Friday, June 01, 2007

When Republicans Eat Their Own

By Cernig

The Republican circular firing squad we all knew would come as the fought to leave the Bushie sinking ship has kicked into high gear - and it isn't a pretty sight.

Peggy Noonan:
This White House thinks its base is stupid and that its heart is in the wrong place.

For almost three years, arguably longer, conservative Bush supporters have felt like sufferers of battered wife syndrome. You don't like endless gushing spending, the kind that assumes a high and unstoppable affluence will always exist, and the tax receipts will always flow in? Too bad! You don't like expanding governmental authority and power? Too bad. You think the war was wrong or is wrong? Too bad.

But on immigration it has changed from "Too bad" to "You're bad."
"Captain" Ed Morissey:
the GOP needs to start working on defining itself for the post-Bush era. We support him on the war and on taxes, but on most other domestic issues, we have a lot of daylight between Bush and the party. Discretionary spending went out of control on his watch, and the government grew faster than during the Clinton administration. That's not just Bush, either, but also the Congressional Republican leadership prior to the last mid-terms. We allowed lobbyist influence to increase, and we exploded the use of earmarks.

Republicans used to stand for smaller government, federalism, and strong national defense. Not all of that conflicts with the Bush legacy, but enough of it does that we need to start publicly demanding a return to those core concepts. Rather than repudiating Bush over his insulting attacks on the base, the better path is to generate a positive agenda that demonstrates our dissatisfaction with the previous six years -- and give Republicans something to vote for, rather than something to vote against.

If we can do that, we won't have to demand that the Bushes stay in Kennebunkport. We just won't give them any room to remain in party leadership.
A J Strata:
Sorry Peggy, but those who used the word RINO and who would keep the status quo on immigration at any cost (and with lots and lots of vitriol added in) are the ones who tore the conservative coalition apart. Don’t blame Bush.

...Those of us who support the guest worker program have been pilloried, while the far right goes on a hysterical tear claiming we are for open borders (no one is) and voting rights for aliens (no one is). And here is the essence of the insanity from the immigration hypochondriacs. While the Bill we want passed will finally allow us to remove the violent criminal immigrants (legal and illegal) from our streets, it is being held hostage by people who want more than a fine and back taxes from honest hard working people...Right now the far right has lost all credibility. I know droves of conservatives who are turning off talk radio. They can’t take the vitriol and self aggrandizing anymore. ...Clearly the conservative movement that is aligned now repeatedly against Bush is out of gas. Their patience is exhausted and they are tired of compromise because it delays the coming of their perfect world. A vision they did not realize was not shared by all in every detail.
David Frum:
It's Divorce. That's what has happened between President Bush and his party over this immigration bill. And if they insist on pursuing it, I fear it is what will happen between the Senate GOP leadership and the party base as well. The issue has already all but killed the McCain candidacy.
It's gotten so bad that National Review editors have challenged the Wall St. Journal's editors to a debate, a challenge which has been accepted. That should be a real treat - a Reublican-slime-Republican slugfest with a knockout or two submissions to decide the winner!

Progressives, while enjoying the spectacle, are unlikely to forget how recent it was that all those feuding conservatives were singing from the same hymn-sheet on every subject and still do on so many issues repugnant to civilized people.

Glenn Greenwald:
The idea that there were more than a tiny handful of conservatives who thought "the war was wrong" is absurd on its face, but Noonan's claim that conservatives objected to "expanding governmental authority and power" is so false that it does not belong in any newspaper, not even on The Wall St. Journal Editorial Page. What rank revisionism that is.

To the extent that the "conservative base" has split with the President at all on the question of "expanding governmental authority and power," it has been on the ground that they think he has not expanded such power and authority enough. They crave more.

The "conservative base" in the last GOP presidential debate reserved their cheers for Mitt Romeny's moronic call to "double Guantanamo," and for Tom Tancredo's yearning for Jack Bauer. The more enthusiastically a candidate defended torture and lawless detentions, the louder the cheers were. The "conservative base" favors torture, and arbitrary detention powers, and oversight-less surveillance -- even beyond what the Bush administration has embraced.
And are less than sanguine about the Republican's new-found ability to not walk in lockstep with the party message will continue.

Steve M:
What I fear is going to happen is that Thompson (or whomever the GOP nominates) will be successfully sold to the middle as a centrist healer -- no more Bush! -- and to the right as a reviver of "true" conservatism -- no more Bush!

[Noonan is] wringing her hands now, but that won't last long: when the GOP nominee is chosen, he'll be running against Evil Incarnate, so Noonan and all the other righty hand-wringers will tell the base, no matter what the nominee says, that Conservatism Is Back.

But the rest of the press -- Chris Matthews and David Broder and Richard Cohen and Howard Kurtz and David Brooks -- will tell us that the bad old right-wing era of George W. Bush is over. They'll point to moderate positions the GOP nominee once took (whoever it is) and say they're a sign of centrism -- while right-wing pundits will tell the faithful to ignore the old position(s) and concentrate on the new.
In the meantime, it's fun to watch the meltdown. One can only hope that it gets so heated that the extremists fracture so badly they consign themselves to the wildnerness.

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