Putzy must have been just thrilled by CPAC, because he’s seeing things through rose-colored glasses. In “Four Factions, No Favorite” he tells us that it’s not just the Tea Party vs. the establishment this time, and, in fact, it never was. He’s full of optimism, poor soul… MoDo lurves her some Pooty-Poot it would appear, or at least she’s grateful to him for another opportunity to castigate the President. In “Little R-S-P-E-C-T” she crows that Pooty-Poot and his own party are socking it to Bam. She’s become a caricature of herself by this point. In “To End the Abuse, She Grabbed a Knife” Mr. Kristof says violence in the home is quietly killing American women. It’s time to start talking about it. Oooh, better not do that, Nick. The Talibangelicals say we’re all supposed to be supporters of “traditional marriage,” doncha know… Here’s Putzy:
This is a season of possibility for Republican politicians. Their party is poised to do well in November. Their Democratic opponents are stuck in neutral — waiting for Hillary, praying for Obamacare. And thanks to a few strategically placed traffic cones, there is no front-runner for the G.O.P. nomination in 2016, which means that more prominent Republicans than usual are dreaming the presidential dream.
Quite a few of them brought those dreams to the just-concluded Conservative Political Action Conference, jostling for the attention of activists, chasing cameras or being chased by them, trading compliments and subtle digs. A few, like the still-in-damage-control Chris Christie, were just there to pay their respects. But most were trying to ace CPAC’s big audition, and prove that they could play the One True Conservative in the 2016 race.
The question is whether that role will actually exist. We’re accustomed to a narrative of Republican politics that pits the Tea Party against the establishment, the right against the center right. But that has always been an oversimplification, and in a wide-open presidential campaign, it’s likely to fit political reality more poorly than usual.
A better framework is suggested by Henry Olsen, writing in The National Interest, who argues that Republican presidential campaigns are usually defined by four factions rather than two. One faction is centrist (think John McCain’s 2000 supporters, or Jon Huntsman’s rather smaller 2012 support), one is moderately conservative (think the typical Mitt Romney or Bob Dole voter), one is socially conservative (think Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum backers), and one is very conservative but more secular (think Gingrich voters last time, or Steve Forbes voters much further back).
The moderately conservative faction holds the balance of power, which is why the party usually flirts with ideologues but settles down with a safer, establishment-endorsed choice. But different campaigns take very different paths to this result.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan basically worked from the right to the center, consolidating secular and religious conservatives and then wooing enough moderate conservatives to win.
In 1996, Bob Dole relied on moderate conservatives to fend off a centrist (Lamar Alexander), a social conservative (Pat Buchanan) and a secular conservative (Forbes).
In 2000, George W. Bush used support from moderate conservatives and religious conservatives to defeat both McCain’s centrist insurgency and Forbes’s lesser challenge from the right.
In 2008, McCain combined his original centrist base with enough moderate conservatives to win the nomination — a trick Romney basically imitated in 2012.
Before the traffic problems in Fort Lee, Christie seemed poised to follow in Romney’s and McCain’s footsteps, uniting moderates and moderate conservatives and then trying to outlast whichever challengers emerged from the religious and nonreligious right.
But with Christie weakened, there are suddenly almost as many paths as there are plausible candidates.
The New Jersey governor could still follow McCain’s 2008 path to victory, but he could also be marginalized, Huntsman-style, as a “centrists only” candidate — especially if a Scott Walker, a Paul Ryan or a Jeb Bush consolidated the support of moderate conservatives.
Then there’s the potential Ted Cruz coalition, which could look like Reagan redux: secular conservatives plus religious conservatives to start, and then just enough moderate conservatives to win. But Cruz would need to consolidate the religious faction early, which is why he should be hoping that Huckabee and Santorum decide to forgo another run.
And then there is the fascinating case of Rand Paul, who has a potentially formidable base in two factions that don’t usually ally — moderates who like his social libertarianism and secular conservatives who like his economic views.
Confused yet? Imagine being a Republican strategist or donor, trying to figure out where to place your bets. And I haven’t even given you the Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal and John Kasich scenarios!
But let me conclude with one that seems a little more likely: a rerun of Bush’s 2000 path, in which Marco Rubio wins by uniting religious and moderate conservatives.
Rubio had a tough 2013, thanks to his unsuccessful immigration push, and he lacks the ideologically committed support of a Paul or Cruz or Huckabee. But his domestic-policy forays (first on poverty, soon on taxes) have gotten smarter since the immigration debacle, and events in Venezuela and Crimea may be making his hawkish foreign policy vision more appealing to conservatives.
Moreover, as much as the party and the country have changed since the Bush era, the best way to unify the G.O.P. is still to build bridges between religious conservatives and moderate conservatives — in effect, to seem relatable to Santorum voters while reassuring Romney voters. And Rubio, in affect and background and positioning, may be the right politician for that task.
Remember, I said “may.” He’s not the front-runner, because there is no front-runner. There are only factions waiting for their champion, and a party waiting for its biggest fight in years.
The Teatard-inspired primary process ought to be tons of fun to watch. Buy popcorn futures. Next up we have MoDo, FSM help us:
If you can’t spell it, you can’t get it.
President Obama pulled a Quayle Thursday night at a White House performance by the women of soul and muffed the title of Aretha Franklin’s anthem. “R-S-P-E-C-T,” he said, looking a bit confused and eliciting laughter.
When Patti LaBelle took the stage, she told Obama, “Baby, you’ve got swag.”
Swag and respect are exactly what the president needs. He’s got a swag gap with Russia. His administration, after belatedly figuring out what was going on in Ukraine, is improvising as the uber-swaggering Vladimir Putin once more rolls in with tanks anywhere he likes.
But the president is severely constrained in how he can respond, given that the Europeans are reluctant to be very punitive because they’re worried about their energy supplies and have to play nice with the bully on their borders.
He’s doing what seems appropriate at this point — putting a ban on U.S. visas, imposing financial sanctions on “individuals and entities” responsible for Russia’s invasion of Crimea, and trying to horse-whisper the Botoxed, bare-chested man on horseback whose eyes read “K.G.B.,” as John McCain likes to say.
President Obama, who is usually ultra-smooth, hit a rough patch Thursday night when he misspelled Aretha Franklin’s signature song during the “Women of Soul” concert at the White House. He dropped the first “E,” and it came out “R-S-P-E-C-T.” Credit Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The right wing seems risible, swooning over Pooty-Poot, as W. dubbed Putin. They gleefully claim the Russian strongman is Carterizing Obama and act huffy that the only one parachuting into Kiev is John Kerry. “What are you going to do, send the 101st Airborne into Crimea?” says Terry McCarthy, the president of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. “The way Republicans are dumping on the president, saying anything short of Armageddon shows that he’s weak, is silly. It’s kind of shocking that foreign policy, which used to be nonpartisan, now becomes partisan so quickly.”
Speaker John Boehner said congressional Republicans were “trying to give the president tools that he might employ that would strengthen his hand in dealing with this very difficult problem.”
More calculating conservatives pounced. Trying to rehabilitate himself, Marco Rubio told a CPAC audience here that America must “stand up to the spread of totalitarianism.”
Sarah Palin, who seems ever more viperish, deployed her Yoda syntax with Sean Hannity: “People are looking at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil. They look at our president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates.”
Actually, the jeans the president wore in the Oval Office, talking to Putin on the phone last weekend, looked good.
And his Russia response is a positive contrast with Syria, where Obama came across as naval-gazing and feckless when he dithered and then drew a “red line” against Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons. He was still explaining to the press why he had decided on military action while Republicans and Democrats in Congress and the Brits were yanking the rug out from under him.
The place where Obama really looks weak right now is at home.
Even after Democrats changed the filibuster rule and rigged the game in the Senate to get nominees through on a majority vote, the White House got whacked over its nominee to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division.
Bryan Cranston has said he hopes Obama comes to see his new L.B.J. play on Broadway to learn a little about horse-trading. The sooner, the better. The president and Harry Reid upended the entire Senate to get people like Debo Adegbile through, and they couldn’t get him through — and in the area of civil rights, so crucial to Obama’s legacy.
Obama called the defeat “a travesty,” but the White House seemed oblivious to the fact that they were putting Democratic senators in red states in a squeeze between the Fraternal Order of Police and civil rights groups. Adegbile had worked on an N.A.A.C.P. legal team that filed a Supreme Court brief in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a writer and former Black Panther convicted in the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer, Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal called himself a political prisoner and turned into such an international cause célèbre that a Paris suburb named a street for him.
If Obama was determined to choose Adegbile, his team needed to sell him adeptly and promptly. But Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania said there were still “open wounds” about Faulkner in his state, and by the time Casey and six other Democrats began to run away, it was too late.
It also didn’t help Obama’s swag that Reid and Nancy Pelosi peremptorily declared the president’s trade agenda D.O.A. for this session, showing that he doesn’t have the juice to override them on a key part of his economic plan. If the president doesn’t get it together, he’s headed for a big, bad midterm “thumpin’ ” in the memorable word of W., who experienced one six years into his reign.
It’s tricky for Democrats: Obama is unpopular, so they want to distance themselves from him in the tough races in red states. But the more they run away from him, the weaker he looks and the more unpopular he gets. (Gallup has his approval rating dropping to 41 percent, a danger zone for Democrats running for re-election.)
If the Republicans win the Senate, they’ll get in and find out they can’t pass legislation either. Then they’ll look bad just in time to help make a Democratic presidential candidate look good.
Sooner or later she’ll poison herself with her own bile, and that day can’t come soon enough. Here’s Mr. Kristof:
What strikes one American woman in four and claims a life in the United States every six hours?
This scourge can be more unsettling to talk about than colonoscopies, and it is so stigmatizing that most victims never seek help.
Paula Denize Lewis, an executive assistant here in Atlanta, was among those who kept quiet about domestic violence, for that’s what I’m talking about. She tried to cover up the black eyes and bruises when she went to work, and when she showed up with her arm in a sling she claimed that she had fallen down the stairs.
Then one evening, she says, her alcoholic boyfriend was again beating her, throwing beer cans at her and threatening to kill her. She ran for a telephone in the kitchen to call 911, but he reached it first and began clubbing her on the head with it.
Lewis reached frantically into a kitchen drawer for something to defend herself with. “I grabbed what I could,” she said.
What she had grabbed turned out to be a paring knife. She stabbed her boyfriend once. He died.
Lewis was jailed and charged with murder. With the help of the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence, the charge was reduced to involuntary manslaughter and she was sentenced to probation.
That episode underscores the way our silence and squeamishness about domestic violence hurts everyone. If there had been earlier intervention, Lewis might have avoided years of abuse and a felony conviction — and her boyfriend might still be alive.
Domestic violence deserves far more attention and resources, and far more police understanding of the complexities involved. This is not a fringe concern. It is vast, it is outrageous, and it should be a national priority.
Women worldwide ages 15 to 44 are more likely to die or be maimed as a result of male violence than as a consequence of war, cancer, malaria and traffic accidents combined. Far more Americans, mostly women, have been killed in the last dozen years at the hands of their partners than in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
American women are twice as likely to suffer domestic violence as breast cancer, and the abuse is particularly shattering because it comes from those we have loved.
“He’s the only person I’ve ever loved,” Ta’Farian, 24, said of her husband, whom she met when she was an 18-year-old college student. He gradually became violent, she says, beating her, locking her up in a closet, and destroying property.
“My family was like, ‘He’s your husband. You can’t leave him. How would you support yourself?’ ”
Still, she says, it became too much, and she called 911. Police arrested him. But she says that the day before the trial, her husband called and threatened to kill her if she testified against him, so she says that out of a mix of fear and love she refused to repeat in court what had happened. Her husband was let off, and she was convicted of false reporting of a crime.
Ta’Farian is now in hiding, fearful of her husband as well as of the courts; she dissolved into tears as she was telling her story, partly out of fear that her conviction could cost her the custody of her son. Ayonna Johnson, who works for the Women’s Resource Center, comforted her, saying: “You should not have gotten punished for trying to stay alive.”
Domestic violence is infinitely complex in part because women sometimes love the men who beat them: they don’t want the man jailed; they don’t want to end the relationship; they just want the beatings to end.
Women can obtain temporary protective orders to keep violent boyfriends or husbands away, but these are just pieces of paper unless they’re rigorously enforced. Sometimes the orders even trigger a retaliatory attack on the woman, and police officers around the country don’t always make such a case a priority — until it becomes a murder investigation.
One way of addressing that conundrum is mandated classes for abusers, like one run by the group Men Stopping Violence. One session I sat in on was a little like Alcoholics Anonymous in its confessional, frank tone, but it focused on domestic abuse. The men were encouraged to be brutally honest in examining their shortcomings in relationships; it’s surely more effective than sending abusers to jail to seethe at their wives and wallow in self-pity.
Sometimes there’s a perception that domestic violence is insoluble, because it’s such a complex, messy problem with women who are culprits as well as victims. Yet, in fact, this is an area where the United States has seen enormous progress.
Based on victimization surveys, it seems that violence by men against their intimate partners has fallen by almost two-thirds since 1993. Attitudes have changed as well. In 1987, only half of Americans said that it was always wrong for a man to beat his wife with a belt or stick; a decade later, 86 percent said that it was always wrong.
A generation ago, police didn’t typically get involved. “We would say, ‘don’t make us come back, or you’re both going to jail,’ ” recalled Capt. Leonard Dreyer of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office. In contrast, sheriff’s officers now routinely arrest the aggressor.
Three steps are still needed. First, we must end the silence. Second, we must ensure that police departments everywhere take the issue seriously before a victim becomes a corpse. Third, offenders should be required to attend training programs like the one run by Men Stopping Violence.
A young mom named Antonya Lewis reflects the challenges. She stayed with a violent boyfriend for years, she said, because he was the father of her daughters and was always so apologetic afterward — and also because that was what she had been told was a woman’s lot in life.
“My mom always told me to suck it up,” she said. But then her boyfriend beat her up so badly that he broke a bone near her eye and put her in the hospital. She told him that she was done with him, and when he continued to stalk her and threaten to kill her, she called the police — repeatedly — with little effect. Now she has moved to a new city and is starting over.
“I didn’t want my daughters to see him beat me,” she said. “I didn’t want them to think this is what a man can do to a woman.”
That, too, is progress.