You Can Leave Your Hat On
Post-Election Introspection time is over and now it’s time for Republicans to buckle down to the serious business of blowing up the party from the inside. And, while negotiations stagnate on their ingenious device known as the “Fiscal Cliff,” progress on alienating even huger swathes of the American electorate continues apace.
As Daniel Larison of The American Conservative points out:
The Republican Party is truly in crisis, and that crisis is now coming to a head. The popular vote in the most recent election was less an endorsement of Obama’s performance than a refutation of GOP extremism. The fiscal cliff negotiations have presented the perfect opportunity for Republicans to begin to repair their brand—to refashion themselves as a moderately conservative party that is open to compromise. But Republicans seem determined not to seize this opportunity. Until they do, their brand will remain in trouble.
All due respect to Mr Larison, their “brand” is already on life support. Numerous post-election polls show that percentages in the high fifties and sixties disapprove of what the GOP has become, what it is doing and how it is doing it. There’s your mandate! and it’s a Kill Order.
Messaging coming out of the GOP is so mixed and muddled that it’s ludicrous. A foreign visitor would find it impossible to figure out what Republicans stand for based on their political statements. Talking Points Memo did an entertaining retrospective post entitled One Month Later: 30 Post-Election Rebuilding Tips From Republicans.
That list includes points like :
Move To The Left!/
Move To The Right!
Throw Rich People Under The Bus/
No, Rich People Are Great!
Primary The Tea Partiers/
Primary The Establishment
You get the idea. A smart party would put a sock in it until it gets it act together . . . The GOP is a party in total disarray that is not dealing gracefully, at all, with owning up to its own, largely self-inflicted, injuries. Republican confidence that the GOP would not only win in 2012, but win decisively, has had the damaging effect that hubris typically does.
So far, the reaction at the top of the GOP has been to fly into misdirected actions to prove that it still has a plan and is still able to execute. The results put the lie to both.
For example, John Boehner’s purification putsch of House committee teabaggers says more about his leadership abilities than it does about the various members ideological bearings.
In the midst of probably the most important political role of his life, Boehner is trying to look strong in his dealings with the president while demonstrating the problems he has herding his own caucus—for all the world to see. And Senator Jim DeMint (R-Mayberry) is happy to play the role of “worthy opposition” in a piece of political theater that Hollywood would be proud of. DeMint has nailed his political aspirations onto the TEA Party cross and is willing to wage an internal political fight for public viewing.
Sen. Jim DeMint just resigned from the Senate to head up the Heritage Foundation. Gov. Nikki Haley will be appointing someone to fill out the remainder of his term (2016). DeMint has recommended Rep. Tim Scott as his replacement.
Meanwhile, American Majority Action (AMA) (a gang of conservatives who still believe they are a majority) is launching a #FireBoehner campaign. If 16 members of the Republican Party abstain from voting for Boehner as speaker in January, he will be one vote shy of the 218 necessary to confirm his speakership.
Ned Ryun, president and CEO of AMA said:
Speaker Boehner has been an abysmal failure as speaker, and his latest purge is the nail in the coffin for conservatives. Boehner has never won a negation [sic] battle with the White House or Senate — and he’s been nothing short of an embarrassing spokesman for the conservative movement. It’s time for him to go.
Should be fun to watch . . .
Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell is publicly making an ass of himself, reacting in ALL CAPS and exclamation points when he’s not giggling like a schoolgirl at serious proposals and threatening Harry Reid with tantrums over the filibuster. I’d say you made that bed, Mitch . . .
And of course these are trying times for the TEA Party, as well. Lots of establishment Republicans are happy to point the finger with a big “I told you so” at TEA Party elements who made it to the hallowed halls of Capitol Hill and started immediately throwing their idealogical weight around instead of behaving like respectable rookies.
FreedomWorks appears to be falling apart now that long-time Republican political operative, Dick Armey is slithering away . . . FreedomWorks was the “big money” sponsor without whose financing and political savvy very few TEA Party candidates would have made it off of their home planets to Washington, DC.
FreedomWorks flourished for awhile after the success of the 2010 TEA Party wave. But despite spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to back favored GOP candidates this November, FreedomWorks’ patronage wasn’t enough to get TEA Party candidates into the Senate. Senate candidates Josh Mandel in Ohio, Connie Mack in Florida and Richard Mourdock in Indiana all lost their races.
And, when Dick Armey leaves the ship you know it’s really sinking. According to Armey, “my differences with FreedomWorks are a matter of principle.” As usual, with Armey, the “principle” is money. Evidently, Armey is getting $8 million (in “severance pay”/consulting fees) and Matt Kibbe gets his own book deal without Armey’s name on the cover. Shouldn’t be long before we hear some “if onlys” from the TEA PARTY blaming the GOP for dragging them under.
The best part of the show, by far, though, is the crowd of up-and-comers positioning themselves for a 2016 presidential run and indulging sudden hankerings to spend quality time in Iowa.
There is Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana:
Everybody who is already thinking about the 2016 presidential race need to have their head examined. Anybody thinking about 2016 is absolutely ridiculous.
But also,too, here’s Jindal, providing a stinging criticism of Romney’s campaign and offering an alternative urging his party to work for middle-class voters and to shed the label of a party for “big business and big banks.
The party needs to retool its entire messaging — not just “minor cosmetic changes” — and go after every voter, he said, not just those who are white.
There’s a lot of important work that needs to be done over the next several months and years.
Or how about Bob McDonnell, governor of Virginia who seems to fancy himself an “outsider” and is busy casting himself as the conservative foil to Obama, tweaking the administration on everything from health care to energy policy. All the while, referring to himself as a political outsider.
There is a brand, there is a set of ideas that Republican governors are offering that stands in fairly stark contrast to what Washington is offering. Washington is broken. It’s in debt. It’s engaged in partisan bickering.
And then, of course, there is the Republican’s “great hispanic hope,” Marco Rubio who recently admitted that he really does know how old Planet Earth is and that it’s not a problem (him knowing that) in the Roman Catholic Church. Aside from that, Rubio offers up Conservative Lite (more taste, less filling) but, in a spirit of bipartisanship, let’s let a Conservative (note capitalization), Daniel Larison, have his say on that:
A politician can sing the praises of the middle class while supporting policies that neglect its most pressing concerns. As we go through the list of Rubio’s proposals, we find that he is opposed to increasing taxes, wants to limit regulation, supports increased domestic energy production, favors making price stability the only mandate of the Federal Reserve, endorses health savings accounts, and backs charter schools and school choice.
These may or may not be advisable positions, but almost none of them is directly relevant to the problems he identifies. Some of these ideas are no different from what Romney proposed during the election campaign, and some are old GOP standbys that have been knocking around for fifteen or twenty years. That doesn’t necessarily make them wrong, but they don’t represent renewal, and they have little or nothing to offer large numbers of middle-class Americans.
Republicans have been running on some combination of these policies for a long time, and most Americans have evidently been underwhelmed by the message and by the results for most of the last two decades.
I have nothing further to add . . .