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Cornyn: GOP's stance on social issues alienating independents

A striking admission from NRSC chair John Cornyn, buried in today's New York Times article about the GOP and the Tea party:

Mr. Cornyn, who has been on the receiving end of anti-establishment anger, argued that the Tea Party had helped Republicans in one important respect, by moving the debate away from social issues. While Tea Party supporters tend to be socially conservative on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, most say they don't want to talk about them; they believe that by spending so much time on those issues, the Republican Party failed to focus on fiscal conservatism.

While social issues tend to be polarizing, Republicans can win on economic issues, Mr. Cornyn said, because the Democrats have been in charge as the economy has gone south.

"As I've traveled," he said, "I've talked to a lot of folks who are basically independents who say: I'm fine with the Republicans as long as we're talking about fiscal responsibility. Where I go off the reservation is when you talk about social issues."

That seems to be a clear admission from Cornyn that the focus on social issues demanded by social conservatives is driving "a lot" of independents "off the reservation." Very candid.

This gets at another interesting irony about the surprise victory of Tea Party-backed Christine O'Donnell and what it means for the GOP. While Cornyn says that the Tea Party has been a force for good, in that some elements of the movement have moved the discussion away from social issues, the Tea Party has also succeeded in securing the nomination in a major Senate race for someone who epitomizes -- in comically grotesque and distorted form -- the very thing Cornyn fears.

O'Donnell, after all, holds an array of views that will force culturally-charged issues to the forefront in a way that risks alienating independents in just the manner Cornyn worries about. She's anti-masturbation, looks askance at evolution, gay rights and modern feminism, thinks Obama is anti-American, etc etc. So you can see why Cornyn would have preferred that she disappear from public life and confine herself to local masturbation control efforts, rather than emerge as the GOP's standard bearer in a nationally watched Senate race.

By Greg Sargent  |  September 16, 2010; 1:53 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Republicans , Tea Party  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Top pollster to Dems: Hold a vote on middle class tax cuts!
Next: The Nevada dogfight: Reid blasts Angle as "crazy"


For once in his life Corny is right about something. Moderate independents will not vote for social nutbags like O'Donnell and Angle.

Posted by: Observer691 | September 16, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Today's discussions are getting silly

ON one hand the voters see the democrats trying to make an issue out of an 250K tax level for DOUBLE INCOME families -

AND on the other hand, voters are weighing that Obama's health care plan is causing 20% INCREASES in health care costs - AND Obama has been perceived as IGNORING THE ECONOMY for a year and half.

So - where do you think the voters will fall?

How in the world can quibbling over a 250K level for Double Income families do anything???

What is worse: Obama and the democrats are doing something stupid: they are leaving themselves OPEN to 30 second attack ads which will characterize the vote as "Obama's $700 Billion Tax Increase"

So, the whole thing becomes ridiculuous and silly - and you begin to wonder if these people have ANY idea what they are talking about.


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 16, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Not only social issues Greg.

O'Donnell thinks U.S. scientists are mixing humans and mice and there are mice with fully functional human brains. Check out this O'Reilly exchange.

O’DONNELL: … these groups admitted that the report that said, “Hey, yay, we cloned a monkey. Now we’re using this to start cloning humans.” We have to keep…

O’REILLY: Let them admit anything they want. But they won’t do that here in the United States unless all craziness is going on.

O’DONNELL: They are — they are doing that here in the United States. American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains. So they’re already into this experiment.


I'm starting to think O'Donnell was a case of an experiment gone wrong and she got the brain of a mouse.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 16, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

As one of his constituents (Allah help me), I find this very interesting. More like he's saying, "keep that stuff under the rug/in the closet until Big Daddy GOP says its ok." Is the GOP trying to be "moderate"? Don't bet on it.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | September 16, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Newt Gingrich thinks that Obama is anti-American too, so?

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 16, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

"O'Donnell, after all, holds an array of views that will force culturally-charged issues to the forefront."

Dems should be aware of forcing cultural issues to the forefront when the public is concerned first and foremost about the jobs and the economy.

Posted by: sbj3 | September 16, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Christine O'Donnell has been around for a while - it is amazing that most of America has probably already seen her on tv at some point.

Bill Maher attacks everyone on his show.

Trying to take a discussion about HONESTY - taped in the middle of the Clinton Lewinsky - Cigar SCANDAL -

And then turning that into a Nazi question - that was just an attack - they pulled that question on her all of a sudden.

The American Public says WHO CARES?

Obama and the democrats have to be extremely careful - FEW people are listening to them. - Obama and the democrats are desperate to get people to start to listen to them, just so they can begin to start to convince them.

IF people start to listen a little to Obama and the democrats - and ALL they hear is this gibberish on silly issues, the voters are going to be turned off immediately.

I can see the democrats are DESPERATE for an issue - but this is just NOT the way to go about it.



Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 16, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

"Dems should be aware of forcing cultural issues to the forefront"

Thanks for the warning sbj3. I'll keep that in mind while I'm reminding people Ayotte is against abortion even in the case of someones child being raped so the kid and parents get to raise some cons child and be reminded of the horrible experience every day of their lives.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 16, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

mikefromArlington - I'd guess when asked for proof of mice with human brains she pointed to Pinky and the Brain?

The WB, after all, is even more reliable than Fox News.

Posted by: nisleib | September 16, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I think a meta way of looking at this is he realizes that indies may be more liberal than he's comfortable with. Which is an admission of sorts that that "Big Tent" aint quite so big...

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | September 16, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

@mike: "Thanks for the warning sbj3."

You're welcome? I sincerely believe that when folks are struggling to find a job and slipping into poverty the last thing they want their elected representative to be doing is campaigning on cultural issues.

Posted by: sbj3 | September 16, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if O'Donnell is going off the reservations regarding economic issues, as well. We assume she's for "fiscal responsibility", but how does an extremist like herself define that? She's extreme in so many other areas...

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | September 16, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Via Sullivan, here is how O'Donnell won:

Posted by: nisleib | September 16, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Nice nisleib. Sounds about right.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 16, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Slightly OT - Here is Scalzi on "How to lose the house."

This sums up my frustration with the Democrats nicely.

Posted by: nisleib | September 16, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

From TPM
"Asked if she considered herself a feminist, O'Donnell said: "Absolutely, but let me qualify that -- I consider myself an authentic feminist. Not as defined by the modern movement. And, let me clarify that a little bit more. I was an English major, so break it down: -ist means one who celebrates. As a feminist, I celebrate my femininity."
Sorry, Ms. O'Donnell, you didn't win that bedroom set. Here is the definition of the suffix "-ist":
One that performs a specified action: lobbyist.
One that produces, makes, operates, plays, or is connected with a specified thing: novelist.
A specialist in a specified art, science, or skill: biologist.
An adherent or advocate of a specified doctrine, theory, or school of thought: anarchist.
One that is characterized by a specified trait or quality: romanticist.
From the American Heritage Dictionary.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | September 16, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

The Tea Party has been overwhelmingly about economic issues, not social issues.

So, to start going off on this tangent is really counter-productive.

What - we are getting all jazzed up about a Bill Maher clip of a Delaware candidate - and somehow THAT will influence voters in other states, in other parts of the country?

Remember, the democrats DO NOT want to nationalize this election???

Instead of a rational and firm analysis of Obama coming from the democrats, all America has seen is a frenzy of name-calling and a series of irrational issue-floating over the summer.

Enjoy !


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 16, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

O'Donnell just keeps getting better and better (I wonder how those Hillary voters are feeling about her now?):

Posted by: schrodingerscat | September 16, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

The democrats have no plan - they have nothing - they are grasping at straws now.

The American People do not want to see the democrats peddling hate against these candidates - that is not going to work.


Sounds like Obama and the democrats MADE THIER DECISION on how they would run in the midterms last winter and spring.

Beyond that, Obama "has nothing"


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 16, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

If O'Donnell is elected she can appoint Stuart Little as her mouse liason. There is a lot of truth to the comments that the Republicans are spending too much time on Sex issues and to little on budget issues. Maybe the new raise will allow them to pay more for their hidden sexual relations. There is no need for making don't ask, abortion and gay issues the only thing Republicans can agree to. Just ask the fellowship on F st.

Posted by: msjn1 | September 16, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Any attempt to paint the Tea Party as libertarian is nothing but good marketing. Take a look at the GOP platforms in Maine and Utah where the Tea Party took over the platform. They are right out of the FRC and Focus on the Family playbook.

The Tea Party is the social conservative wing of the GOP trying to fly under the radar. Nothing more or less.

Posted by: MarcMyWords | September 16, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Warren Watch: Announcement Tomorrow

A senior administration official tells CNN that on Friday, around midday, President Obama will officially announce his appointment of Elizabeth Warren as Assistant to the President and Special advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Warren will join President Obama for the announcement at the White House.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 16, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

How would a mouse with a human brain function? Wouldn't its head be so large that its tiny body couldn't support the weight?

Maybe she meant to say, "Tea Partier Brains" in which case no enlargement of the cranium would be needed...

Posted by: nisleib | September 16, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Obama and the democrats DECIDED a long time ago to campaign on HEALTH CARE.

To REFRESH everyone's memory - Obama's plan was to create a redistribution of wealth within the country - AND THEN campaign on the issue - protraying the Republicans as "wanting to take away your health care benefits, if you do not vote for the democrats."

Health care was an election strategy - as much as anything else.

NOW Obama's health care plan is RESULTING IN 20% INCREASES in health care costs.

If you want to call this an "OBAMA TAX" or just be more specific - and say that "Obama's excessive regulations are causing higher costs which are being PASSED ONTO THE VOTERS"

Either way - isn't it fair that Obama and the democrats campaign on HEALTH CARE - AND THE 20% INCREASES ?

Obama wanted to do "BIG THINGS" - a 20% increase is a "big thing"

Anyway - on the health care cost issue - people should say "Obama Lied"


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 16, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse


Back in March, deranged media personality Glenn Beck launched a crusade of sorts against houses of worship that make a commitment to "social justice." To Beck, the phrase is some kind of "code" for, among other things, "Marxism."

Apparently, fear of "social justice" is spreading in conservative circles.

"""A top Republican on financial issues said Thursday he was concerned that Elizabeth Warren would use a position in a new consumer protection agency to promote "social justice."

Gregg, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and a senior member of the Banking Committee, expressed dismay at President Obama's decision to tap Warren as a key "adviser" to help set up the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency established in the Wall Street reform bill.

"My concern is that she would use the agency for the purpose of promoting social justice," Gregg said on ABC's "Top Line" webcast."""

Maybe someone can remind me -- what's so bad about social justice?

* GASP *




Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 16, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

All, check this out: Harry Reid has finally come right out and called Sharron Angle "crazy":

Posted by: Greg Sargent | September 16, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

The funniest part about Big Bad John's riff (remember that pasty doofus in his cowboy-hat commercial?) is his 'fiscal responsibility' routine. Yeah -- they're 'responsible' for turning a $250 billion surplus into a $500 billion deficit.

Posted by: Tangerine3 | September 16, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

The Republican mantra for decades has been,"Get out of my wallet--Iearned this money without any help! But let me tell you who you can sleep with, how you can sleep with someone else, let me listen to your phone calls and tell you which god to choose and how to worship him. The Constitution is written in stone only concerns economic and gun freedom. Every other part of it is changeable." And yet everyone takes them seriously as if they have something to say or that what they have to say is any way logical. You can't argue with ideology--people believe what they want to believe and arguing only gives credence to inanity.

Posted by: wd1214 | September 16, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Can we just go over this again? WHY does Obama want to raise taxes $700 BILLION DOLLARS in the middle of a recession???


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 16, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Of interest:

"Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, dismissed a request Wednesday from an influential social conservative organization to skip a fundraiser for a Republican gay and lesbian advocacy group, saying that even though he does not agree with the group on social issues he shares its views on fiscal discipline and economic policy."

Practicing what he preaches - Good on Cornyn.

Posted by: sbj3 | September 16, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

SBJ: I guess the gay and lesbian group likes exploding the deficit with tax cuts, subsidies and wars, then feigning concern about it, also.

Posted by: Tangerine3 | September 16, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

wow tangerine3 is here to repeat the shopword trite falsehoods of the left as they hunker down to survive the backlash.

Liberalism is being refudiated by ordinary Americans and the best the left can muster is sneering condescension and outright lies.

Oh, BTW, here in fabulous Ohio yet another prominent member of the Democrat party was arrested this week. This has prompted us to implement a new slogan for the Democrats:

Hope and Chains.

PPP will no longer poll in Ohio, and its looking like the Democrat money sources will spend elsewhere. Right now we're looking at the Dems losing the govenorship, Voinovich's open senate seat and at least four house seats. A few others are tottering on the brink. In addition there is serious talk about the Republicans taking both state houses.

So, yeah continue to spout your trite nostrums. They don't work, few except big lie liberals buy them anyway, but if they make you feel good, well what else can one desire, right?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | September 16, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

@tangerine: You sort of miss the point of the post ...

At any rate, you *do* realize that Obama wants to "explode the deficit" by $3,300,000,000,000 with his proposed extension of middle class tax cuts?

Posted by: sbj3 | September 16, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Where's that guy, clawrence, who claims he wants to defend O'Donnell? Sounds like the mice with human brains would be interesting to defend. Anyone else want to give it a try?

Posted by: 12BarBlues | September 16, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

"Obama wants to "explode the deficit" by $3,300,000,000,000 with his proposed extension of middle class tax cuts?"


How is cutting the deficit by more than $700B, "exploding the deficit"?

Why are you so dishonest? It's really sad and pathetic.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 16, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

@ethan: If we extend all the rates then we "explode the deficit" by $4 trillion. If we do as Obama suggests and extend everything but the rich guys' rates, then we explode the deficit by $3.3 trillion.


Posted by: sbj3 | September 16, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

@ethan: If I filter this through Ezra Klein will you get it?

"For all that the Republicans are being breathtakingly hypocritical in proposing the largest increase in the federal deficit in memory, President Obama and the Democrats are only being slightly less hypocritical by proposing a slightly smaller -- but still huge -- increase in the deficit.

"... Why not just level with people? Why can't Obama just sit down and say,"My friends in the other party want to extend George W. Bush's tax cuts indefinitely, which will add about $4 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years. I'd like to extend only tax cuts for every American making less than $250,000. That will add more than $3 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years."

Posted by: sbj3 | September 16, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

sbj3: The proposed tax cut extentions affect everybody up to $250,000. EVERYBODY retains a tax cut up to $250,000. It's only those earning over $250,000, assessing a pro rated $100K per million for those making over $250,000. Those making over $250,000 don't spend the differential, do not invest it in creating new jobs. Tax breaks for those earning over $250,000 don't help the economy like tax breaks for those earning under $250,000 do. These are individual taxes, not corporate or small business taxes. That means the tax breaks for those making under $250,000 will necessarily be putting that money directly into the economy which is not proportionally true with those making over $250,000 per year. In simple terms, those who can most easily afford to pay those taxes, the very same ones citizen patriots who got disproportionate tax breaks these past ten years (read: easy ride... read: free lunch) get to make up Bush's largesse and do their duty. The middle class has been patriotically shouldering the burden more and more since Reagan began trickle down economics and deregulation. Now, it's the top 2% income earners turn to patriotically repay the favor. The top 2% income earners were most complicit with the greed contributing directly to and resulting in the economic crisis. Now, it's their patriotic duty to help right the ship of state. It's time for focus on Authority and Loyalty to take a back seat to attention regarding Fairness and Hurt. It's only fair the top 2% wage earners pay now (however late) what would have fairly been their share these past ten years, to ease the damage, suffering and multifaceted hurt inflicted for their benefit on the middle class at least long enough to recuperate sufficiently to once again, at a later date, do the heavy lifting again for that top 2% as the economy recovers. It's not a redistribution of wealth. That's what Bush's disproportionately heavy to the top tax breaks were. It's time the wealthy pay their fair share for a change in this country. Fairness, without abuse, is social justice. Social justice is a good thing. Unless you're twisted and dysfunctional, that is.

Posted by: southpaugh | September 18, 2010 2:01 AM | Report abuse

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