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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Those Terrible Republicans

When the Fox News Channel "News Watch" program was young, Neal Gabler was the panelist who made the show interesting for me. While I didn't often agree with him, I thought he did some good reasoning.  Today, not so much.

Mr Gabler's OpEd in today's Boston Globe is titled "The extreme Republican Party."
Let’s not mince words here: We now have an entire political party that is not only dedicated to the mediocre. It is dedicated to the nearly deranged.
Well, it is true that he didn't mince words.

Mr Gabler then goes on to say that most Democracies have a left party and a right party and that they are differentiated, but close in view.

Then, Mr Gabler goes on to make the point that the Republicans represent a fringe party.
The only bright side is that according to a recent Pew poll, only 23 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans, which makes them not only a fringe in beliefs but also, thankfully, in numbers.
But, it gets worse.  As the analysis continues Mr Gabler notes:
What is under the radar is something more recent and more terrifying for the health of our political system: The Republican Party has become a small minority of out-of-mainstream people (think Representative Joseph Wilson’s outburst to the president this week) but, by virtue of its history, of the media attention it receives, and, frankly, by default, it still occupies a central place in our political life. In any other Western democracy it might have become a far-right splinter party. In America, we don’t really have splinter parties. When one of our parties goes crazy, it doesn’t slide to the margins.
On and on it goes, but here is the OpEd writer's bottom line.
Maybe Democrats should be happy that Republicans have been reduced to a lunatic fringe. But the lunatics still have their seat at the table, and someday they may be sitting at its head again. What then?
The part I don't understand is, if the Republican Party is this small fringe group of lunatics, why would they ever be able to mount a comeback?

Maybe Mr Gabler is concerned that the Republican Party has become the US equivalent of the French Front National (FN) and will soon find its own Jean-Marie le Pen.

I am sorry to disappoint Mr Gabler, but while the US Republican Party has no leadership at the national level, so to speak of, it is not about to become a North American version of the FN.  Sure, Representative Joe Wilson failed to show the politeness expected of a Republican, the Party as a whole has shown a lot more decorum than the Democrats did at the beginning of the Decade, when George Bush was President.  And, booing the President goes back further than President Bush.

The real problem is that while more and more Americans are eschewing party labels, there is still a sense of liberal, libertarian and conservative.  This should make local Lowell Blogger Kad Barma happy.  However, when the voters go to the polls, they normally have only people from political parties.  In 2006 and 2008 the voters showed that President Bush and the Republicans had exhausted the good will of the People.  Frankly, the Republicans in Congress had lost their way and deserved to lose the majority.

In the mean time, there is a more interesting discussion of the whole Joe Wilson/incivility issue, and the larger issue of if the Republican Party is "racist" over at the Volokh Conspiracy.  As of this writing, 163 comments.

But, back to Mr Gabler, the question is, what happens in 2010?  If the stimulus has not ended the recession and if the health care outcome represents an imposed solution rather than a negotiated compromise, then the Democrats could lose seats.  On the other hand, if the economy turns around, Health Care Reform is acclaimed by all and the wars are under control, all will be well for the Democrats and Mr Gabler can then turn his time and considerable talents to advising the Republicans as to how to be a real center of the road (right side) political party.

Good luck to us and good luck to Mr Gabler.

Regards  —  Cliff

  This article has also been blogged over at the Richard Howe blog site.
  Maybe it is just me, but when I think fringe I think 5% or so.
  This is even if the Republican Party still lacks leadership at the national level.

1 comment:

Craig H said...

I'm starting to understand, a little... Paraphrasing a little: "If the sun shines during their administration, then they'll be in charge forever".

I can see now that this is what led Republicans to try to brand the balanced Federal budget under Clinton as a result of the "Bush recovery" (that coincidentally took place during the "Clinton incumbency") so as not to enjoy our moment of temporary prosperity too much, lest it propogate That Which We Cannot Stand. Likewise, all the Democrats are all too quick to remind folks complaining about the bailouts and the stimulus package that is bankrupting us that it was all conceived under Bush II, as if somehow that makes us any less broke.

Honestly, when 1/2 of the electorate are actively hoping that the policies of those supported by the other 1/2 fail, lest it reflect well on them, (as has been cheering Limbaugh and others since Obama came into power, and as did an endless stream of left-wing loonies during Bush's honest attempts to deal with a very new world), then we're into the very mean territory of inevitable failure.

I picture a rowboat with oars both pulling in opposite directions, while the endless circle that results eddies itself right over the falls and onto the rocks below that we can all see all too clearly.

Wouldn't it be amazing if somehow we could all start pulling in one direction?