07 May, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Nobody loves the GOP anymore.

The religious right is incensed that the party's trying to slink off the battlefield in the culture wars:

When the National Council for a New America, the Republican rebranding initiative, unveiled a list of broad policy priorities last week, it left out cultural and social issues altogether. Nothing about abortion, gays, state-sponsored religion, etc. It suggested a subtle realization -- the GOP won't get back on track fighting the losing side of a culture war.

The party's religious-right base, however, isn't pleased about the prospect of being left behind by their political party. After all, conservative evangelicals are often the foot-soldiers for Republicans, and they're not about to compromise on the only issues they truly care about.

Yesterday, the Family Research Council, arguably the religious right movement's most powerful and politically relevant organization, blasted their Republican allies for considering a vision for the future that is "devoid" of "values."

The [NCNA's] priorities, which were unveiled at a pizza parlor press conference, include the economy, health care, education, energy, and national security. Notice anything conspicuously absent? Former Gov. Jeb Bush explained the values void by saying it was time for the GOP to give up its "nostalgia" for Reagan-era ideas and look forward to new "relevant" ideas. (Yes, because that worked so well for Republicans in 2006 and 2008!) Bush ignored the fact that abandoning the array of principles that Reagan espoused is exactly what got the GOP into this mess. [...]


I can only assume this kind of talk will become louder and more prevalent, because the religious right no doubt realizes they're losing clout. The NCNA ignored culture/social issues, as did the "Resurgent Republic" project and most of the "Tea Party" rhetoric. There's no shortage of talk from Republican leaders -- on the Hill, on Fox News, within the RNC -- and practically no one is out there arguing that bashing gays and limiting reproductive rights should be the basis for a GOP comeback.
That would probably be because the GOP can't make a comeback with that kind of position. Not that the rabid right cares, o' course.

Sen. Olympia Snowe's unloading with both barrels:

In a new Time article on the state of the Republican Party, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) lamented the GOP’s exclusion of groups like minorities and environmentalists. “Ideological purity is not the ticket to the promised land,” she said, echoing comments her fellow Maine senator Susan Collins (R) made last week. She also complained that, “to the average American,” the GOP is just the party of “Big Oil and the rich“:

Snowe recalls that when she proposed fiscally conservative “triggers” to limit Bush’s tax cuts in case of deficits, she was attacked by fellow Republicans. “I don’t know when willy-nilly tax cuts became the essence of who we are,” she says. “To the average American who’s struggling, we’re in some other stratosphere. We’re the party of Big Business and Big Oil and the rich.”

Impressive candor, that. I wonder how long it'll be before she's subjected to a firing squad for telling the unvarnished truth?

She'll have some company, at least:

Time has an interesting cover story in its new issue, exploring the depths of the Republican Party's problems, and when the party might recover. There was one quote in the piece, however, that I had to read a few times, just to make sure I wasn't seeing things.

The most urgent question is the meaning of economic conservatism. Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, a conservative who keeps a bust of Reagan on his desk, surprised me by declaring that the Reagan era is over. "Marginal tax rates are the lowest they've been in generations, and all we can talk about is tax cuts," he said. "The people's desires have changed, but we're still stuck in our old issue set."

That's true, of course, but it's incredible to see McHenry admit it, out loud and on the record.

Indeed, just three weeks ago, McHenry was getting conservative activists worked up at a "Tea Party" in North Carolina, arguing that the current tax burden is outrageous. He neglected to mention to the crowd of angry conservatives, "Marginal tax rates are the lowest they've been in generations."

It probably slipped his mind.

Either that, or he's hoping that Teabaggers don't read Time.

Even Joe the Plumber is no longer happy with the GOP. In fact, he's running away:

Oh noes! If you can't hold on to your basic, "queer"-hatin', low-information, unlicensed plumber not really named Joe that you hold up for WAAAAYYYY past his fifteen minutes as the epitome of the Republican Party, who can you hold on to?

Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, tells TIME he's so outraged by GOP overspending, he's quitting the party — and he's the bull's-eye of its target audience.

You know it's bad when they can't hold on to ignorant fools like Joe the Fake Plumber. But maybe this is a hopeful sign. If all the crazy dumbfucks quit the GOP, there might be some wiggle room for sanity left there somewhere.

Of course, there's still plenty of crazy left, and unfortunately, they're in no mood to release their stranglehold:

Uh oh — looks like the 2012 GOP primary, or at least a preview of it, is getting underway.

In a fresh round of GOP infighting over the soul of the battered party, Mike Huckabee just took a shot at a host of potential primary rivals, disparaging Eric Cantor’s new group to revive the GOP, the National Council for a New America, and the high-profile Republicans that make up the group’s “panel of experts.”

The experts Huckabee was referring to include Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, and Bobby Jindal, all of whom are being talked about for 2012.

Huckabee’s broadside came in a statement attacking Cantor’s group, which Cantor has said was formed partly to “listen” to the American people.

“It is a sad day when our party comes to the point where we think it is necessary to form a `listening group’ to find out what Americans think we should be fighting for,” Huckabee said. “Our problem is not lack of `experts,’ but too many of them and not enough attention to the hard working people in our communities that aren’t connected to the Beltway, but to the heartland.”

In a sign that social conservatives aren’t in the mood to give Cantor’s group room to rebrand the party, Huckabee also took a shot at the group’s lack of immediate emphasis on social issues, saying that the group has dismissed “values voters” and urging an emphasis on “traditional marriage” and the GOP’s role as “a party that values life.”

Looks like 2012 is going to be a battle royale. The Dems can just sort of stand on the sidelines and take the occasional potshot, if they like, but it's probably best to let the Cons tear each other to shreds.

At least it'll be entertaining viewing...

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