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GOP going up in smoke

Having surrendered any chance of winning hostile brown and women voters, Republican hopes to ride a string of supposed scandals back to power aren’t just being hampered by reality, but by voters themselves. 

Two polls last week arrived at the same conclusion: President Obama remains popular. An ABC/Washington Post poll found that the president’s 51-44 percent approval rating was actually an improvement over the 50-45 rating from the previous month. Furthermore, 51 percent of respondents said that Obama was focusing “on things that are important to you personally,” while only 33 percent said the same of congressional Republicans. Republicans are doing a great job preaching to their choir, but that choir is getting pretty small these days.

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A CNN poll found the president’s approval rating at 53-45 percent, also a slight increase from April. However, buried in the poll results was an even more startling number — Republican support had collapsed a net 8 points in a month, from 38-54 to 35-59 percent. That 59 percent unfavorability rating for the GOP is the lowest CNN has found since 1992 when it first began polling. 

It takes a special kind of incompetence for a party to reach those record depths, but Republicans appear to be unable to change trajectories. Given the choice between remaking itself into a more palatable, mainstream party, it has opted to cater to its extremists instead.

The irony is that the ABC/Post poll suggests Americans are cynical enough about their government to believe some of the GOP’s charges. Fifty-five percent of respondents say the administration is hiding facts about the Benghazi, Libya, attacks of last year, including 60 percent of independents. Another majority believes the Internal Revenue Service deliberately harassed Tea Party groups. 

That means the GOP’s problem isn’t one of messaging. The American public has heard them loud and clear, and is even inclined to give Republicans some benefit of the doubt. They just don’t care. 

But because Republicans are incapable of fathoming this dynamic, the party is ratcheting up the hysteria, with more hearings, more over-the-top rhetoric, more dirty tactics. According to CBS, Republicans pitched doctored versions of Benghazi emails in their continued attempts to create a genuine scandal out of nothing. ABC’s Jon Karl actually fell for it. 

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) thinks someone should go to jail over the IRS’s systematic investigation of Tea Party groups. Only problem? Not a single one was denied. The only group to be denied nonprofit status was Emerge America — a liberal group. 

And while the Justice Department’s digging into reporters phone records to ferret out a national security leak is genuinely troubling, Republicans can’t pretend to be outraged over actions against a press they hate and a law they champion. They continue to ignore Obama’s call to change the relevant law.

Still, impeachment talk has moved beyond the Michele Bachmanns of the GOP. “We have to be persistent but patient,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. “I think where there’s smoke, there’s fire ... you don’t call for impeachment until you have evidence.” Until? How about unless? Rather than shut the door on the ridiculous notion of impeachment, Priebus is urging diligent investigation of this “smoke.”

Hilariously, he also said, “If we present ourselves to the American people as intelligent, we’re going to be in a great place as far as showing that this administration is not transparent, is obsessed with power and hates dissent.” 

Too late. There’s nothing intelligent about the GOP’s scandal mongering, and the American people are rendering the appropriate judgment. 

Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.