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Gerson on the Tea Party

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For months now, I have been warning the GOP that the extremists in the ranks of the Tea Party threaten the long-term viability of the Republican Party, not the Democratic Party, because ultimately, the American people are not primarily ideological, they want problem-solvers in office, and whatever they think of the Democrats, nobody likes voting for a candidate who can be described as “kookie.”

Will the Real McCain Please Come Back

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John McCain won big and ugly last night. He trounced J. D. Hayworth by a margin of 57 to 32 percent. But, McCain’s path to victory was an ugly one.

In the past few months, facing a challenge from his right, McCain “the Maverick” morphed into just another ranter on the right. Gone was the man who had negotiated campaign finance reform with liberal Senator Russ Feingold. Gone was the man who had promoted comprehensive immigration reform with liberal giant Sen. Ted Kennedy. Instead, McCain tacked so far to the right that he lost sight of the truth, asserting that Phoenix had become the “#2 kidnapping capital in the world,” even though it wasn’t, and that his flip-flop on immigration was caused, in part, by rising violence along the border, even though crime has fallen in each of the past four years along the border. McCain even denied that he had once been a Maverick.

Money & Politics

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Money and politics function like pasta and olive oil: They cling to each other. The making of money today is accompanied by elaborate lobbying efforts to get special provisions into the tax code, or special regulatory standing, or some governmental special treatment. And campaigns can’t run if you can’t pay the staff, can’t run the ads, can’t send out the mailings.

Candidates for political office spend hours upon hours “dialing for dollars.” The candidate sits in a room, calling people on the phone and asking for donations. Sitting opposite the candidate is a staffer who feeds them the name, number and personal information about the person they are calling. As they wind down one call, the staffer begins dialing the next number. This is all opaque to the public: You never, ever let the press see the candidate dialing for dollars. It would appear so humiliating. This has given rise to a number of self-funding candidates, super-rich people who wish to share their capacity for “success” with the public.

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October 10-23, 2014

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