Michael Steele To Enlarge GOP Tent With Offerings of Fried Chicken, Seriously

It’s been a while since a good Micheal Steele-doing-something-stupid-moment and via TPM, this is pretty incredible.

For those who can’t watch YouTube, Michael Steele on how he’ll bring a “more diverse audience” to the GOP:

“My plan is to say, ‘Ya’ll come!” Steele said, adding, “I got the fried chicken and potato salad!”

Now, it does sound as though someone prompted him by mentioning something about “collard greens,” but there’s really no limits to this man’s ability to embarass himself.

Republicans: Reinvigorate A Demoralized Base With More Losses

So the New York Times has “obtained” several memos outlining the brilliant Republican strategy behind fruitlessly trying to block Barack Obama’s choice to replace David Souter on the Supreme Court.

While conservatives say they know they have little chance of defeating Mr. Obama’s choice because Democrats control the Senate, they say they hope to mount a fight that could help refill depleted coffers and galvanize a movement demoralized by Republican electoral defeats.

“It’s an immense opportunity to build the conservative movement and identify the troops out there,” said Richard A. Viguerie, a conservative fund-raiser. “It’s a massive teaching moment for America. We’ve got the packages written. We’re waiting right now to put a name in.”[…]

[…Manuel Miranda, who has led conference calls for conservative groups about judges, said the focus on such issues would present “a great opportunity to really prepare the great debate with a view toward Senate elections in 2010 and the presidency.”

Here’s a chart of approval ratings for Congress, by party.

What you’ll notice is that Democratic approval has shot up and approval of Republicans has more or less stagnated at what appears to be ludicrous unpopularity. Without getting too general, I think it’s a pretty safe assumption that this data can be interpreted to mean President Obama’s legislative agenda, even as clumsily implemented by Congressional Democrats, has been broadly popular and Republican opposition in Congress has been, well, ludicrously unpopular. That said, I’m not entirely sure how a campaign of outspoken, and again, ultimately fruitless opposition on issues where a majority of Americans hold a different position is going to make Republican Senate candidates fare better in 2010.

It’s true that the media and PR histrionics in which the GOP will engage will indubitably lead to increases in campaign coffers and donations, but the downside is that most of these contributions will be coming from people who support unpopular policies and as such, will be funneled to aid the election of efforts of politicians who hold unpopular policy positions. What’s more, I’m a little confused about the mechanics of reinvigorating a “movement demoralized by Republican electoral defeats,” with yet another defeat, but I guess that’s how things go when you’re batshit insane.

The Heights of Chutzpah

So today the Republicans elucidated a bit more fully their budgetless-budget of last week during which they embarrassingly offered to cut taxes, maintain entitlements, and address the deficit, all without the use of the One Ring, the Force, or any other ethereal or mystical powers. Anyway, if you thought that was ballsy and transparently ludicrous, clearly you hadn’t considered this possibility.

But the real way that Republicans offer the tax cut without factoring it into the budget’s revenue is to suggest that Americans won’t actually take advantage of the lower rates. Instead, the GOP budget permanently extends President Bush’s 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. A Republican budget committee aid said that the revenues assumed in the GOP budget are based on the current tax structure that resulted from those cuts.

In other words, Republicans are assuming that given the choice between a higher rate and a lower rate, Americans will choose the higher rate.

A lot of people have been referring to this as the “April Fool’s Budget” ironically, but I’m not so sure. Seriously, I really can’t believe how a party that carps endlessly about being ignored would offer this sort of gimmick on April 1st and not be joking. I look forward to truth emerging.

Republican Plan For Good Times And Awesomeness

So as some of you might know, the Republicans today announced their alternative “budget.” You may have even read about it in a PR flacks wet dream this risible article by Mike Allen that was such an insult to the term “reporting” that it actually caused me to swear off Politico once and for all.* But in case you didn’t, the “budget” is essentially a recycled form of John McCain’s campaign platform, only with even less detail and more platitudes. For example, behold the Republican energy plan!

energyNice plan, jackasses. Of course, there’s more, like how to the stated goal of reducing the deficit while cutting taxes and leaving entitlements intact. Most reasonable people would observe that this is an actuarial impossibility, and indeed, this might be what’s provoking these sorts of testy exchanges with House Minority Leader John Boehner:

When pressed further by reporters, Boehner promised that Republicans would release their actual budget within the next few days and pointed a finger back at the president.

After Obama delivered a prime-time speech previewing his budget, Boehner said, “he didn’t offer his details until days later.”

A co-worker of mine suggested the Republican plan was a wise political move. Needless to say, I disagree largely for the same reason John Boehner’s point about the delay between Obama’s NSOTU speech and the Presidential budget unveiling is stupid. Unlike President Obama, the House Republicans were under no deadline to either address a joint session of Congress or submit their alternative “budget.” Therefore, the drubbing they are now receiving for the vacuity of their “plan” was completely and entirely avoidable and indeed, should have been avoided. In the meantime, the result has reinforced the notion that the Republicans are not a party to be taken seriously.

*on morning commutes.

This is Amazing

Mad props to Ana Marie Cox for finding this and snagging an interview. This is amazing.

Now, granted the kid is 13 years old — but if I understand his argument correctly it’s that conservatism needs to return (?) to principle rather than focus on more ancillary and trifling things like policy. Sage advice. Anyway, it gets way better.

I hope for his sake that young Jonathan Krohn is a social conservative, because that at least meshes pretty well with the whole “never getting laid” schtick.

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Michael Steele is a Giant Herb

Matt Yglesias points to this report in The Washington Times, which notes…

Newly elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele plans an “off the hook” public relations offensive to attract younger voters, especially blacks and Hispanics, by applying the party’s principles to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings.”

The RNC’s first black chairman will “surprise everyone” when updating the party’s image using the Internet and advertisements on radio, on television and in print, he told The Washington Times.

In addition to the mounting evidence that Michael Steele is a moron, it also seems to me there is little to no evidence that he has even the slightest shred of credibility when it comes to relating to people who might be influenced in “hip-hop settings.” For example, Urban Dictionary dates the phrase “off the hook” to 2002 …not exactly “fresh” in the urban lexicon. (Also: can someone explain to me what an “urban-suburban hip-hop setting” is?)

I was dubious of the efficacy of the GOP’s strategy of insulting the intelligence of black people “updating its image” from the start, but if Michael Steele doesn’t even have the chops to pull it off, this is going to get ugly. And by ugly, I mean hilarious.

Also, check out this footage of Michael Steele being maladroit.

Rope-a-dope?

Ezra Klein links to an article detailing the Administration’s reaction to Republican obstinacy during the stimulus fight, suggesting Obama will be far less likely to extend a hand across the aisle, and will focus efforts on salesmanship and building public support. Good. Anyway, Ezra says this:

The coming priorities, like health care reform and financial regulation, will be built to ensure Democratic unity and to support maximum public pressure and salesmanship. It will be a strategy aimed at puncturing Republican intransigence rather than enticing cooperation. That may not prove to be a strategy the GOP wanted Obama to embrace so early. Better to have him learn it after they killed health reform than before he starts the health reform fight, I’d imagine.

This is what happens when you let short term political considerations steer your long term strategy, and that’s assuming Republicans even have one. Sure, the GOP has positioned itself to capitalize on catastrophic economic failure, but I think it’s debatable whether “betting on the other guy to blow it” counts as legitimate strategy. Alternatively, the GOP could be taking its punches now — waiting on economic recovery — to come back a few years down the road with a rope-a-dope featuring a cut of the capital gains tax as a coup de gras, but I doubt it.