Henke on the Rot

Jon Henke, writing at the Next Right, has the following to say:

The problem is a movement that plays small-ball and cedes responsibility for infrastructure to business interests, leadership that rewards those who make friends rather than waves, an entrenched Party and Movement support system that mostly supports itself, an echo chamber that has rotted our intellect, a grassroots that is ill-equipped to shape the Republican Party, and a Republican Party that has replaced strategy with tactics, substance with marketing.

These problems can be fixed, but the fix is not cosmetic. The rot is deep. We do not need reformation of the Republican Party; we need transformation of the Republican Party. That is going to require fresh blood, new ideas, new infrastructure…and perhaps more than a little time in the wilderness.

You have earned the time you will spend wandering in the wildnerness. The land on the other side is not a promised land. It will have to be earned, too.

In the WaPo today, George Will notes that GOP carnage in the past two years has produced losses so steep for the Republicans that you have to go back to the Depression to match them, and the reason the house of cards fell so quickly was because, as Henke noted, the rot was so deep. This is not a cosmetic problem for the GOP. This is systemic.

That is what is so damned entertaining about the short-term circular firing squad- it really symbolizes how deep in denial some of these folks are. These guys are delusional if they think the problem was an insufficient number of Red State mugs on the Palin plane and inadequate fealty to the cause. The problem is not inadequate adherence to unnamed “principles,” the problem is that they simply have no principles. They have slogans. Nothing symbolizes the slogan driven tactics over strategy GOP quagmire quite like one of my favorite episodes from the last election- the tire pressure gauge imbroglio.

There was nothing that really summed up the idiocy of the GOP quite like Rick Davis and company passing out tire pressure gauges in an attempt to mock a common sense approach to dealing with one of many aspects of the energy crisis. I am sure it will surprise no one that the brain trust at Red State was issuing action alerts for this, too.

In short, America got seduced by the Republican sweet talk, we took them home into our bedroom for some good times, and instead of performance, it turns out the Republicans have a serious case of electile dysfunction. Rather than hold true to their “principles,” they chose to sit on the edge of the bed for eight years and tell us how good it was going to be, and we lost interest and fell asleep.

When we woke up, we realized that in one way, the GOP had kept their word, in a sense- we did get screwed. And we then had our own payback on Tuesday:

That is a map of the country, and the blue shaded areas are where Americans voted more Democratic than they did in 2004. Say what you will, the American people did not have performance anxiety on Tuesday, and the Republicans got the rogering they deserved.

And this is why Henke is so very right, and the purity police have it so wrong. The Republican party is a train wreck. These short term power struggles and attempts to “re-brand” the GOP are doomed to fail, even though they will be a source of endless entertainment for me. Elevating Cantor and Pence means more of the same from the Republicans.

What the GOP needs to do is cool their heels. The frenetic nonsense of the last few years has gotten them nowhere, and talking about principles is pointless when you have none. The party of limited government talks a good game, but owns the $500 billion dollar deficit this year and $5 trillion in debt from the past two administrations. You don’t get to pretend you are the party of limited government when your crowning achievement of the last eight years is the Schiavo legislation. I suspect the only principles they honestly have left are the ones they know are so repellent to the public at large that they refuse to voice them. Every now and then they act on them, and the public swats them on the nose. See Frost, Graeme.

If they were smart, they would regroup, and decide what they stand for and present it to the American people. Instead, I suspect we will get several more months of infighting over tactics and appearances, and more purges of those who wish to engage in a debate over the party’s direction. It isn’t just that many of the folks leading the purge disagree with George Will and Peggy Noonan and Daniel Larison and Sullivan and Ron Paul about the direction of the future GOP- they want them destroyed for suggesting there needs to be a debate. That is how dead the party is, and Henke is right. They need some time in the wilderness, to figure out who they are and what they believe in and why and how it will be better for the country.

Instead, I suspect we will see Palin pom poms and purity purges, which is all the more humorous given the defections from prominent conservatives to Obama, they are already whittled down to the true belivers. It would be funny if our nation’s currrent two-party system did not require a competent opposition party.

*** Update ***

BTW- I am writing this in a conference presentation that is so dull that I would rather listen to the collected dictionary readings of Al Gore. As such, there will probably be all sorts of grammar and spelling issues, as I am crammed in a uncomfortable chair while writing and occasionally feigning interest in the speaker.

*** Update #2 ***

Yglesias spells this all out in seven words:

“Wingnuts Prepare to Wind the Cocoon Tighter”

Clap louder.

*** Update #3 ***

From the comments at Larison’s:

Let me remind you of who ran in the primaries: Fred Thompson, who has no visible qualifications whatsoever other than a gravelly voice and television crime drama expertise. Mike Huckabee, who is charming and skilled politically, but has no serious knowledge of most issues, especially foreign policy. Rudy Guilliani, a total whackjob with no comprehension of what governing a country actually means. McCain, who as you know has spent a lifetime flaunting his POW status to mask a serious lack of interest in any policy details about anything, including foreign policy, but who has limitless confidence in his own power to accomplish anything he sets his mind to, even though he’s never actually accomplished anything he set his mind to. Ron Paul, who though beloved by his fans and relatively knowledgable, was completely rejected by the party as a whole. And Romney, of course, who is actually relatively intelligent and reasonably well inforned, but who alienated almost everyone outside his own circle of supporters. So how is it exactly that Palin is overshadowed by these giants? It’s not as if Republicans have set a high bar of knowledge, expertise, judgment, and accomplishment. Their “high bar” is all about theatrical performance and nerve, both of which Palin has in abundance.

There’s a reason for this. Any candidate with real intelligence, judgment, and expertise would not support the policies of the Republican party platform, plain and simple. As long as those basic policies remain unchanged, the candidates who will succeed must be able to practice deep denial while acting with full confidence in their righteousness. This means the qualifications to be the GOP nominee are mostly ones of psychological imbalance and theatrical skill. To change that situation, the entire policy agenda of the Republican party would have to change, and that simply isn’t going to happen.






95 replies
  1. 1
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    Well said, John, and I think you and Henke are right.

    And you’re right about the next step, too – the fRighties will realize that merely screaming about how bad Liberals are isn’t enough, so they will scream even louder about how Liberals are even worse than that.

    As long as it doesn’t get violent, it’s going to be a million laffs.

  2. 2
    sashal says:

    exceptional post

  3. 3
    Zifnab says:

    It would be funny if our nation’s currrent two-party system did not require a competent opposition party.

    Oh, John. Have you completely forgotten the Clinton Years (or the Carter Years)? The Democratic Party does an excellent job of opposing itself. We’ll clean up the big messes first – the obvious shit than only a GOoPer could get wrong – and then we’ll move on to the meat of politics: war, health care, taxes, civil rights. And we’ll tear each other apart.

    I suspect 2010 will be the high point of the Democratic Party and it’ll be all down hill from there.

  4. 4
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    IIRC, the Republicans’ reaction to their electoral losses in ’06 was that they needed re-branding. Nothing was wrong with the contents; it was the label that sucked. I don’t look for much better, and expect much worse, from them for quite a while.

  5. 5
    Perry Como says:

    In short, America got seduced by the Republican sweet talk, we took them home into our bedroom for some good times, and instead of performance, it turns out the Republicans have a serious case of electile dysfunction.

    Maybe they need some Voteagra.

  6. 6
    Emma Anne says:

    The Democratic Party does an excellent job of opposing itself.

    Heh. That’s for sure.

  7. 7
    MattF says:

    I’m also hearing the occasional hint that the American people just don’t deserve what the Republican Party has to offer. That’s cool… I say it’s time to bury it.

  8. 8
    NonyNony says:

    Zifnab is dead on – the Democratic Party is its own opposition party. All of the talking heads keep cautioning about how the Democrats should "be careful not to over-reach" and I keep chuckling and thinking that it would be nice to see the Democrats just try to "reach" before we worry about them over-reaching.

    Which is actually why I’m not so sanguine about the Republican rot. We’re going to need an alternative party to take power by, oh, 2020 at the very latest – and that’s only if the Dem activists stay very active and run strong primaries against corrupt entrenched incumbents once the stink of their corruption becomes evident. So more likely by 2016 we’ll need a different party to take the reigns of power for a while. If the Republicans aren’t healthy by then – or if a new healthy conservative party hasn’t cropped up to replace them – we could be in for a mess of trouble once "throw the bums out" time comes around again.

  9. 9
  10. 10
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    I’m also hearing the occasional hint that the American people just don’t deserve what the Republican Party has to offer.

    I’d like to know what we did to deserve what they’ve already given us.

  11. 11
  12. 12
    lutton says:

    >>from the last election

    Still not used to that…

  13. 13
    MikeL says:

    Someone went on Redstate and said the same thing, albeit with less detail and eloquence.

    If the reaction to the post is any indication, John’s prediction will be right on.

  14. 14
    Loneoak says:

    The Democratic Party does an excellent job of opposing itself.

    I’m not entirely convinced that this will hold true this time around. I sincerely believe Obama is likely to be a strong enough, and new enough, leader to keep the bullshit to a tolerable minimum. It’s his party now, and unlike the Clintons, he doesn’t seem to truck much drama.

    No drama + bare knuckle fighters + progressive mandate + competently assembled administration = something different, hopefully better from our Donkey brethren

  15. 15
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    Have you seen a rec diary over at Teh Orange:

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyo.....360/655615

    Although it’s point is why Palin has no future in a party controlled by a rich class interest, it connects to what John’s saying in terms of the whole "whiter goeth the party" question.

    As we’ve been saying for the better part of ten years now, the GOP is composed of at least one wing, the talibangalistis, that’s long-term aims are totally different than the party’s ruling class. It’s just been a question of how long it took for em to turn on each other.

    Ain’t too many rich folks in Appalachia if you get my drift.

  16. 16
    Stooleo says:

    If the right wingers seize control of the party, thats it, stick a fork in it, its done. Reagan reached out to these screwballs, and it worked for a while, but now the patients are in control of the asylum.

  17. 17
    Punchy says:

    OUTSTANDING post, Sir Cole.

    As it’s been said at least 1,742 times here, people/bloggers/wingers completely incapable of both introspection and taking responsibility simply CANNOT alter the party in a meaningful way. They’re like parents who will blame the teacher, the school, or the weather on why Lil’ Jamie failed his 6th math exam, despite the fact he plays 13 hours of Playstation a day.

  18. 18
    Josh Hueco says:

    In short, America got seduced by the Republican sweet talk, we took them home into our bedroom for some good times,

    I use a similar metaphor too, like the good lookin’ jock who drives a nice car but who fucks your sister and gives you the clap.

  19. 19
    liberatemeiexinfernis says:

    If GOP really wants to reform itself, it will have to look beyond the superficial and stare into the obvious. The GOP didnt lose becuase they were led by a party of duds and dunces like McCain, Palin, Bush, Lott and the lot. Yes they lost partly because of the leadership and trash rag dwelling bacteria like Malkin, Hannity, Fox News etc. But GOP, and we Americans needs to look into our soul. Why did we falsify evidence to go to war against an innocent nation? Why did we cheer the leadership when it did so? why didnt we ask the hard questions? why didnt anyone in the GOP leadership, save for Lincoln Chafee and Ron Paul, stand up to the GOP leadership and say "look guys were are very wrong here?"

    Until the GOP takes time to digest and ponder these questions, they will be the same rump of a sad sad party twenty yrs from now

  20. 20
    Montysano (All Hail Marx & Lennon) says:

    This past campaign seemed to be a Republican experiment to determine how stupid you have to be before you’re too stupid to be tolerated by anyone but the 20% deadenders. It’s a low bar to crawl under, but the GOP, armed with tire guages, moose heads, and (not) plumbers, managed to squeeze under.

    BTW: in that map above, see the tiny white square in the center north of Alabama? That’s me. Rocket City USA is a more than tolerable place to live, but cross the county line in any direction and you’re back in Gooberville.

  21. 21
    cleek says:

    i suppose it should be no surprise that New Orleans and the rest of southern LA got dramatically redder over the past four years. but, wow.

    "talibangalistis"…

    Palinbangelists.

  22. 22
    Wisdom says:

    John, great post. But where is that graphic from?

  23. 23
    djork says:

    I use a similar metaphor too, like the good lookin’ jock who drives a nice car but who fucks your sister and gives you the clap.

    Wait, did you get the clap from the jock or your sister?

  24. 24
    NonyNony says:

    @Loneoak:

    The fundamental factional nature of the Democratic Party didn’t change on Tuesday. It’s still a fractious coalition of liberal, labor, civil rights, environmental, business and conservative interests. And a number of pols who are just pragmatic bastards who want to keep their seats and vote in the way that maximizes that potential. It’s still the Big Tent Party – and there are a lot of folks in that tent that just don’t agree with each other on what the right approach is. Obama’s election doesn’t change that at all, and the personalities in the party are going to squabble.

    Now, Obama can reign it in for a while. I think picking Emanual as Chief of Staff is a message to the Congress that he doesn’t intend to play games with this stuff and that he also doesn’t intend to underestimate Congress’s ability to oppose him. He’s got the wind at his back right now and his first 100 days are probably going to be fairly intense. But he’s not going to be able to hold it together forever – I’d be surprised if he can keep the herd of cats known as the Democratic Party moving in the same direction for more than a year. And after that it’ll be back to "every faction for itself".

  25. 25
    DaveA says:

    I agree with Loneoak at 14. What strikes me this time around is that Obama comes in with a powerful organization he himself built supporting him. It answers to him, not the DNC. And it provides him with both a big carrot and a big stick in dealing with wayward Dems.

  26. 26
    iluvsummr says:

    I still think there’ll be enough disaffected conservatives to form a viable third party if the Republicans decide to embrace the path to irrelevance.

    OT: Farewell to bushisms.

  27. 27
    Warren Terra says:

    One of the best comments on the current state of the right and what we could learn from the Palin enthusiasm was in John Scalzi’s excellent post endorsing Obama, posted just before the election:

    The GOP base should have been insulted that this was all it was given by the McCain campaign; instead it embraced her and has declared her a frontrunner for 2012. Which tells you that the GOP base has learned nothing in the last eight years; Palin, in every way that matters, is nothing more than Bush with boobs. The GOP base doesn’t want a president, it wants a mirror.
    It’s appalling that the GOP base holds up Palin as the sort of person it wants as president of the country, and it points to the sort of intellectual and moral vacuousness that party has that the rest of us simply can’t afford anymore. McCain’s decision to pick her as his running mate is something politics wonks will discuss for decades, one of those credibility-destroying moments that in retrospect simply defies belief.

  28. 28
    CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII says:

    Great post John (and I shared that map with TZ yesterday, but I still can’t stop looking at it), but, sir, I have one fairly major quibble… I do NOT get in bed with Republicans.

    ;)

  29. 29
    Mike from DC says:

    I have a slightly different perspective. American political parties seem to have a wax/wane cycle that is very difficult to break because the very ideals, philosophy and rhetoric that helps them rise to power are often the very same that hoses them in the end. That political parties NEED this time in the wilderness as they won’t be able to remove those excesses that built up during their rise and reign without it. If you look at the republicans in the early 30s and the dems in the late 60s/early 70s, you’ll see strikingly similar patterns in this regard. My premise is that the republicans are where the dems were after LBJ. (with the caveat that all analogies fail if taken too literally) With this in mind, what the republicans will do is tack hard to the right (as they did in the 30s, and as the dems tacked to the left in the early 70s) because they’ll look back and say that they would have won if they had stuck to the ideals and principles that brought them success before. (an aside, look how much the democratic party has changed over the past decade or so. I frequently joke that I wouldn’t have taken a pizza order from the democratic party of the 70s and 80s, but jeez, look at us now.) The irony is that they’ll fail even more over the next 4-6 years until they realize that they need to rethink and reposition themselves as times and conditions change. So, the good news is that we’re going to be entertained for about 4-6 years of Republican circular firing squads and a heaping bowl of crazy coming out of the Republican party. The bad news is that we’re going to be in the same boat in 3-4 decades, so we should remember this as we get huff the fumes of schadenfreude.

  30. 30
    Shibby says:

    I’m not sure what the big deal is with giving advice to the GOP. It is quite clear that the party is full of ignorant, petty, hateful people who are morally and intellectually bankrupt. The last vestiges of sanity are packing up and jumping ship. The people who are left will not recover from this condition, it is terminal. The cancers of Rushbo, Hannity, Malkin et. al. are too well entrenched and have metastasized to embody the entire party. No treatment of logic or pragmatism will be effective. If it were my patient, I’d recommend Hospice. Hopefully enlightened conservatism will arise elsewhere.

  31. 31
    Montysano (All Hail Marx & Lennon) says:

    @Wisdom:

    John, great post. But where is that graphic from?

    It was from the NYT yesterday. It was on the front page, but has now disappeared. If you thrash around you can probably find it.

  32. 32
    CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII says:

    Wisdom, I probably shouldn’t, but I’ll be nice.

    The graphics are from this dairy posted yesterday on Kos.

    The red state map is from the New York Times. The blue state map was from months of analysis by DHinMI (a DailyKos contributor).

  33. 33
    Comrade Jake says:

    I just don’t see, at the moment, a single person on the GOP side of things who has real leadership potential that would concern me. Over the past year or so, I don’t think I’ve seen a single one of them present an argument that didn’t have a good slice of wingnut to it. I think a good percentage of these guys don’t believe half the bullshit they’re spewing, but they know it’s what their base wants to hear. That’s a real problem for them.

    Is there someone over there capable of transforming their party? If so, they must be in hiding right about now, because I just don’t see it.

  34. 34
    Svensker says:

    I’m not sure what the big deal is with giving advice to the GOP. It is quite clear that the party is full of ignorant, petty, hateful people who are morally and intellectually bankrupt. People do not recover from this condition, it is terminal. The cancers of Rushbo, Hannity, Malkin et. al. are too well entrenched and have metastasized to embody the entire party. No treatment of logic or pragmatism will be effective. If it were my patient, I’d recommend Hospice. Hopefully enlightened conservatism will arise elsewhere.

    Yes.

  35. 35
    Punchy says:

    We stole the election.

  36. 36
    Genine says:

    The Democratic Party does an excellent job of opposing itself.

    This is very true. Within the Democratic party you have the conservative Dems and the ultra-progressives. Even now, while a lot of progressives are happy that Obama won, they are complaining about him "not going far enough". Then you have the conservative branch complaining he is going too far.

    So there is an opposition party already built into the Democratic party and, that could be a good way of making progress.

    Republicans have seriously lost their way. Meanwhile, we can have an opposition fighting within the more progressive party, maybe getting to the point where the media may say that America is "center-left"! (We can dream).

    After about 15 to 20 years the Republicans can come back with a coherent, sane, conservative agenda. In order to do that, they may need to drop or rethink their relationship to social wedge issues that fire up the talibangelists, but leave everyone else cold. That would do wonders for the evolution of both parties.

    Once there is a new and improved Republican Party (55% less crazy) the conservative Dems can move over there and we’d have a viable two-party system again. In the meantime, the country progress as a whole. And what’s conservative and what’s progressive will be redefined in a positive direction.

    At least this is my fantasy. Who knows what will happen?

  37. 37
    CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII says:

    Whoops, I’m wrong, both maps appear to be from NYT, DHinMI just did some analysis on the trend. Apologies.

  38. 38
    Eric U. says:

    it seems like the republican party is dedicated to the idea that the only position to support is the one that pisses off the liberals. And sadly, they think anyone that can speak in complete sentence is a liberal. So their position is that anything that’s not batshit insane is bad.

    Anyway, I’ve been thinking long-term that there may be problems for the Dems in a republican implosion. What if the blue-dogs make nice with the disaffected portion of the republican party that is not insane? This realignment happened to some extent when the southern Dems converted over to being republicans. It could happen again though.

    I’m not sure how many here are old enough to remember the ’60s and ’70s, but the Dems always were split with the southern Dems often siding with the republicans. So the fact that the Democratic Party has built in opposition is not new. It is somewhat muted now, because the worst offenders are gone, but we’ve seen it over the last 2 years. That’s why the work isn’t done yet. Although having Obama as president should fix a lot of problems.

  39. 39
    CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII says:

    Rahm Emanuel has accepted post of White House Chief of Staff.

  40. 40
    Shinobi says:

    It is nice to read a post from a conservative that does not involve foaming at the mouth. (Not that I think Jon Henke would ever do such a thing.) Republicans should listen to him, we need balance in our government.

  41. 41
    jibeaux says:

    That comment from American Conservative wins the internets.

    I still say for Buchanan’s magazine, everything Buchanan writes over there jars uncomfortably with what other people write over there. It doesn’t seem a very Buchananite publication, on balance, at all.

  42. 42
    slag says:

    I thought we knew where the GOP stood. Wasn’t that supposedly their whole draw–that we knew where they stood on issues while the Democrats were all wishy-washy nuancers?

    They’re for individual rights and against abortion and gay marriage. For pre-emptive war and against immigration. For trickle-down economics and against middle-class tax cuts. For drilling in the ANWR and against energy conservation. For cronyism and against all other types of affirmative action.

    Really. Their problem isn’t that we don’t know where they stand. Their problem is that where they stand isn’t where we are.

  43. 43
    Comrade Jake says:

    @Punchy:

    I love it.

    At first glance, the idiots over there will think that 2 percent of the votes being fraudulent is a reasonable, conservative estimate. After all, it’s only 2 percent!

    I don’t think they have any idea just how many votes that would be in some states, and what percentage of new registrations it would be. Something like this would have constituted a fraud on such a massive scale it would have dwarfed everything else that happened on election day. These people have absolutely no fucking point of reference.

    The best part: even with such a ridiculous estimate, by their counts – Obama still wins! Jesus.

  44. 44
    ...now I try to be amused says:

    Hopefully enlightened conservatism will arise elsewhere.

    I wish I knew the history of the collapse of the Whig Party and the rise of the Republican Party, ’cause it might be relevant now. As I understand it, people bailed from the Whigs to the new Republican Party, and somehow the latter grew big enough to win the Presidency in 1860. How does a breakaway party, which is in theory smaller than the party it broke away from, manage it? I know the Democratic Party split over slavery in 1860, but was there more to it than that?

  45. 45
    Montysano (All Hail Marx & Lennon) says:

    Here’s a new link for the map over at NYT. They made the graphic bigger, which helps.

    Click on "Voting shifts" on the left side of the map.

  46. 46
  47. 47
    Punchy says:

    Holy crap. They’re actually going thru with their threat:

    a Republican Party lawyer would be dispatched to Alaska to inventory and retrieve the clothes still in her possession.

    This is a dick move light years beyond a typical dick move. I cannot imagine how furious the RNC must be to actually go thru with this stunt.

    WOW.

  48. 48
    pharniel says:

    A couple of freinds wanted me to join the michigan republican party and run for local office.
    I told them that I really don’t want anything to do with the republican party because of the national character, but that I’d join them if they could get a 3rd party going.

  49. 49
    Brian J says:

    I don’t know if it’s a case of the state being in love with the Clintons and hating their loss to someone else, if it’s a case of racial resentment of some kind, or something else entirely, but looking at how red Arkansas has become, it makes sense that this was the one state that Obama basically ignored. Unless it was simply a case of them ignoring the state that turned it more Republican, it looks like they were on to something, whatever it may be.

    Well anyway, that quote from Larison is pretty devastating.

  50. 50
    South of I-10 says:

    Great post. I just read it after having again subjected myself to Rush on my way back to work after lunch. They are confirming what you have written above – they seem to want to kick anyone who has ever read a book or questioned one of their cherished beliefs out of the party. The election had to have been stolen, because everyone believes the way they believe. Frankly, it is scary to me. They seem to have taken up where Palin left off.

  51. 51
    milo says:

    The problem is not inadequate adherence to unnamed “principles,” the problem is that they simply have no principles. They have slogans.

    Yes.

  52. 52
    CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII says:

    They’re for individual rights and against abortion and gay marriage. For pre-emptive war and against immigration. For trickle-down economics and against middle-class tax cuts. For drilling in the ANWR and against energy conservation. For cronyism and against all other types of affirmative action.

    Gee, and here I thought it was that they wanted to create an American Theocracy. Who knew?

  53. 53
    JGabriel says:

    Any candidate with real intelligence, judgment, and expertise would not support the policies of the Republican party platform, plain and simple.

    That’s been true of the Republican party and platform since 1980, when George Bush the Elder abandoned his criticisms of Reagan’s financial policies as "Voodoo Economics", dropped his scruples, and joined the ticket as Reagan’s VP.

    John Cole:

    What the GOP needs to do is cool their heels. […] They need some time in the wilderness, to figure out who they are and what they believe in and why and how it will be better for the country.

    No. They need new leadership. All the time in world is not going to make the current crop of wingnut leadership any saner.

    .

  54. 54
    Original Lee says:

    Slightly OT, but I was thinking about the McCain campaign staff comments in the Newsweek piece about Palin, and I realized that part of the reason the shopping spree hasn’t seemed to damp the enthusiasm of her fans is that they would have done the exact same thing themselves, given the opportunity.

    Think about that. A significant portion of the GOP base, allegedly devout Christians, would love to go shopping with the RNC credit card and not only don’t mind that Palin did it but are angry that some people seem to think this is crass behavior.

    Is this because they somehow feel that Palin is someone they could shop at Wal-Mart with? Is this because campaign money isn’t "real," or perhaps because campaign money comes mostly from fat cats? Would their attitude change any if somebody was able to point out that it was at least partly taxpayer money? Is Palin the Aleutian Evita?

  55. 55
    greynoldsct00 says:

    Great post. I just read it after having again subjected myself to Rush on my way back to work after lunch

    That’s two days in a row I-10, give yourself a break from heartburn!

  56. 56
    South of I-10 says:

    Gee, and here I thought it was that they wanted to create an American Theocracy.

    It reminds me of The Handmaid’s Tale.

  57. 57
    PaminBB says:

    Great post. The map is striking.

  58. 58
    jcricket says:

    Slightly OT – but those of us in WA and OR should be really happy about the ballot initiative results.

    Sizemore (in OR) went 0 for 6, and it looked like voters were going to repeal a previously passed initiative that made it nearly impossible to raise taxes (?)

    Eyman, in WA, went 0 for 1, resoundingly, despite almost no opposition. He lost in every county except 1.

    Coupled with (at least in WA) wins for assisted suicide, mass transit, parks & market levies I think voters have at least this once, gotten in right.

    I am very hesitant to declare the tax revolt of 1978-2008 over, but it’s power is starting to wane. Sad that it takes a near Depression for people to get it.

    Senor Terminator in California is even getting it. He’s proposing $5b in spending cuts, but also $5b in new taxes. I hope smart politicians find a way to eliminate the structural deficits and regressivity in our tax system. Obama’s proposed plan is a great place to start (get people on board by cutting the taxes of 80-95% of us, but raise it on the richest. See how that goes, and keep raising taxes a bit on the rich and top end until you get it right).

  59. 59
    JGabriel says:

    NonyNony:

    I’d be surprised if he can keep the herd of cats known as the Democratic Party moving in the same direction for more than a year. And after that it’ll be back to "every faction for itself".

    I doubt it. When Clinton ran for office in ’92, and even more so in ’96, he left Congress to fend for itself – thereby guaranteeing a rather low sense of obligation or loyalty to him.

    Obama campaigned with a lot of people in 2006, and even more rode his coattails in 2008. They owe him. Obama will have much more influence with Congress, and a much-longer lasting influence than Clinton had. I give it 6 years.

    .

  60. 60
    Indylib says:

    @…now I try to be amused:

    wish I knew the history of the collapse of the Whig Party and the rise of the Republican Party

    Read Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

    Pretty good history lesson on the demise of the Whigs in the context of Lincoln becoming Pres.

  61. 61
    tripletee says:

    @Shinobi:

    It is nice to read a post from a conservative that does not involve foaming at the mouth. (Not that I think Jon Henke would ever do such a thing.) Republicans should listen to him, we need balance in our government.

    Thankfully, Republicans have suddenly rediscovered this important principle. Amazing how they weren’t too worried about it from 2000-2006, isn’t it?

  62. 62
    jenniebee says:

    The GOP wouldn’t have kept it going as long as it has if the wackroots had any idea how to run a campaign, so they couldn’t ever ditch the "RINO" party powers that be. That’s the good news for them, and it’s in the past. The bad news is that the wackroots has been starting small and learning as they go.

    All that’s left is for all the "fiscal conservatives" out there to notice that their powers that be are still campaigning against an administration that ended fifty years ago, that every Republican for the last thirty years has spent money like fifty trillion drunken sailors. Once that happens, it’s time to sit back and watch Tucker Carlson explain that our kids would be much better served if they went to Pepsi Elementary and General Motors 303 Technical High School.

    Buy stock in Orville Redenbacher, that’s my advice.

  63. 63
    That One - Cain says:

    Sizemore (in OR) went 0 for 6, and it looked like voters were going to repeal a previously passed initiative that made it nearly impossible to raise taxes (?)

    REALLY? I thought the bill regarding public employees not able to use a part of their salary for charities and what not was going to pass. It was supposed to weaken unions according to OPB.

    I’m glad that we rejected Sizemore again. Of course, he still made money. Fucking asshole. One of Mannix’s bills passed as well. The sane one, not the other one that would have increased my taxes by a lot (long prison terms, with nothing to rehabilitate prisoners, it would have just put more people in jail and we would have to build more prisons, no thanks)

    cain

  64. 64
    CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII says:

    Well, now that the Talibangelicals have a persistent hold on the GOP, I’m hoping that Lincoln and Obama will be bookends on the GOP and the sane righties will create something that is religion-proof to replace it.

    Then again, perhaps I’m just losing faith that the true conservatives can starve the crazy loons out of their party. I think with Rush Limbaugh egging them on, the GOP may be lost to those whom it rightfully belongs.

  65. 65
    South of I-10 says:

    @greynoldsct00: I’m taking the hit for the team.

  66. 66

    In OR having M65 lose was a huge relief for me, it created a top 2 Primary and banned anyone else from the General. Some otherwise reasonable people backed this mess. Yes, OR, by default, has closed Primaries – the Parties can vote to open them.

    Jeff Merkley winning is very good news. Bye, bye Gordon.

  67. 67

    Telling a local reporter in an interview that Democrats have a lot of work to do in our county gets my picture on the front page. We do have a lot of work to do. What I really hope for is to have Obama take the sting out of "the different." There is bigotry around here, but I am convinced that our biggest problem is the conservativism of sociology – not politics. The Democratic Party walked away from this place, it was a reliable stronghold. Al Ulman (D) was our rep until ’88.

    Once that change was fact, earning back a place is really hard. Merkley may be a huge asset, he gets it – mostly.

    Regarding the paper, I’m a bigger fish in their eyes because they’re more plugged into the details of politics. The citizenry is not particularly impressed.

  68. 68
    Laura W says:

    I’m worried about Tunch if you’re still at your so-called conference.
    Is a friend checking on him to be sure he’s not peckish? Not locked in a room against his own will?
    You know…even corpulent cats can have complications if they don’t eat regularly. It makes their livers go wonky and THEY DIE.

  69. 69
    Comrade Darkness says:

    Amazing how they weren’t too worried about it from 2000-2006, isn’t it?

    No doubt. Republicans are short on all things intellectual, most of all intellectual honesty. Come on. This is easy. If it’s a *principle* it counts all the time. Otherwise it’s just hot air and the speaker a hypocrite.

  70. 70
    Jamey says:

    More people need to speak truth to the [GOP’s loss of] power.

    What the RNC now need is not someone to root out the snitches, but someone who, when Republicans ask, "does this dress make me look fat," will say, "like an elephant."

    I’m not holding my breath. Accountability is for OTHER people.

  71. 71
    mcd says:

    I think we ought to invent a reality TV show and convince Palin she’s really "the President." How much fun would that be?

  72. 72
    Comrade Tax Analyst says:

    This means the qualifications to be the GOP nominee are mostly ones of psychological imbalance and theatrical skill. To change that situation, the entire policy agenda of the Republican party would have to change, and that simply isn’t going to happen.

    I absolutely loved this part of Larison’s comments. "…psychological imbalance and theatrical skill…". Could he have put the knife in more deeply? It’s sad that it took almost 8 years for enough of the voting public to tire of their Kabuki Theatre form of government, but at least they finally did.

  73. 73
    Thursday says:

    Re: Larison’s comment

    Bush "succeeded" because he’s a sociopath – he had no difficulty with removing his actions from their results because he never connected the two.

  74. 74
    ellie says:

    My God I love that map! And I could listen to Al Gore talk all day about policy. I may have a problem.

  75. 75
    handy says:

    @Eric U.:

    This is true. The Republicans are the Obnoxious Party, the Prager/Limbaugh/Hannity/Malkin/Coulter Party. Their raison d’etre in many ways simply appears to be: "Piss off liberals." Who is a liberal? Naturally, anyone they oppose. Who is that? Pretty much anyone who doesn’t fall in line with the Party.

    The worst thing for them is that they are their own echo chamber, and nothing can shake their faith in their own garbage. Rather than being challenged by the canary in a coal mine that is the exodus from their ranks from the likes of such bright and talented people like Larison and Buckley, they go circle the wagons and go on denial patrol.

  76. 76
    Church Lady says:

    I think it boils down the the Republican Party’s embrace of the so-called "values voters", who are primarily white evangelicals. Think back to George H. W. Bush’s presidency – those people weren’t too much of a factor in the party, although GHWB did have to do an about face on abortion in order to get the nomination.
    It was the Bush-Clinton race where it really seemed to take on a life of its own. Clinton was a man rumored to have had extramarital affairs and that really, really offended evangelicals. I could be terribly wrong, but it seems to me that this was the point where Falwell, Robertson, and others of this ilk, started to exert an enormous amount of control over the party. Add in Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Lewinsky scandal, and their control increased. Along comes Jr. – a born again Christian that was able to beat back that devil alcohol with the help of Jesus, and the Republican party truly became the Bible party, with Karl Rove guiding the evangelical sheep to the voting booth.

    Until the Republican party can untangle itself from the religious right and address America’s problems by offering long term solutions, instead of trying to cater to evangelicals moral concerns with major planks in the party’s platform, it will remain a party in the wilderness and rightly so.

  77. 77
    MattinPA says:

    Great conversation. One thing—maybe it’s been implicit, but I’m struck that nobody has mentioned Katrina or competence yet. I think a lot of people put aside identity, ideology, slogans and the rest of it and simply asked themselves who seemed more able. If the Democrats increasingly appear to be competent, pragmatic problem solvers, if they attract the best technocrats into politics, they could have a good long run. It’ll take a lot of luck, but I think getting results would put them in pretty solid with the electorate as it’s developing.

  78. 78
    anotherdemocraticveteran says:

    We stole the election.

    I prefer to think we community-organized the hell out of it.

  79. 79
    Luis Hernandez says:

    The GOP has been written off before. Democrats were confident the GOP had seen its last days after the Ford administration, and then Reagan happened. Let’s not get giddy about GOP future prospects or the GOP infighting. The GOP doesn’t need to change a thing if/when socio-economic events lend a hand. The GOP lost its soul a long time ago. It’s all about keeping power, whatever the cost. As such, one should be on hair trigger guard for the GOP casting about for a message, or snake oil to sell the public.

  80. 80
    chris says:

    The big problem with the Republican Party today is that it has been usurped by the Christian right. The Republicans thought they could use the Christian right to win elections but now they have been taken over by them and the they are never going to have new ideas. They have one goal and that is to remake this country into a theocracy. They have no real policy other than God will take care of us as long as we outlaw abortion, homosexuality, and the teaching of evolution.

    The problem the Republicans face now is if they drop the social conservatives they will lose huge numbers, but if they don’t they’re going to have trouble winning any elections in the future. A lot of moderate Republicans lost in both this election and the last one just because people are so tired of the party itself. I live in Connecticut and we just flipped the last Republican congressional seat in New England. Christopher Shays has been in office for two decades and I don’t think it was anything he did in the last two years that caused him to get ousted. It was purely his party affiliation. No Republican is safe as long as they continue down this road and they will if they don’t cleave the Christian right from their party. If you have seen some of the comments they have made since losing the election you already know that they think the problem is that they weren’t negative enough and that McCain was a bigger weight around Palin’s neck than the other way around.

    Maybe this breakdown will be a catalyst for a three party system in the US. If the Republicans return to fiscal conservatism it’s possible they could take enough centrist Democrats away to create three roughly equal size parties of fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, and liberal Democrats. I think this is a bigger threat to a Democratic majority than the current iteration of the fractured Republican party.

    When all is said and done though we don’t really know. A lot of my thoughts are a mere echo of what Republicans were saying about Democrats just a few short years ago. Their analysis was that the Democrats needed to move to the right to regain power. I think I’m right on this though because while we regress every so often ultimately this country has steadily moved leftward.

  81. 81
    Doug says:

    I dare say that the euphoria of ideology is laying the foundation of expectations that President Elect Obama will transform the United States into the world’s teddy bear. Just click your heals together and you too can be transformed to the land if loopy pops and sweetness. The fact is we needed to change our role in the global sense as well as our foreign policies; we need to stop being everyone big brother and participate rather than take the lead on every issue.

    The American view point of the world and how countries govern themselves is not where our focus needs to be. The United States needs to address our own failed infrastructure from financial institutions to highways, reduce our dependence on foreign energy, consumer products and financial support.

    I am sure Obama will change the world’s perception of the United States from the negative position we have gotten into and I am relying heavily on the Senate and House to ensure we don’t give away the farm doing so.

    The real defining issues in my opinion of the Obama presidency will be the domestic issues; unemployment and the cost of health care are real meat and potatoes issues. Too many people are willing to risk being without health insurance or worst they are terminated or lose their jobs for whatever reason just to be slapped with COBRA payments that are just not affordable. Comments at http://www.cobra.1stfigroup.com will be answered to help those that want alternatives to the high cost of COBRA.

  82. 82
    SKYLAB says:

    Excellent post. It seems to me that what we are seeing with the GOP is the culmination and, perhaps, the denoument of the Reagan socalled revolution. Reagan’s ideas were not new in 1980, but they felt fresh because they had not been iterated quite so strongly and in such a heart felt manner in over 50 years. Core GOP policies (non-progressive taxes, laissez faire govt, self regulation of industry/corporations) have not changed since McKinley and Taft. They may have morphed somewhat away from 19th century protectionism to accomodate the increasing global reach of their beloved corporate pay-masters, but the core message remains the same.
    We paid for these policies with the great depression. We paid for them with the S/L scandal. We paid for them with ENRON and Adelphia and WorldCom. We are paying for them with the current credit and stock market implosion.
    Democrats in the 60’s and 70’s had been in power for 30-40 years. Much of the needed progressive reform (voting rights, regulation of the banking and credit industries, environmental protections) had already been mortared into place. They were left with haggling over more fringe issues and patronage. In many ways they had set the stage for Reagan. And as happened in 1929, we the people, are now reaping the GOP whirlwind.
    There is so much to be done. It needs to be made clear that markets actually demand regulation, that they flourish (as they did all through the 50’s 60’s and 70’s) in a stable, predictable, regulated environment. We need to get back to manufaturing something in this country other than pornography and debt.
    The GOP in fact has become slogan driven and devoid of common sense. Cheney’s statement that "deficits don’t matter." Or McCain/Palin’s cry of "socialism." If Obama’s tax plan is socialism then Teddy Roosevelt was a socialist. Its time for the adults to take charge and clean up the mess.

  83. 83
    NormBlon says:

    A three-word cure for the G.O.P.: "Dump the Christians!"

  84. 84
  85. 85
    Larry Feval says:

    America needs Jesus!

    A LOT MORE Jesus!

    And guns.

  86. 86
    pianoguy says:

    Colorado is illustrative of what happens when the Republican purists take over the party. Colorado is still truly a right-of-center state – just look at the fates of the various ballot issues Tuesday night – but it has trended steadily blue for the past three elections. Yes, the state is a little less conservative than it was in 2002, but the main issue is Republican nominees. Right-of-center Republicans can’t get nominated, and the far-right nominees can’t get elected.

  87. 87
    elmo says:

    To change that situation, the entire policy agenda of the Republican party would have to change, and that simply isn’t going to happen.

    That’s why I call them Retardicans…

  88. 88
    Jason says:

    Um…are you forgetting what they’ve done to gay folks’ rights in the states that voted(!!!) to ban gay marriage or adoptions?

    Do you live in a cave, or under a rock?

    There is a lot more work to be done. It is not helpful to rah rah rah about the future when things are going backwards at an alarming rate.

    And, wait ’til you see the Depression next year. Gays won’t be the only ones dealing with a harsh reality.

    Stop with the silly stuff, and get serious. There is a lot of work to be done.

  89. 89
    larry birnbaum says:

    "Rather than hold true to their “principles,” they chose to sit on the edge of the bed for eight years and tell us how good it was going to be…"

    Eight years? I’m sorry, it’s been 28 years.

  90. 90
    S.N. from ARK. says:

    I think the reason the conservatives lost is because we were not conservative enough.

    McCains rush to the center alienated his base.
    Palin did a wonderful job of reinvigorating conservative support for McCain, just to little to late.

    The McCain/Palin ticket also should have hit the Democrat party for the failure of this economy.

    Clinton handed the Bush Administration an economy who’s wheels were about to fall off. They fought a good fight to try and keep the economy up but the liberal damage was just to great.

    Had the liberals actually sought to regulate the banks instead of deregulating and forcing the banks to loan money to poor people who couldn’t pay back the loan then this mess wouldn’t have happened.

    The do nothing Democrat congress of 2006 has been ill tempered, exclusionary, radically partisan, an inept at passing any meaningful legislation. This has only helped worsen the eonomy.

    Tax and spend Liberals caused these problems and only Conservatives know how to fix them. Because of voter stupidity we will have 4 years of liberals making things worse.

    Oh, and now is not the time to raise taxes, now is the time to lower taxes and grow the economy out of this Democrat caused mess.

  91. 91

    The Democratic Party does an excellent job of opposing itself.

    Actually, I think the unity theme Obama espoused applies more to other Democrats than to Republicans. Except for a few centrist Republicans, I expect Obama to try to neutralize the GOP while building bridges between famously fractious Democrats.

    This was one of the reasons I supported him. For example, his health plan was the easiest political sell of the three being offered in the primaries. It’s something that 60 senators might be able to support.

  92. 92
    Skymodem says:

    …we took them home into our bedroom for some good times, and instead of performance, it turns out the Republicans have a serious case of electile dysfunction. Rather than hold true to their “principles,” they chose to sit on the edge of the bed for eight years and tell us how good it was going to be, and we lost interest and fell asleep….

    Great post, but I must object, in the strongest possible terms, to the above metaphor.

    NO. No, no, no, no!! What the Republican Party did was promise sweet lovemaking – with lots of snuggling and kisses – but instead slipped America a Rohypnol, trussed her up like a ham, and then called all their friends over for a gangrape.

    When America awoke she was choking on a ballgag, and Dick Cheney had his fist rammed up her backside.

    I don’t think America will be in the mood for another date with the GOP for a very long time.

  93. 93
    Dress Left says:

    The Culture War is actually a Religious War. The Christian Warriors were activated by Roe in 1973, and decided to take over a Party. Theocracywatch.org has the full story.

    One of our Political Parties is afflicted with an incurable, sadly non-terminal, disfiguring disease.

    The GOP cannot vomit out the theocrats because the host has become the virus.

  94. 94

    […] well as the fucktards who still dominate the Republican party (Yeah, I’m looking at you too, Eric Cantor). That will remain a primary focus at this site. But to be honest, in all likelihood this blog will […]

  95. 95

    […] No one could have predicted that would happen. Or maybe someone did: […]

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