Huntsman tells DeMint to pound salt:
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who would like to be the Republican nominee in the White House race, said Tuesday he’s not about to sign the spending limit pledge that a South Carolina senator has turned into a threshold test for 2012 presidential hopefuls seeking his support.
Sen. Jim DeMint, a tea party favorite whose endorsement would be influential in the first-in-the-South primary here, has pointedly noted Huntsman and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann have not signed on. Huntsman told reporters at a campaign stop that he told DeMint he’s against pledges like that. The pledge says spending cuts are needed to lower the deficit and capped to balance the budget while Congress and the states approve a constitutional amendment requiring balanced budgets.
“I don’t sign pledges — other than the Pledge of Allegiance and a pledge to my wife,” Huntsman said. He says he told DeMint “You just have to understand that’s where I come down.
What is it with Republicans and pledges and oaths? Remember the GOP loyalty oaths in the last election? Do they just lack the spine to stick to their convictions, or do they just spew so much bullshit that they need the oaths to remind them what they believe?
And here is a question for the “moderate” Republicans and the independents out there- every Republican that stands a chance of winning has signed on to every single batshit crazy pledge they’ve been pressured to utter. How can you even for a second claim that any of them are less crazy than the other- I don’t care if you think you are voting for a moderate conservative, you vote Republican, you get tea party policies.
The worst thing that could happen is for the R’s to go sane. But I think it’s too late.
Villago Delenda Est
I wonder why Bachmann has failed to sign up for DeMented’s moronic pledge?
TPM reported last night that Newt wants changes in the marriage pledge before he deigns to sign it. I think this was after they took out the racist dog whistles, so guess it must be something else.
I would make a snarky crack about now, but I got so confused even trying to figure out what Newt’s reasons are, that had to give up on that project.
He may be a Republican, but that’s a great line.
Huntsman is playing the long-game for 2016. He’ll be the only adult in the GOP after they implode from Tea Party idiocy in 2012.
You need regular oaths to the party to ensure sufficient purity.
And if that requires you to sign a pledge that says the opposite of the pledge you signed a year ago, that’s just more proof of your intelligence, steadfastness, and loyalty.
And if you do the opposite of what you signed when your in office, the party will simply circulate another oath in a few more months that conforms to what you did.
It’s just hypocrisy dressed up in double-speak, dressed up in self-righteousness.
Also, any group that circulates one of these should re-read the Sermon on the Mount where Christ tells people to avoid swearing oaths and simply act in accordance with your beliefs without a big showy production.
I read the freerepublic.com’s reaction to the “pro-marriage” pledge being peddled around Iowa. It was uniformly negative. Even crazy conservatives realize they have to drop a decorative skirt around the crazy to survive a general election.
Except you don’t “sign” the pledge of allegiance.
One doesn’t sign the Pledge of Allegiance, Jon… one merely recites it in, most often in groupings with other people.
Villago Delenda Est
But if you do that, you won’t get your payoff in attention!
The entire point is to flaunt your electness, as John Calvin outlined.
goopers make these oaths and pledges because their consituents are told/believe that Dems are unprincipled, goat-fucking, immoral, hippie slackers who insist on feeding at the big gummit teat.
In their minds, there is only one teat and the goopers pledge to make it exclusively theirs.
I remember when Obama chose Huntsman to be his ambassador to China. The conventional wisdom was that it was a brilliant political move because Huntsman was bound to be a front runner for the Republican Presidential nomination.
Little did we know how quickly the GOP would drive their car off Crazypants Cliff.
The truth is that if the GOP had an ounce of sanity left Huntsman would be leading the GOP field. Instead he’s trailing way behind Michelle “Batshit” Bachmann.
For Republicans, a pledge is simply a piece of paper you sign to demonstrate loyalty and win an election. Ever since Reagan successfully broke his pledge with respect to deficits, they don’t take pledges seriously.
The Other Chuck
I thought the phrase was “go pound sand”, not salt. Am I missing a reference?
Villago Delenda Est
Recently, one of Eugene OR’s city councilors, in a pretty transparent effort to score points with the local reactionary yahoos, proposed that the city council open every meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance. The city council has never done this before…they’ve got enough on their plates already.
Some councilors objected, saying that they believed such a move would create divisiveness where there was none before, for a purely symbolic gesture.
Well, whaddaya know, Faux Nooze latched onto this, and through pretty deliberately misreporting, got their cretinous viewers all hot and bothered about the Eugene city council “limiting” the pledge to four times a year. Faux totally misrepresented what had happened. The city was inundated with phone calls and emails from out of state about how commie Eugene was for not mindlessly reciting the pledge before every meeting.
The divisiveness that was prophesied came to pass.
Anonymous At Work
Democrats use policies and positions as signaling devices to their party faithful to show loyalty. The more detail, the more loyalty often.
Republicans, with their disdain of policy and especially of details to policies, use pledges and oaths in opposition to certain things to show loyalty.
What is it with Republicans and pledges and oaths?
It’s a standard of authoritarianism. Look at religions, especially fundamentalist ones. Look at Fascist regimes, and at putatively leftist ones that are actually authoritarian in behavior eg, (Leninism & Maoism as realized in practice).
They appeal to the intolerant — they clearly define “in” and “out” groups — and to the stupid — they’re easy, “one-stop shopping.” And of course they appeal to those who want to be told what to do and to those who want to tell others what to do.
They’re anathema to democracy and liberty, of course, because they ordain what may be thought and said and done, rather than leaving the matter to political processes and individual conscience, but authoritarians — for all their flag-waving and bluster about freedom — don’t like freedom or democracy.
Pretty much every country with competing political visions has an authoritarian party, like our Republicans. Personally, I think its roots are in a fearful childhood and a craving for certainty, but that could be all wet.
There’s a ‘no enemies to my right’ dynamic here– the logic is that the purest candidate will automatically pull the rug out from under all the other candidates– win all the wingers plus enough ‘other’ to get the nomination. And this logic, so-called, may be correct… we shall see.
John Cole @ Top:
Pledges and oaths are the verbal accoutrement to fascism’s fascination with, and fetish for, uniforms.
The first thing you need to understand is that Obama is, like, really smart. He is basically playing a game of 5-dimensional chess against a few dim mouthpieces of stupid red-neck teabaggers who are like those people with banjos in the movie Deliverance. Never forget the wise words of the prescient Dave Weigel, who taught us to ‘teabag them before they teabag us’. Dave is really smart too. He went to journalism school.
Now, the second thing you need to understand is that Obama is, like, really smart. And his dad was a Muslim, making him by religious law also a Muslim, unless he decided to go apostate, but that carries a death sentence from the Religion of Peace, so never mind and shut up. So, anyways, back to those backward teabaggers who are probably from Alabama.
So we now understand that Obama is, like, really smart. He went to Harvard and hired this Huntsman guy who brokers Chinese deals for Goldman Sachs, who did not have their Chief Lobbyist, Mark Patterson, installed as Tim Geithner’s Chief of Staff by Global Neo-Bankers. This Huntsman does not recite the Pledge of Allegiance, he signs it.
I think the reason for all the pledges is that the Republican leaders have been terrible at following through on their promises to their base. They’ve routinely promised the religious wing the moon and delivered very little. Rather than recognize that they’re being played, the religious people seem to think they just need a stronger promise. I’m waiting for them to demand a blood oath.
What is it with Republicans and pledges and oaths?
Their base likes the idea of people throwing away their own judgment and acting strictly according to something someone wrote down somewhere.
comrade scott's agenda of rage
This. As someone said here in the last couple of weeks, 2012 is clearly shaping up to be the 1964 of Republican presidential politics. The crazier the better in terms of what it will mean for flipping the House and retaining control of the Senate in 2012. Huntsman knows he has no chance next year.
So, let the Goopers implode in teabagger nihilism and he’ll be around to pick up the pieces in 2016 only that time with more name recognition and presumably more party regulars in his back pocket.
Cris (without an H)
Oaths appeal to people who like to have short, simple answers to complex problems, and who look to infallible, unchanging authority rather than exercise situational judgment.
I’m not saying oaths are bad, I’m just saying they’re a perfect fit for the GOP.
I remember at some point in the Bush years some conservative mouthpiece poo-pooing the idea of treaties. It was a feckless, politically convenient point (non-proliferation? something with Russia? I can’t remember the issue of the moment.) saying that if you trust the other party, then the treaty is unnecessary.
First, I wanted to ask the guy if he trusts his spouse or not, and if that made his marriage vows redundant.
Good for Huntsman. I wouldn’t want him to win, but having someone with spine and integrity is better for the country than the GOP falling further down the rabbit hole.
It’s Biblical too. Signing a pledge, to them, means swearing an oath before God that you will do X. Conservative Christian crap. Mixed with politics. The usual refreshing combination.
Bullshit spewing is the correct diagnosis.
A lot of this stuff is about small people enjoying the fact they can force a potential president to demean and humiliate him or herself. I think I said in another thread a few days ago that the Reps. are running this campaign like it’s pledge week at Ole Miss. The groups that sponsor these pledges are really in it for the hazing.
As with most things wrong with our political environment, much of the blame goes with St. Ronnie of Raygun and his little treason buddy Grover Fucking Norquist:
What is it with Republicans and pledges and oaths?
after Grover had such success with his, every other single-issue group out there figured a pledge was simplest the way to get pols to toe the line on their issue.
For movement conservatives and religious fundamentalists (or any hardcore ‘ism’ folk) outward appearance, pronouncements, pledges and lapel pins are a kind of currency. Signing a pledge is putting money in the bank both figuratively and literally.
The Ancient Randonneur
I seem to remember Democrats being asked to sign a pledge they would support a health care (Insurance) reform bill only if it contained a public option.
Villago Delenda Est
Somehow, if you sign an oath, through a magical process akin to Harry Potter’s Unbreakable Vow, if you violate that oath you’ll die.
This explains how all the moles in the CIA, despite signing various oaths when joining up, were not alive to be tried and put in prison.
Regardless of how the Huntsman-not-signing-the-pledge issue plays out, I think we can all agree that Obama handled it poorly.
If Mitt Romney goes after Huntsman during a debate for not signing, the rebuttal practically writes itself:
“If I’d changed positions as much as Governor Romney has, I’d need a piece of paper to remind me what I believe, too.”
Wasn’t 1964 the 1964 of Republican presidential politics?
No oath to God? A few million Republicans in the south just scribbled a note in the corner of their voter guide.
Anybody else notice that Norquist rolled out his pledge in 1986, and here it is bearing fruit 25 years later? Can anybody imagine progressives demonstrating this kind of persistence and long-term strategy?
Ordovician Bighorn Dolomite (formerly rarely seen poster Fe E)
Am I the only one who thinks of the line “Gimme EAT! Give EVERYBODY eat!” from Catch 22 when I read about the Repubs’ fascination with oath signing?
You do if you are a real amurican
@The Other Chuck: I was laughing at the genius of this, so hopefully it was intentional. Huntsman is from Utah. What does Utah have an epic amount of?
Pledges and Contracts make for great TV fodder. It’s all very pretty and ceremonial if you want to play up the signing itself.
Also, it lets you fit complex and nuanced policies onto a bumper sticker. Supporting lowering the marginal tax rate for individuals making between $75k and $350k / year by expanding deductions on air travel incurred during business travel leaves voters asking “A-whut?” But supporting the Grover Norquist Tax Pledge? That’s easy! And if you do try to end a deduction for corporate jets or oil companies, Norquist just has to wave his paper and yell, “He broke the pledge! He broke the pledge!” and we don’t have to get into the details because now we all know you’re a liar.
A party of children, zealots, and religious hysterics makes up in sincerity what it lacks in candlepower.
Huntsman is proving useful. Here he is, calling one of Mitt’s lies a lie.
Sign an oath to whom?
republicans have an innate aversion to democracy. they are the party of “screw the people, we’ll tell them what they think.” but all special interest groups do this.
the pledge is the ultimate undemocratic mechanism of policy enforcement. private, third party groups are able to subvert the hypothetical will of the elected official’s constituents, and enforce fealty to a specific, national/global policy framework. it’s all a feint to “accountability,” but really it’s just about the accrual of power to a group of people who aren’t capable or willing to get elected themselves.
I am personally eagerly looking forward to the day when even signed pledges are not enough for the teatard jackasses and they insist upon actual blood oaths given on national television and spilled over a copy of the King James Bible from an approved wingnut church personally sanctified by holy water consecrated by Ralph Reed and with Grover Norquist in attendance as witness.
I’ve been saying this for quite some time, so thanks, John.
Interestingly, an hour ago I got a phone survey from some Tea Party Coalition or the other. Don’t know why as I am a lifelong Dem. Perhaps because my spouse is sorta independent;he voted for Obama, but also voted twice for Bush.
They asked two questions: “Do I support President Obama? and then a question about supporting the repeal of Obamacare which is going to cost billions tacked on to our healthcare system. Best example of a push poll question I think I’ve ever been asked. Of course, being whom I am, I voted yes to the first and a resounding NO to the second. But, given where I live I was probably a minority of 1 with those answers.
Paul Ryan voted Yea on the Medicare Prescription Drug boondoggle in 2003.
You know, the one where the Republicans stopped the clock and held the vote open for three hours while their leaders whipped, Big Pharma lobbyists turned screws, and the Bush Administration threatened to fire the OMB guy who said it would cost twice what it was advertised (and ended up costing nearly $1 trillion)?
Comrade Colette Collaboratrice
@bleh got it right: pledges satisfy the authoritarian follower personalities that make up the Tea Party, and substitute comfortable certainties for independent thought. The pledges are especially appealing because they also stigmatize political opponents as not merely on the other side of an argument but as downright immoral. And I’m sure there’s not a small measure of using these pledges as a psychological bulwark against shameful, lustful urges that those horrible Others have actually acted on.
THIS is the point to drive home every single day, all day.
If the eventual nominee is going to promote and support the same policies that the nuttiest of them would, what’s the difference between them?
With that said, good for Huntsman. It may be just for show’s sake, but is actually willing to tell the nutters to piss off. Admittedly not much, but since the bar’s that low, at least SOMEBODY stepped over it.
@ Comrade Dread
This is why Quakers do not swear oaths, even in court.
Personally, I’d like a $100k raise, being worth it and all.
mafisto @ 40 Yes, salt lake city (and accompaniying Salt Lake) is in Utah, but aren’t the bonneville salt flats in nevada?
How would you pound salt in a lake?
Anyway, get offa my salt lake!
This is what people need to understand. The most important vote any legislator casts is the leadership vote at the beginning of the session – it’s like 90% of the value of putting them there. Whatever obstacles a Landrieu or a Shuler represent to decent legislation are nothing compared to the obstacles created by GOP control of the Senate or the House.
Voting for “the candidate, not the party” is a reasonable stand only in the alternate universe where the leadership doesn’t tightly control the outcome of every vote after the first.
I don’t give a damn about Huntsman and I don’t think his party does either, but Bachmann hasn’t signed onto the pledge? THAT’s a lot more interesting.
Uncle Clarence Thomas
Like Monica Goodling and her loyalty oath to President George W. Bush? Or like balloonbaggers and their loyalty oath to President Obama?
I, too, think the I don’t sign pledges is a good line
I like the various pledges.
The GOP candidates want to have their cake and eat it, too: they push hard to the right in the primaries, to get the wingnut vote. Then, in the general, they slide back into the center to pick up moderate votes.
They don’t, generally, carry with them any record of their pandering to the wingnut base. They can be all compromises and reassuring talk of generic American greatness, relying on the short memories of the electorate to wash away their wingnut sins.
Pledges leave a trail we can follow. They force the GOP candidates into an uncomfortable choice: put all the crazy bullshit you’re willing to claim to support down, in black and white, with your name at the bottom… or risk your claim on the wingnut vote.
John Cole is right, if you vote Republican, you get tea party policies.
One can only hope. My fear is that if we vote Republican, we get the policies of the same-old same-old Washington spending-addict, vote-buying insiders who have led us into this failshit craphole.
Because that’s worked out GREAT!
Oaths are key to the paranoid style of politics. Proclamation of one’s honor and fealty in public appeals to authoritarian personalities.
They’re all over every far-right government in recent history.
Simple: they’re born followers.
Republicans love nothing more than being able to line up behind someone they perceive as a winner and doing what they’re told. It removes the pain of thinking for themselves and, moreover, the danger of getting out of step with what everyone else expects of them.
There’s a reason the 11th Commandment (“Do not criticize a fellow Republican”) worked so well. There’s a reason Rush Limbaugh’s followers proudly call themselves “Dittoheads.” There’s a reason they all rush to sign a promise to Grover Norquist and the Club for Growth.
And that reason is simple — they don’t want to think for themselves, they want to do as they’re told.
DeMint endorsed Romney in 2008. Romney lost South Carolina behind McCain, Huckabee, and Thompson. So much for his overrated influence. If DeMint truly had the influence that he and some in the media claim he has, he would be running for president instead of pushing lame pledges.
Yeah, like obsessing about the deficit, expansion of the GWOT, bailouts of banks, cuts to social security and medicare, indefinite detention, handouts to big corporations, retroactive immunity for elites for crimes, erosion of civil liberties, shredding of the constitution, endless war, targeted assassinations of US citizens, etc, etc, etc.
Oh, wait. That last one isn’t a Tea Party policy. Whew! It’s a good thing I didn’t vote R in 2008.
While this may be ignored by the crowd here, I will explain the incredible utility of pledges (or, simply, candidate questionnaires. Dismiss pledges at your peril.
As a retired federal lobbyist and grassroots person (lefty organization), pledges provide a definitive means of identifying and pushing political candidates. First, it forces them to consign themselves – early out – to a position that they may not want to take. Second, it provides a mechanism to put pressure on that politician when the actual issue come to fore (remember you signed that pledge, asshole!). And most importantly, when that candidate/elected official violates the pledge, it can effectively be used to inform your constituency about this elected official’s failure to honor a code and can be used to primary or push them out of office.
Please take notice how effective Grover Norquist is. He gets new, earnest Republicans who enter office thinking ‘yeah, raising taxes is bad, I will sign this pledge’ rarely thinking it will constrain there ability to do anything (or result in catastrophic default). Over the years, I know numerous republicans who are upset with the pledge but try to honor it nonetheless for fear of consequences.
Now, I know most of you think Grover Norquist is a terrorist (he is) and should not be emulated. But, if you notice, his side is winning. Marginal taxes are at an all-time low and the wealthy, especially, are paying such a small amount of income. In short, he is succeeding. Is it bullying? Sure. But that’s how interest groups exert pressure.
Now imagine if democratic organizations forced people to agree to something, say, ‘under no circumstance will I raise the retirement age for medicare,’ you may create a dynamic on the left of having democratic officials actually take you seriously and never consider such reforms. Ever wonder why no Republicans raise taxes or hate the gays or think the world is flat? Sure, some of them do. But I can tell you, many do not. In fact they often deplore a lot of it and disparage their base behind closed doors, but they still act accordingly.
But, by and large, Republican organizations are bit more willing to push their members (behind the scenes) and Republican Congresscritters tend to (1) fear their base and (2) respond to authoritarian appeals. The latter is a bad thing, but the former should be a goal of democratic activists. Less bitching on the internet (which I happen to enjoy) and more sincere coalition efforts to hold politicians feet to the fire.
...now I try to be amused
“Loyalty is my honor” was the motto of an infamous political organization of the past. I’d violate Godwin’s Law to say which, but you can look it up.
That is why, also, too, despite all the shrieking about the need for bipartisanship, Republicans will come out of the debt ceiling nonsense only slightly damaged, if at all, because they stuck to their principles while Democrats, once again, demonstrated they have none and are willing to put everything on the table, including SS and Medicare.
Here’s an oath for Democrats. “I swear or affirm that I, if elected, will uphold the Democratic platform.”
That, of course, means that when a signature Democratic issue comes up, you may debate the nuances of said issue, but when it comes time to put up or shut up, either support your party’s position, or reap the whirlwind.
If Democrats of the 111th Congress had remembered that, most of them would still be around in the 112th Congress, Nancy Pelosi would still be Speaker, and we wouldn’t be having these asinine debates about the debt ceiling right now.
Perhaps both – but the more important reason is the simplest: to (as usual) dodge responsibility for their decisions. “Oh, *I* don’t want to throw Gramma in the woodchipper – but I *promised* Jeebus that I would! Not my fault at all!”
Democrats never sign pledges.