Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Punishing peers

By Carol Gee

The consequences of angering one's political peers can be devastating. Today's post is about two individuals and several states that have faced being locked out as punishment for failure to follow established rules.

Democratic National Committee leaders were very serious in their demands for the authority to schedule next year's presidential primary elections. Leaders in both parties are penalizing states who moved their primaries up to January. The inability for the parties to work out differences is very surprising to me. Informed Comment's Juan Cole weighed in on the DNC's punishment of Michigan Democrats for failure to follow the rules of next year's presidential primary scheduling. To quote Professor Cole:

A specter haunts the Democratic Party, and it is the exclusion of Michigan and Florida delegates from the Democratic Convention.

Both the Republican and the Democratic National Committees have been penalizing states that move their primaries up to January, as Michigan and Florida did.

The DNC says it will only recognize the Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina primaries in January. Michigan and Florida won't be accepted.

. . . I think the Democrats are crazy not to resolve this thing quick through negotiation, rather than just letting the train wreck unfold.

MSNBC and other media companies became very serious about the growing controversy over talk show host Don Imus' racist remarks uttered several months ago. He was fired by everybody. It looked like all his friends were going to desert him also. But Imus is back on the air, and my roommate, "Seven of Eight," is relieved to have his favorite morning show back. And Imus has not lost all his "friends." In the past two days Doris Kearns Goodwin, Senator John McCain, and Governors Mike Huckabee and Bill Richardson have all appeared on the show. I am not surprised at all. There is too much to gain from an appearance with Imus, and probably not much to lose. USA Today reported on the return of Don Imus to radio and television. The headline read, "An apologetic Don Imus returns to the airwaves." To quote:

His debut on WABC — along with a new cast featuring two black comedians — completed a comeback that seemed improbable at the height of the uproar last spring. CBS Radio fired him on April 12, pulling the plug on his Imus In the Morning program that had aired on more than 70 stations and the MSNBC cable network.

. . . He pledged to "never say anything in my lifetime that will make any of these young women at Rutgers regret or feel foolish that they accepted my apology and forgave me."

But "the program is not going to change," Imus added to applause from the live audience.

Those who had led the criticism of Imus were muted in their remarks over his return.

. . . The show also will be simulcast on cable's RFD-TV, owned by the Rural Media Group Inc. RFD reaches nearly 30 million homes, but with Imus on board the 24-hour cable network hopes to boost that number to 50 million over the next two years.

Senator Kay Baily Hutchison surprised her constituents here in Texas and perhaps some of her fellow Senators by announcing that she wants to take Senator Lott's leadership position, even though she will not be seeking another Senate term. In my opinion, it is the decision to retire from the Senate that enabled our Senator to vote in the rather independent way that will probably get her punished by those in her party. To quote from the recent story in Politico.com:

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), who is seeking the No. 3 Republican leadership post in the wake of Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott’s announced retirement, has alienated her conservative colleagues in recent months and endangered her chances of moving up the GOP ranks.

Hutchison voted in October with Democrats to defy a veto threat by President Bush over a proposed $35 billion expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

. . . She also backed the DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for the children of illegal aliens, another big blow to her conservative credentials on an issue that is a top priority for Republican voters nationwide.

. . . Hutchison has already publicly announced that she’s not seeking reelection in 2012. And she has repeatedly declared her interest in running for governor of Texas in 2010, meaning that she could leave the Senate as early as 2009 to conduct a gubernatorial campaign. So her decision to try to move up the leadership ranks baffled some GOP insiders, although none wanted to use their names in any negative comments about her.

. . . backers have begun whispering campaigns against both Alexander and Hutchison, questioning their conservative credibility. And the tactic seems particularly effective against Hutchison. “They have hurt her, that’s for sure,” said the chief of staff to a Senate Republican who has been lobbied by all three candidates. “She has had to respond to it.”

A Republican leadership aide said GOP senators “are scared of Hutchison, but not scared enough of her to make her” conference chairwoman. The aide was referring to Hutchison’s personal lobbying of her GOP colleagues on issues of importance to her, such as funding projects in Texas.

Being locked out is sometimes the punishment for people seeking group membership. People in families, tenants, and those who do not follow the rules and/or displease their peers often get punished. Today's post examined this phenomenon as it has been applied to people involved with the world of politics. It is a dicey enterprise for its participants. And doors can slam shut with a fierceness that must be breathtaking for those who do not play the game.

cross-posted at South by Southwest

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