It's probably a little unfair to play mix-and-match statements. It creates the perception that two unrelated statements represent a conversation that never actually happened. But, in this case, we know the conversation is going on somewhere. It represents a family quarrel within the Republican party, an argument over whether or not it's a good idea to be as crazy and extreme as most of them seem to want to be. Will cooler heads prevail or will the rightest of the right wing continue to set the agenda and, as a result, continue to lose elections? At the moment, the choice seems to be between connecting with the electorate and losing the base or connecting with the base and losing the electorate. Does the Republican party want to win elections again or is it more important to preserve their wingnut purity?
Statement #1 is from Colin Powell, from an article at National Journal:
The Republican Party is in big trouble and needs to find a way to move back to the middle of the country, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday.
Powell said the GOP is "getting smaller and smaller" and "that's not good for the nation." He also said he hopes that emerging GOP leaders, such as House Minority Whip Cantor, will not keep repeating mantras of the far right.
"The Republican Party is in deep trouble," Powell told corporate security executives at a conference in Washington sponsored by Fortify Software Inc. The party must realize that the country has changed, he said. "Americans do want to pay taxes for services," he said. "Americans are looking for more government in their life, not less."
He also criticized Rush Limbaugh. "I think what Rush does as an entertainer diminishes the party and intrudes or inserts into our public life a kind of nastiness that we would be better to do without." Limbaugh freaked out over that, but who cares? The base likes the guy, but he's not winning them elections. People can start giving a crap what Limbaugh says when Limbaugh starts mattering. I know the big fad among Republicans is apologizing to Rush, but don't expect Powell to jump on that bandwagon.
The second statement in our mix-and-match pretend conversation is Dick Cheney, from an interview by a N. Dakota radio host, reported by Politico:
"I think it would be a mistake for us to moderate," Cheney said. "This is about fundamental beliefs and values and ideas... what the role of government should be in our society, and our commitment to the Constitution and constitutional principles. You know, when you add all those things up, the idea that we ought to moderate basically means we ought to fundamentally change our philosophy. I for one am not prepared to do that, and I think most of us aren't. Most Republicans have a pretty good idea of values, and aren't eager to have someone come along and say, 'Well, the only way you can win is if you start to act more like a Democrat.'"
What to do, what to do? Do they take Powell's advice, join the mainstream, and actually get elected and get things done or do they follow Cheney's advice, go for ideological purity, keep losing elections, and go the way of the Whigs?
Cheney's hypothetical "someone" gives Dick incomplete advice. What Dick should be hearing is "Well, the only way you can win is if you start to act more like a Democrat -- that is, a lot less crazy." And no one brings the crazy like the right. For the base, nothing -- absolutely nothing -- a Democrat does is a good idea and everything they do is wrong. The following is absolutely true:
Following President Obama's May 5 visit to Ray's Hell Burger in Arlington, Virginia, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Rush Limbaugh Show guest host Mark Steyn criticized Obama as an elitist because he ordered a burger with "spicy mustard" or "Dijon mustard." Hannity claimed that Obama ordered a "fancy burger" with a "very special condiment," while Steyn asserted Obama is trying "to enlighten us" through his order. Ingraham asked of Obama: "What kind of man orders a cheeseburger without ketchup but Dijon mustard?... The guy orders a cheeseburger without ketchup? What is that?" In their discussions of Obama's burger order, Hannity, Ingraham, and Steyn all referenced a Grey Poupon commercial featuring actors portraying wealthy British men expressing desire for the mustard.
Oh for chrissake. It's a damned burger! It's a good thing these guys don't run Burger King or its motto would be "Have it our way or you hate America, you elitist scum!" No wonder these people aren't delivering voters. They're so eager to find fault that the faults they find are inane. How ridiculous is it to draw up a list of politically correct condiments? If I go to a rib joint, do I get sauce or dry rub? I really want to know, because I don't want people to think I'm a commie. Please advise.
If you're a Republican and you've read this far, I've got good news. The party is quietly choosing prudence over insanity. In the Senate at least, Republicans are looking to the center, not the fringe. While making a lot of noise about what a traitorous bastard Arlen Specter is, the next crop of Republican senatorial candidates look a lot like him.
"[T]he National Republican Senatorial Committee’s recruitment list for 2010 reads like a roster of some of the party’s best-known RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) and squishes -- the derisive terms applied to centrists by movement conservatives," reports Politico. With a long list of names you may or may not know, the emphasis is on moderation and centrism.
"I'm absolutely committed to recruiting candidates around the country that fit their states. Who would have thought we would be looking at states like Delaware, New York, Illinois and Connecticut for Republicans to run -- and have a reasonably good shot at winning?" said National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn. "It really is a recipe for permanent minority status and irrelevance if we don't pay attention to the arithmetic and get back to a position so we can shape legislation."
Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity are going to hate these guys. In the long run, that might be the best yardstick Republicans can use to measure all their candidates -- how badly do the nuts hate them? If they fail the wingnut test, they probably have a much better chance of passing the electoral test.
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