Sunday, January 25, 2009

Donner Party Politics

The smorgasbord at GOP central continues with various degrees of flesh-eating taking place even at the most solid of righty blogs (read the comments). Today's version is an opinion piece by conservative Mickey Edwards, condemning modern conservatism:
The Republican Party that is in such disrepute today is not the party of Reagan. It is the party of Rush Limbaugh, of Ann Coulter, of Newt Gingrich, of George W. Bush, of Karl Rove. It is not a conservative party, it is a party built on the blind and narrow pursuit of power.
It's odd for someone who supposedly knew Reagan so well (as to use him as a hammer on modern conservatives) to so flagrantly break his 11th Commandment.

Hey, we lost. It's natural to pass around some blame after the agony of defeat but some perspective is always helpful. George W. Bush didn't 'blindly pursue power', au contraire, he lost the GOP an election because he held firm on an important national security matter that had no business being politicized. Reagan was a man of passion, patriotism and principle--he might not have gone into Iraq but I think he might have been impressed by not surrendering just to score cheap media points.

This incessant focus on blaming Rush Limbaugh is obscene. The man has been a conservative stalwart for years, which is the very reason he is being attacked now. The Dems smell blood and think they can completely snuff out the two party system and one sure way is to divide the GOP base. Rush has now been singled out by both Harry Reid and President Obama, which means they must consider him consequential.

Obama is probably trying to use his vast political capital to quickly get rid of dissent without resorting to the dangerous option of a Fairness Doctrine--give him credit for his cunning. He knows there is a big divide between country club conservs, religious conservs, and libertarian conservs and the divide is ripe for the picking. Thing is, Reagan had all three factions as well and still succeeded. To suggest there was no religious "moral majority" back then is revisionist history.

History also says many "Reagan Democrats" were actually just anti-liberals, common Americans disgusted with a party who'd abandoned them to the special interests and quasi-socialists. They're still around, but economic circumstances worked in reverse this time despite Obama's political background suggesting he was Carter 2.0 in better packaging. It didn't help that instead of wearing peanut farmer overalls Obama was wrapped in a silk suit of transformational cool, packing gifted oratory and a winning smile, something that goes over well on TV.

That said, the subterfuge potential is very high right now as evidenced by the rubbery ethics rule he just broke to almost no media fanfare.

So there appears to be two choices--either roll over and take part in the dissolution of the party or stand up when it counts. Standing up doesn't mean personal attacks, it means principled attacks, and Limbaugh does pretty well in that department. His points need to be defended and explained, not attacked. Who else can speak with as much humor and candor, reminding the Reagan Democrats of their mistake (and how they can fix it), George Will? Fred Barnes? Please. They don't reach the masses anyway.

Actually, if there's anyone who needs a gentle pullback right now it's Sean Hannity and his ostentatious new show, which was much more effective with Colmes (wonder if that's why he left). His heart's in the right place but his head is only half of Limbaugh's with brain tied behind back. The right doesn't need an Olbermann, but Hannity comes as close to being pigeonholed in that role as anyone right now. Once there he'll be forever marginalized, too.

Does that mean the party can't work with Obama when it suits the best interests of Americans? Of course not, but principles are worth nothing if they can't be defended. If all the defenders are muzzled in the frantic name of going along to get along then the next sound heard could be the rush of an approaching waterfall.

MORE 1/25/09

Guess I'm just a "poop scooper" and a clown for defending Limbaugh. But I wonder, has Mr. Pitts really listened to more than a few shows? If so he'd have heard the mantra that Limbaugh has preached throughout the years--aside from the 'entertainment' that sometimes comes off as crude--that mirrors the principles of Ronald Reagan.

The "I hope he fails" bit might be a shock-jock tactic to some degree but it was clearly designed to make a point about the definition of "success". When conservatives join the "we hope Obama succeeds" chorus a thoughtful person might want to ask "exactly how?" If by success they mean stopping al-Qaeda, not losing in Iraq, and fending off a coming depression without bankrupting our children's future or changing America into France-lite then yeah, I'm onboard the success train.

Problem is, Obama didn't run on any of those things. He ran on getting out of Iraq win or lose; going after AQ primarily in Afghanistan only; closing down detention facilities and telegraphing our interrogation methods to everyone in the world; and 'spreading the wealth around' to make life more fair and to stem economic ruin. I don't necessarily want any of those outcomes, and in a representative government I have that right. In the same vein the left did not want Bush to succeed if it meant stopping abortion, preventing gay marriage and banning embryonic stem cell research, and one of the ways to do it was opposing him vigorously on Iraq and hoping for disaster. So please.

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