Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

Reporter

Tim Murphy is a reporter in MoJo's DC bureau. Last summer he logged 22,000 miles while blogging about his cross-country road trip for Mother Jones. His writing has been featured in Slate and the Washington Monthly. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy [at] motherjones [dot] com.

Get my RSS |

Inside the RNC's Poshest Pit Stop: The Adelson Lounge

| Thu Aug. 30, 2012 8:15 PM EDT

For campaign-trail veterans, one of the most important things at every convention—along with booze—is figuring out which pop-up lounges you should hit up to charge your batteries, swill some coffee, and grab a (preferably free) bite. Huffington Post has the "Oasis," featuring unpaid massage therapists. CNG, the natural gas giant, has sofas and cafe con leche at the press filing center. Google's lounge, replete with wireless and a gratis coffee bar, has basically been MoJo's Tampa bureau for the last five days. But the award for Most Posh Convention Hotspot of 2012 has to go to the Miriam Adelson Young Guns Pavilion, named for one half of the GOP's dark money power couple and sponsored by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's Young Guns Action Fund. (It is probably not a coincidence that the Adelsons gave YGAF $5 million this year.)

As you can see, it's really pink. When I stopped by on Tuesday, volunteers walked through the seating area offering everyone (almost everyone) free hair and makeup. The WiFi is free, the air extra-cool, and the "Woman Up-Tinis" are made special to order. Here's a quick tour:

The Adelson bar.The bar.Up-TiniLady Lemonade.

Adelson lounge A View-style lounge for panel discussions.

broochSwag.

BrooochBling.

Art.Art.

Shoes.Kicks.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Meet the Right-Wing Historian Who Helped Draft the GOP Platform

| Thu Aug. 30, 2012 4:23 PM EDT

The official Republican party platform has some pretty extreme stuff. It condemns President Obama for standing up to the persecution of gay people in certain parts of Africa. It takes aim at the the creeping threat of Islamic Shariah law. It calls a nationwide ban on abortion with no exceptions for rape. So it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that Texas was represented on the platform-drafting committee by none other than David Barton, the the right-wing historian whose work has influenced everyone from Newt Gingrich to the Texas State Board of Education.

Barton's brand of history is creative. His driving idea is that the Founding Fathers were divinely inspired to found a nation based on Christian principals. As a consequence, he believes that the theory of evolution is antithetical to the Constitution, the Seventh Amendment bans abortion, Jesus would've opposed the minimum wage, and the federal government is controlled by demons. On Wednesday, he told Glenn Beck's television station that of the 71 amendments he'd introduced to the platform, 70 had passed. But Barton's prominence at the RNC comes even as his own work is facing increasing scrutiny from his longtime allies in the Evangelical community. They say many of his claims are unsbustantiated. Earlier this month, Barton's publishing house, Thomas Nelson, pulled his new book, The Jefferson Lies.

When I ran into him outside the front security checkpoint in downtown Tampa, though, (he was easy to pick out, in his trademark cowboy hat and Texas-flag t-shirt), Barton wasn't backing down.

David Barton.David Barton waits outside a Rick Santorum rally in Tampa."See we've got all the documentation," he said. "They've never asked for the documentation. So we're doing a response that comes back out that produces tons more than they've got and it makes them look shoddy. The response is it's the old thing of the rite of confrontation: One side sounds good until you've heard the other." 

Barton promises to shame his critics with new troves of information and testimony from experts. "We have cartons of documentation," he said. "We've taken groups of PhDs through it since the attack came out and they've all agreed, it's documented. The other guys may not like it."

But could Barton provide the names of the professionally trained historians he's said are on his side?

"There are several."

And who are they?

"They'll come out with their own thing. There's a group that will come out with it and stand on it."

In other words, it's a secret. Still, even as his reputation continues to erode among Evangelical scholars, Barton said the kerfuffle over his record hasn't done much to hurt his business. Since he's found a new publisher, "the sales have been through the roof."

WATCH: Cutest Kid Ever Talks About Martin Van Buren at the RNC

| Thu Aug. 30, 2012 1:40 PM EDT

 

One of our policies at MoJo is that when we stumble across a pair of pint-sized political junkies being quizzed about Martin Van Buren by a flock of eager Young Republicans, we have to stop, grab a minute of video, and relay it to our readers. So here you go. The best stuff comes about 32 seconds in, when Miniature Political Whiz #2 begins talking about Martin Van Buren. The two brothers were at the convention as guests of the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Don't Talk About Welfare at Newt University

| Wed Aug. 29, 2012 2:45 PM EDT

Newt University, the former speaker of the House's eight-hour, one-week Tampa lecture series on why America is really great, is a collaborative effort in which a host of GOP luminaries, businessmen, and industry groups talk about awesome things about America.

Gingrich is here today at the Wyndham Hotel in Tampa to talk about how North Dakota is awesome and we should emulate it. Harold Hamm, the billionaire oil baron who gave almost $1 million to the pro-Romney and—no hard feelings here—anti-Gingrich super-PAC Restore our Future, is here to talk about how North Dakota is awesome and we should emulate it. Sen John Hoeven (R-N.D.), is also here to talk about how North Dakota is awesome and we should emulate it. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) is here to talk about how North Dakota is…no, he's actually here to talk about energy independence.

The awesomeness of North Dakota isn't really why I'm here, though. I'm curious what Gingrich, the architect of the 1990s welfare reform push and more recently the man who accused Barack Obama of being a "food stamp president," thinks about the Romney campaign's roundly debunked attack on the president's welfare policies. Given that the charges are false, and Romney has followed up on his charge by accusing the president of wanting to "shore up his base" with handouts, some people think Romney is hoping to stir up historic animosity among white working-class voters.

There's a hitch, though. "There's no way in hell I'm letting you talk to him," says Gingrich's spokesman, R.C. Hammond.

So I asked West, the only Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus, for his thoughts. No dice here, either. "You guys says there's a racial component for everything except when y'all attack me," he tells me when I ask about the welfare attacks. Twice, actually. "No, no, you guys say there's a racial component for everything except when you attack me. So don't even ask me about that silliness."

When Illinois Rep. John Shimkus (most famous for suggesting that God would protect the United States from climate change) finished his presentation at Newt U., I asked him what he thought about the racial implications of the welfare ads. "WHAT!? There's no increasing racial tone of this campaign." I asked him about the false claim, repeated in a recent ad, that Obama had eased welfare work requirements to "shore up his base."

"Does welfare only go to a racial population?" Shimkus asked. "I don't think so." At this point, Hammond, Gingrich's aide, piped in. "What's up with the Chris Matthews racism there?" he asks, a nod to the MSNBC host whom Gingrich has accused of being a racist for discussing the racial implications of the welfare attack.

"Come on, give me a break!" Shimkus said with a laugh, and turned away to greet an admirer.

The GOP's welfare evolution is Gandhi in reverse: First they fight you, then laugh at you, then they ignore you. No word yet on who wins.

Relatedly, here's my interview from Tuesday with Herman Cain, who is also adamant that there are no racial overtones in the welfare attack:

Mon Jul. 21, 2014 3:33 PM EDT
Tue Jun. 10, 2014 9:26 PM EDT
Tue May. 6, 2014 10:03 PM EDT
Tue Apr. 15, 2014 4:54 PM EDT
Fri Mar. 28, 2014 7:41 AM EDT