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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Bunning’s Bird: New Symbol of the G.O.P.

‘Tis a shame that no photograph of Jim Bunning’s flipped bird has yet emerged, although the photo on this web page captures the spirit of his attitude, and should do adequately for his legacy and Wikipedia page, where you can also read about his ‘foundation.’ Somewhere, however, in the darker corners of the G.O.P., where strategy is made, Frank Luntz, Ed Rollins and the smarter Republicans should be offering prayers of gratitude that Bunning’s bird escaped the cameras, for it would be hard to imagine a better symbolic representation of G.O.P. obstructionism.
That, however, shouldn’t stop cartoonists from doing their job. Have at it, guys. (They’re just getting started: See here, here and, best so far, here.)
Common sense suggests that Republicans should feel a little uneasy about Bunning punishing unemployed Americans with obstructionist theatrics. But this is not a good year for common sense in the G.O.P., where principled opposition to childish behavior is pretty-much non-existent. Michael Kieschnick puts it well in his HuiffPo post, “Republicans Use Jim Bunning to Say Tough S**t to America“:

…It is one thing to act in such a despicable manner, and quite another to be backed up by one’s colleagues. Surely one of the Republican leaders would have escorted Sen. Bunning off the floor so that a vote could be held. Surely a senior Senator of the same party might have made clear that such behavior is simply unacceptable in the Senate.
But no. No Republican has condemned Sen. Bunning. Indeed, Sen. Cornyn of Texas, in charge of electing more Republicans to the Senate, went out of his way to praise his colleague and said he understood.
Perhaps Sen. Bunning is just a bitter, deluded, old man, who used to be a great baseball pitcher. But he is also the public face of the Republican Senators. The party of no has now simply become the cruder party of tough shit and a raised middle finger.

Perhaps Bunning is running for president of tea party America, where expressions of mindless contempt are celebrated — even when directed toward the working people they claim to represent.

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