their parliament. He went to their parliament. He got permission in 15 minutes.
CAVUTO: Well, that was kind of like perfunctory.
GIULIANI: But he makes a decision and he executes it, quickly. Then everybody reacts. That's what you call a leader. President Obama, he's got to think about it. He's got to go over it again. He's got to talk to more people about it.
It's not unusual, during a time of crisis, for Americans to rally behind a president. In Giuliani's case, the trouble is the New York Republican appears to be rallying behind the wrong president.
That said, it's nevertheless important to appreciate the fact that, in Giuliani's mind, the mark of an effective leader is seen in someone who acts unilaterally, invades a country, and doesn't stop to think too much about it. Real leaders, the argument goes, simply act -- then watch as "everybody reacts."
But here's the follow-up question for Giuliani and other conservatives swooning over Putin: if President Obama did act that way, wouldn't you be calling him a lawless, out-of-control tyrant?
Putin says 'unconstitutional coup' caused Ukraine crisis. (NBC News) Putin also says those aren't Russian forces in Crimea. (NPR) The lawyer for NJ Gov Chris Christie's campaign manager says his client appears to be the focus of the federal criminal investigation. (Bergen Record) Texas holds primaries today. (Texas Tribune) The Alabama House takes up a "fetal heartbeat" bill (a.k.a. six-week abortion ban) today. (AL.com) read more
Sen. John McCain sharply condemned President Obama on Monday, blasting the administration's foreign policy as "feckless" and partially responsible for the mounting crisis over the advance of Russian forces into Ukraine. [...]
"Why do we care? Because this is the ultimate result of a feckless foreign policy in which nobody believes in America's strength anymore," McCain said to the annual gathering of Jewish leaders in Washington.
McCain was apparently quite animated on the subject, going on (and on) about how President Obama is personally responsible for shaping world events in a way McCain disapproves of.
Reality, meanwhile, points in a very different direction. As David Ignatius explained this morning, "There are many valid criticisms to be made of Obama's foreign policy ... but the notion that Putin's attack is somehow the United States' fault is perverse."
Even after House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) filed the paperwork to seek re-election, the rumors about his possible retirement didn't stop. Much of D.C. has assumed that Boehner would walk away at the end of this Congress, and after the Republican leader recently bought a Florida condo, speculation picked up about who the next Speaker night be.
But if Boehner's latest comments to the Cincinnati Enquirer are true, he's not going anywhere.
He plans to seek re-election as House Speaker and is confident that he will win the position.
"I think I'm in better shape with my own caucus than I have ever been in the last three years," Boehner said.
The purchase of a condominium on Florida's Marco Island "has nothing to do with my future," he said.
Whether or not Boehner is sincere is anybody's guess. Maybe the Speaker fully intends to stick around; maybe he's waiting to show his cards until the last possible moment.
But I continue to believe that if Boehner genuinely expects to hold the Speaker's gavel for at least another two years, this matters quite a bit to all Americans, not just those in his Ohio district.
After the 2012 elections, congressional Republican leaders not only recognized the severity of the gender gap, but also acknowledged that the party has struggled with a stagnant number of women in their ranks. By June, party officials had a solution in mind: Project GROW.
As we talked about at the time, the name stands for "Growing Republican Opportunities for Women." (Yes, the "G" in "GROW" stands for "grow.") The basic idea was to recruit, mentor, and elect more women candidates in 2014.
"We need more women to run," Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) said at the launch. NRCC Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) added, "Women are the majority, and we need to do a better job, and that's what this is all about." The RNC touted the effort with an unfortunate choice of words: "We need to be a party that allows talented women to rise to the top." (The DNC immediately responded, "Democratic women DO rise to the top. We don't need permission.")
There was certainly nothing wrong with House Republicans making a conscious effort to improve its gender diversity -- remember the committee chairmen chart? -- but Jay Newton-Small checked on Project GROW's progress and found that the party is "coming up short."
Thirty years ago, Republicans and Democrats had equal numbers of female politicians, but since then Democratic female representation has taken off dramatically. Part of the problem is that Republican female state legislators tend to be more moderate than their male counterparts and therefore have a tougher time getting through increasingly partisan primaries, according to Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University. [...]
Indeed, last election cycle 108 Republican women ran in House primaries, according to data compiled by Walsh's center. Less than half won and only 20 were elected to Congress, most of them incumbents. The 19 Republican women currently serving in the House make up only 4.4 percent of the House, and only 8 percent of the GOP conference.
Not many governors have their own private jets. It's something Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) apparently takes full advantage of, and not just for the sake of convenience at the airport.
By using his personal jet for public business, Florida Gov. Rick Scott can shield his itinerary from websites that track flights, and when his plane lands, he uses a public records exemption to tighten the cloak of secrecy.
Wherever Scott goes, he is shadowed by Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents. In citing a records exemption that protects FDLE "surveillance techniques" from publication, he withholds the members of his traveling party, restaurants and homes he visits, and people at meetings -- all in the name of security.
To a much greater degree than the past three governors, Scott, former chief executive of the nation's largest private hospital chain, conceals information from the public about his travel.
Scott has struggled with transparency before. The Republican governor launched something called "Project Sunburst" a couple of years ago, vowing to put all executive-staff emails available online for public scrutiny. A year later, Scott's team had failed to meet their commitments. The governor's daily schedule is also published online every morning, but it's routinely incomplete.
But this issue with his private jet seems considerably more serious.
The Republican Governors Association recently launched an attack ad in Pennsylvania, criticizing Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) for supporting this year's farm bill in Congress. There was, however, a small problem: incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett (R), the candidate the ad was intended to help, endorsed the same legislation.
This week, the RGA ran into a similar problem in South Carolina. Sean Sullivan and Aaron Blake reported:
A new ad from the Republican Governors Association attacks the Democrat running for governor of South Carolina for supporting Obamacare, as well as its Medicaid expansion.
Left unsaid? Several GOP governors took that same Medicaid expansion, including ... RGA Chairman and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R).
It's at least rational when one party blasts the other over genuine disagreements. But the RGA is playing some fairly transparent games.
In South Carolina, we're effectively left with a situation in which the Republican Governors Association wants voters to oppose a Democrat for agreeing with the head of the Republican Governors Association (and several other prominent RGA members).
From the RGA's perspective, it's probably worth the risk. South Carolinians, the argument goes, probably won't know the whole story, and will have no idea the Democratic candidate agrees with so many Republicans on the issue.
But what does that say about the merit of Republican arguments, if they're dependent on public ignorance to work?
A week ago, the U.S. Senate race in Colorado didn't look especially interesting. Sen. Mark Udall (D) was likely to take on Ken Buck (R); the incumbent senator was likely to win; and the candidate Republicans recruited for the race, Rep. Cory Gardner (R), said he wasn't interested.
A week later, Gardner has changed his mind; Buck is now running for the House in Gardner's Republican-friendly district; and Colorado will apparently have a competitive race after all.
In a rousing speech inside a Denver lumber warehouse, Republican Congressman Cory Gardner officially announced his candidacy Saturday for the U.S. Senate, vowing to bring a battle against Democrat Sen. Mark Udall.
"Today, we begin a nine-month fight for the future of our country. And don't let anyone say otherwise -- this fight is about the future, for our families, children and grandchildren," Gardner said.
At a minimum, Gardner's entrance changes how people perceive the Senate race in Colorado. Once it became clear the congressman would run after having said he wouldn't, and Democratic control of the Senate is on the line, Dave Weigel wrote, "Democrats: Panic!"
But in Gardner's case, it's hard not to wonder how seriously to take the hype seriously. When I searched Google this morning for "Cory Gardner" and "rising star," I saw 43,700 results -- which suggests the phrasing comes up quite a bit.