Political Parties

Scott Brown, Ron Paul and the Future of the GOP

Posted on February 24, 2010. Filed under: 2010 Elections, 2012 Elections, Dems, Elections, GOP, Issues, Political Parties |

The GOP and their teabagging stooges are quite angry today. Yesterday, Scott Brown broke rank and voted in favor of the Senate jobs bill (along with Collins and Snowe). This should not be a major or breaking-story because congressmen USED to vote with their constituents in mind all the time. Voting across party lines is not unusual at all, yet the Tea Party appears to have already given up on Brown. They have filled his website and Facebook page with comments like this one:

“You, Sir, are a RINO Judas. I hope you enjoy your 30 pieces of silver.”

Amazing really. One single vote and he is deemed a Judas. All of this, of course, makes the 2010 election ever more potent. It’s not just about the Dems losing control of Congress anymore. If the GOP does in fact win BIG this fall,  are these “supporters” –those responsible for this apparent conservative revival– going to react in a similar way when a freshly minted congressman decides to vote with his district or state in mind? If they do, then the GOP is going to have a major problem in 2010.

Mike Madden over at Salon has the same thing on his mind. He poses that the GOP is going to have a hard time keeping the support of their new activist base. The platform that the Tea Party wants them to run against –which is the only way they are going to do well in 2010– is one that the GOP was booted out for in 2006.

“…most of the things Republicans say they’ll do if they take power again — cutting spending, increasing transparency, ending earmarks — were exactly what helped voters sour on Republican rule in 2006. To keep the new elements of their activist base happy, GOP leaders will have to stick to their plan. “Keeping the support of tea party activists will require keeping our promises, it’s as simple as that,” one GOP aide

It’s ludicrous to assume the GOP will do any of these things and they know it. That’s their concern. If the Tea Party is this angry about Scott Brown voting with his constituents and “against” the Tea Party, then the GOP is in a lot of trouble. They’re already spitting on Steele on a regular basis using trademark bagger language.

“Michael Steele is an imperial chairman,” grumbled one GOP fundraiser to Politico.

In my opinion, a bagger-fueled 2010 GOP resurgence is going to 1) highlight the fractures between the libertarians and conservatives and 2) splinter the presidential field in 2012 leaving the Dems in a good position. I’m not sure who’ll represent the GOP in 2012, but I can assure you that Ron Paul will be a strong candidate (regardless of party) and if the GOP burns their libertarian bridges, they can both  kiss their 2012 chances goodbye.

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Policy, Politics and 체면: The Sejong City Fallout

Posted on February 17, 2010. Filed under: GNP, Issues, Policy, Political Parties |

The story behind the Sejong rift is not what’s being widely reported. What we hear is that the rift between Park Geun-hye & Company and the rest of the GNP is getting larger by the day. Every major paper has headlines dealing with the intra-party clash and yesterday, the Dongo Ilbo wrote-up had some reactions on the split and the entire Sejong City debacle.

While people might be divided and some pols are still wrangling over how to solidify the party, the real story is the ongoing cold war between Park Geun-hye and Prime Minister Chung Un-chan. The difficult part of this story is not who though, but why?

Does Park really want to press ahead with the original plan because it’s sound policy or she trying to position herself for a mid-term power grab thus gaining the  subsequent momentum for a 2012 cakewalk?

Does Chung truly believe that moving administrative offices to Sejong will hamper efficiency or is he also poised for a 2012 run himself?

Or are both of them trying to save face (체면) because they made very potent policy decisions which –if proven wrong– will ultimately damage their reputation beyond repair?

Let’s examine it.

As I mentioned before, 60% of Koreans support Lee Myung-bak’s revision while only 37% support the original plan (which Park is advocating for). It seems that Park knows she’s on the wrong side of the issue which could suggest she believes in the policy. However, over 1,000 Korean economists, scholars and politicians all banded together in support of a revision of the plan. Does she disagree with the following sentiment?

“When administrative bodies are divided, ministers, vice ministers and many officials have to move from one place to another and it is inefficient.”

Doubtful, but Park Geun-hye continues to rail against it, claiming Lee Myung-bak lied about his Sejong support to get elected. It’s clear that the original Sejong plan wasn’t as sound as once thought and it now appears that Park is pandering for political dividends in the Chungcheong province with her uncompromising zeal for the project. She knows the path to victory goes through the province, but did someone else pre-empt her move?

Could it be that Chung is more 11-dimensional than I thought? After all, it was Chung Un-chan who was at the forefront pushing for revision. He knew it’d be a wedge issue that would provoke Park to act and possibly try to distance herself from Lee and the mainstream GNP. Or was he acting on sound policy? He is an economist you know.

Incidentally, Chung happens to be from Gongju (South Chungcheong province), which is the area Park is pandering to. This –to me– suggests that he’s hoping to get more hometown support for his calls for revision. North Chungcheong has already expressed their opposition to the original bill and even though the Governor of South Chungcheong resigned over the revision, the momentum appears to be with the pro-Lee faction of the GNP.

In the end, this whole thing looks like an effort to save face. Both Chung and Park made a bold decision and neither one of them want to walk away from it. This whole damn thing was orchestrated by Roh Moo-hyun in an effort to win support in 2002 and it has snowballed to the point that we’re at right now.

From where I’m standing, Park Geun-hye bet on the wrong side and is trying to fight off a severe blow to her 체면. Chung is pushing sound policy in an attempt to politically wash the floor with Park and her allies. And if the recent calls to oust Chung were in response to said washing, it looks like he’s onto something.

Nice try, Hankyeorah. It looks like you’re learning from from Drudge.

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Park Geun-hye’s Chungcheong Gamble

Posted on February 15, 2010. Filed under: Elections, Policy, Political Parties |

Let’s start today off with this:

Enjoy the New Year Holiday. Seize the thief!”

In a confrontation reminiscent Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” and Kayne’s “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.“, former GNP candidate and spokeswomen Park Geun-hye decided to replant the seed of distrust (again) just before the Lunar New Year holiday. Her goal –obviously– was to fuel her inner-party pseudo-support for the original Sejong City Development Plan in hopes of changing the holiday conversation from the traditional “When are you getting married?” to “Lee Myung-bak is a thief.

Of course, much of the argument around this issue has little to do with the Sejong City project. Rather, we’re witnessing the continuation of the battle from the 2007 election when Lee and Park engaged in nasty exchanges in their bid to represent the GNP. She’s still bitter and looking to separate herself from his policies so as to remain a viable candidate in 2012.

As I discussed previously, it’s totally commonplace in Korean politics to split from a party when something goes wrong. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if Park threatened the same here, but since a pro-Park faction already splintered and returned two years ago, it would be pretty futile at this point.

So, let’s take a look at the current dispute and then we’ll make the leap across the pond.

Lee (in an address): “…when a thief breaks in, a family bound for success stops fighting (each other) to repel him first.”

Park (response): “what happens when someone in the family turns into a thief?”

Both camps denied they were speaking of the other, but it’s pretty clear they were both taking swipes at each other. Lee was railing for unification against the Park faction and Park was calling Lee a thief. What did he steal? I assume she believes he “stole” the election by promising to press ahead with Roh’s dream of relocating the nation’s government. She has every right to be angry that he reneged on his promise, but he has not scrapped the whole thing, he simply wants Sejong to be a “business-science hub“.

Still, he’s a “thief” according to Park. Will her gamble work?

According to a recent poll, 60% of the public support the revised version proposed by Lee. Only 37% percent support the original plan that Park is putting her neck out there for.

So, why is she sticking to an unpopular opinion and increasing the attacks?

Just ask the GOP in America.

The GOP has continually rallied against popular measures over the past year, but a faction of the GOP has not only uniformly opposed every proposal, they have even threatened to cannibalize their own regardless of what GOP Chairman Steele wants. They are –of course– the teabaggers.

Like the Park faction in the GNP, the teabaggers account for a sizable portion of the GOP. They are a minority for sure, but they steal most of the headlines with their egregious claims and extreme supporters. Yet, it’s no secret what their short-term goal is: November elections.  The Park faction is after the same thing: June elections.

While there is evidence that the GOP-led Tea Party movement could pick-up some seats, a switch in Congressional power is pretty much impossible. The Pro-Park faction also has some legs to stand on, but it’s unclear whether her support for the original Sejong City plan is a winner. She might be playing on the enthusiasm gap which will also help the GOP this fall, but will Sejong City get people out to vote like the GOP scare-tactics have motivated the American conservatives?

I doubt it and it seems like Park is going to end up garnering more support from a single province –that being Chungcheong. The caveat is, does Chungcheong support translate to a big win?

Yes and Park knows it. Since 1987, Chungcheong province has been known as the “election barometer“. The province has had swaying power in every modern election. Right now, the province is solidly in support of the People First Party. This, however, is not a huge obstacle for Park. The core principle of the party is to oppose the GNP. Park is openly opposing the GNP, so theoretically she could sway a few voters into supporting pro-Park GNPers.

If she can get the backing of PFP leader Sim Dae-pyung or push this wedge issue far enough, then we can all expect a pro-Park resurgence within the GNP and possibly another heated primary in 2012.

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The GNP, Teabaggers and the Real Elephant in the Room

Posted on February 13, 2010. Filed under: Political Parties |

The recent disputes over the political minefield that is Sejong City have reopened the old wounds that the GNP suffered from the bitter primary campaign between Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung-bak.  Lee was the early front-runner, but as the allegations of his involvement in the BBK scandal began to surface, Park started eating into his lead. Her final push painted Lee as a criminal (a reputation he carried into his presidency) and she ended up winning the party’s bid. Still, Lee took the national bid and therefore won the spot as GNP candidate.

Pro-Park GNPers were not happy with this outcome, so they resorted to one of the most overdone political moves in Korea: they formed another party. In fact, they formed two. The Pro-Park Alliance and Solidarity for Pro-Park Independents were supposed to be the answer for the disenchanted Park-ers. However, the futility and symbolic nature of the move were fully on display as Park herself chose not to join either. Now, nearly all of the rebels have returned to the GNP.

This phenomenon is not new in Korean politics. Just a couple months ago, supporters of the late President Roh grouped together to form the People’s Participation Party and if you briefly visit any party’s Wiki site, you’ll be able to see that splits, factions and defections are totally commonplace.

Here’s an example of the symbolic splits and renaming:

The Democratic Republican Party started in 1963 under President Park Chung-hee. Years later in 1980, President Chun Doo-hwan renamed it the Democratic Justice Party. Next, President Kim Young-sam renamed it the Democratic Liberal Party. Less than two years later in 1995, it was again renamed the New Korea Party. Finally in 1997, they landed on The Grand National Party, the name it carries today. Along the way, the party consumed dozens of smaller conservative parties that had, for one reason or another, decided to branch off only to return.

The futility of this is clear since the  ideology of each party always remained conservative, even when it was called the Democratic Liberal Party. So why did they do it? For the same reason as the current American Tea Party-ers are doing it.

The Tea Party movement is the brainchild of the corporate right and is filled with typical white conservatives, the very same who make up most of the GOP base.  It’s kick-off was spawned by Glenn Beck’s 9/12 Project and despite Beck’s best effort to claim he doesn’t like party politics, these tea parties are nothing more than the GOP in disguise. All you have to do is look at the recent convention in Nashville to realize it’s just the GOP shouting “don’t tread on me“.  Sarah Palin, the Queen Bagger, even thinks that the GOP should absorb the movement.

The conservative establishments in each nation knew that their brand was damaged, so they simply repackaged. The strategy was the same, but I think they were responding to different concerns from the voters. Presidential politics in Korea are less about the party and more about the individual whereas its mid-terms generally follow party-line politics. People don’t necessarily care about the party. Liberal candidate Roh Moo-hyun easily carried the young vote in 2002 and yet in 2007, conservative candidate Lee Myung-bak took a large portion of that demographic as well.

In the US, it’s nearly always about the party. That youth vote swing wouldn’t happen in the American politics. Sure, some conservatives voted for Obama just like some liberals voted for Reagan, but the nation has become so polarized that that is likely a thing of the best.

So why then, do Korean politicians choose to repackage so often if it doesn’t necessarily equate to victory? Simply put, Korean politicians and voters are very reactionary. There’s a proclivity for extremes and symbolically leaving a party makes that particular person really dedicated to whatever cause they claim to be taking a stand for.

Both the Korean defectors and the Tea Party know very well that they can’t afford to officially splinter from the mainstream conservative party. Two somewhat viable parties espousing the same ideology end up eating each other. Just ask Doug Hoffman.


Eventually people will realize that they’ve been swindled by their leaders. Holding that tea bag and under the Sam Adams hat is nothing more than an elephant and that is the real elephant in the room.

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