Being a former spokesperson for the likes of Newt Gingrich ought to get you booted from the pundit class for life, but instead it means the likes of Rick Tyler is asked to come on Hardball and lie about voter suppression.
August 17, 2013

I would really love to know why working for someone like Newt Gingrich, the direct mail scam artist who pretended like he wanted to be president, gets you a permanent spot as a pundit on cable television? Personally, I think it ought to disqualify you for life from ever being allowed to come on television again, but sadly, we keep seeing the likes of former Gingrich adviser, Rick Tyler again and again in segments like this one from this Thursday's Hardball.

If anyone was wondering just how obvious the lies you're telling have to be to immediately get called out by the generally benign Michael Smerconish who was guest hosting for Chris Matthews, we found out during this segment, where Tyler was trying to pretend we don't have a problem with voter suppression in the United States.

It was nice to see him stopped in his tracks when he attempted to pretend that all of the Dixiecrats didn't switch parties and become Republicans because of the civil rights movement. The other lie he called him on was when he tried to pretend that anyone takes the fringe group, The New Black Panthers seriously or that they had an ounce of impact on anyone feeling like they might have been intimidated from voting.

I was glad to see Tyler be called out for at least some of the B.S. he was spouting here, but it's a shame they think anyone who worked for Gingrich, or Rick Santorum, or Michele Bachmann deserves a chance to keep lying to us after their grifter candidates finally got out of the presidential primary race in the first place.

Transcript below the fold.

SMERCONISH: Joining me now, "The Washington Post`s" Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Eugene Robinson and Republican strategist Rick Tyler.

Gene, what would be your response to Senator Paul when he says, Show me the objective evidence of disenfranchisement?

EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I`d say the evidence is pretty evident. There is that MIT study about how long minorities had to wait to vote as opposed to whites. So you already have a system that puts added burdens on minorities who would like to vote.

Then you add on top of that voter ID requirements, which we know are going to disproportionately affect minorities, and you end up with, I think, plenty of evidence that these laws have the effect, if not the intent, of turning African-Americans away from the polls.

SMERCONISH: Gene, when I say to folks this is a solution in search of a problem, they often respond to me by saying, How do you know there`s not more fraud taking place but people are getting away with it? You can`t prove it if they`re getting away with it.

ROBINSON: Well, no, but you`d think that they`d get caught every once in a while. You`d think that there would certainly be more instances of impersonation voter fraud than we know of. We know of practically none. It just doesn`t happen. It`s not a problem.

And I guarantee it`s not that Republicans have not been looking for examples of impersonation voter fraud to justify these laws. They haven`t found them because they aren`t there, apparently.

SMERCONISH: Rick, is your argument that this is all coincidence that we have all of these measures coming at the same time that would disproportionately impact African-American voters?

RICK TYLER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, the MIT study was correct in that they identified districts where African-Americans waited longer precisely because those districts are controlled by Democrats, and they should be talking to -- almost without exception, every single local polling place, including Palm Beach, Florida, is controlled by the local authorities.

And so you go to those local authorities and you`ll find in Los Angeles and those counties where African-Americans are having trouble voting, it was in charge -- it was Democrats that are keeping them from voting in those long lines. It`s not Republicans.

SMERCONISH: Right, but it was Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, who cut back the early voting to which people had grown accustomed, and consequently, lots of folks who had now come into the habit of voting early couldn`t do so.

TYLER: Look, we want an open and fair system, but I`m just telling you, you have ballots that are sitting around for weeks and months, and the Democrats would certainly love to see a perpetual voting campaign, but you`re just asking for problems.

The other thing is, is things happen. People drop out of the race. Scandals occur. And the closer you get to the election, the better information the voters have. Are we now going to allow voters who -- their candidate suffered a scandal to say, Gee, I`d like my ballot back now because I already voted, you know, a month ago and I`d like to change it now because I didn`t have the right information?

Look, there`s a responsibility as a citizen to vote, and I think a week -- you only got 51 weeks to get people registered to vote and get them out to turn out the vote. I think it`s pretty reasonable to have the election be consolidated into one week as a civic duty.

SMERCONISH: Gene, Secretary Clinton jumped back into the political fray on Monday, striking at the heart of these voting reform bills and condemning the laws that she says are reviving old demons of discrimination. Let`s watch.


HILLARY CLINTON, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: We do, let`s admit it, have a long history of shutting people out -- African-Americans, women, gays and lesbians, people with disabilities. And throughout our history, we have found too many ways to divide and exclude people from their ownership of the law and protection under the law.

Now, not every obstacle is related to race, but anyone who says that racial discrimination is no longer a problem in American elections must not be paying attention. And despite the best efforts of many well- intentioned election officials, discrepancies in resources across precincts and polling stations still disproportionately impact African- Americans, Latino and young voters.


SMERCONISH: And then Rich Lowry of "The National Review" took to the op-ed page of Politico to fire back at Mrs. Clinton for her political tone, suggesting that she was just trying to gin up the base ahead of a presidential run.

Quote, "Madam Secretary hasn`t missed a beat. She knows that the calling card of the Democrats in the Barack Obama era is a polarizing politics that seeks to fire up minority voters by stirring fears of firehoses and police dogs. Its basic vocabulary is imputations of racism. Its evidentiary standard is low and dishonest. And its ethic is whatever works so long as it stirs fear, anger, and resentment. Get ready for hope and change 2.0."

Gene Robinson, respond to both of those.

ROBINSON: Well, number one, the only people I hear talking about firehoses and police dogs are Republicans. What I hear Democrats saying is these are measures that are going to reduce African-American participation in elections. They`re not talking about firehoses. They`re not talking about police dogs. That`s sort of a red herring that keeps getting brought up on the other side to discredit what I consider the legitimate arguments against these laws.

Second, I think in terms of Hillary Clinton, we should acknowledge two possibilities. Number one, she is laying the groundwork for a run for president in 2016. Number two, that this is something she believes deeply and cares about and wanted to express using her bully pulpit.

SMERCONISH: Gene, in light of polling data on this issue, would the Democratic Party be wise to adopt the posture of, We`re fine with an ID card, let`s just be reasonable and make sure that it`s the type of ID card that suits all communities? If folks in a particular community don`t drive automobiles and therefore don`t have a driver`s license, then it`s got to be something else. The concept is fine.

ROBINSON: Well, that`s kind of where the Justice Department has come down, actually, in its examination of these laws and deciding which ones to challenge and which ones not to challenge and how to approach these cases.

You know, I think perhaps that`s a reasonable approach. I still am looking for the problem. I still don`t see a reason to interfere with anybody`s right to vote in the slightest if there`s not a problem that we`re fixing. And I don`t see the problem.

SMERCONISH: OK, Rick, question for you because I hear criticism coming from the right on this. OK, if we`re going to have a national ID, then why not make it the Social Security card and let`s put everybody`s photograph on it?

TYLER: Look, we can all agree on -- we can all come to some agreement, and I think the states can work that out and the local election authorities.

First of all, nobody`s denied a vote. If you go to the vote -- if you go to vote today and you refuse to show an ID here in Virginia, or where I live in Virginia, they will still allow you to cast a ballot. That`s just -- you can cast a ballot whether you provide an ID whether it`s law (ph) or not. It`ll be a provisional ballot, but you`ll be able to cast a ballot. So that`s -- that`s number one.

You know, number two, I can see why Hillary Clinton and all these people, Democrats, are sensitive because -- and Eugene`s right, they don`t -- people -- Republicans shouldn`t bring up firehoses and certainly Democrats shouldn`t because all those people with the firehoses were Democrats.

All the -- all the Jim Crow laws were written by Democrats. All the laws after Reconstruction to keep African-Americans from voting were Democrats. Orval Faubus, who stood in the doorway of Central High School -- he was a Democrat. The guy who would (ph) sent (ph) the 101st Airborne to let those black children in that school, that was Eisenhower. He was a Republican.

SMERCONISH: I`m going to -- I`m going to save Gene his breath.


SMERCONISH: The party was comprised entirely of totally different forces at that time...


SMERCONISH: ... and had different leadership.

Hey, a Florida GOP operative spoke to "The Palm Beach Post" after the 2012 election on the condition of anonymity, but a remarkably candid admission. He acknowledged that voter reforms in Florida, like cutting back on Sunday voting -- that they were designed to curtail the African- American vote.

And here`s what he said. Quote, "I know that the cutting out of the Sunday before election day was one of their targets only because that`s a big day when the black churches organize themselves."

That`s what he said. And Gene, I think that`s unquestionably accurate insofar as that is a critical day for mobilizing the vote in black churches.

ROBINSON: Yes. That has become kind of a traditional day for getting black voters out to the polls. And look, if black voters are going to go, you know, 95 percent for Democrats in a year when Barack Obama`s on the ballot and perhaps 85 percent in a year when he`s not, one understands why Republicans would want to limit that vote because it`s going to go to the Democrat.

It`s just that you can`t do that. We have equal protection under the Constitution and you can`t do that.

SMERCONISH: And Rick, that comment is reminiscent of what I`m sure we all remember from my home state of Pennsylvania, similar acknowledgments that this was all being utilized as a political weapon.

TYLER: Well, as I remember, in Pennsylvania, the only objective evidence was two New Black Panther people trying to keep people from voting, presumably white. I assume they were working for the Democratic Party. That`s the objective evidence of people (INAUDIBLE)

SMERCONISH: You know, I have to tell you something. I know a little something about that. I investigated it and wrote about it at the time. That was an overwhelmingly African-American polling place, where the president ended up with something like 98 percent of the vote.

TYLER: Why were they there?

SMERCONISH: If you wanted to intimidate voters to vote for Barack Obama, you`d come out to the lily-white suburbs, where I live. You wouldn`t go to a polling place where you were already going to get that lion`s share of the vote.

TYLER: Hey, Michael -- then I`ll ask you, why were they there?

SMERCONISH: Because they`re knuckleheads, and everybody who lives in Philadelphia...

TYLER: Well, that`s for sure!

SMERCONISH: ... that these nitwits...

TYLER: We agree on that.

SMERCONISH: ... that these nitwits stand outside of city hall with bullhorns and they manipulated the national media and it worked.

TYLER: Look -- look...

SMERCONISH: Anyway, thank you -- if I had more time, believe me, I love the issue. Thank you, Eugene Robinson.

TYLER: Appreciate it.

SMERCONISH: And thank you, Rick Tyler.

Can you help us out?

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