Tags: Ham | Republican | Obama | party

Eric Ham on GOP Civil War

By    |   Tuesday, 28 Jan 2014 06:45 AM

Continuing the discussion of the state of the Republican Party, Eric Ham, author of The GOP Civil War: Inside the Battle for the Soul of the Republican Party, appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal recently and was interviewed by host Peter Slen.

Ham got his undergraduate degree in economics and political science from the University of Michigan and did graduate work in foreign policy at the University of Chicago. After serving on the staff of Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., he worked as director of Congressional Relations for the Washington think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Throughout the interview, the host received, and sometimes read, protests from Republicans in the audience that as a Democrat, Ham was not in a position to comment on the Republican Party, but whenever this issue was raised, Ham maintained his poise and stated that he was speaking as a political scientist and observer of the Capitol scene.

The premise for the discussion, with which I agree, is that the establishment and the tea party are fighting for control of the party. Ham said this idea is "not controversial, and no one can deny it." He referred to the fight between party factions during the government shutdown and a statement by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin that her faction would be looking at possible challenges in key races, such as the re-election campaign of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

When Slen asked Ham to compare Republican commentator Ann Coulter and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Ham replied that they both care deeply about the party, and there the resemblance ends, because Boehner is in a position to govern, having to deal with issues like unemployment and the national debt, whereas Coulter is an activist who relishes red meat.

He called the government shutdown and the filibuster by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, "hugely detrimental" to the Republican brand, but now that it's over, attention has shifted to Obamacare, which Ham called "completely bungled." (Callers who objected to Ham as a commentator take note — Democrats don't usually use the terms "Obamacare," and "bungled" to refer to it.)

Asked to list positives for the Republicans, Ham named roughly the same ones as did William Kristol — a majority of state governors and legislatures, and "a much longer bench" of candidates than the Democrats, such as Gov. Chris Christie, of New Jersey; Gov. Bobby Jindal, of Louisiana; former Gov. Jeb Bush, of Florida; Gov. Susana Martinez, of New Mexico; and Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida.

He did not mention Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., until a caller asked, and then he framed the question as whether Rand Paul can incite the fervor that his father and former presidential candidate Ron Paul enjoyed at the Iowa caucuses. He concluded that the party has a lot of candidates, but what it needs is a policy.

Under the category of negatives for the Republicans, Ham listed the usual one — a "tone deaf" stance toward minority, young and women voters. He suggested that the party needs to promote ideas that resonate with these voters.

The Republicans may gain some time, however, because Ham finds that Obama "has not moved forward" on the issue of immigration.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Robert-Feinberg
Continuing the discussion of the state of the Republican Party, Eric Ham, author of The GOP Civil War: Inside the Battle for the Soul of the Republican Party, appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal recently and was interviewed by host Peter Slen.
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Tuesday, 28 Jan 2014 06:45 AM
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