Monday, October 20, 2008

The Republican Party: A True Big Tent

I certainly don't see anything like this self-correcting behavior happening amongst Democrats,...

Hat Tip: Little Green Footballs



    Wall Street Journal: GOP coalition “fracturing”

    The prospect of a McCain loss has the Republican Party angrily turning on itself. Can the eggheads and the Joe Six-Packs get along?

    The Conservative Crack-Up Deepens : All they've got left is their perennial outrage.

  2. I don't think "fracturing" is necessarily the right word here, or the emphasis on the Republican Party. This is more like "conservatism" dropping dead weight. Colin Powell's been a joke as a conservative for so long nobody stands with him anyway. I've done a few posts on David Brooks's metamorphosis into a NewAger, which is fine: he's always been a beaver-toothed PBS milquetoast, so,...whatever. And Kathleen Parker? Who the hell is Kathleen Parker? That question's still as relevant as it was before she lit out after Palin.

    One confession: the Christophers (Buckley and Hitchens) are a shock, and a loss, but since they're both more a sign of a personal midlife crisis type of deal, perfectly understandable. I mean, in the same year, one guy lost his extremely influential father and mother, while the other quit smoking and started getting pedicures, make of that what you will. All I can say is I hope Buckley works it out soon and, whenever Hitchens decides whatever he is, for the sake of his own embarrassment a card will work better than a press conference, if you catch my drift. That's the conservative way.

    Now, how can my take be so different from those three articles? I think this quote sums up how wrong liberal writers (like AlterNet's Ari Berman) can be:

    "The latest fashionable right-wing conspiracy theory: Obama didn't write his memoir, Dreams from My Father, Bill Ayers did!

    You can't make this stuff up -- or, if you're a writer for the fringe website the American Thinker (a major promulgator of numerous Obama smears) I suppose you can. One of its contributors, Jack Cashill, compared Obama's memoir with Ayers' Fugitive Days and concluded that only the former Weatherman could've authored Obama's book (even though, for starters, Obama got the contract for his book in 1990 and didn't meet Ayers until 1995, the year his memoir came out)."

    What's wrong with that? Well, like conservatism, the writer doesn't understand the terrain. The Obamas and terrorists first encountered each other in a law firm in 1987:

    If that's true - and it appears that it is - then it would be easy for Ayers to finish Barack Obama's work-in-progress. Just as it would be easy to for the conservative movement to lose a few losers and still be strong.

    And that's exactly what has occurred.

    And I'll remind you one more time:

    Obama hasn't won anything, but the Democratic Party's nomination, yet, so don't count your chickens before they're hatched.

  3. I don't think "fracturing" is necessarily the right word here, or the emphasis on the Republican Party. This is more like "conservatism" dropping dead weight.


    "Here's the thing: The Republican Party will be a populist party going forward, or it won't be a party at all. But the more populist it becomes - the more figures like Palin and Mike Huckabee and Tim Pawlenty replace the blue-blazer Republicans of yore - the more it needs an elite capable of preventing it from spinning away into anti-intellectualism, hidebound dogmatism, and pure folly. Yes, sometimes these elites are snobbish and insidery, overly impressed with credentials, overly concerned about what their liberal pals think, overly willing to treat their party's base as an embarrassment. Sometimes the base is right and the elites are wrong. Sometimes you need a better class of elite entirely. But you still need them, and you need candidates who listen to them.

    So you might think that David Brooks is too taken with Barack Obama's facility for Reinhold Niebuhr-related jaw-jaw, and too quick to attack conservatives who don't share his views on immigration, say, or the bailout. But if you want Sarah Palin as your standard-bearer, you need a Brooks, or someone like him, at the table when her speeches are being written and her policy positions are being hashed out. You need elites, and you especially need elites who work and live outside the conservative cocoon, and who have a sense of how to talk to people who aren't already persuaded that a vote for Obama is a vote for socialism and surrender. The more populist your party, in fact, the smarter it needs to get - at wooing swing voters, and talking intelligently about policy questions, and yes, even at charming the liberal media - because you know the elites on the other side won't cut it any slack. And a populist party that makes a lot of its elites feel unwelcome - that accuses them of betraying the team when they offer criticisms, and says "good riddance" when they head for the exits - is a party without much of a future at all."

  4. Will the Republican Party Survive--And Does Anybody Care Anymore?

    "Just two months ago, I talked with John McCain in Aspen. Since moving to Arizona seven years ago, I have voted for and supported McCain for Senate and always admired his independence and willingness to cross party lines to do the right thing. I asked him why he had suddenly aligned himself with the most Right Wing, scariest people in the Republican Party and had named the same people who smeared him so viciously in the 2000 primary to run his campaign.

    "The Republican Party is a big tent." he told me. "There's room for everyone."

    In recent weeks, that tent seems to have gotten much, much smaller as some people have gotten disgusted and left and others have been thrown out. And, as many Republicans and Conservatives have recently pointed out, it's a neighborhood that very few people want to live in any more.

    The water carriers of the Right--particularly Fox News, bloggers on, and the dozens of talk radio hosts who call themselves Conservative--have always been biased. But as McCain has fallen farther behind in the polls their shows and blogs have become cesspools of hatred, anger, lies, distortion and vitriol which are liberally spewed on Democrats, Obama, and anyone who would vote for either.

    In their passionate determination to vilify Obama and the Left, they have ignored the fact that the most devastating critiques of McCain and Palin have come from their own ranks. Conservatives and Republicans such as Charles Krauthammer, David Brooks, Kathleen Parker, George Will, and Christopher Buckley have all expressed their disgust with McCain's selection of Palin, his gutter campaign tactics, and his lack of the temperament, judgment, and ability to be president.

    The coup de grace came Sunday when General Colin Powell--a Republican--announced his endorsement of Obama for president. Powell cited a wide variety of reasons that he was excited about Obama, disappointed in McCain himself and disgusted with the way he has run his campaign. Powell was precise, logical, and objective. His criticism of McCain was well thought out and devastating.

    After hearing Powell, I immediately switched over to Fox News in time to get their reaction which was entirely critical and dismissive of Powell. One "analyst" speculated this was Powell's way of getting even with McCain for not selecting Powell to be his running mate. Another focused on how unfair it is for anyone to criticize McCain or his campaign since McCain is honest and righteous and Obama is so much worse. No one mentioned the merit or accuracy of Powell's statements. Later on MSNBC, Republican Pat Buchanan speculated that Powell picked Obama because he was just anxious to endorse a fellow Black guy.

    Meanwhile, the Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, Dennis Prager radio crowd has gone non-stop venal and ballistic over the airwaves this month. Their entire programs are filled with lies, distortions, and partial truths about Obama and his positions. He is freely and constantly called anti-American, a traitor, a socialist, a terrorist, a friend of terrorists, a liar, a thief, a criminal, and a "bloodsucker" who wants to take every hard-working citizen's money--all of it--and distribute it to his liberal, radical, good-for-nothing friends.

    This is not just about politics or an election. This has become a Holy War with these guys. My longtime friend Dennis Prager told me last year that unless I had learned to loathe the Left, then I had learned nothing from him in the 20 years I have regarded him as a teacher. He recently wrote a column on in which he explains the difference between people on the Left and people on the Right. Apparently being a pluralist or an independent--trying to learn from all people--is no longer an option.

    This latest descent completes the utter destruction of the Republican party as a force for good in this country. Until eight years ago, Republicans had a deserved reputation for being more socially and fiscally conservative and responsible. When the party culture became infected with the Bush/Rove/Cheney virus, it began to morph into a divisive force that possessed none of those qualities.

    Now the mass exodus is underway. Anyone who is fiscally conservative can't call himself a Republican anymore. Anyone who is a religious Christian can't honestly be part of this since Jesus preached about caring for the sick and the poor--not about eliminating reproductive choice or issues related to same-sex marriage. There's nothing Christian about the agenda of the Religious Right--it's a totally political movement focused on issues that Jesus never mentioned and they ignore the issues about which Jesus preached constantly.

    Anyone who believes in honesty or competence in government wouldn't call themselves a Republican after Bush. And now, no one who is not a committed soldier in the Holy War against the Left is welcome either.

    The only ones left inside the tent are people who don't want to vote for a Black person, those who mistakenly believe they have been better off financially over the last eight years than they'd be under Obama, or those who are driven by a complete and unwavering hatred of liberals, Democrats, and the Left. It doesn't take a lot of room to accommodate that crowd and who would want to be in that tent anyway?

    I find all this frustrating and it makes me sad. I liked being an independent. More important--we need the old Republican party--the one that thought the only thing worse than taxing and spending was borrowing and spending which is what the Bush/DeLay crowd has done for years in the name of Conservatism.

    I hope the recent meltdown will set the stage for a revival of something we all need now more than ever--a viable intelligent alternative to complete control by the Democrats. As much as I like Obama, the thought of either party having that much power still scares me. Reed and Pelosi scare me much more than Obama does. I think Obama is smart, presidential, and will surround himself with smart, good people.

    It's time for a change."