Missing The Point

Patrick Ruffini and the Next Right:

What will it take to turn this around? If you’re a conservative blogger, the question you need to ask yourself is this. Is the main purpose of your blog to express your personal opinion? Or is its primary purpose to build political power for a cause? If you cannot answer yes to the latter, you’re probably not going to be comfortable with making the changes necessary to make online conservatism a political force to be reckoned with.

This is not a criticism, but an observation. Most conservative blogs are still stuck in 2003 — both in terms of the overwhelming focus on media criticism and punditry, and the tendency to outsource electoral politics to the Republican Party. This was in some ways legitimate response to what was happening in 2003-4, when media surrender-monkeys were undermining the War on Terror, Republicans had a kick-butt political operation, and Kos was going 0 for 16.

I don’t fault bloggers for holding on to this point of view in 2003 and 2004. What is unfortunate is that they clinged to it in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 and failed to pivot to the new reality, leaving the Republican Party without a powerful enough force to rein in the self-destructive tendencies of its elite.

Sadly, it’s human nature to cling to the frame in which you came up — traditional media people will never fully reconcile themselves to the blogosphere, talk radio people will always tend to view it as the center of the universe, and even denizens of the “new media” can become easily set in their ways. This is not unlike people who got rich on the housing bubble thinking it could never end. When things first start going wrong, it’s always just a momentary blip, not a sign of an impending crash. Only a catastrophic collapse is usually enough to make people rethink matters.

None of this matters a whit when you have no message, and that is the unenviable position the Republicans are in right now. What is John McCain’s core message? I will tell you, as it is very simple- “Not Obama.” That is it. That is the sum total of the message. He and the Wasilla Wingnut have done nothing for the past two months but provide weak and ugly reasons why you should not vote for Obama, starting with the sneer de force at the RNC and continuing on to the present, where we learn that we should not vote for Obama because some plumber (but not really) is worried about socialism and because Obama knows a guy named Khalidi who does not agree with everything Bill Kristol says about Israel.

That is the Republican message, when they are not busy yelling how different they are from the current President, who just so happens to be a Republican. You would think the folks who routinely mocked DKOS for going 0-16 would figure out the similarity between what happened to the Democats in 2004 and what is happening to the Republicans right now. In 2004, the sum total of the Democratic message was “Not Bush.” You saw how that worked out.

And that is why talks about building a grass roots movement for the Republicans are right now premature- should Obama/Biden win on Tuesday, what needs to happen next is an actual bloodletting in the GOP. They need to figure out what they stand for, and once they figure that out, then a grass roots movement might work. But, for now, when the vast majority of the middle feels alienated by the current GOP, when moderate Republicans are running for the hills and an endangered species in Congress (who is left? Chris Shays?), and the bitter base is calcifying around crazy dead-enders like Michele Bachman and Sarah Palin and Eric Cantor, you need more than a good online presence.

And that is where Republicans are now- they have a fractured and thinning party with no real ideas, loads of purity tests, and a good number of people who could form the intellectual base of the party fleeing for parts unknown. Over the past few weeks, we have learned that the GOP is apparently not big enough for Chris Buckley, Peggy Noonan, George Will, Daniel Larison, Kathleen Parker, and on and on and on. Meanwhile, in typical short-sighted fashion, they are elevating a know-nothing who the vast majority of the center finds appalling to be the new heir to the GOP throne, and the leading lights of intellectual conservatism at the National Review have spent the last few months donning tinfoil hats and screaming about Ayers, Khalidi, Obama’s birth certificate, and a load of other shit that no one cares about, while the bloggers chase down the dozen or so videotapes that are going to really bring an end to this whole Obama thing.

What the Republicans need are not organizational skills. Hell, mention one potential bombshell scandal that will hurt Obama, and every right-wing blogger has their obligatory link up at memeorandum predicting the end. Have any of them sat down and thought how silly they look- by my count, there are any number of videotapes out there that are supposed to end it all. The Michelle whitey tape, the tape of Obama’s mistress, the tape of Obama screaming about how much he hates Israel, the tape of Michelle ranting at API, and on and on and on. But back to the point- as far as echoing messages, right-wing bloggers are great. Remember the old Dan Bartlett quote:

That’s what I mean by influential. I mean, talk about a direct IV into the vein of your support. It’s a very efficient way to communicate. They regurgitate exactly and put up on their blogs what you said to them. It is something that we’ve cultivated and have really tried to put quite a bit of focus on.

When it comes to message delivery, these guys are solid. I swear to God there are multiple wingnut blog email lists, because the moment one of them has a crazy idea, it is repeated on every high profile right wing blog within the hour. As a group, they are just not very good at building things, although their skill in tearing people down is unparalleled. Ask Graeme Frost. A quick example:

By my count, this is the umpteenth silver bullet that will finally bring Obama down, and our intrepid right-wing bloggers are on it like ugly on an ape. That callous Obama wants to redistribute the wealth, but he refuses to take care of some distant relative he met once and didn’t even know was in the country. And notice, the gang is all there- Malkin, Hot Air, the National Review, Pammy Atlas- the entire base turned out for this one. Go, conservatives!

A funny thing happened last night, and conservatives missed it, apparently. Last night, a major party candidate bought 30 minutes of time on multiple stations, and presented himself and his vision to the American people. If you missed it, you can watch it here:

Notice what is missing from that, conservatives? Attacks on John McCain. For 30 minutes, Barack Obama talked about what he thinks are the problems currently facing the country, about what he thinks he can do to help fix them, how you can help him, and why it is important to elect him. He did not spend his time telling you why you should not vote for McCain, he spent his time telling why you should vote for him. You may not agree with his ideas, but you can not argue he has them and is presenting them to the country in a clear and nonthreatening manner.

Now, for a moment, consider what the Republican 30 minute infomercial would look like this year- if I had to guess, it would be ten minutes about McCain as a POW, ten minutes of McCain saying he isn’t Bush, and then ten minutes of bullshit smears about Ayers, Khalidi, socialism, celebrity, and maybe Rick Davis could go before the cameras and pull a tire gauge out of his ass. For sheer nostalgia, maybe the lead McCain blogger could put those table-top gamers back in their place again. All the while, McCain could pepper his speech with folksy rejoinders about earmarks. And now that we are done with a hypothetical Republican 30 minutes, how did McCain actually respond to the commercial? In case you missed it, he whinged about public financing (when did that become a Republican cause) and then muttered something about Obama delaying the World Series, and even that was a lie.

What you all need are some ideas. Considering how much you hate people who think, and instead seem to consistently rely on people who act from the gut and don’t blink, I am not sure how you are going to work your way out of the hole anytime soon. Without any ideas, it does not matter what kind of online presence you have. If you don’t believe me, ask John Kerry. This election is not over yet, and anything can happen (I still think McCain has a 50% chance at winning, but I am a pessimist), but there is a reason things are going the way they are going right now. Only a miracle can save John McCain, and miracles, by nature, are not an organizing principle.

164 replies
  1. 1
    Laura W says:

    Bear DNA studies are back in McInsane’s speech.
    Because it was such an effective message in months prior.
    Thud.

  2. 2
  3. 3
    DrDave says:

    Obama said from the outset that he would not run a negative campaign; that he would campaign on his ideas and his vision for America. And for the most part, he has been good to his word. Look at the comparison of negative ads and flagrantly dishonest ads: the vast majority have come from the McCain campaign.

    Obama is a tough son of a bitch. But it seems pretty apparent that he was the right guy to redefine the field of play.

  4. 4
    Elroy's Lunch says:

    Yes.

  5. 5
    El Cid says:

    This was in some ways legitimate response to what was happening in 2003-4, when media surrender-monkeys were undermining the War on Terror

    Yeah. How about the dignified response of f*** you, you completely full of sh*t a**hole?

    You know who undermined the WarronTerra? The Republican Party.

    Nobody hates America and its security more than the Republican Party. Nobody.

  6. 6
    stickler says:

    I don’t know if the problem is that they "don’t have ideas," I think the problem is that they have ideas that have proven to be deeply unpopular or total failures. (Cf. privatizing Social Security, banning abortion.)

    Worse, the neocons have different ideas than the RedState/Texas Baptist wing.

    So McCain can’t really talk about ideas, because he might piss off a third of his base and cause the undecided voter to throw up. Thus, "Drill Baby Drill!" Not an idea, per se, but something to fill up time in between Ayers rants.

  7. 7
    MikeJ says:

    I’m amused to no end at the very idea that liberal blogs are effective because they’re in constant lockstep. If you want five opinions, ask three liberals.

  8. 8
    ccham44 says:

    A+ for John on this one.

  9. 9

    Part of the reason they don’t have ideas–or that the ideas they have tend to fail so spectacularly–is because they’re backward looking by nature. Conservatives are nostalgic, but the problem is that nostalgia is bullshit–it’s the worst combination of poor memory and limited vision. The past was never as good as you remember it–and liberals are bad about that as well.

    We invoke FDR and JFK and Clinton talk about the New Deal period as though it was nothing but happy times, but the reality was that there was a lot of nasty shit happening as well. Same goes for the Nineties–lots of working class people got left out of Clinton’s prosperity. But for the most part, liberals aren’t trying to recapture lost glory. We’re trying to build on what’s come before, so our ideas, while they may get ahead of our ability to fulfill them, are fresh and new. Conservatives don’t have that, because they’re always looking to go back to a previous time that never really existed.

  10. 10
    The Other Steve says:

    Just one comment on Ruffini’s words…

    I don’t fault bloggers for holding on to this point of view in 2003 and 2004. What is unfortunate is that they clinged to it in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 and failed to pivot to the new reality, leaving the Republican Party without a powerful enough force to rein in the self-destructive tendencies of its elite.

    It’s not clear to me that the Republican blogosphere isn’t part of the self-destructive elite.

    There were very very very few who upon hearing the Palin pick did not say "What a brilliant Mavricky move!" or upon hearing McCain was suspending his campaign did not say "Absolutely brilliant politicking!"

    In fact, I’m not sure if I looked I could come up with one.

    On the Democratic side, we’ve always groaned when someone did something stupid. We might go along with it, but our heart wasn’t in it. Republicans on the other hand really really believe!

    Even looking at John McCain. The man isn’t a leader. Never has been. Mavericks aren’t leaders. They’re curmudgeons. They yell "Get off my lawn you damn kids!" and they take footballs away from the kids saying "I’ll teach you and your little dog too!" If they lead, it is by threat not by example. "If you don’t do what I say, I’m going to hold my breath!"

  11. 11
    Mr Furious says:

    Awesome pre-mortem, John.

    An hour or two after the Obama infomercial was over, I realized that John McCain was never mentioned once. And I, too thought about the flipside of the coin and what a McCain 30-minute piece would look like. I think the ten minutes of "no Bush" would end up on the cutting room floor in favor of attacks and lies about Obama—phony exposé-style.

    When disingenuous asshat pundits compare percentage of negative ads and attribute "30% negative" (or whatever) to Obama, there needs to be a definition of "negative."

    John McCain’s: False, misleading, out-of-context, bordering on slander character assassination and guilt-by-association personal attacks…

    Obama: Accurate (mostly) criticisms of John McCain’s policies and proposals.

    Nothing boiled the race down better than last night’s show.

  12. 12
    Comrade Stuck says:

    Only had time to read part of this novella post, though a very readable one. The following quote stood up and distinguished itself.

    They need to figure out what they stand for, and once they figure that out, then a grass roots movement might work.

    Herein lies the fatal conundrum for wingnuts. It has been there all along and only coalesced into a winning coalition after 40 years of being in the political wilderness. For dems, for the most part, we have a lot of differences that amount to shades of gray in otherwise common beliefs on issues.

    Our squabbles arise from priorities and process, whereupon the republican party,) and I use that term only for the purpose of argument, currently does not exist in practical effect), exists of factions diametrically and substantively opposed to one another. Add into the mix, the southern ideology that currently runs the asylum, and you have irreconcilable differences. It is going to take years for the civil war that is occurring today to play itself out, or until the pain of being out of power creates another shaky coalition. But there is always the wildcard of how dems handle the power they are about to be given. If they’ve learned anything from their previous failures, then we are in like Flint for sometime to come.

  13. 13
    Michael D. says:

    OK, read it all. Terrific post.

  14. 14
    The Other Steve says:

    Following on that theme… The attitude of the Republicans in 2003/2004 is directly responsible for their failure today.

    They thought the war in Iraq was brilliant. So brilliant that they wanted to own it outright, so that they could use it as a political bludgeon against the Democrats to bring about the Permanent Republican Majority.

    It was that attitude of divisiveness which has been there downfall, because as the Iraq war didn’t turn out to be so brilliant the voters looked and they said "They’re to blame".

    It’s actually pretty similar with the economic mess. When things were riding high on the hog, they wanted to own it and blame the Democrats. Now that’s coming home to roost as well.

    They’re attempts to blame the problems on fannie mae and such is pretty much falling on deaf ears because the only people who believe it are the already converted.

  15. 15
    Tom says:

    Oh, they have ideas… they’ve just been proven to be bad ones over the past eight years. Or, in case of their core principles — small government, less spending — been show to be just lip service by the past eight years.

  16. 16
    Punchy says:

    Have any of you sat down and thought how silly you look- by my count, there are any number of videotapes out there that are supposed to end it all. The Michelle whitey tape, the tape of Obama’s mistress, the tape of Obama screaming about how much he hates Israel, the tape of Michelle ranting at API, and on and on and on.

    I’ve become convinced that the root of all these tape rumors are liberals, punking the shit out of these clowns. A bunch of college roomates sitting in the Burge dorm at the UIowa laughing their ass off as one rumor after another they’ve invented on the net springs to life with Hewitt, Rhiel, RudeState and their ilk.

    Otherwise, there’s just no way these many tape rumors should exist. Unpossible.

  17. 17
    Buck B. says:

    Another home run by Mr. Cole.

  18. 18
    RSA says:

    Righteous, John. Righteous.

  19. 19

    Well said, John, by God. Although I don’t care if the Republicans NEVER have another idea.

  20. 20
    Tom says:

    Plus, as much as I’d love to see it, I can’t see Palin being a viable force in 2012 for them. My guess is there will be a giant rift in the party and you’ll see the Romney/Jindal faction v. the Palin/Plumber faction.

    I’d LOVE for the latter to win, but even I don’t have such a low estimation of Republicans that they’d choose Palin over Romney or Jindal.

  21. 21
    peach flavored shampoo says:

    Bear DNA studies are back in McInsane’s speech.

    McCain’s just courting Sullivan’s vote.

  22. 22
    Atanarjuat says:

    John Cole said:

    I still think McCain has a 50% chance at winning…

    The odds are somewhat better than that, but it’s good to see that your newly-found embrace of liberalism has not made you completely irrational.

    In the final analysis, there’s a reason why you used to be a stalwart conservative (before you allowed your blog readership seduce you into spiral-eyed liberalism), and that reason is because you know in your heart that America is actually a very Conservative nation, and the Conservative inside of you is just yearning to break out and breathe freely again.

    Patience, brother — your pessimism is well-founded.

    Country First.

  23. 23
    The Other Steve says:

    Our squabbles arise from priorities and process, whereupon the republican party, and I use that term only for the purpose of argument, currently does not exist in practical effect, exists of factions diametrically and substantively opposed to one another.

    I always found it interesting to hear Republicans complain about Hollywood, when Hollywood only does what it does for pure capitalistic reasons.

  24. 24
    Joel says:

    I think liberals should help our friends on the right find their way. We’re all about helping–and I, for one, would love an intelligent conservative opposition party.

    Though I’m not sure that an intelligent conservative party wouldn’t look almost exactly like the current Democratic Party (minus maybe five members and two planks), and what we really need is an emphatically liberal party.

    Because what would an intelligent conservative party look like, at this point? More emphasis on "states’ rights," I’ll give them that. Flat taxes? Is there an intelligent argument for flat taxes? (I don’t mean a good argument, just one that’s passably non-ridiculous.) Um. I dunno what else. Maybe some of Ron Paul’s stuff–except only the stuff that wouldn’t be a better fit on the left. Which is, erm.

  25. 25
    boonagain says:

    Great post, Mr. Cole, but I just want this OVER!

    I really don’t know how I could accept an Obama defeat. I am starting to get pessimistic, since I want it so much (and have reservations for the Inauguration). The only hing keeping me grounded is the almost universal acceptance that O is gonna win.

    I do have my champagne on ice despite my pessimism.

  26. 26
    boonagain says:

    McCain’s just courting Sullivan’s vote.

    That one had me scratching my head until the lightbulb came on.

  27. 27
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    @Atanarjuat:

    Is it just me or does Atanartwat sound an awful lot like myiq=-2?

  28. 28
    JGabriel says:

    The Other Steve:

    Mavericks aren’t leaders. … If they lead, it is by threat not by example. "If you don’t do what I say, I’m going to hold my breath!"

    That reminds me of a conversation with my mom last night. We were talking about how McCain keeps blaming his attacks on Obama, for not acquiescing to McCain’s "10 town halls" idea.

    My mother’s description was: "Yeah, I know. McCain just picked up all his marbles and threw them at Obama. What a brat."

    .

  29. 29
    NonyNony says:

    I’ve become convinced that the root of all these tape rumors are liberals, punking the shit out of these clowns.

    Well, the origin of the Michelle Obama "Whitey" tape was Larry Johnson trying to screw with the Dem primary. What started as a Clinton supporter trying to screw over one of her opponents with a whisper campaign has turned into the Holy Grail for wingnut bloggers who just refuse to admit that Johnson was messing with everyone for his own purposes.

    The API scam, on the other hand, is probably people messing with the clowns. I mean, I never would have thought that throwing up a site on wordpress claiming to be an African newspaper from the Netherlands would work as a prank, but I guess they’re a sucker born every minute.

  30. 30

    @MikeJ:

    I’m amused to no end at the very idea that liberal blogs are effective because they’re in constant lockstep. If you want five opinions, ask three liberals.

    FTW.

    I have never understood where Ruffini is coming from on anything. Cole, Larison, Sullivan, Freiersdorf and others have taken a long hard look at this current crops of "conservatives" and come to similar conclusions. The modern Republican party ain’t conservative by any stretch of the imagination. I have never understood how being an interventionist (the World’s Policeman) was conservative. Wasn’t that always the conservative argument against the "do-gooder" liberals?

    It looks like the "purification" of the party has begun and Governor Palin is laying claim to the mantle of leadership. Fortunately, she has the mojo to cast out the demons and witches from the evil cancer still in the Party.

  31. 31
    NickM says:

    What’s left of the base thinks nothing’s wrong with their product, they’re just not selling it well enough. And to fix their problem, they just need to market better. In other words: "The All-New GOP Shit Sandwhich – NOW EVEN RUNNIER!"

    Good luck with that project, guys.

  32. 32
    Comrade Stuck says:

    I think liberals should help our friends on the right find their way. We’re all about helping

    Ha. that’s funny. We could I guess, but volunteers to crawl in the sewer might be hard to find. My experience with knuckleheaded right wingers is the only education they will accept has to come from Liberal doses of their own medicine.

    And, read the rest of post, and it is Most excellent.

  33. 33
    anangryoldbroad says:

    They don’t like Americans. That’s the reason they have nothing to offer. They’ve spent so much time wallowing in hatred and punishing people for ANY mistake,they’re simply down to flinging poo. Get sick and your insurance is more like a coupon than actual help? Well,fuck you,you shoulda had better insurance. Your kid’s school is a mess? Well,fuck you and your kid,and here’s a coupon/voucher to send them to a private jesus school that you still can’t afford. Don’t have a job after 15 yrs of loyalty to a company? Too bad,go work for WalMart,loser. It’s ALWAYS about punishing people and being stingy with them.

    Nothing they have to offer brings any sort of compassion,help or any sense of community. The list of who they hate is so big that it now includes over 3/4 of the country. You can’t claim to love this country and hate it’s people.

  34. 34
    D. Mason says:

    One thing you left out of the lineup in such a McCain video is the 5-7 references to his not being elected Ms. Congeniality again in the senate. He loves that line.

  35. 35
    JGabriel says:

    @Punchy:

    I’ve become convinced that the root of all these tape rumors are liberals…

    Nah. I don’t know who API (A0frican Press International – owners of the alleged Michelle rant tape) is/are, but they certainly aren’t liberals, and they’re almost certainly running some kind of scam.

    As for the "Whitey" tape, I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that rumor is a Roger Stone special.

    .

  36. 36
    NickM says:

    And at this point, the right wing base is not worried about coming up with a positive set of governing principles, if they ever were concerned with anything like that. They’re primarily concerned with making it impossible for the Dems to govern. Unfortunately, I think they’ll be pretty successful at that.

  37. 37
    Joel says:

    My experience with knuckleheaded right wingers is the only education …

    I guess that’s the problem with my idea:

    Step One: Discover a new population of non-knuckleheaded right-wingers.
    Step Two: No, no. Non-knuckledheaded right-wingers who arent currently conservative Democrats.
    Step Three: Fine! Forget the whole thing! Sheesh.

  38. 38
    Michael D. says:

    and miracles, by nature, are not an organizing principle

    Ahmmm, hello? Have you ever BEEN near an underpass where some piss stain on the concrete looks like the Virgin Mary?

  39. 39
    Perry Como says:

    Republicans on the other hand really really believe!

    Harriet Miers.

  40. 40
    ppcli says:

    Thus spake our spoof-troll:
    "America is actually a very Conservative nation, and the Conservative inside of you is just yearning to break out and breathe freely again."
    .
    But, but, but, I thought that we had suddenly learned that – contrary everything people like you (or rather: people who really are what you pretend to be) said for eight years – Bush and most of the Republicans in Congress aren’t "true conservatives". How, then, did Bush and those Republicans keep getting elected in this purportedly conservative country?

  41. 41
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    What you all need is some ideas.

    When has the conservative movement ever had ideas? The closest they ever came to one was supply-side economics, which every economist in the entire world now believes to be a scam.

  42. 42
  43. 43
    myrtle parker says:

    What you all need is some ideas

    No. What the Republicans need is some class. And some basic human decency would be nice. Throw in some feelings of empathy for fellow human beings and perhaps a little intellectually honesty. Once they have some of that then they can start developing some ideas.

  44. 44
    4tehlulz says:

    @Michael D.: Fuck you Michael! I worked hard to get that looking just ri…..

    Fuck.

  45. 45
    jakester says:

    Man, John, a 50% chance at winning!

    Does that take into account Joe the Plumber’s disappearing act today?

  46. 46
    Zifnab says:

    When has the conservative movement ever had ideas? The closest they ever came to one was supply-side economics, which every economist in the entire world now believes to be a scam.

    They’re full of ideas. Contract with America, Project for the New American Century, Privatization of Government, warrant less wiretapping, the perpetual campaign, welfare for rich people… they are literally overflowing with ideas.

    What they could use is some good ideas.

  47. 47
    Rick Taylor says:

    Some very good ideas there. The right wingers ought to consider them seriously. I’ll bet they don’t.

  48. 48
    CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII says:

    What will it take to turn this around? If you’re a conservative blogger, the question you need to ask yourself is this. Is the main purpose of your blog to express your personal opinion? Or is its primary purpose to build political power for a cause? If you cannot answer yes to the latter, you’re probably not going to be comfortable with making the changes necessary to make online conservatism a political force to be reckoned with.

    Personally, I hope the GOP stays out in the wilderness for a while and gives the rest of the country a break. We need it. I haven’t been able to catch my breath for eight long years. Let’s give the non-crazies a bit of mercy for once.

  49. 49
    jcricket says:

    Great post John.

    Considering how much you hate people who think, and instead seem to consistently rely on people who act from the gut and don’t blink, I am not sure how you are going to work your way out of the hole anytime soon.

    Actually, I think it’s not scorning of ideas or thinking, it’s embrace of thinking and ideas because they fit ideology, and refusal to abandon those ideas if they prove unworkable, false, wrong, etc. This is why liberals have been successful at changing their party (gave up on gun control, embraced welfare reform, etc.) and Republicans have merely coalesced around an ever smaller coalition of the nutty.

    Just think of some of the major issues Dems have been totally wrong about but then (at least nominally) embraced when they realized how the world was changing: Social Security, Medicare, Civil Rights, Gay rights/marriage, Environmental Protections, Alternative Energy, Universal Healthcare, Iraq.

    On these issues and far more Republican have embraced the "wrong side" (the side opposite the facts), and while there may be short-term success from the "FUCK CHANGE, THINGS ARE JUST FINE" attitude, it ultimately dooms their party to be passed by by history and the public.

    Put another way by Keynes, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?" For Republicans the answer is apparently, "cling ever more tightly to my false beliefs and smear my opponent for being a flip-flopper".

  50. 50
    Napoleon says:

    @anangryoldbroad: Says: "They don’t like Americans."

    About 15 years ago I finally came to this conclusion about the right in this country, and that is why everything they do is to divide people and to disable, misuse and destroy our government.

  51. 51
    jrg says:

    This was in some ways legitimate response to what was happening in 2003-4, when media surrender-monkeys were undermining the War on Terror

    What a load of garbage. The media enabled the war in Iraq by not asking any questions of the Bush admin. As a result, we’re 1 trillion more dollars in debt, and bogged down in a country that had NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11.

    Furthermore, the right has royally screwed up the GWOT by getting terrorists and their political opponents confused. You want to know why we don’t have OBL? Because the right changes the meaning of "terrorist" whenever it suits them. Republicans don’t even know who we’re at war with.

    Blogs don’t serve the right well, either, because Republicans excommunicate everyone they disagree with (Ron Paul, anyone?). If the GOP thinks that the sole purpose of blogs is to repeat talking points, they have no idea why (or how) people use the internet. Morons.

  52. 52
    peach flavored shampoo says:

    "The All-New GOP Shit Sandwhich – NOW EVEN RUNNIER!"

    Really didn’t need that visual

  53. 53
    jcricket says:

    They’re full of ideas. Contract with America, Project for the New American Century, Privatization of Government, warrant less wiretapping, the perpetual campaign, welfare for rich people… they are literally overflowing with ideas.

    The only way Republican ideas have had any kind of "equal footing" is through their liberal (ha) use of wingnut welfare. From the shills at the "think tanks" to Rev. Moon’s paper, WSJ editorial page and Fox News. These people provide "cover" for the fact that no serious scientists (I use this word to include social, physical, economic) believe Republican ideas have any validity or conform to known facts.

    This is why Bush and Cheney have worked so hard to install partisan hacks at the top of every government agency.

    And this is why ever increasing numbers of lawyers, judges, doctors, engineers, scientists & economists vote Democrat. The act of judiciously studying reality and reporting on ones’ findings has become a "liberal" act by dint of Republicans "party first, damn the facts and you’re dead to me if you disagree" attitude.

  54. 54
    Joshua Norton says:

    the gang is all there- Malkin, Hot Air, the National Review, Pammy Atlas- the entire base turned out for this one.

    Not to belabor the obvious, but fortune cookies have a better track record than these people.

    And they wonder why they’re never taken seriously by people that matter.

  55. 55
    Trinity says:

    Great post John!

    I think the Republicans have ideas but they all revolve around gaining and keeping power/wealth not truly taking care of Americans or America. This is clearly evidenced by what we’ve endured the last 8 years.

  56. 56
    jcricket says:

    @jrg: Good point. Even the basic premise "our attitude in 2003-2004 was warranted" is going to serve the GOP poorly. If you don’t understand the problem, you will come up with shitty solutions.

  57. 57
    libarbarian says:

    2 days ago we get 3 open threads and today its a fucking thesis.

  58. 58
    MH says:

    Great post; the only thing I’d disagree with is that running as Not Bush almost worked in 2004, because Bush was so spectacularly (and rightly) reviled. There was certainly enough total anti-Bush sentiment, it was just concentrated in too few people’s heads.

  59. 59
    One Liberal says:

    I’m amused to no end at the very idea that liberal blogs are effective because they’re in constant lockstep. If you want five opinions, ask three liberals.

    I disagree with that in part, but I concede that in the main, you have a point.

  60. 60
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    They’re full of ideas. Contract with America, Project for the New American Century, Privatization of Government, warrant less wiretapping, the perpetual campaign, welfare for rich people… they are literally overflowing with ideas.

    Maybe you and I have different ideas of what an "idea" is. But I would hardly consider "destroy government so the rich can rule in fuedal style" or "solve every international problem with war" to be ideas. They’re just trying to put a modern-day spin on pre-Enlightenment conditions, to put (if I may say so) lipstick on a pig.

    Social Security is an idea. Medicare is an idea. Spending $10 billion to research wind and solar power is an idea. Letting the government look through your mail and listen to your conversations? Not so much.

  61. 61
    Throwin' Stones says:

    Great post, John.

  62. 62
    PiledhighDeep says:

    Righteous!

  63. 63
    Tzal says:

    When you start hearing mainstream Republicans talk about crafting a message that appeals to voters in places like Marin county, then you know they are at least looking in the right direction.

    I know that sounds crazy and unlikely, but Kos and Dean took a similar approach back in 04. Their goal was to try to develop a message that appealed to those voters who seemed completely out of reach to the Democrats. It seemed to work pretty well in 06, and may work for them in 08. That said, the Republican party gave them a big assist in their efforts, and continues to do so.

    Are the Republicans ever going to find electoral success in places like Marin? I don’t know. But if they come close that means they pick up a lot of support from moderates, and even liberal-leaning moderates in other parts of the Country.

  64. 64

    […] more about how the right wingnuts are missing the point by John […]

  65. 65
    cleek says:

    over-reliance on conspiracy theories is the hallmark of a defeated faction. it’s not just a conservative thing.

    look at the lefty blogs in the 03-06 era. look at the Hillary blogs during the primary. they all went to conspiracies because it’s the only way to explain the fact that their faction was losing – nobody’s cause loses on the merits, it’s always defeated by sinister forces.

  66. 66
    TTT says:

    And this is why I don’t want the Democrats to punish Joe Lieberman. We need to keep him right where he is.

    If they take away his committee chairmanship, why wouldn’t he immediately join the Republican Party? He would have nothing to lose and only more supporters and media appearances to gain.

    And you know what he’d be then? He’d be a MODERATE REPUBLICAN.

    There are no moderate Republicans. The Republican Party is, by definition, extremist. This election has shown its rhetoric and candidates to be poison to moderates, to mainstream Americans. The GOP is set up to become the most extreme, must unappealing, most isolated relict party in the last hundred years. It will take them much time and effort to try to reach out to moderates. Democrats should not help them. So, we need to keep Lieberman. Putting up with his bluster is a tactic in the furtherance of the strategy of keeping the Republicans firmly in the Fred Phelps camp with no outreach or future beyond that.

  67. 67
    Atanarjuat says:

    ppcli, your response doesn’t make any sense.

    I acknowledge that the Democrat’s star is in the ascent while the Republican’s star seems to be dimming, but the Total Eclipse of the Republican Party will never happen.

    These things are predictably cyclical, the old "throw the bums out" reaction from a fidgeting public with a short attention span.

    All that said, the wealth-redistributing fans on BJ and liberals at large are most certainly counting those fuzzy, yellow avians before they’ve emerged from their oblate spheroids, which is just a roundabout way of saying that your celebratory champagne bottles will likely stay corked for the next eight years.

    Country First.

  68. 68
    Loneoak says:

    And notice, the gang is all there- Malkin, Hot Air, the National Review, Pammy Atlas- the entire base turned out for this one. Go, conservatives!

    Boy, are we in for an intertoobz treat today. Pammycakes is claiming that Obama’s father is … wait for it … wait for it … Malcolm X. Yes, that Malcolm X. The one who was sleeping with all those white wimmen because of his black nationalism.

    The length of the theory is astounding.

  69. 69
    Billy K (D-TX) says:

    You’re spot-on, John, but until the Right can operate within actual reality (not their invented version), nothing else will matter.

  70. 70
    Tymannosourus says:

    All this, and they still make up 40ish% of the electorate.

  71. 71
    fester says:

    Building on Mr Furious @ #11 I want to highlight this right wing blogger poll from Right Wing News (a site that Ruffini admires)

    Go Team Go only works when you’re up by 30 with 15 seconds left on the clock and the other team has no time-outs. Being in tune to reality helps even if there is a little bit of a thumb on the scale one way or another…

    2) Do you think Sarah Palin has been a plus or a minus to the ticket?
    A) Minus: 9% (7)
    B) Plus: 91% (68)
    3) How do you feel about Sarah Palin as a candidate?
    A) I really like her!: 80% (61)
    B) She’s so-so.: 12% (9)
    C) I’m not a big fan!: 8% (6)
    4) The Republican Party did poorly in the 2006 election and even if McCain wins is on track to do poorly again in this year’s Congressional races. If you had to choose between these two options, do you think that’s because they were…
    A) Too conservative: 9% (7)
    B) Not conservative enough: 91% (67)

  72. 72
    cleek says:

    shorter Pammikins: how can you tell? they all look alike!

  73. 73
    Ned Raggett says:

    Great post indeed, John. I really don’t think they’ll get it, not for some time.

    Meanwhile, this is an absolute joy to read.

    “Joe’s with us today!’’ Mr. McCain hollered at a cold outdoor rally at Defiance Junior High School. “Joe, where are you? Where is Joe? Is Joe here with us today?’’

    Nothing.

    “Joe, I thought you were here today,’’ Mr. McCain continued, with dimmed enthusiasm.

    Still nothing. The crowd murmured.

    “All right,’’ Mr. McCain said, realizing that Joe was nowhere to be found. “Well, you’re all the Joe the Plumbers!"

  74. 74
    Fearguth says:

    Thanks, John, for the incisive analysis. Had Bill Clinton done a 30-minute infomercial in 1992 or 1996, I’m sure he wouldn’t have mentioned his opponents–Bush and Dole–either.

  75. 75
    Mike says:

    Only a socialist would finance his campaign privately.

  76. 76
    Comrade Kevin says:

    @Loneoak:

    Good lord, that woman is fucking nuts

  77. 77

    @Loneoak: That is one of the most awesome bits of insanity I have ever seen. Thank you, from the bottom of my lower intestines, thank you.

  78. 78
    Zifnab says:

    I acknowledge that the Democrat’s star is in the ascent while the Republican’s star seems to be dimming, but the Total Eclipse of the Republican Party will never happen.

    These things are predictably cyclical, the old "throw the bums out" reaction from a fidgeting public with a short attention span.

    You are right. Politics is cyclical. But this isn’t the end of the 8 year Bush Regime. This is the climatic crash of 40 years of conservative political science, dating straight back to Senator Goldwater’s fateful run against LBJ. This isn’t just "Bush" who has been discredited. This is the entire conservative movement – the low taxes, the hatred towards immigrants and gays, the obscene flag-humping and faux patriotism – that is being eclipsed. The Republican Party has been sputtering out since the 90s when Gingrich sold out his small government rhetoric and principles for White House aspirations. It bubbled up again after 9/11, but it was never meant to survive. The Republican Party is a "failed state" and its crashing down.

  79. 79
    Josh Hueco says:

    @Loneoak:

    God that was some nuttiness. If this were the pre-Internet age that blog post would be a mimeographed pamphlet handed out by some Aqualung lookalike on some street corner.

    My favorite is the supposition that there’s "something to hide" because Obama’s birth certificate has been sealed. If Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii then why was there a birth certificate for the governor to seal?

  80. 80

    @myrtle parker:

    An excellent post, and an equally good reply with a succinct summary of the other side’s want-list that brought a smile to my face.

  81. 81
    bellatrys says:

    Conservatives are nostalgic, but the problem is that nostalgia is bullshit—it’s the worst combination of poor memory and limited vision. The past was never as good as you remember it—and liberals are bad about that as well. We invoke FDR and JFK and Clinton talk about the New Deal period as though it was nothing but happy times, but the reality was that there was a lot of nasty shit happening as well. Same goes for the Nineties—lots of working class people got left out of Clinton’s prosperity.

    Incertus, speaking as someone who was left out in the ’90s, – and who knew/saw lots of people who were left out in the ’70s – as well as being raised in that bullshit nostalgia of conservativism, thanks for bringing this up. It’s true, and I want to slap upside the head liberals I see saying to those of us who are dirt poor and in dire straits (happening to another blog friend of mine too) saying "just keep up hope, things will get better after the 4th – as if they really do think Obama is the messiah or mebbe King Arthur who will magically transform a wasteland of rich getting richer/poor getting poorer into a land of ponies and rainbows, rather than just a hope of stopping the slide into the looming abyss.

    The appeal of Bullshit Nostalgia (which deserves its own meme, really) is a very tempting one, which is *why* the cons were able to use it so effectively (I mistyped "affectively" at first, but it is equally applicable) to invoke the emotions and create the landslide of Reagan Democrats in 1979.

    "Feelgood Republicanism" was allowed by the media then – iirc, I was a kid then, and a hardcore prolife theocon, so our reasons for supporting Reagan were much less complicated – to override the real, documented and present combination of theocracy, plutocracy, Puritanical pantysniffing/brittle masculinity and old-fashioned racism that underlay the conservative punditry all along.

    The thing is, the internet has made it very difficult for, say, a Bachmann to both be one ketchup bottle away from denouncing card-carrying Commies in Congress and to pass herself off as a middle-of-the-road moderate "nice" civil "old-fashioned" Republican to the bulk of her constituents any more. I’m reminded of the time a guy in my state went around talking the usual bushwah about being "for limited government" and "old-fashioned values" and lots of folks voted for him – only to have it revealed by a few local googlers that he was a certified nutter who blatantly advocated cop-killing on a bunch of Usenet message boards and had sent threatening hatemail to the local PD and was NOT the person all these old low-info/high-misinfo voters thought they had elected.

    Only now it’s a national trend…but raising unrealistic hopes that cannot but be dashed is both irresponsible and paving a road back to power for the GOP.

  82. 82
    random asshole says:

    Sadly, it’s human nature to cling to the frame in which you came up…

    Some might even call that a conservative view of the world…

  83. 83

    […] Cole notes the surprising similarity between the core message of John Kerry in 2004 and John McCain this year. He makes broader points about rebuilding the Republican grassroots movement, but he is absolutely […]

  84. 84
    slag says:

    Only a miracle can save John McCain, and miracles, by nature, are not an organizing principle.

    But a firm belief in Divine Right and Free Market Fairies represents the nucleus of conservative thinking. Just ask George W Bush and Alan Greenspan. This is why Jesus Camp has become the foremost conservative think tank. It’s all they got. You can’t take it away from them now.

  85. 85
    Comrade Stuck says:

    those fuzzy, yellow avians before they’ve emerged from their oblate spheroids,

    So Chickenhawks lay eggs. Who’da thunk it.

  86. 86
    OniHanzo says:

    Here’s the hilarity of Atanarjuat’s belief that America is deep-down conservative, or Kos’s belief that America is deep down progressive.

    The fact is Americans will side with the political party which possesses the best and most effective ideas in the moment and what looks to be the best leadership for implementation. Period. It’s the reason why independent/swing voters put Bush in the White House in 04 (as Kerry was very much the "Not Bush" candidate) and the reason they’ll put Obama in this year.

    I agree with a lot of people here. Much as it would pain what I would like to see accomplished progressively in this country, I would be interested in seeing an opposition party come to fruition that can raise the level of discourse and actually engage in a meaty debate in the marketplace of ideas. You do the American people a disservice, Atanarjuat, when you blow off the current disadvantage of the Right in that regard as a mere "reaction from a fidgeting public with a short attention span". To outright ignore the health of conservative ideology is to ignore it at the peril of said ideology.

    The clarion call for a better ground game, per Raffini’s article, shouldn’t be evaded if you want conservatism to survive.

    But then maybe the whole "love it or leave it" mentality stretches to GOP party loyalists as well. **shrug**

  87. 87
    Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse says:

    Loneoak, I saw that and posted it in the Wingnut thread earlier. Really, everyone should go see what Ezra and his readers are doing with this starting here.

  88. 88
    bellatrys says:

    FYI, on the way to the bus stop this am I passed a local landmark restaurant – I’m sure you’ve seen it in primary news stories over the years, it’s one of the two that every presidential campaign candidate has their picture taken in front of in Manchester – which has had the window full of signs for local Republican candidates for weeks, to my regret.

    Today they still have all the ones for Sununu and Gatsas and so on – but there is above them all now, a placard stating "SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS FOR OBAMA"…

    Combine that with the fact that the ad that the Sununu campaign is running most on the radio against Shaheen is "She’s the one who agrees with George Bush more than me!"…yeah, toxic brand all right.

  89. 89
    myrtle parker says:

    Hahah, there is no chance in hell Republicans will ever develop any class! Check the latest from Dan Riehl:

    Anyone watch the afro-mercial last night?

    Forget ideas John, they have none. Link here.

  90. 90
    JL says:

    @4tehlulz: Jon Stewart should have a field day with that one. Can’t wait until I see the tape on The Daily Show.

  91. 91
    Loneoak says:

    Hey Comrade Mary, sorry for missing your earlier post. And yes, everyone go see Ezra and TNC.

  92. 92
    Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse says:

    Loneoak, "earlier" actually means an identical timestamp to yours. :-) I just wanted to pimp Ezra’s take on this.

    (And thanks for the pointer to Ta-Nehisi. I love that guy.)

  93. 93
    Jeff says:

    @Loneoak: Thank you, it was better than advertised.

  94. 94
    myrtle parker says:

    Now check out Dan Riehl’s pathetic excuse for the blatant racism…!

    He wasn’t being racist, he just blames black people for the overuse of hyphens in this country! You can’t make this stuff up!!

  95. 95
    D. Mason says:

    You can’t claim to love this country and hate it’s people.

    You can if you view the substance of a nation as its government and not its citizens.

  96. 96
    Calouste says:

    The problem for the Republican party is that they made it very hard for themselves to get any new ideas. One reason is that they have cultivated a large number of their support to be one-issue voters (no abortion or no taxes), and if people only think and care about one issue, and that in a very black-and-white manner, they are not going to have any ideas about other issues. The other reason is a combination of lock-step messaging and shutting out science and logic. Just having ideas is not enough. Ideas have to be criticized, reviewed and tested so that best ideas will survive and (dare I say the word) evolve into an effective political message.

    The Republican party stands at the same crossroads that Communist parties were in Western Europe in the eighties. Either hang on to a rigid ideology and become irrelevant or abandon the ideology, allow for change and new ideas and collaboration with likeminded political movements.

  97. 97

    @Atanarjuat: I’m only giving you a 5 for today. You’re starting to slip.

    Maybe try using more alliteration….. perhaps you could troll in either iambic pentameter or in Haiku form….. Just some thoughts on how to "up your game".

  98. 98

    What is unfortunate is that they clinged to it in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 and failed to pivot to the new reality

    What is unfortunate is the fact that the USA! USA! USA!/Why should I have to press 1 to hear English? crowd refuse to learn their native language.

    I know it is a tiny nit to pick but if you’re going to lecture everyone on how to be a better, smarter, faster WingNut, type it up on Word first, print it out and proof it. The will catch the more obvious screw ups and liberul Islahomo grammar Nazis won’t point and laugh.

  99. 99
    Atanarjuat says:

    Mattski, if you’re rating me on how scathingly anti-liberal I can come across, please understand that I’m compelled to temper my comments since I’ve already had one comment deleted.

    It would be an uphill battle to convey my thoughts on a given subject if they’re summarily aborted (which is a joyful liberal pastime, of course). If that means I get less points for sounding less partisan or even "trollish," so be it.

    As for the birth certificate issue, there are genuine concerns that have yet to be meaningfully addressed by Obama or his surrogates. Pamela Geller’s overheated Malcolm X connection is merely the latest Jackalope that the Barack-Borg Collective is pointing to in order to distract from the seriousness of the whole matter.

    After all, if the smoke means that there’s no fire, as leftists would have us believe, why would the Governor of Hawaii abruptly seal Obama’s birth certificate in a bid to thwart the investigative efforts of a concerned public?

    Country First.

  100. 100
    CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII says:

    And this is why I don’t want the Democrats to punish Joe Lieberman. We need to keep him right where he is.

    If they take away his committee chairmanship, why wouldn’t he immediately join the Republican Party? He would have nothing to lose and only more supporters and media appearances to gain.

    And you know what he’d be then? He’d be a MODERATE REPUBLICAN.

    Excuse me for having to butt in here, but in case you weren’t paying attention, Mr. Lieberman was a speaker at the REPUBLICAN National Convention this year, NOT the DEMOCRATIC convention. Mr. Lieberman is already a Moderate Republican, he just wants you to call him a Democrat.

  101. 101
    aarrgghh says:

    conservatives have not been happy with their nominee from the start, but they have always been incredibly challenged when it comes to irony.

    mccain was the perfect choice, if not the only choice, to lead the party to defeat in 2008, which he himself explained back in 2002, in his book "worth the fighting for":

    i didn’t decide to run for president to start a national crusade for the political reforms i believed in or to run a campaign as if it were some grand act of patriotism. in truth, i wanted to be president because it had become my ambition to be president. … in truth, i’d had the ambition for a long time.

    a no-message candidate for a no-message party. what could be more perfect?

  102. 102
    CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII says:

    All that said, the wealth-redistributing fans on BJ and liberals at large are most certainly counting those fuzzy, yellow avians before they’ve emerged from their oblate spheroids, which is just a roundabout way of saying that your celebratory champagne bottles will likely stay corked for the next eight years.

    Unless you want to lay money on this, I suggest you wait until late Tuesday next to rub our faces in John McCain’s miraculous turn-around (you obviously are not paying attention to any notion of reality).

  103. 103
    aarrgghh says:

    And this is why I don’t want the Democrats to punish Joe Lieberman. We need to keep him right where he is.

    is that you, joe?

  104. 104
    CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII says:

    Mattski, if you’re rating me on how scathingly anti-liberal I can come across, please understand that I’m compelled to temper my comments since I’ve already had one comment deleted.

    Liar! Nothing gets deleted here. This is a free speech space, unlike the right-wing blog rags. What you did was fall into moderation, which is the result when certain words are used. Your post will be up shortly.

  105. 105
    aarrgghh says:

    I still think McCain has a 50% chance at winning, but I am a pessimist.

    stick to the blogging, john — you’ve got no career as a bookie:

    a lawyer friend of mine deals with bankruptcy cases. He told me that in 30 years of practice, he’s never seen a bankrupt bookie. With this in mind, check out the odds being offered on the two candidates by a large selection of bookmakers.

    Obama is being offered at between 1/14 to 1/10 (you’d have to bet 14 dollars to win back 1 + your original bet). McCain is being offered by most bookies at 6/1 (you bet 1 dollar to get back 6 + your original bet).

    Bookies are very rarely wrong. So although, like many of you, I won’t truly relax until the election is over and has been declared for Obama, I’m pretty sanguine that McCombover and the Repugs are history.

  106. 106
    CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII says:

    @fester:

    B) Not conservative enough: 91% (67)

    Yes, yes!!! Please, wingnuts, move further to the right. I hope to see you crazy loons walking through the wilderness for a long, long time to come!

    I couldn’t be happier with that answer, really. :)

  107. 107
    Svensker says:

    In other words: "The All-New GOP Shit Sandwhich – NOW EVEN RUNNIER!"

    Ha ha ha ha ha.

    Re Pam Geller: I knew the Bush Administration and the Repubs had completely jumped the shark when our fucking ambassador to the UN, John "We Haven’t Killed ENOUGH!" Bolton, did an hour interview with Pammy.

  108. 108
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Great post, John. Not sure if I agree with you about Kerry not having any ideas though. He was just a lousy candidate and too easily written off as a Yankee liberal.

  109. 109
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    is that you, joe?

    More likely Marshall Witless.

  110. 110

    @CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII: Preach it sister.

    And let them have all of the exposure they want. Eventually it will lead to the sort of exposure they don’t want and we can all point and laugh.

  111. 111
    Church Lady says:

    John may be a pessimist concerning Obama’s chances, but I’m not. I have absolutely no doubt that he will win this election. Kerry almost did, by running against the war (I was for it before I was against it), but four years have bought about a change in the country’s priorities. As things have progressed in Iraq, the war has seemed to recede somewhat from the collective conscious of the electorate, and the escalation of problems in Afghanistan seem to be lost in the din of the media’s focus on this horserace of an election. History repeats itself and, sixteen years later, it is once again a matter of an It’s the Economy Stupid moment. It also helps that, as a candidate, John McCain is almost incoherent when he tries to articulate his ideas for where this country needs to head, and how he would transform his ideas into substantive policy. It’s also helpful that Barack Obama is a very disciplined candidate staying on a message couched in terms that would make Frank Luntz’s chest swell with pride.

    As I start to settle into middle age, I do find myself becoming somewhat more conservative in some areas, while remaining staunchly liberal in others. For me, however, there is no party that reflects who I am. I would call myself a Clinton Democrat, but that wing of the party seems to have been pushed out by interests much further to the left than I am. On the other hand, the Republican party, strangled as it is by it’s current base, hold no home for me either. Instead of being the man without a country, I am now the woman without a party.

    On November 4, I am presented with a choice of what I believe to be two flawed candidates. One is a man I once greatly admired, who has had to appeal to the lowest base of his party in order to secure the nomination, thus denigrating the character traits I once had admiration for. The other is a man, of thin resume and little legislative accomplishment, who ran to the left in order to secure his party’s nomination, then quickly started tacking right, in order to present himself as a more palatible general election candidate, thus belying what I believe to be his core beliefs, which are somewhat far to the left of mine.

    My only hope is that, no matter who wins, the next four to eight years will force a radical realignment of both parties. There has got to be a middle ground somewhere, that place that the vast majority of Americans can reach consensus on and voice their support for in more than the 51-49 split that has been the definition of the last 16 years.

  112. 112
    Country says:

    First!

  113. 113
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @Church Lady:

    And I have to wonder if you will ever answer my question, posed seven times in multiple threads, with anything but your opinion backed up by more opinion.

    Or is that just the way you roll?

  114. 114
    CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII says:

    The other is a man, of thin resume and little legislative accomplishment, who ran to the left in order to secure his party’s nomination, then quickly started tacking right, in order to present himself as a more palatible general election candidate, thus belying what I believe to be his core beliefs, which are somewhat far to the left of mine.

    He tacked to the right and still couldn’t pick up your support? And you consider yourself staunchly liberal in some areas? Hmmmm, doesn’t sound quite correct to me.

    Obama is up in the polls because he is appealing to moderates, if you’re not one of them, you’re not very liberal at all, but we already knew that, right "Church Lady"?

  115. 115
    ksmiami says:

    Dear Church Lady –

    What has happened to the Republican party is that they have let the lunatics take over: Abortion, God squaders, anti-science. Most of their positions are so extreme, I don’t recognize them anymore and I’ll be hell bound before I negotiate with lunatics. Don’t worry – Obama at his core is a decent man and a big thinker and this country will get better if we swing a little more to the center… We simply can’t go any further right

  116. 116
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @Church Lady:

    And I have to wonder if you will ever> answer the question I asked seven times over multiple threads, or if you will just continue to give your opinion backed up by more opinion.

    Or is that just the way you roll?

  117. 117

    @Atanarjuat: Again Your last post again gets no more then a 5.

    You started off with a nice deflection

    Mattski, if you’re rating me on how scathingly anti-liberal I can come across,

    to a bold face nice

    I’ve already had one comment deleted.

    The only way you to improve on that beginning would have been for you to thow in a triple lutz. But after that you fade. Come on, your not going to get anybody fired up about the birth certificate this late in the game.

    Oh and the "Country First." is first class all the way, That’s an automatic deuce right off the bat.

    keep up of the good work and with practice i’m sure you’ll get there.

    @ everybody else: It’s the last time i’ll feed him.

  118. 118
    rollSound says:

    With all due respect to Ataninnyjad, the only thing that stops an Obama victory now is Bush suspending the election and declaring martial law.

    Even if you assume that Ohio and Florida drop out of the Democrat’s side of the ledger because the Republican vote-stealing infrastructure is well in place there, Obama is competing in so many new formerly red areas of the country that the Republicans haven’t been able to erect their typical defense of voter caging and intimidation to preserve an undeserved margin of victory.

    Ohio/Florida: the 21st century’s Maginot Line.

  119. 119
    DonnaInMichigan says:

    They will never EVER do enough, to get this ex-republican voter, back as a supporter. Never.

    This will be my first time, in my 38 yrs of voting that I am not voting for a Republican in ANY local, state or national election. They’ve lost me.

    They can thank George W. Bush.
    They can thank John Sidney McCain, II
    They can thank Sarah Palin.

    I will never associate with this party ever again.
    I am so embarrassed to realize that I was taken in by these people for 38 yrs. George Bush opened my eyes. John McCain/Palin, made me see clearer. I am ashamed.

  120. 120
    CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII says:

    I am so embarrassed to realize that I was taken in by these people for 38 yrs. George Bush opened my eyes. John McCain/Palin, made me see clearer. I am ashamed.

    I sometimes wonder back to my adversaries of some 6 or 7 years ago on AOL political boards. I wonder what they think these days. I certainly hope some of them got a clue, but I’m not so sure.

  121. 121
    Jay in Oregon says:

    @Josh Hueco:

    If Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii then why was there a birth certificate for the governor to seal?

    Only the kerning can tell us.

  122. 122
    Josh Hueco says:

    why would the Governor of Hawaii abruptly seal Obama’s birth certificate in a bid to thwart the investigative efforts of a concerned public?

    Because generally copies of birth certificates are made available only to family members and not to paint-huffers who want to wildly speculate on which Muslocommiemandingofascist Ann Dunham was fornicating with in 1960?

    Bonus: Hawaii’s governor is a Republican. Maybe she’s a Moooslim too?

  123. 123
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    Sorry for the duplicate, for some reason takes long and long to show up.

  124. 124
    Comrade Stuck says:

    My only hope is that, no matter who wins, the next four to eight years will force a radical realignment of both parties.

    Me too. though I would throw in the tiny hope that someday we won’t be bothered with Church Ladies drivel. Hopety hope hope.

  125. 125
    Joe Max says:

    Joel Sez: I think liberals should help our friends on the right find their way. We’re all about helping—and I, for one, would love an intelligent conservative opposition party.

    Hell yes.

    I’ve got some serious libertarian genes in me (legacy of my father, the rock-ribbed Goldwater Republican.) There are some aspects of past Democratic policy that made me squirm – for example, I never liked the idea of forced bussing to achieve integration of schools (remember that one?) I thought they should just build new schools in places equidistant between black and white neighborhoods.

    But we do need a loyal opposition, which I feel is the proper role for conservatives in American politics. They are there to operate the brakes, like progressives are there to operate the throttle. The throttle gets you where you want to go, but a throttle without brakes is dangerous. The ability to stop is more important than the ability to go if you want to avoid disaster.

    Unfortunately, what you get with "divided government" in the American system is people pushing the brakes and the throttle at the same time, which means going nowhere. There is too much rancor (thanks to the "Gingrich Revolution") for that to work anymore. One party is being run by extreme radicals who despise the other side. What I like about the British system is that the majority Party is the basis of the Government, including the chief executive, so they get to govern, to actually work their policies. The minority Party is the "loyal opposition", meaning they do not hate the governing Party or consider them "enemies" to be thwarted, but (however grudgingly) acknowledge that Party as in being charge and do their best to temper excesses with the threat of a turnover if the majority’s policies don’t work.

  126. 126
    DaveInLA says:

    John, great post but you missed the two words from 2004 that is the most important reason that the GOP is in a funk.

    "Permanent Majority"

    In 2004, the GOP was interested in building a power base with sole intention of holding on to power. That power had not purpose or direction, it was to solve problems or make good things better, it was just for power. Now, four years later, the GOP is completely out of power, so what is their direction? What is the core message for the conservatives in this country? Obama/Clinton and the DNC started with message of imporving the middle class four years ago. It worked so well, McCain is now trying co-opt that message, but hopeful 50% plus one vote will see through that cannard.

    The GOP tent has so many single issue voters it take some time to rebuild any type of cohesive message. In broad strokes, you have economic conservatives, social conservatives and "US Exceptionalism" conservatives, and those three conflict on their core issues. The only thing that held them together was their hatred for the Clintons. At this point, the best chance for any type of GOP concensus is to create that same hatred for Obama…. Wait a minute, do these socialist, muslim, Ayers, Wright smears now make sense…..

  127. 127
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @Atanarjuat: "spiral-eyed liberalism"

    That’s mandala-eyed, actually. Look again.

    Keep looking. Keeeeep looking….

  128. 128
    Jiggy says:

    Excellent post John, quite probably the best thing I’ve read on your site in the last couple years.

  129. 129
    binzinerator says:

    @J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford

    Is it just me or does Atanartwat sound an awful lot like myiq=-2?

    Ok, you too huh? That thought crossed my mind a couple a days ago, and now I know there’s something to it.

  130. 130
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @Joel:

    Haven’t read all the comments here to see if this thread goes on, nor do I have time at the mo, but I’ll say I’m with Joel on this. Short term if the dems play this right they can, in parlimentary style, co-opt the fiscal, pay your bills on time, efficient government conservatives for the next four years. Then they will most likely begin to lose them, but that’s fine as long as they then go on to reclaim the republican party again from the do-nothing but spread fear of non-dittohead partisans who occupy it now.

    I too am willing to help with that. For the good of the country and all.

  131. 131
    jim says:

    "What you all need are some ideas. Considering how much you hate people who think, and instead seem to consistently rely on people who act from the gut and don’t blink, I am not sure how you are going to work your way out of the hole anytime soon."

    New ideas terrify them, & they’re fanatically dedicated to the ones they already have – ones that’ve been systematically repudiated, not by crafty liberals but by their own party & by Bush himself. He used up his "political capital" with great gusto, & every single major initiative turned into a catastrophe, with no nefarious left-conspiracy in sight.

    The GOP has spat upon every single core tenet of its own platform every time it’s gained power: small government, balanced budgets, keeping America safe, you name it – they’ve consistantly done the opposite of what they claim to stand for. All those positions are ripe to be hijacked by a new centrist-conservative party … which would leave them with zilch. There’s a lot of sub-rosa grumbling going on behind the scenes within the GOP, more & more of which is now "leaking" out to the public realm – & these aren’t people prone to dissent (nor to giving up easily), to put it mildly … if Republicans are contemplating jumping ship, it’s getting truly dire.

    The emergence of a REAL conservative party will either keep Democrats in power for quite some time as it fights a weak GOP for votes – or it’ll obliterate the Republican Party in short order & promptly turn its gunsights on the Democrats, who’re completely inexperienced when it comes to substantive debate over real issues by now, & will have to fight for their political lives all over again.

  132. 132
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII:

    First thing we do, we return the word "conservative" to it’s real definition. This is something the masses on the left can help with. Lay out that platform and nail it down till it sticks. That takes enough planks out from under the remaining wingnuts that they fall through to the dirt, where they belong. I know it’s just a word, but it’s a huge part of the farce they are living in. Time to reclaim it.

    Every time they say: "We have to cut taxes more" point out that "It’s not conservative to leave our generation’s bills for our grandchildren to pay".

    It’s also not the least bit conservative to:

    Burn every last drop of domestically sourced energy as fast as possible.
    Provide market distorting tax breaks and subsidies to corporations.
    Allow offshore HQed companies to provide armaments for our armed forces.

    etc. etc. There are a slew of issues where the republicans have gone wildly astray and it’s time to call them on it, using their verbiage, every chance possible.

  133. 133

    which are somewhat far to the left of mine.

    OMG, you are one funny sumbitch.

  134. 134
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    @Atanarjuat:

    Why do you hate the troops?

  135. 135
    CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII says:

    @Comrade Darkness:

    That’s the purpose of the GOP schism. I expect true conservatives to be at the forefront of that battle. The fundagelicals need to set up a church* party and send the GOP back to the conservatives, otherwise they’ve stolen that which wasn’t theirs.

    *As much as I believe in separation of church and state, I would certainly have no problem with the fundies creating a GOD party, considering how easy it will be for those who understand the separation of church and state and will laugh it down. The religious zealots who’ve taken over the GOP feel that religion should be a part of politics, I’m all for letting them try to sell that to reasoning and thinking Americans.

  136. 136
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    there has got to be a middle ground somewhere

    The middle ground is *always* where you find the truth: slavery vs. emancipation, Jim Crow vs. civil rights, democracy vs. tyranny, education vs. ignorance, etc.

    Compromise! ! !

  137. 137

    @binzinerator: I would not be surprised to learn Atanarjuat means "Despoiler of split-hooved ruminants," in Klingon.

  138. 138

    As much as I believe in separation of church and state, I would certainly have no problem with the fundies creating a GOD party, considering how easy it will be for those who understand the separation of church and state and will laugh it down. The religious zealots who’ve taken over the GOP feel that religion should be a part of politics, I’m all for letting them try to sell that to reasoning and thinking Americans.

    That is a great thought-provokerizer.

    Now, their problem will be, they need to hook up with a coalition representing 25-30% of the voting population. I seriously doubt they’d be able to do that.

    That’s why they have taken the path they have taken, which is to try to "drive" the Republican party. They figured that their slice of the votes was only powerful when hooked up with another few big slices. And they found a willing partner in the Grand Oligarchy Party. The robber barons thought they had a forever winner in their Frankenstein of a party.

    Oops.

  139. 139
    CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII says:

    Now, their problem will be, they need to hook up with a coalition representing 25-30% of the voting population. I seriously doubt they’d be able to do that.

    It’s unbiblical to align with those who don’t believe as they do. Of course, it’s also unbiblical to be involved in politics according to their book as well.

  140. 140
    beachmom says:

    I think the GOP is in much more of a world of hurt right now than the Democrats were in 2004. The reason is unlike the GOP, the Democratic ideas actually were there; there just wasn’t a receptive audience for them yet due to the fear of terrorism. John Kerry campaigned on Energy Independence, health care reform, rolling back the Bush tax cuts for the most wealthy Americans, increased diplomacy over knee jerk military action, and to re-focus efforts on Afghanistan. The big contentious issue in ’04 was Iraq. Democrats were opposed to that invasion, but the country was not there yet in agreeing that it was a mistake to invade a country that had not attacked us. Now they agree, and are willing to listen, especially since they now see what a lot of us knew in ’04 — that the Bush Administration was incompetent and inept (Katrina revealed this fact to most in the country).

    Places like DailyKos were for Dean during the primaries, and never bothered to truly back Kerry up. A lot of this stemmed from the fundamental disagreement on Iraq and Kerry’s vote for the IWR. That is why it was mainly an ABB place. But that was not true for all of us, and certainly, one can see that the campaign platforms of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were based on the Kerry campaign’s ideas. What finally united the Democratic party was choosing Barack Obama, who had opposed the Iraq War from the start. That is why the netroots, the Democratic candidate, and the Democratic Establishment are so united heading into Election Day.

    I don’t see John McCain bringing new ideas for the GOP, and his ugly, dishonorable campaign is going to hurt the Republican brand for some time.

  141. 141

    […] vielleicht Bemerkenswerteste an dieser immerhin halbstündigen Ansprache: Sie enthält keinerlei Angriff auf John McCain, wie dem Balloon zurecht aufgefallen ist: Notice what is missing from that, […]

  142. 142
    Mark says:

    Thing is: you can buy commercials, you can design them professionally, you can use the right music et.al. What you can’t buy is: a vision. A sense for justice. Hope. Empathy. All this is offered by Barack Obama and not by John McSame.

    Mark
    Munich / Germany

  143. 143
    ILean Left says:

    @MikeJ:

    MikeJ –

    You act like diversity of opinion is a bad thing!!! Diversity of opinion is what feeds informed, wise decisions. Conservatives should try it sometimes.

    In fact, I really wish they would. I consider myself a left-leaning independent and would like to have viable choices on both sides of the isle. I just cannot reconcile with the far right. How can a divided house stand – you either want less government intrusion or you want to legislate everything that conflicts with the Bible? Lose the far right, you regain folks like me who support moderate Republicans.

    Keep making me have to vote on gay marriage and abortion while ignoring the environment, the economy and education for the kids that do make it here and I will continue to vote against the misguided GOP. I’m happy to see that the bulk of America is responding like me to the old, ugly, tired election-year shenanigans of the GOP (see Dole Godless Ad, Ayers ad, Supreme Court decision to side with voters and against voter suppression, etc.)

    My comments go beyond the cohesiveness of liberal blogs, I know. But if the right would listen more to the Powell’s of your party, learn from some liberal blogs, or even have accepted the McCain of 2000 and allowed him to just be that guy and not have to pander to the religious zealots, the rest of the country would have a more substantive choice on issues – which I think is a good place for us to be as a country.

    As for now, Obama it is.

  144. 144

    […] to real small “c” conservatives: If you haven’t yet read John Cole’s “Missing The Point,” do yourself a favor and go there […]

  145. 145
    section9 says:

    John Cole’s argument is essentially a strawman, as Ruffini points out in a response to his critics at The Next Right. To wit:

    It’s a good question, but ultimately a straw man. No one is talking about the right blogs becoming a cheering section for the GOP. This is not what the netroots are to the Dems. What I think I’m talking about is a rightroots that is an independent political force to change the GOP.

    Few people were more off the mark on Obama’s fundraising potential than Ruffini, but I believe he understands that the GOP is not the place for conservatives to go to get ideas. Rather, the GOP renaissance, when it comes, will come as a result of ideas and action from the conservative activists.

    We can’t depend on the GOP for ideas, nor should we. Those people couldn’t beat Paul Tibbets in a contest for mayor of Hiroshima.

  146. 146
    Ottovbvs says:

    Take a tour of most Republican blogs. There are a few exceptions like Larison but most are completely off their rockers. Its a zoo of incredible beasts just waiting to trot out the latest rant or GOP talking point. Empirical evidence, objectivity, commonsense are totally absent. Even people who get gigs on TV like Rich Lowry talk as if they’ve lost their minds. Of course they don’t act like this when they are on tv or guys in white coats might appear. No they save it for the demographic they are selling their product too. It’s well known there is a lunatic fringe in America, the problem for the GOP is that over the last 20 years it’s seized control of this great historical party and is busy leading it over the cliff. Personally I don’t have a problem with this because basically the US needs 20 years to catch up with the rest of the western world in its attitudes to matters of public policy like healthcare, integrated transportations systems, and so forth. In the short term it’s all very disturbing because of the strident and hateful tone of so many of these folks. Many of them, Steyn is a typical example, would have no problem getting a writing gig on Der Stuermer except he’s Jewish, but it’s a fascinating insight into the conservative mind in 2008.

  147. 147
    LiberalTarian says:

    Sadly, it’s human nature to cling to the frame in which you came up …

    No, it’s wingnut to cling to a frame that is on fire on a sinking boat being swept downstream in a flood and off a water fall.

    If we were all like them, we would have never left the stone age.

  148. 148
    henry says:

    Bravo, John. Great post.

  149. 149
    mcd410x says:

    John, this post is as good as anything of yours I’ve read. Excellent.

  150. 150
    eyelessgame says:

    @JSF:

    Not sure if I agree with you about Kerry not having any ideas though. He was just a lousy candidate

    Well, that’s the same thing, really. It doesn’t matter whether he didn’t have any ideas or just didn’t articulate them.

  151. 151
    mcd410x says:

    I would add — and i’ve been saying this since ’04 — that if the GOP really represented its base, Terri Schiavo would be alive and abortion would be illegal. I’m amazed they could go down from there, but by alienating the fiscal conservatives they have!

  152. 152
    PeorgieTirebiter says:

    As a lifelong Democrat I’ve spent the last eighteen or so months in various states of outrage, amazement and fascination. Amazed by the Obama campaign’s ability to (thankfully) ignore the best & brightest of our party, outraged by McCain and his panic-stricken apologists and fascinated by the emerging Republican post-katrina plans. As much as I’d like to believe that my party is somehow immune to the overreaching hubris of our predecessors, I don’t. And that’s why I strongly believe in a two party system. Unfortunately, all the various plans seem to have a return to dominance as a common goal. In my opinion It would be far better for everyone if Republicans resolved to regain the influence that naturally follows principled ideas. After all, we’re Democrats- so power couldn’t be that far behind.

  153. 153
    priscianus jr says:

    "What is unfortunate is that they clinged to it in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008…"

    Excuse me. Shouldn’t that be "clang to it" ?

    So now the conservatives hve jopined the New York Times’ war on the world’s few remaining strong verbs?

  154. 154
    priscianus jr says:

    BTW, in case y’all are wondering, "jopined" is a very strong verb meaning "joined" in Typonese.

  155. 155
    Siryn says:

    This post totally owned. Up yours, Malkin, the Corner, Hewitt, Limbaugh, Kristol, etc. And especially McCain and Palin.

    Demagogues, all. No ideas, no vision for the country. They just want power for power’s sake. I kind of wish they did away with the filibuster now. It would have been nice to watch them eat it.

  156. 156
    FAP says:

    Thank you for writing this! I’m a moderate NE republican who feels he has been cast out of the party. I want to be a party of ideas AND ideals. I want elite people to step forward with ideas they have developed and cultivated over years of study and life experiences to lead.

    We republicans deserve to lose this election, and probably the next if we don’t learn quickly. I just hope that in two years the party will be ready to welcome people like me back.

  157. 157
    Tomas del Sol says:

    Any political party that is anti-intellectual has no future in the 21st century.

  158. 158
    Lesley says:

    McCain’s bait is beneath Obama.

    Why isn’t McCain getting that?

    It’s like the bully in the school yard who really really wants attention and the more he bullies and behaves like a classless jackass the more he undermines himself.

    McCain is the most blatantly dysfunctional nominated candidate outside of Bush ever for the Presidency. He needs therapy 101 and a life skills class.

    He’s so awful, any sympathy I ever had for his POW years has all but evaporated.

  159. 159
    Greg says:

    "Punchy:
    I’ve become convinced that the root of all these tape rumors are liberals, punking the shit out of these clowns. A bunch of college roomates sitting in the Burge dorm at the UIowa…"

    Dude! You went to Iowa? I just got my Master’s in playwriting there. Alas, I don’t think Iowa is the source of these clever liberal punkings, if only because I would’ve been in on it. Brown, maybe…

  160. 160

    […] Speaking of which, I am not particularly concerned with how wingnuts resurrect themselves from the political oblivion they are about to face. But if you’re interested in that sort of thing, John Cole dips into lessons learned from his own awakening and doles out some sugar-free advice to former comrades. […]

  161. 161

    […] see. But this IS all smart and true. […]

  162. 162
    Mark D says:

    Way late to the party, and haven’t read all the comments (gotta kid to put to sleep soon), so two quickish points:

    1. Great post.

    2. It seems to me that the biggest problem with the current GOP is that they’re worried more about winning elections than actual governance.

    It works fine … if Dems control either the WH or Congress. But it fails spectacularly when they’re given free reign. Probably because they can’t actually do things like make abortion illegal, remove teh gheys from society or export everyone who even looks Latino.

    And that’s not because they couldn’t pass the legislation and/or executive order to do it — it’s because they have to keep those issues alive in order to get votes.
    What the hell else do they have?

  163. 163
    Larb Neur says:

    Excellent post, John.

    Punchy gives us a kind of uber-conspiracy theory that it was liberals who have foisted all the tapes and faux-scandals on conservatives. It is a desperate rationale for the wingnuttery we have been witnessing, and even if it is true – although it surely is not – it would no way excuse or explain the fact that millions of kooks in our midst took up those causes and wasted literally thousands of hours (not to mention billions of packets) working themselves into a collective froth when they could have been, you know, actually accomplishing something politcally.

  164. 164
    smiling dog says:

    If I had to guess, I’d say the real future of the Republican Party is going to be Arnold Schwarzenegger (who, fortunately, can’t be President). They basically have to discard a good portion of the religious right and start from scratch. As long as they try to hold tight to the Christian fundies, they will continue to bleed. You dance with the devil…

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] see. But this IS all smart and true. […]

  2. […] Speaking of which, I am not particularly concerned with how wingnuts resurrect themselves from the political oblivion they are about to face. But if you’re interested in that sort of thing, John Cole dips into lessons learned from his own awakening and doles out some sugar-free advice to former comrades. […]

  3. […] to real small “c” conservatives: If you haven’t yet read John Cole’s “Missing The Point,” do yourself a favor and go there […]

  4. […] vielleicht Bemerkenswerteste an dieser immerhin halbstündigen Ansprache: Sie enthält keinerlei Angriff auf John McCain, wie dem Balloon zurecht aufgefallen ist: Notice what is missing from that, […]

  5. […] Cole notes the surprising similarity between the core message of John Kerry in 2004 and John McCain this year. He makes broader points about rebuilding the Republican grassroots movement, but he is absolutely […]

  6. […] more about how the right wingnuts are missing the point by John […]

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