Politics

Radio Host Michael Smerconish Joins Growing Ranks of Independent Voters, Will Remain Heterosexual

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From the HuffPost comes word of Philly-based talk-radio host Michael Smerconish's defection from the Party of Lincoln to the ranks of NOTA:

The national GOP is a party of exclusion and litmus tests, dominated on social issues by the religious right, with zero discernible outreach by the national party to anyone who doesn't fit neatly within its parameters. Instead, the GOP has extended itself to its fringe while throwing under the bus long-standing members like New York Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, a McCain-Palin supporter in 2008 who told me she voted with her Republican leadership 90 percent of the time before running for Congress last fall.

Which is not to say I feel comfortable in the Democratic Party, either. Weeks before Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh's announcement that he will not seek reelection, I noted the centrist former governor's words to the Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib. Too many Democrats, Bayh said in that interview, are "tone-deaf" to Americans' belief that the party had "overreached rather than looking for consensus with moderates and independents."…

I think that in 2008, the GOP was wrong to adopt a party platform that maintained a strict opposition to abortion without at least carving out exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or danger to the mother's life. I was appalled that legislators tried to decide Terri Schiavo's end-of-life plan. I don't care if two guys hook up any more than they should care about my heterosexual lifestyle. And I still don't know what to think about climate change….

I have no idea whether Smerconish is a bellwether or a ding-dong when it comes to this sort of move, though he's right to point out that going independent is where the action is politically. According to an ABC/Wash Post poll, 39 percent ID themselves as indies, 32 percent as Dems, and 26 percent of Reps.

Whole story here.

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  1. Dede Scozzafava was a big government piece of crap. She needed to be purged. The same people who say the Republicans haven’t learned any lessons from the Bush years turn around and whine about how extremist the Republicans are every time they actually do show some backbone and try to change.

    1. like New York Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, a McCain-Palin supporter in 2008 who told me she voted with her Republican leadership 90 percent of the time before running for Congress last fall.

      It shows just how deep his ignorance of what’s going on right now is, that he sees the above as desirable traits in a candidate.

      The biggest task before the GOP is purging itself of the legacy of GWB. It has no chance of regaining power until that process is complete.

      1. “The biggest task before the GOP is purging itself of the legacy of GWB. It has no chance of regaining power until that process is complete.”

        I don’t think the GOP can do that until it takes responsibility for what happened under him. Pretending it didn’t happen is not ‘purging’.

      2. He didn’t find that a desirable trait in a candidate. He found it an undesirable trait in a political party, any political party, for its grass roots to spurn someone who voted with the leadership 90%.

  2. Terri Schiavo? That’s still bothering him?

    Is he still grooving to his Live 8 bootlegs?

    1. Schiavo was from the Philly area, near where Smerconish grew up. Wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t have friends in common.

  3. 39 percent ID themselves as indies, 32 percent as Dems, and 26 percent of Reps.

    So the figures are a little off the mean, but does this not demonstrate the general theory of 33.3? No matter what the thing is, the population breaks down into about one-third A, about one-third B, and about one-third [n]either A [n]or B.

      1. There are an awful lot of people running around that don’t fit neatly into binary sexual categories. And the dominant culture, up until recently, has pushed people to hide that fact.

  4. “I was appalled that legislators tried to decide Terri Schiavo’s end-of-life plan.”

    But it was okay for the courts? The legislators intervened in a conflict between and ex husband and the woman’s parents. He is not pissed about that. He is just pissed that they intervened on the other side. If the courts had ruled for the parents and the legislature had tried to overturn the decision in favor of the ex, does anyone here believe for a second that Smerconish wouldn’t have thought the legislatures were right? Bullshit.

    “The national GOP is a party of exclusion and litmus tests, dominated on social issues by the religious right, with zero discernible outreach by the national party to anyone who doesn’t fit neatly within its parameters.”

    I guess that is why the guy who got up at CPAC and dissed on homosexuals was booed off the stage.

    1. “But it was okay for the courts?”

      The courts took testimony from numerous people, including the husband, friends, family, experts, etc., and were simply in a better position to make that determination. By contrast, Bill Frist saw a video in his office and was offering a long distance diagnosis that was pure political theater, pumping up his pro-life bona fides at the expense of federalism and local determinations.

      1. If you can honestly say that you would have supported the Court had it gone the other way, then you have a valid point. But I don’t believe for a moment that most of the people, including this guy, who are screaming about the legislature would have supported the Court in that case.

        1. To me, it’s not a matter of “supporting” the court’s decision – it’s more an issue of what was the right venue (if any, other than that of doctor and patient/legal guardian). As between the federal legislative branch and the appropriate state court, it seems to me the state court was the proper place in which to settle the dispute between the parents and the husband.

          I don’t know who, if anyone, brought the case to Congress, or if one of the Congress-critters (Frist?) heard about it and decided to take up the issue as a political rallying point. But where you’ve got a contested issue bewteen two parties, that depends on legal technicalities, that’s what courts are for. And that’s what her parents did – they filed suit in court. When it looked like the result would be other than what some in Congress would like, they decided to interfere and pass special legislation.

        2. I practice law in Florida and see these types of decisions all the time. They go both ways depending on the facts, and I have various clients on both sides of the issue. I still haven’t met the client who truly wanted to make these decisions. And I certainly don’t like the idea that Congress has the power to second guess local tribunals that have the facts in front of them.

    2. But it was okay for the courts?

      That’s where these sort of disputes, child custody, inheritance and in the Schiavo case, determination of next of kin, go.

      To me it was a no fucking brainer. Since neither of the Schiavos had filed for divorce when Terri went into a brain dead state, it was solely her husbands decision as next of kin to make medical decisions for her.

      Yeah, I’m still pissed about the GOP fellating the right to lifers by getting involved in the family tragedy. The silence from the right when the autopsy showed half of her brain gone was deafening.

    3. Schiavo couldn’t make her own decisions, so someone had to make them for her.

      Her husband is the default surrogate decision-maker. Her parents challenged her status. That dispute was taken up in court.

      Any problems so far? Me neither.

      Should the legislature have intervened? Not only no, but hell no, IMO. What exactly is wrong with the bit above about how this plays out in normal circumstances?

      Should surrogates be allowed to withdraw care? Why not, if the patient is genuinely terminal/irreversibel? You can quibble about how many medical opinions are needed to determine this, but surely it is some finite number, and any disputes should be resolved where disputes are resolved – the courts.

      If you say that surrogate decision-makers should not be allowed to withhold/withdraw, then I suggest that you have inadequate experience with what actually goes on in hospitals.

      1. That is just the point. The woman had no living will. The issue was not if a surrogate can withdraw care, the issue was who was the surrogate. And further, her husband didn’t sue to become the surrogate. He sued to get the court to take the role and decide her fate.

        That is why people got pissed off. It wasn’t the husband or the parents deciding. It was the court deciding if she lived or died. Had the court ruled that as a matter of law the spouse of a person in that situation is by default the surrogate and her husband made the decision, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

        Where I have a problem is with the idea that the Court has the right to take jurisdiction over someone and make the life or death decision.

        1. I’d rather have a court decide after hearing all the evidence. It’s preferable to a political body making the decision based on what they think will get them elected in the next cycle.

          1. I will take my chances with legislatures. As lousy as they are, I can at least vote them out.

            The problem is withe mechanics of the decision. The court went beyond its jurisdiction. It should have ruled on the issue of who had the right to make the decisions for Schiavo and nothing more. It should have never ruled on what that decision should be.

            1. “I will take my chances with legislatures. As lousy as they are, I can at least vote them out.”

              In Florida, you can vote out state court judges, and you have a better chance of being successful in doing so.

              And I don’t buy that jurisdictional line for a second. The guardian elected to accept the court’s decision, case closed.

            2. John, do you really believe that the legislature should have veto power over state and county court decisions?

          2. liberals call that “democracy”.

            Like, when they complain about capitalism not being democratic, they mean they want political figures making those choices instead.

        2. Then explain the smear campaign against the husband to show that he shouldn’t have standing. The husband said she told him that she wanted care withdrawn and the family said she would never do that because she’s Catholic.

        3. What troubled me most about the whole affair is how they killed her. Letting her slowly die of starvation/dehydration was monstrous. They should had jammed a pair of scissors into the base of her skull and ended it quickly.

    4. All the court decided what that the Schindlers couldn’t remove the guardian and based on the testimony of 5 doctors made a ruling that she was in a PVS. That’s what the court is supposed to decide, is the guardian acting in the best interest of the patient based on medical testimony. The 3 independent neurologists said yes, the two selected by the Schindlers said no. That’s a system preferable to political grandstanding.

  5. I’m a Philly Native, like Smirconish, and I read his newspaper columns regularly. I think he represents the viewpoints of the mainstream ‘conservative’ on the east coast pretty well. That is – driven more by economic issues than social. This is how I can be openly gay and agnostic, and yet some of my best friends are republicans. They’re entirely different animals than I’ve encountered when traveling in ‘the heartland.’

  6. I don’t understand the “danger to the mother’s life” thing that keeps getting thrown around. My father, who was a doctor before Roe v. Wade (back when every single state had banned abortion, yes, even Massachusetts), remembers being instructed on how to perform an abortion (I believe it was forced birthing) in such circumstances, as any idiot knows that in a case where both the mother and the child would die, one has to save the mother. Are there actually people out there that do not support abortion even under these circumstances, or is it just one of those things where people on one side are so convinced that their opponents are such monsters that they make up stories like this? Again, are there actual people out there that are against this, or is just a groupthink boogeyman kinda thing?

    1. I think everyone supports abortion under those circumstances. The problem is that the pro abortion people won’t support an honest exception. Instead, they purposely draft vague exceptions allowing abortion for “the health of the mother” which can be read so broadly that they basically allow abortion under any circumstance.

      1. “they purposely draft vague exceptions allowing abortion for ‘the health of the mother’ which can be read so broadly that they basically allow abortion under any circumstance.”

        In order to avoid uncertainty about whether doctors might be exaggerating the effects on the mother’s health in some cases, pro-lifers want a bright line rule that says “if the mother isn’t going to die on the table, then you cannot abort”.

        1. Some doctors will exaggerate and everyone knows it. It makes it really hard. And essentially makes it all but impossible to fully ban abortion.

        2. Because paralysis of the mother is hunky dory, apparently.

          1. If you believe that the child is a live, do you have a right to kill someone just because their existence paralyzes you?

            1. If a guy breaks into my house and the choice is between him living and me becoming paralyzed, I’m taking the dude out.

              If you say would would answer differently, you’re lying.

              1. Babies don’t break into anybody’s womb.

                1. In the case of rape, they certainly weren’t invited.

      2. Not true. The whole Tebow thing was about one of those cases. The doctor told Pam Tebow that she might die if she gave birth. She didn’t, but they were definitely endorsing (not on the SB commercial, but at the web page), risking your life to avoid the abortion.

        http://www.slate.com/id/2244381/pagenum/all/#p2

        1. So what? They were not endorsing a law. They were endorsing a decision. I don’t see anything wrong with them telling people “take a chance and have your child”.

          1. Which would be true if FotF wasn’t also a lobbying group trying to make abortion illegal without life of the mother provisions.

            1. They conveniently left out photos of the graveyards filled with mothers who went ahead with the birth and died as a result.

    2. Medicine rarely presents you with “fetus live or momma dead” type situations.

      It’s more like the old Leslie Neilsen line: “The doctors say there’s a fifty-fifty chance, but there’s only a ten percent chance of that.”

  7. I read his piece. It seems very curious to me that someone who is worried by social conservatives would be a Republican in the 80s and 90s and choose 2010 as the moment when he absolutely had to stop being one.

    1. It is very odd. You would be hard pressed to find someone in the Republican Party not named Mike Huckabee who honestly thinks that social issues rather fiscal and economic ones are not the way back to power. Certainly a lot of the politicians are doing the right thing for the wrong reason. But, I would say that social issues have a hell of a lot less sway now than they did five or ten years ago. When Pat Robertson was a serious Republican candidate this guy was down with the party. But, some unapproved people go to a few rallies and he is leaving just too socially conservative for him. WTF?

      1. Indeed, he once brought Pat Buchanan to his “book club” so he could rant about immigration and profiling terrorists.

  8. “Instead, the GOP has extended itself to its fringe while throwing under the bus long-standing members like New York Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, a McCain-Palin supporter in 2008 who told me she voted with her Republican leadership 90 percent of the time before running for Congress last fall.”

    The Republican establishment didn’t go after her. She was the nominee. The rank and file did. Yeah I am sorry Mike, but half a loaf we will just contain the rise of socialism isn’t really popular right now.

  9. Why are all these so called Independant Republicans in love with Scozzy Bear? She would not have won a Republican primary in the district. She won because she was friends with the guy who picked her.

  10. He left the GOP because it got rid of Scozzafava?? What was he doing there in the first place?

    Wow.

  11. 39 percent ID themselves as indies, 32 percent as Dems, and 26 percent of Reps.

    Puzzler of the day –

    Given the ingrained stupidity by both the GOP and the Dems, why would an intelligent person not running for elected office ID with either party?

    1. Because a lot of those indies are independent in name only. Most of them are leaners that vote with one side or the other >80% of the time.

      1. That’s not an answer, honey.

    2. Puzzler of the century, I would think. Most people just do it out of habit would be my guess. And people like to be part of a winning team.

    3. Where I live the politicians don’t identify themselves as either Republican or Democrat. The TV, radio, billboards, direct mail and phone calls have no identity on which party the candidate is a member of. And it’s even hard to find it on their websites. Usually the only time they are directly identified is on the ballot.

    4. why would an intelligent person not running for elected office ID with either party?

      Because in Maryland, the defacto election is the Democratic Primary. Therefore, I am a registered Democrat.

    5. Because in many states, you must register with a party in order to participate in that party’s primary system.

  12. I think that in 2008, the GOP was wrong to adopt a party platform that maintained a strict opposition to abortion without at least carving out exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life.

    The “danger to the mother’s life” part is discussed above, but what about the other two exceptions? If you believe it’s a life, then why is it okay to destroy it because of actions of one or both of the parents? And if you don’t believe it’s a life, where do you get off trying to confine abortion to just those circumstances?

  13. “The national GOP is a party of exclusion and litmus tests, dominated on social issues by the religious right, with zero discernible outreach by the national party to anyone who doesn’t fit neatly within its parameters. Instead, the GOP has extended itself to its fringe while throwing under the bus long-standing members like New York Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, a McCain-Palin supporter in 2008 who told me she voted with her Republican leadership 90 percent of the time before running for Congress last fall.”

    This is a bucket-full of mush. As commentators pointed out 1. Dede Scozzafava was an unpopular, local-machine pol, and 2. The ‘Religious Right’ exudes far, far less prominence than in the 80’s or 90’s.

    This goes to what I posted on yesterday, that as the political opportunities for Libertarian ideas has never been better (at least in recent memory), you’re seeing that many ‘Libertarian’ figures simply have no interest in moving out from their little niche islands. Be it because they hold more Left/Progressive views outside their stances on limited Government and are just flatly uninterested in shaping GOP forces, or because it’s more personally copacetic to continue to occupy a comfortable little vacuum niche away from the real world as opposed to the tough, ugly game of politics.

    Let’s not hear anymore about the GOP not listening to Libertarians, increasing it’s Libertarians signaling they like irrelevance.

  14. Libertarians have ALWAYS enjoyed irrelevance, KingTaco. At least it is irrelevance on our own terms, rather than irrelevance within a GOP that does little more than pay lip service to libertarian ideals.

    I think that the potential for a Libertarian surge may lie with the great mass of folks who do not now vote.

    1. “I think that the potential for a Libertarian surge may lie with the great mass of folks who do not now vote.”

      I think the potential for a Libertarian surge lies with Libertarian ideas becoming the ‘cultural driver’ behind the GOP. Which kind of dovetails with…

      “At least it is irrelevance on our own terms, rather than irrelevance within a GOP that does little more than pay lip service to libertarian ideals.”

      Both political parties pay ‘lip service’ to cultural forces. Political parties are like blind, lumbering giants, whose sole skill in movement is to put a finger up in the air and see which way the wind is blowing. It’s party hacks jobs to make the giant as presentable as possible, outside forces compete to be the ‘wind’. Socially ‘conservative’ forces have had influence because they know how to get visibility to their message, and get out votes. They become the ‘wind’, and the blind giant follows. Now Libertarian ideas are as well-suited as ever to become a culturally driving force, and Libertarians are increasingly taking their ball and going home.

      If Libertarians had the drive/support to be a functioning party, well, they’d be a political party. Libertarian unity of ideas is also chimerical, an Independent/Libertarian third party would be pulled in a thousand directions. In current conditions, it would be a vanity project whose most ardent (silent) supporter would be Obama.

      Being a driving ‘cultural force’ doesn’t even entail ‘selling out’ to the GOP. Libertarian’s can still ridicule the GOP, as long as the public cheers and pays attention the GOP giant will dutifully lumber to catch the wind.

      Don’t be fooled by the complaints of some of the Libertarian/Independent punditry. There not saying stay away from the GOP because of some noble Quixotic quest for purity, it’s simply that, for reasons already outlined, an actual political emergence of Libertarians in the GOP is inconvenient to them.

  15. I relevance means becoming a republican, then I will continue to enjoy irrelevance. I don’t identify with any party because they both suck and I am not willing to make the lesser evil calculation. At least I can be content knowing that whoever fucks things up next, I had nothing to do with it.

  16. I’ve been listening to Smerconish’s morning AM radio show for several years now, during my commute. When I first started listening, he was much more of a Republican. He even gave what can only be described as an on-air campaign speech for Santorum leading up to the 2006 mid-terms.

    Since then he’s been drifting left. He’s public about having voted for Obama, and he recently made “Stuck in the Middle with You” his show’s theme song.

    That being said, his morning show is excellent. He has interesting guests and lets his callers have their say.

    1. Ditto. Ever since Smerconish admits he was thrilled by Palin’s convention speech, he’s been drifting away as he came to realize her deficiencies. The Couric interview opened his eyes and now he can’t understand the love Palin gets. I don’t think he had a clear answer for callers this week who told him the best way to reform the GOP, if he thought it was going astray, was to stay in the party and participate in primaries. In Penna., at least, Independents do not get to influence Primary selections.

  17. You know that bus that people are always getting thrown under? I drive that motherfucker.

  18. I don’t have any science to back this up, but I’ve always thought his leftward drift was directly correlated with his number of MSNBC appearances. “I” probably scores a lot more points at the Morning Joe water-cooler than “R”.

  19. Ooohhh, I just absolutely ADORE those glasses!

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