The new Suffolk University poll of the Massachusetts Senate race tells us that Elizabeth Warren has survived the unrelenting bombardment of stories on her self proclaimed American Indian heritage relatively unscathed.
Nearly three quarters of voters were aware of the controversy but 69 percent of those that knew about it just don't really care. Given how deeply this story penetrated the pool of likely voters and all the attention it received she has weathered it remarkably well.
Her critics have mocked her with a variety of nicknames that play on traditional American Indian names but the only nickname appropriate for Warren at this point in the race is Teflon Liz.
She still has problems though as Senator Scott Brown has shown a similar level of resilience.
The attacks on Brown that try to connect him to the always unpopular capitalists on Wall Street have had little impact. A majority of likely voters polled, 55 percent, do not think a vote for Brown is a vote for Wall Street. Plus, Brown is still well liked by a majority Massachusetts voters.
The other major obstacle for Warren: voters like the idea of having one Democrat and one Republican represent the Commonwealth in the Senate. Over 56 percent of voters said they think there is some benefit to the state by having a split delegation. Just 38 percent do not. Warren will get a statewide boost from the wildly popular Barack Obama in November but it may not be enough to help her with people who like the idea of bipartisanship.
The Elizabeth Warren American Indian scandal can get weirder.
Take, for example, this piece of punditry in The Hill by Bernie Qugiley:
Elizabeth Warren might be excused for wanting to be Native American. She can claim an old American soul, going back generations in Oklahoma. In the heartland it is almost universal for those who have been there for a few generations to claim Indian blood; that is, to wish it were there even if it isn't. It is not so much a lie as it is the acculturation of personal and regional American myth; the fabric of old-soul American consciousness. "Our spirit will walk among you," said Chief Joseph. Indeed it does.
Right. I hear ya, it's like the Irish in Boston. Everyone in Boston claims Irish blood even if it isn't true. Sure.
Indians come to us as dream guides, spirit guides and, like Sacagawea, actual guides to our most important journeys at once physical and metaphysical. Those who have made these journeys tend to honor them. C.G. Jung, when watching Americans leave their factories, said we the paleface had come to walk "like Indians."
One early commentator said we, like the Indians and unlike the Europeans, live without fences. We play Indian as children to call up the intuitive feminine. We name our cars after the noble and brave “Grand Cherokee.” We call to the spirit of Geronimo going into battle. When we want our heroine true, like Katniss, we put a bow and arrow in her hand. "We are all Americans here," said Ely Samuel Parker, the Seneca Indian, aide to Grant at Appomattox, suggesting that with the bloodshed at Bull Run, Chickamauga, Chancellorsville and Cemetery Ridge, we sanctioned our place and belonged here with the Indians.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee? Wait, Katniss from The Hunger Games? Huh?
Read the whole thing here.
I was a bit dumbfounded by the piece as his previous writings indicated that he has a populist, if rightward, lean. I reached out to Quigley and asked him to elaborate further on his column. He replied that he was only interested in Warren from a cultural standpoint and would probably not vote for her if given the option. He said his essay was, "An observation on what it means to be an American."
The conversation over Warren's status as an American Indian has generated a tremendous volume of serious and silly commentary since the Herald's Hillary Chabot broke the story almost a month ago. At first it seemed like this story would just go away after a few days but it quickly got legs. Tomorrow night, when Suffolk University releases their latest poll of the Senate race, we'll have a much better idea as to how much of an impact this story has had on Warren's reputation with voters. Suffolk's poll will be the second to survey the race in the aftermath of the story. Rasmussen polled the race in the immediate aftermath of the story and found the candidates tied.
Former Libertarian presidential nominee Bob Barr has endorsed presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney for president. His Facebook posting below:
Eleven days ago Barr, a former Libertarian National Committee member, wrote glowingly about the 2012 LP ticket of Gary Johnson and Jim Gray
Still, the ticket is a strong one, especially in the current political climate in which tea party and other activists are demanding candidates who are genuinely committed to shrinking the size, scope, cost and power of government — the agenda at the heart of the Libertarian Party since its formation in 1971. ...
If in fact the Libertarian Party candidates somehow work their way into the presidential and vice-presidential debates this year, the election will generate an even higher degree of interest and voter participation than it already promises to deliver. Even in the absence of such an event, however, the Johnson-Gray ticket brings a degree of substance and a new perspective that all voters and media pundits should not only welcome, but embrace.
The completely ridiculous and vaguely big government third party movement known as Americans Elect has failed to find a presidential candidate to run for them. This effectively ends their attempt at running a national ticket in the 2012 election. Their statement below:
There is a desire among Delegates and millions of Americans who have supported Americans Elect to see a credible candidate emerge from this process.
However, the rules, as developed in consultation with the Americans Elect Delegates, are clear. As of this week, no candidate achieved the national support threshold required to enter the Americans Elect Online Convention in June. The primary process for the Americans Elect nomination has come to an end.
Americans Elect, from the outset, has been a rules-based process, with the rules publicly available and open to debate by the Delegates. Our key priorities have been to: 1) honor the trust Americans Elect has built with the Delegates and American public; 2) require candidates to earn the nomination by building support among the Americans Elect Delegate community and American voters; and 3) create a basis for a solid future for the Americans Elect movement.
This decision honors these priorities.
Through the efforts of thousands of staffers, volunteers, and leadership, Americans Elect has achieved its operational goals, including:
- Creating a pathway for nationwide ballot access for a balanced presidential ticket unaffiliated with the nominating process of either major party to compete in the 2012 race;
- Building the technological platform for the first nonpartisan secure national online primary at AmericansElect.org;
- Attracting a significant base of more than 4 million supporters, including Delegates, petition signers and volunteers;
- Educating the national and local media on the Americans Elect mission; and
- Finishing an extensive candidate briefing program involving more than 100 potential candidates
As always, we thank everyone who has helped build this organization and are grateful for the work, efforts, and trust so many people have placed in Americans Elect. We are continuing the Americans Elect mission of creating more choice in our political system, giving candidates unaffiliated with the nominating process of either major party an authentic way to run for office and giving the American people a greater voice in our political process.
This $35 million operation was doomed to fail from the beginning. How can you run a serious political organization aimed at winning elections without any kind of guiding ideology or real local organization? You can't.
These guys, like so many compassless folks in politics, seriously misread the American electorate and recent third party history. Third parties do not work without a guiding ideology, be it left, right, libertarian, statist, whatever. These guys stood for something a thousand times worse than the bitter hyperpartisanship they whined about: a wish-washy just do something attitude towards governance rooted in the pipe dreams of "radical centrists."
The entire concept of Americans Elect sounded like something bored political consultants drew up as a joke on the back of a napkin after a few drinks at a bar. It is astounding that they raised as much money as they did and attained ballot access in 29 states.
A couple hours after it was announced that WFNX was sold to Clear Channel Boston Phoenix editor Carly Carioli posted this photo to his Twitter account:
That poster sums up why the station mattered but, as Donna Halper writes, it was not enough to save the station from struggling financially.
I was getting my car repaired, and I got into a conversation with the 20-something guy who was waiting on me. I told him I had written a book about Boston radio, and I asked him what his favorite station was.
“I never listen to radio,” he said, “but my mother still does.”
I’d like to say I was shocked, but it’s a comment I’ve heard from other young adults, including many of my students at Lesley University. Today, they can easily download their favorite songs without having to sit through endless commercial interruptions. Few of these kids have any emotional connection to radio.
Why would Halper be shocked? Music radio has been debased to the point where my generation barely listens to it anymore. We've grown to accept the fact that commercial stations are pretty much the same in every city and are devoid of any local or unique personality. So we tune out and listen to our iPods, Pandora, and whatever else provides music tailor-made for the listener, often commercial free.
WFNX was an exception to that uniform mediocrity as they were locally owned and operated, they fought the good fight to put out a decent product that stood out in an industry known for cranking out cookie cutter ear bleeding garbage but, by 2012, so many of us were already off the radio dial that hardly anyone noticed.
Here's Gary Johnson first campaign ad as the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee. It features an exploding watermelon but, sadly, no Gallagher.
Hey, third party candidates need to grab your attention and this is certainly one way to do it. A standard "Hi, I'm such and such, here's why I am awesome and running on this third party line" with nice music and probably shot in a kitchen doesn't exactly pull you in.
First WBCN, now WFNX.
All the rock stations I listened to as a kid are either dead or a shell of what they once were. Sign of the times though as more people listen to iPods, SiriusXM, and streaming radio than ever before minimizing the once massive impact that local rock radio had.
WFNX was a station that was worth taking your earbuds out to listen to. When I was in high school, when MP3s were just taking off, I always felt like FNX, as it was affectionately known, was the cool station when compared to WAAF or WBCN. (Even their call letters were cool. F! N! X!) They had a hipper vibe even though their signal was total garbage. They were the first station I heard The Killers on and they were how I found out about Arcade Fire. Plus, you could always count on WFNX to organize some of the coolest rock shows in town.
WFNX's likely departure from the Boston airwaves is a blow to local music fans as it is the only remaining commercial alternative rock station in the city that has real live DJs. Yeah, DJs may be annoying to some but I always liked it when Julie Kramer would dish some background on the song she just played.
They played their share of predictable 90s hits that many of us are tired of but they managed to sprinkle in plenty of local and current tunes. For every overplayed Red Hot Chili Peppers song they played as much, if not more, from Passion Pit and Airborn Toxic Event. Their programming was always ahead of the curve because they were an independent rock station that answered to nobody. Playing new, unheard music does not lead to ratings though and they suffered because of it.
In recent years the station seemed scatterbrained in the wake of WBCN's shuttering. The cancellation of their popular morning show, The Sandbox, angered many loyal listeners and even led to a Facebook campaign to bring the show back. When WFNX started intermittently hosting Freeform Fridays where DJs could play anything (anything!) they wanted on air during their shifts I thought the station was finally steadying itself again but now this.
Thanks for the memories, 101.7.
Full disclosure: I host a show on Saturday, and occasionally fill-in during the week, at Entercom owned WRKO. Entercom owns WAAF.
Ron Paul may be curtailing his bid for president but that does not mean it will lead to the end of his rabid supporters or their involvement in the Republican Party. Since running in 2008 Paul has steadily developed the infrastructure to support a national movement devoted to spreading his libertarianish ideas. In places where the formal Paul apparatus did not develop, supporters built one on their own and connected through the internet with the help of social networking tools. Paul has built a movement that, in many ways, will survive well beyond his presidential campaign.
One of the problems this movement presents for Paul, though, is that it is decentralized and often difficult to direct. There are all kinds of hints coming from the Paul camp that their move to end formal campaigning was driven by their displeasure with the activity they were seeing at state conventions around the country.
Paul is doing this in part to protect his brand and, most importantly, gain more control over it. If he continues collecting delegates to the convention in Tampa at the same steady pace he will walk in there with a couple hundred delegates pledged to him, easy. This gives him some weight to throw around on things like the party platform but it creates opportunities for him, and his infrastructure, to be humiliated, too. If Paul supporters get out of hand or do something extremely disruptive it will just feed into this idea that they are rude cultists willing to do anything to get their guy elected, further damaging the reputation of not only Paul but his son, Rand.
Libertarians, particularly of the Rothbardian/Ron Paul wing of the movement, are already strongly disliked by the heavy hitters in the GOP and their ideological consistency is extremely frustrating to the rank and file as well. A major commotion on the floor of the convention would only further alienate them while potentially crippling their ability to advancing their agenda. Paul knows this and he is trying to get out in front of it.
The most striking thing about President Obama's
flip-flop evolution reversal on gay marriage was how weakly the likely Republican standard bearer, Mitt Romney, has gone after him for it.
Shortly after the Obama's change of heart went public Romney addresed it at press conference in Oklahoma. Watch here as he gives a mostly tempered response when asked about his views on gay marriage.
Not only did Romney answer that question with no passion but he repeatedly called his position on the issue "his preference". At first glance it seems hard to understand why his campaign would not capitalize on this potential gift, particularly after a rocky primary showed he has problems with Christian evangelicals. Obama's support for gay marriage is just the type of thing Romney needs to energize an unmotivated evangelical base to man phones, knock on doors, and go to the polls.
Then this memo from a top GOP pollster dropped.
Support for same sex marriage has been growing and in the last few years support has grown at an accelerated rate with no sign of slowing down. A review of public polling shows that up to 2009 support for gay marriage increased at a rate of 1% a year. Starting in 2010 the change in the level of support accelerated to 5% a year. The most recent public polling shows supporters of gay marriage outnumber opponents by a margin of roughly 10% (for instance: NBC / WSJ poll in February / March: support 49%, oppose 40%).
The increase in support is taking place among all partisan groups. While more Democrats support gay marriage than Republicans, support levels among Republicans are increasing over time. The same is true of age: younger people support same sex marriage more often than older people, but the trends show that Hall age groups are rethinking their position.
Polling conducted among Republicans show that majorities of Republicans and Republican leaning voters support extending basic legal protections to gays and lesbians. These include majority Republican support for:
Protecting gays and lesbians against being fired for reasons of sexual orientation
Protections against bullying and harassment
Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Right to visit partners in hospitals
Protecting partners against loss of home in case of severe medical emergencies or death
Legal protection in some form for gay couples whether it be same sex marriage or domestic partnership (only 29% of Republicans oppose legal recognition in any form).
This new data from one of their own should give Republicans, including Romney, pause when it comes to how they address gay marriage. Romney has already only passively addressed gay marriage but now that the president has changed his tune it will be interesting to see if he continues to tread softly on the issue or go full Culture Warrior like he did as governor during the constitutional amendment fight over it in 2006.
LAS VEGAS - The Libertarian Party selected former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and Judge Jim Gray of California as their 2012 standard bearers at their national convention today. Both candidates were elected by large majorities in the first round of voting. Johnson and Gray both defeated party activist and publisher one Lee Wrights for their nomination.
Later in the day the convention turned from predictable to wild when the party struggled to elect a new national committee chair. Party rules allow delegates to vote for None Of The Above, or NOTA, when voting at the convention. This quirk put the party in the awkward position of having one of the candidates for national chair, Mark Rutherford, lose to NOTA on the second ballot.
I am covering the convention for Reason Magazine and you can find all of my dispatches from the convention here.