Monday, March 2, 2009

The GOP Civil War

David Frum, Via Andrew Sullivan:

A man who is aggressive and bombastic, cutting and sarcastic, who dismisses the concerned citizens in network news focus groups as “losers.” With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence – exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party. And we’re cooperating! Those images of crowds of CPACers cheering Rush’s every rancorous word – we’ll be seeing them rebroadcast for a long time.

I've been hearing allegations of a coming GOP civil war, but I had a feeling that it wouldn't go that way. I didn't think there were any high-profile Republicans left who would take on the way that the behemoth of the GOP was currently headed.

During the primary season, there were four voices who I thought would give an opportunity.

The first was Ron Paul. He was a revival of good ol'fashion Fiscal Conservatism. Granted, he goes way overboard with all of his policies--his noninterventionism is a welcome change from Bush's empire building, but strays far too far into the Hoover Era, as does his fiscal policy. But he gave a cohesive platform, one which excited young conservatives for the first time--and then was promptly quashed by a vengeful GOP.

The second was John McCain, who promised to return balance and accountability to the conservative party. But Bill Kristol brought Sarah Palin to his attention, and quickly his campaign fell under her power, and the Limbaugh-effect set in.

The third was Mike Huckabee. He returned to the good ol' fashion Evangelical Republicanism that proved to be the difference between George W. Bush and Al Gore (who, by the way, is a deeply religious man, or so I've heard). And throughout the campaign, he spoke with a civility and grace that, while hiding a hopelessly backwards outlook on gay rights, climate change, and everything else. Then he decided that Obama was equal to Lenin or Stalin at CPAC, demonstrating that apparently Rush Limbaugh has him by the testicles too.

And the fourth was Bobby Jindal, who was being touted as a smart, bipartisan, Republican answer to Barack Obama. And if you saw his response to the non-SOTU address, it turned out that it was reasonable, conservative, and shallow as a kiddy pool.

But up until now, the "civil war" that was touted didn't seem to come. McCain staffers took out their irritation on Sarah Palin, but other than that, she returned to her position as Governor, and continues to be a presence in the party. At CPAC, it was clear that there wasn't a politician with a backbone who was willing to go against Rush Limbaugh--a few in Congress who voiced doubts were kicked in the ass mightily, one assumes by the Minority Whip or others like him.

Well, at least David Frum is putting his voice into the ring. But the problem is that he's not a politician. This isn't going to be a true GOP civil war until the GOP gets a serious candidate to take others to the mat. The high-profile Republicans in politics who've dissented have largely dissented because of their lack of aspiration to continue--Schwarzenegger, who likely will not win a seat in the Senate, and Crist, who seems happy where he is right now--or have done so at the cost of their political future--Specter, whose current polling indicates that he, like Senator Lincoln Chaffee, is on his way out the door due to excessive moderation (the right feels betrayed and the left has their own candidate).

Let's see if this gathers any steam from the actual power-brokers in the GOP. Otherwise, this is just noise in the echo chamber.

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