by Lee, 12/01/2012, 10:18 PM

In my last job, I was a software test manager for a company that did most of its work out of Omaha. As a result, I developed some good friendships with the engineers there, and even after that job came to an end, I’ve been able to keep in touch with them over Facebook. About a month before the election, I saw a photo of one of my ex-co-workers, with a bunch of his buddies, sitting around the couch getting ready to watch the Cornhuskers take on Ohio State. There’s nothing unusual about that for someone living in Omaha, but what struck me was that he was born and raised in India, and the nearly 10 people in his living room were Indian-Americans as well.

It’s not news to anyone that America’s demographics continue to change. But when we talk about it in terms of politics, this trend can be hidden. Asian-Americans are now a significant voting bloc in this country, and they’ve been voting more and more Democratic in the past two decades.

Goldy posted recently about the post-mortem on Rob McKenna’s failed campaign. Republicans blame a lack of support from the national GOP, but Goldy points out that McKenna still had more money to work with. Jay Inslee just put his money towards more effective GOTV efforts rather than the silly ads that polluted the airwaves in October.

A lot of variables go into an electoral outcome, and Goldy’s certainly right that the Democrats in this state have a strong edge in GOTV and ground game. But I’m growing more and more convinced that the most significant event in this campaign was the incident in July involving a staff member with an anti-Asian tweet in her Twitter feed.

For a Republican like Rob McKenna to win in this state, he has to be completely invulnerable to being seen as a typical GOP extremist. For the most part, McKenna has always been very good at this. But finding out that a staffer had sent an offensive tweet and then taking a few days before forcing her resignation was his biggest blunder on that front.

This incident tied McKenna to one of the ugliest traits of the GOP in recent years – xenophobia – and it certainly resonated with the large Asian-American population in this state. Looking at the polling for this year, you can see that the polls abruptly shifted in Inslee’s direction right at the time that this incident occurred (week of July 16-20) and never went back.

Recently, Josh Marshall at TPM has been discussing this topic and received this note from an Indian-American in Iowa:

And as time went on, it became clear in other polling that PPP early on was on to more than just snarky telephone survey replies, there really is a disturbingly large percentage of Republicans who are openly hostile to Obama specifically because of his race, his national origin, and his partial religious ancestry. That GOP electeds from Boehner to McConnell to all the GOP Presidential candidates were unwilling to call out any of it just reinforced the point, since it established they were afraid because these people were a very large part of the GOP base. You don’t worry about calling out your own party’s cranks in public if they’re marginal figures whose votes you don’t need and don’t think you’ll lose because they have no other options…Republican candidates and electeds know that they can lose primaries for openly challenging racial and other bigoted hostility toward Obama. And all this is very personal to me. When I was a small child in Ames, Iowa, in my immigrant family, neighborhood teenagers assaulted our home regularly, pelting fruit and whatever else at our house. Several times my dad had the police come and lecture this group of kids. It was all about race, and these kids’ parents did nothing. So when Mitt Romney in a Michigan stump speech snarks that no one asked him for his birth certificate, and his GOP allies defend the racism as “just a joke,” when so many GOP federal and state electeds endorse or tacitly condone questioning of Obama’s citizenry and engage in other dog whistle racism, these are always personal attacks equally on me…if Obama is not an American and does not legitimately belong, then they’re saying the same about me. I imagine I’m not alone, that people of color across the board see what I see, and the election results confirm this.

There’s nothing more damaging to the GOP right now that the (well-earned) reputation that they’re beholden to an intolerant base, one that still defines American-ness through skin color, religion and ethnicity, not by culture and upbringing. And I’m convinced that a single intolerant thought from a brainless staffer dragged Rob McKenna too far into that cesspool.

22 Responses to “The Tweet that Turned the Tide”

1. expatchad spews:

It would be a terrible shame if, like other prehistoric reptiles, the GOP became a victim of natural selection.

Just sayin’

2. expatchad spews:

Or became birds….

3. Roger Rabbit spews:

McKenna lost for many reasons. Lee makes a plausible case that Ehl’s tweets were a dealbreaker for some voters. But I think the bigger takeaway from Campaign 2012 is that the GOP threw huge sums of money at saturation-bombing the public with TV ads, and it didn’t work. People by the millions tuned out the ads.

Wherever you look now, you see GOP tactics imploding. Their “nonpartisan” stealth candidates don’t fool voters, and they lose. Their vote suppression efforts just make targeted minorities all the more determined to vote. The rightwing Noise Machine is losing its effectiveness; people see through the bullshit and don’t pay attention to it anymore.

Lies and dirty tricks may work for a while. As Lincoln purportedly said,* “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

* This famous quote has been attributed to various historical figures, including P. T. Barnum and Mark Twain, and no one knows for sure, but arguably the best evidence is a 1901 book by Alexander McClure, a personal friend of Lincoln who worked on Lincoln’s 1860 campaign, called “Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories.”

4. David spews:

Mr. McKenna was never a serious candidate in my household because he spent his entire campaign weaseling out of answering questions. I will never vote for a candidate that does this as it just appears they are unprincipled.

5. FricknFrack spews:

@ Lee, thanks for an excellent post!

@ #3 Roger Rabbit, again, excellent post.

I think, given Citizens United, voters got p!ssed at having their TVs taken over by relentless advertisements. A backlash even. Sis & I just FF’d via Tivo. But for folks that don’t have that service the ads just made them angrier by the ad after ad.

All the voter suppression in the various states just sealed the deal. NO WAY IN HELL did people in WA want to contend with a Republican Gov messing us over like happened in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Florida, etc.

The fact that McKenna signed into the ‘overturn Obamacare’ court case showed that he was no different than the other nutcase Govs in other states!

6. Tammy spews:

At least mckenna did something about the employee who made an innapproiate tweet.
He did something only because the public found out.
Mckenna has done nothing about his Chief Deputy Attorney Brian Moron who called a DV victim, trying to intimidate and bully her demanding she stop asking for a DOJ or FBI investigation into police misconduct, prosecutorial misconduct,corruption and crimes commited against her.
I personnally made a complaint about this employee but nothing was done.
I also personnally made sure Mckenna knew about the police/prosecutorial misconduct and how horrifically his office treated me but nothing was done.
Only if the public knows will he do something.
Google = “Gingers strength rob mckenna”
to see the real mckenna
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qdl-yVqv69c

7. Tammy spews:

The real Mckenna that the media does report.
His real stand on domestic violence.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qdl-yVqv69c

8. No time for Fascists spews:

Death by a 1000 cuts.
mckenna lost a fraction because of the racist
tweet.
mckenna lost a fraction because he wouldn’t answer questions and seemed afraid of the the Stranger.
mckenna lost a fraction because of the Health Care challenge
mckenna lost a large fraction because he was associated with the national republican party and by association, their racist, anti women, anti immigrant, anti science, anti middle class, homophobic positions.
Etc.
Add that up and he lost.

9. Get off my lawn! spews:

There’s nothing more damaging to the GOP right now that the (well-earned) reputation that they’re beholden to an intolerant base, one that still defines American-ness through skin color, religion and ethnicity, not by culture and upbringing.

Oh my stars! I’ve posted countless examples of troll racism and xenophobia and I won’t indulge myself further in this thread..

Republicans are practically extinct in CA… After over 30 years of the Prop 13 Jarvis/Gann madness it’s come full circle there – the Dems have a super-majority in the legislature and if they’re not spineless (they are) can UNWIND that atrocity.

Republicans aren’t anything to speak of in OR..

Here in WA Republicans just saw their best chance for Gov in 30 years not even come close to what three-time loser Rossi managed in 2004.

Now what could Republicans be doing so wrong on the left coast? Pretty obvious to me.

10. Roger Rabbit spews:

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” today, Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, makes a very interesting comment.

First, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) describes Obama’s proposed $716B of Medicare cuts as “low hanging fruit” and “fluff in the Medicare system … that we had to recover,” and points out it was “the same savings that was in the Ryan plan” — then was exploited “as a political two-by-four in the campaign” by Republicans and “that was wrong.”

Then, Corker drops his bombshell: “I actually agree that the ad was not the kind of ad I would have run” — a direct and pointed criticism of Mitt Romney’s campaign tactics.

The pertinent exchange starts at about 18:30 into the tape:

http://nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/02/15618202-geithner-urges-republican-leaders-to-offer-ideas-on-averting-fiscal-cliff?lite

A couple other things need to be noted here. First, when Corker talks about his 242-page bill making “very painful cuts” to Medicare, what he’s referring to is a plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system; in other words, his bill merely reiterates Paul Ryan’s voucher scheme, which voters rejected in the election.

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/12/02/1269211/republican-senator-calls-for-very-painful-cuts-to-medicare/?mobile=nc

Second, and this nuanced, so you don’t pick it up right away, when Republicans talk about “serious cuts” to entitlements they are talking about taking benefits away from the middle class and particularly senior citizens; and their primary objective is not cost savings per se, but rather implementing their ideology of dismantling the entitlement state and forcing everyone to be on their own.

In other words, requiring wealthy retirees to pay higher Medicare premiums or copays, no matter how much money it saved, would not satisfy their litmus test because it doesn’t take entitlements away from middle class or poor retirees.

It doesn’t sound like NBC moderator David Gregory catches this, because he lets it pass without comment. Thus, Corker comes across in the tape as far more reasonable than he actually is. And Corker isn’t really putting his own proposal on the table; he’s merely repackaging the most radical GOP schemes with different words. This is made clear by the second link above:

“The Democrats’ proposal identifies specific inefficiencies and waste from providers and drug manufacturers and asks wealthier seniors to pay more for health care. But Republicans — and some in the media — are only interested in ‘serious’ plans that directly reduce benefits or substantially increase out of pocket spending for seniors and poor Americans who rely on Medicaid.* The [Republican] cuts are designed to shrink entitlement programs and consequently cause very real pain to the people who benefit from them.”

* It appears they meant “Medicare” here — RR.

Going after waste, inefficiency, and excessive payments to providers (including drug companies) should be a no-brainer and something the parties can readily agree on.

Beyond that, if deeper cuts in Medicare are truly needed (and they probably are), it’s fair and makes sense to start by means-testing Medicare (e.g., by requiring wealthy beneficiaries to pay higher premiums and copays), because unlike Social Security, Medicare benefits aren’t tied to what you’ve paid in via FICA taxes.

If still further cuts are needed (or perhaps this should be part of the first round of cuts), then the next logical place to cut is Bush’s unfunded Part D prescription drug program, because it’s a total freebie — no one has ever paid any taxes for it — being financed by direct borrowing from China and other foreign and domestic buyers of Treasuries.

Bottom line, Corker’s tacit admission that Romney’s Medicare ad was below-the-belt campaigning can’t mask the fact that he and other GOPers are still trying to peddle Ryan’s scheme to dismantle Medicare (and if they get that, they’ll go after Social Security again), even though they lost the election and voters have repeatedly and decisively rejected that whole approach ever since Bush first floated his scheme to privatize Social Security.

It’s hard to decipher whether the Republicans are being incorrigible dogmatics, or bargaining in bad faith — probably some of both. What’s clear is they’re not being serious, and unless they get serious pretty soon, we’re going over the “fiscal cliff” in January.

11. Roger Rabbit spews:

@10 is a long post, but the “fiscal cliff” is a complicated dance, and getting more so as the GOPers and Dems start moving toward specifics.

Here’s a summary of where things stand.

Obama – (1) Wants to raise taxes on the wealthy and extend middle class tax cuts first, so we’ll know how much revenue we have, then address spending cuts and entitlement reform. (2) Wants Republicans to propose specific entitlement cuts, to put the onus of cutting entitlements on them.

GOPers – (1) They want entitlement cuts up front as a quid pro quo for raising taxes on the wealthy. (2) They want to cut Medicare benefits, not just provider payments, as a matter of principle and regardless of whether benefit cuts are needed to achieve deficit reduction. (3) In cutting benefits, they aren’t even talking about Bush’s unfunded prescription plan; rather, they want to start by cutting core benefits that are funded by the FICA taxes the beneficiaries have paid throughout their working lifetimes. (4) They’re still trying to turn Medicare into a voucher program, and hope to use revenue increases as leverage to force Obama to agree to this and get other Democrats to go along with it.

There’s absolutely no logical reason to believe this will get settled before Obama goes on vacation and Congress goes on Christmas break around Dec. 20.

12. Roger Rabbit spews:

It’s Official: Mitt Romney Is A ‘Sore Loser’

Joe Klein writing in Time magazine:

“Has there ever been a less gracious presidential loser than Mitt Romney? … There are sore losers in every election. But the quality of the carping is different this time. … I worry that their sense of loss will fester and in some cases get ugly.”

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2129804,00.html

Roger Rabbit Commentary: That’s the trouble with rich people. They feel entitled. The rest of us work for everything.

13. Roger Rabbit spews:

Factoid: There are 946 billionaires in the world today. Many work in the financial industry. (Source: NBC)

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/3041440/ns/today-money/#19547644

Roger Rabbit Commentary: What I want to know is, where are the customers’ yachts? Oh wait, here …

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/Rowboat_with_oars.jpg

14. Roger Rabbit spews:

As we now know, Mittster didn’t prepare a concession speech, and did prepare a transition website. His minions quickly took it down, but not fast enough. Intrepid wonks captured screen shots and the Mitt Romney Transition Website is now assured of immortality. You can peruse it here:

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Photos+Romney+president+elect+transition+site/7514843/story.html?tab=PHOT

Roger Rabbit Commentary: They should call the movie version “Arrogant Bastards.”

15. Roger Rabbit spews:

We Have Met The 47 Percent And They Are Us Dep’t

“Seventy percent of counties with the fastest-growth in food-stamp aid during the last four years voted for the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data compiled by Bloomberg.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-05/republican-heavy-counties-eat-up-most-food-stamp-growth.html?cmpid=otbrn.sustain.story

16. Lauramae spews:

There is a deep sense that Republicans who aren’t obviously racist or xenophobic, are in fact both when no one is looking.

The fellow in Iowa sums it up perfectly. The incessant jokes, thinly veiled racism towards Obama is something everyone who is not white has experienced at some point or another. And it isn’t at all difficult to recall those times.

I’ll go further: it is now much more acceptable for people to be openly racist and unapologetically so. The trend has been in play for decades now.

I’ve said it before about the gov race here, but it really is like Republican candidates and their campaigns truly do not know anyone who isn’t just like them. The ads, the comments they make, the comments that are allowed to remain unanswered show that there isn’t anyone saying “um, hey…that makes you look like a bleating, angry white guy gasping for the last breath of his white privilege.”

McKenna even had an ad that said that–the cranky old white men in the diner ad complaining about all the takers and shaking their heads….just like so many of have seen.

I remember seeing that ad and thinking “Jesus on a stick…don’t you guys know ANY brown people?”

17. expatchad spews:


16. Lauramae spews:

There is a deep sense that Republicans who aren’t obviously racist or xenophobic, are in fact both when no one is looking.

They are also largely anaerobic

18. Get off my lawn! spews:

Obama’s “socialism” has been so bad for corporate profits that…

http://www.businessinsider.com/profits-versus-wages

They just hit an all-time high! Any chance the typical American is benefiting from that?

Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low. This is closely related to the chart above. One reason companies are so profitable is that they’re paying employees less than they ever have before.

Nope.. I’m sure certain bottom of the barrel trolls will soon claim an dissatisfaction with this out of whack state of things is just “jealousy”..

Or they’ll blame it on Obama.

19. rhp6033 spews:

For Republicans, demographic strategy has been all about changing “how the communicate”, instead of making any significant changes in policy. They feel that if they give a smarmier smile, shake lots of hands where there are lots of Asians, and post pictures of Asian supporters on their websites, then they have won the battle. They think that by appealing to Asian’s “strong work ethic” and business owners, they can make Asian-Americans a Republican constituancy.

But as the original posts makes clear, the Asian-American community is smarter than that. The Asian-Americans I work with regularly are far better educated than the average American, travel extensivly in the world, and make sure their children are similarly educated. When a Republican makes statements like “we have the best education system in the world”, they just look for a moment in complete disbelief, before collapsing into fits of laughter.

And on the Republican side, I hear mutterings about how there are “too many Asians” at the Univ. of Washington, which prevent little Johnny with his B average from getting into the computer programing program there. It’s an old story – jealousy and envy, combined with a perceived minority group that can be blamed for all the problems. We all know where that sort of bigotry ended in Europe in the middle of the last century.

20. rhp6033 spews:

By the way, the “Asian-American” demographic is remarkably diverse in and of itself. Some Chinese have lived in the U.S. – principally in San Francisco and New York, but also in other areas – for several generations. The Japanese settled on the West Coast and became prosperous farmers and merchants, even returning after the WWII evictions. Then in 1974-1980 you had an influx of Vietnames and Cambodian immigrants, many settling into the fishing business they knew but this time in the Gulf regions of the U.S. G.I.s brought home lots of Korean brides from the Korean War to the present time. In the past three decades, we’ve seen an influx of highly educated Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese, and S. Korean Asians, and their children are highly adopted to a cosmpolitan environment. Of course, the tech boom brought in lots of Indian-Americans.

So you have to ask – what Asian-Americans do the Republicans hope to appeal to?

21. rhp6033 spews:

Of course, the short version is that it’s okay for the Republicans to appeal to the racist masses, and be racist themselves. The only sin, in their view, is actually making a comment which reveals what they really believe.

That’s what got them into so much trouble with women this time around. Republican candidates were caught saying what they really believed – that only sluts need birth control, and that women really “want it” so that most rapes are really legitimate, and that illigitimate rapes are so rare that they don’t result in births.

When caught, they tried to deny it in their retractions (apologizing – sort of – for their poor word choice. A few even refused to backtrack or apologize, and doubled-down on their ignorance.

Now, everyone has a telephone with a video-camera capability, and the web spreads such “slips” within a few hours. They have tried to protect themselves by holding “private” events where they try to exclude cameras and recorders, but they can’t hide as much as they used to.

22. Jason Osgood spews:

RR @10- Great post. Thanks for breaking it down.