The Missouri GOP Primary Senatorial Debate

Last night I was on the question panel for the Missouri GOP Primary Senatorial Debate between Congressman Todd Akin, John Brunner, and Sarah Steelman. It’s a hotly contested primary for what will become a brutal general election against Democrat incumbent Claire McCaskill. You can watch a re-webcast of the debate here.

Questions from the panel seemed to focus most on Obamacare; some of mine in particular focused on foreign policy and border issues, such as Fast and Furious.

I asked the candidates what the United States’s response should be to the uprising and massacres in Syria; both Akin and Brunner wanted to keep out of Syrian affairs whereas Steelman seemed to suggest military action. Akin quoted the Founders; Brunner employed his military background and explained that any military action must involve a clear vision of victory as well as well-defined objectives to minimize the term of engagement and amount of resources.

On Fast and Furious — arguably the biggest scandal of the Obama administration — I asked the candidates whether they would have supported this program under a Republican president (it began as a gun walking program under Bush and was expanded and its oversight eroded under Obama) and what they would do to bring justice to the families of the slain border agents in the tragedy. All three echoed that they would push to bring Holder up on charges; Akin declared he would push for Holder to take the stand, highlighting the fissure between Boehner and others in the House and giving more weight to claims that Boehner is the obstacle to getting Holder on the stand. Brunner said he would not have supported any such program under any president regardless the party affiliation, as did Steelman.

I asked the candidates about the Politico piece which reported that certain members of the House GOP were planning their move after the Supreme Court ruled on the health care law. Depending on whether the high court was to throw out the law in total or partial, some GOP members were considering leaving in place “popular and consumer friendly” portions of the law. I asked the candidates, if presented with this legislation in the Senate, would they stand with grassroots and the majority of Americans who opposed this law when it was forced upon us or would they stand with House and/or Senate leadership? All three said the entire law must go, no exceptions. I noted to a colleague afterwards that it was a slightly different answer than I expected from Rep. Akin, who I asked on my show about the Politico piece they day it ran. He was cautious with his answer then and said that there may be certain pieces that some might consider keeping. I was glad to hear his resounding “no” last night.

Photo by Robert Brenner

Having been part of a number of presidential debates, I used the same judgment evaluating this debate as I have those: ignoring the candidates’s records or any past statements and specifically judging them on their answers and delivery at the debate. The ability to articulate conservatism well is supremely important in our sound bite era. It’s a reason why Chris Christie is so popular: he’s a moderate east coast Republican who, if running in the southern states, would be eaten alive with his record on energy, but his ability to speak to what angers us about government (coupled with New Jersey reforms) has helped propel him to the national stage.

I thought Todd Akin won last night’s debate based on his answers and delivery, with John Brunner second and Sarah Steelman third. It was the first time I’ve ever seen Akin aggressive. It’s one of the complaints I hear about him most often, that lack of fire in the belly needed to carry one through November. Steelman got the most jabs in, mostly directed at Akin, and at one point from my vantage onstage, Brunner looked visibly agitated at Steelman’s answer and no doubt wished he had longer than a 30 seconds for a response.

I’ll be playing soundbites from the debate on today’s show, beginning 12 central. Akin was scheduled for today’s show not to discuss the campaign or debate, but because he’s one of the major players in bringing the possibility of contempt charges against Eric Holder next week, a story which broke yesterday.

Michigan Drops Recall Effort After Wisconsin Victory

Another reason why Wisconsin was so important:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s victory in Tuesday’s recall vote is yielding dividends for another Midwestern Republican governor.

A group that sought to force a recall of Michigan’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder said Thursday it’s calling it quits, citing a lack of support and the chilly political climate in the wake of the Wisconsin vote.

Michigan Rising, an independent group that had set a goal of gathering 1 million signatures on petitions to force a recall vote on Mr. Snyder, said Thursday it will stop its recall campaign immediately. The organization’s leaders said in a web post that as of June 4 it had collected only 2,079 names on 655 petitions, well short of a target of 200,000 signatures by June 1.

“It has become abundantly clear that Michigan Rising was not going accomplish its goal of recalling Governor Snyder,” Michigan Rising’s communications director Bruce Fealk said in a statement. “The results in Wisconsin crystallized how difficult a task it is to recall a sitting governor, even when the unions and the Democratic Party play a significant role in the effort.”

Day Two of Netroots: Is the Tea Party Racist, Van Jones?

A full day of making friends.

I had admitted Marxist Van Jones sign his Occupy-heavy book at which time I also asked him if he thought the tea party was still racist.

“I’m not sure that I ever said the tea party was racist,” he explained.

He’s called libertarians, conservatives, and others as much before:

“They say they’re Patriots but they hate everybody in America who looks like us.  They say they love America but they hate the people, the brown folk, the gays, the lesbians, the people with piercings, ya know ya’ll.”

After his short book signing, he showed me several parts of his book wherein he discussed the tea party and proceeded to tell me that he never said that the tea party was racist except that they are racist.

“I never said they they were racist, but I do think they have racial anxiety,” he said. In his book he writes:

Tea Partiers were media savvy and found support with the media; they focused on scaring the bejeebers out of elected officials; they had the ability to pivot from protest to electoral politics; they capitalized on the racial anxiety surrounding the election of the first African American president …”

Jones writes that the tea party was:

“not particularly big or new, but they were newly presented and newly branded. They punk’d the world, Ashton Kutcher-style.

Not particularly big? Is Jones unaware that well over a million tea partiers marched in Washington DC in 2009? Is he unaware of how many congressional seats the tea party has flipped, how the movement is to credit for the GOP majority in the House? There is no measure of equal, or close-to-equal success from the Occupy movement — this much he begrudgingly admitted. There is, however, a massive rap sheet from the Occupy movement. They don’t have legislative or any successes otherwise, but they have defecated on cop cars, spray painted landmarks, and were caught on camera trying to cover up rapes which happened at their encampments. No “anxiety” about anything there that bears mentioning?

Gateway Pundit finally got to meet his hero.

Occupiers … occupied outside while the one-percenters conferenced inside. A one day pass to Netroots was around $100, weekend pass ran about $450. Why not spread the wealth and let all attend for free? Occupy Netroots! This poor, oppressed Occupier had a $6,000+ Segway.

We marched with the Occupiers as they led us down one of the main streets where we could find a good spot for lunch. With Tabitha Hale of the Franklin Center:

Manwich: The two factions of the Democrat party: the Former “first black” President and the current “first gay” President.

Andrew Marcus of “Hating Breitbart” and a recipient of one of the first Breitbart Awards, a.k.a. Brandon Darby according to some kooky Kossacks, in front of the Democrat Socialists’ table.

From my Netroots swag bag: a made in China iPhone case (look for the union label!) in front of the plethora of labor sponsors listed in their literature. Also interesting the manufacturing country on a product for an abortion advocacy group.

Gateway Pundit notes the empty room to which panelist Paul Krugman spoke.

The conference had all the energy of a tomb, when participants weren’t discussing their dismay over the way in which Obama and Democrats abandoned them in Wisconsin. The attendance seemed anemic. I’m not sure how it compared to attendance at past Netroots conferences, but you would think in an election year when their embattled incumbent needs as much defense as possible that they would see greater numbers.

Sherrod Brown Dodges Obamacare Question At Netroots

This afternoon at Netroots I attempted to ask the embattled Senator Sherrod Brown about his campaign, specifically his record as the deciding vote for Obamacare. Ohio voters passed an amendment to their constitution outlawing the Democrats’ health care law by a wide margin in 2011:

Ohioans overwhelmingly rejected the healthcare mandate provisions of Obamacare.

They did this by handily passing an amendment to the state’s constitution that reads, in part, as follows:

No federal, state, or local law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in a health care system.

My own state’s senator, Claire McCaskill, championed Obamacare while Missourians overwhelmingly (by over 70%, 3-1 in every county) passed the Healthcare Freedom Act which excluded Missourians from the penalties of Obamacare, including jail time and fines.   I wondered how Brown was going to reconcile this troubling disparity in his state.

Unfortunately, while the Senator stood and asked questions from a number of progressive attendees, when I finally had an opening to ask my question, he refused.

“Senator, do you have a moment for a question?”

“Not for you,” he remarked, pointing at me, before rushing off with his assistant.

Later, Al Gore Tweeted “Awesome.”

He later deleted it, but not before I and others screencapped it.

Twitchy called Brown’s behavior “rude and dismissive.” Mediaite attempted to pass it off as a “botched interview attempt” which would only make sense if I had “botched” politely asking Brown for a moment of his time.

Brown can’t rely on Gore to bail him out of his situation and he would do well to not run from honest, politely asked questions from those who simply want answers.

*UPDATE: The Socialist Party spokesman at Netroots said Brown “understands things better than most.”

*MORE: Shark Tank gets a few minutes with Brown (who thought he was speaking with a friendly).

Wednesday’s Gloating Sesh

Today I brought my drum in studio (one of my kid’s snare drums from their drum kit) to celebrate Wisconsin’s historic victory. Granted, we were all a little delirious from having so little sleep the night before, but it was worth it. THIS is what democracy* looks like.

Caller Joe rang in and cracked us all up with his hysterical gloating.

Below is the full list of the show’s special edition Victory Lap Bumper Trax: