Today’s opining on the public discourse.
CNN’s Bill Schneider is hardly a liberal voice in media. He’s a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank, and has offered some nasty anti-Democratic rhetoric on the air. So, when the CNN analyst spoke at UCLA yesterday, these weren’t the kind of remarks most expected.
“The Republicans aren’t a party, they’re a cult.”
“The moderates aren’t a wing of the Republicans, they’re a feather.”
And if you think that’s painful, check out Kevin Drum’s genial twist of the knife. As Steve said, “Ouch.”
Speaking of ouch, Darth Cheney gets in a few stabs of his own:
Last week, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the Republican Party is in “deep trouble” because it is “getting smaller” and being led by far right polarizing figures. Specifically, he said that Rush Limbaugh “diminishes the party and intrudes or inserts into our public life a kind of nastiness that we would be better to do without.” Limbaugh then responded that Powell ought to “close the loop” and leave the Republican Party instead of “claiming” to be interested in reforming it. Today on CBS’s Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer asked Cheney about the spat. Cheney said that he comes down squarely on the side of Limbaugh:
CHENEY: Well, if I had to choose — in terms of being a Republican — I’d go with Rush Limbaugh, I think. My take on it was that Colin had already left the party. I didn’t know he was still a Republican. […]
SCHIEFFER: And you said you’d take Rush Limbaugh over Colin Powell?
CHENEY: I would. Politically.
That’s right. He prefers a blowhard radio host to the general who stood up and lied to the UN so he could have his wars. I think that says a lot both about Cheney in particular and Cons in general, don’t you?
Instead of trying to reestablish themselves as a national party, the Cons have decided that the way forward is to – what else? – try tactics that failed before:
About a year before the 2008 presidential election, many on the right decided that what Republicans really needed were membership groups like MoveOn.org. So, groups were formed en masse. Freedom’s Watch, the Coalition for a Conservative Majority, The Vanguard, Victory Caucus, some Gingrich outfit, FreedomWorks, Reagan 21, Move America Forward, and a revitalized Citizens For The Republic all said they could duplicate the bottom-up success on the left (with a top-down model).
They didn’t. None of these groups had any significant impact on the elections, some have since collapsed, and a few struggled to get beyond an initial press release. Republicans’ problems have been systemic and overwhelming, and these organizations were irrelevant.
A half-year after the elections, the right has decided what Republicans really need are a series of new organizations committed to rebranding and renewing the struggling party. David Weigel put together a terrific list of the various groups that intended to get the GOP back on track. Weigel’s analysis is well worth reading, but here’s just the names on the list:
* Rebuild the Party
* The Center for Republican Renewal
* Young Conservatives Coalition
* The Tea Party movement
* Renewing American Leadership
* Resurgent Republic
* The National Council for a New America
Five of the seven have kicked off their efforts since late February. One of the seven, the Republican National Committee’s Center for Republican Renewal, has already disbanded. Six of the seven are reportedly making plans and getting organized, but it’s still very much unclear what they want to do, what they’re going to do, and why anyone should care.
Well, you know what they say. If at first you don’t succeed, fail, fail again.
In the meantime, Newt Gingrich rushes to the rescue on Faux News and gets himself all tangled up in far-right talking points:
There’s just so much garbage in this clip, it’s hard to sort it all out. But garbage it is and sort we must. I think that it’s instructive to remember as we wade through this textbook example of fallacious logic that Newt Gingrich is considered the great scholar of the GOP. No wonder the GOP doesn’t seem able to think their way out of the tea bag they put themselves in.
Still holding the talking points given to him by the Bush administration’s Revisionist History Tour™, Newtie tries to muddy the waters by simultaneously claiming that the Clinton and Obama administrations did or do not take the War on Terror™ as seriously as the Bush administration, but also find that the tactics used by the Bush administration in their pursuit of against terrorism are so acceptable that they haven’t tried outlawing them yet. HUH????
(S)ince 1993 when seven people were killed at the World Trade Center, we’ve had two cycles. We had a Clinton administration that thought this was a criminal problem, that issued — that refused to allow the CIA and the FBI to cooperate, that refused to pressure Saudi Arabia or Yemen to go after people who were killing our folks. And then you had a Bush administration that said this is a war.
Hmm…interesting revisionism. Let’s recall, Newtie, that the Clinton administration actually caught and prosecuted the “blind sheik” responsible for the 1993 WTC bombing, unlike the Bush administration, who declared war on a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and killed millions of Iraqis but left Osama Bin Laden uncaught. That’s a successful strategy, innit?
WALLACE: I want to ask you about one other aspect of this. Pelosi says even if she was briefed on this that there was nothing she could do because these were classified briefings. She and the Republican chairman of the committee got this information. There’s nothing they could do.
You as House speaker received these kinds of briefings back in the ‘90s. If you objected to a secret operation, was there something you could do?
GINGRICH: Sure. I mean, the
g you do is call the president and tell him you will feel compelled to pass a law cutting off the money. I mean, there are lots of things you can do if you want to do it. The Congress is pretty powerful if it wants to be.
And second, you know, they’ve had control since January of 2007. They haven’t passed a law making waterboarding illegal. They haven’t gone into any of these things and changed law. In fact, they’ve had several — they — recently, you find that Attorney General Holder’s own Justice Department is saying, “Well, you know, some of these memos are actually right. They’re not wrong.”
Um, Newt? You do know that waterboarding is already illegal, don’t you? Oh great historian of the GOP, can you tell me what happened to those Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American GIs during WWII? So Congress should make waterboarding illegal again otherwise they condone the act? Astonishing lack of logic there.
Logic was never a far-right strong point, come to think of it. Even less so now. Just take John McCain. He wants the world to know that we don’t need no stinkin’ gay people in the military:
Today, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) about his views on DADT. McCain did not commit to changing the policy, saying, “in all due respect, right now the military is functioning extremely well” without openly-gay service members. McCain concluded that the policy “is working well”:
McCAIN: But in all due respect, right now the military is functioning extremely well in very difficult conditions. We have to have an assessment on recruitment, on retention and all the other aspects of the impact on our military if we change the policy. In my view, and I know that a lot of people don’t agree with that, the policy has been working and I think it’s been working well.
Since 1994, DADT has resulted in the discharge of more than 13,000 military personnel across the services, including approximately 800 with skills deemed “mission critical,” such as pilots, combat engineers, and linguists. According to a 2005 report from the Government Accountability Office, “the cost of discharging and replacing service members fired because of their sexual orientation during the policy’s first 10 years totaled at least $190.5 million — roughly $20,000 per discharged service member.
It’s unclear how these facts led McCain to conclude that the policy is “working well.”
Yes, but those are facts, y’see. Totally useless to a gut-instinct Con like John McLame. He knows DADT’s working well because he feels it.
I mean, just check out his thoughts on the future of the Cons:
John McCain appeared on ABC’s “This Week” this morning, in what I believe was his 10 millionth appearance on a Sunday morning talk-show. It’s quite an accomplishment. Congrats to the senator.
The interview didn’t exactly break any new ground, but George Stephanopoulos did note the current difficulties of the Republican Party. McCain heartily endorsed the National Council for a New America rebranding initiative, and outlined a bit of his vision.
“I think we have to be an inclusive party. That does not mean betrayal of fundamental principles. One of the fundamental principles of the Republican Party is to as much as possible, to let people lead their own lives without government interference in their lives. To go as far as their hopes and dreams and aspirations will take them.
“We have to understand that there may be a candidate that can win in one part of our country like the South, may not be able to get elected in Pennsylvania. And local needs and local issues are important but fundamental principles can be articulated. I believe America is a right of center nation. I believe the Republican Party is a right of center party. We have to get in sync with the American people.”
If the U.S. is a center-right nation, and the GOP is a center-right party, aren’t Republicans already “in sync with the American people”? Indeed, if the electorate and the GOP both want to take the nation in the same direction, why is the number of Americans identifying themselves as Republican keep shrinking?
He hasn’t improved since the campaign, has he? Usually, something like losing in a landslide concentrates the mind, makes you aware that you may need to question some assumptions, but not John McCain. Oh, no. His assumptions are good, it’s just that they haven’t gotten “in sync with the American people.”
Perhaps part of the reasons Cons aren’t “in sync” is because they aren’t realizing that the American people have moved on. They’re like the clueless ex boyfriend who thinks he still has a chance with you even after you’ve gotten married, had ten kids, and told him ten dozen times he’s a clueless jerk.