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The GOP's clueless caucus

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By ALEXANDER BURNS and JAKE SHERMAN, Politico
 
They’ve waxed philosophic about “legitimate rape,” reflected on the economic role of “wetbacks” and denounced the actions of “brazen, self-described illegal aliens.” They’ve lamented that “mom got in the workplace” and called out the United States attorney general for casting “aspersions on my asparagus.”
Call them the clueless caucus of the Republican Party.
As much of the GOP strains to implement a post-2012 course correction, the party has found itself stymied over and over by what leaders describe as a tiny rump of ham-fisted pols with a knack for stumbling onto cable news. No matter what the party leadership is up to in a given month, there’s almost invariably a back-bencher in the House of Representatives or a C-list player out in the states who’s only too eager to take the wind out of a conservative comeback with some incendiary comment that seizes national attention.
It all got started last fall when two Senate candidates — Missouri’s Todd Akin and Indiana’s Richard Mourdock — blew up their campaigns with offensive remarks about rape. But the trend of self-destructive, largely marginal Republicans seizing the spotlight has only continued in 2013.
In January, it was Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey trying to explain how Akin was “partly right” about rape and pregnancy, after all. In March, it was Alaska Rep. Don Young referring to immigrant farm laborers as “wetbacks” on a radio show. The first week in June saw Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant blaming the decline in American education on the advent of “both parents … working.”
Then there was E.W. Jackson, the recently minted Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia whose record of slashing comments about homosexuality and abortion has yielded a steady stream of headlines the past month.
The parade of face-plants only goes on. Last week, Iowa Rep. Steve King announced on Twitter that “illegal aliens have invaded my D.C. office,” while Arizona Rep. Trent Franks suggested — in a mangled comment he rapidly walked back — that relatively few pregnancies result from rape. (Franks’s misfire prompted the GOP Senate candidate in Massachusetts, Gabriel Gomez, to quip, “These kinds of comments only come from a moron,” and: “He proves that stupid has no specific affiliation.”)
Looking over the big picture, it’s easy to see why a casual observer of politics might ask: What is the deal with these people? And why can’t they stop talking about rape?
Among the Republicans who actually run the GOP, however, the problem at hand is narrower and more concrete — and more frustrating.
 
Read the rest at Politico here.