If there's one thing William Kristol can be counted on for it's to stare into a TV camera and lie. Even Kristol isn't stupid enough to think that Arlen Specter's defection to the Democratic party is anything less than a disaster for the GOP. Let me repeat that statement, because it's pretty momentous: even Bill Kristol isn't that stupid.
The GOP has a huge problem on its hands right now. Recent polls have shown that only 21% of Americans identify as Republicans, and the party seems to be doing everything in its power to shrink that number even further.
Consider what the GOP stands for and you'll see just how desperate its position really is:
1) Hypocrisy: this is probably the GOP's single greatest weakness right now. While loudly proclaiming itself the party of fiscal reponsibility, the GOP spent the last 8 years racking up an enormous load of debt, and then left Barack Obama with an economy on the verge of global collapse. And instead of offering mea culpas and working with the president to solve the problem it created, the GOP has been taking the path of obstructionism and trying desperately to wash its hands of it. How many times have you heard a GOP commenter insist that "it's Barack Obama's economy now"? But the electorate is not that stupid. You can't fix eight years of economic mismanagement in 100 days, nor does blame for current economic doldrums you created transfer to your successor as easily as GOP operatives would like. It'll be George Bush's economy for some time yet to come.
2) The War: America is stuck in Iraq and in Afghanistan in an awful quagmire of Bush, the GOP and their neoconservative allies' making. The war is draining our country of precious economic resources that could be used to shore up pensions, rescue home owners, save jobs and provide extended unemployment benefits at home. All the while the GOP has been assuring the American people of two self-contradictory propositions: (1) the war has been won and is a great success, and (2) a precipitous withdrawl would be disastrous for the nations we've occupied. In fact, the second proposition is far closer to the truth than the first. What kind of victory can you rightfully claim if it requires an extensive, expensive military occupation into the foreseeable future?
3) Intolerance: for the last 10 years or so the GOP has quite explicitly built its electoral strategy on stoking intolerance a fear of homosexuals. It is a nakedly bigoted play that has lost its currency with the younger generation of voters who are quite comfortable in the company of their gay friends and relatives. After all, the GOP and its defenders in intolerance have never been able to successfully argue the two central claims that drive their attacks on homosexual Americans: (1) that gay rights are "special rights" and (2) that gay marriage undermines heterosexual marriage. Defending these propositions requires a degree of sophistry so absurd, that the true motivation of conservatives is made only more plain by it: crude bigotry.
4) Torture: America is waking up from the daze of 9/11. With no quasi-Orwellian state apparatus hammering the Islamist threat into our heads and bombarding us with "orange level alerts" day in and day out, we are beginning to see what really happened that day. The attacks of September 11 were decidedly not the beginning of an existential struggle between the West, the forces of modernity, and a medieval, retrograde form of Islam. 9/11 was a one-shot deal by a well financed agent of hatred and his pathetic back-hills Islamic militia. The attack was spectacularly successful, true... something out of a movie. But the West was never under any real existential threat after the initial crime. Our military strength, our economic strength, and our democratic traditions guaranteed that Al Qaeda and groups like it would never amount to anything more than a small annoyance to us. And yet we treated and hyped the threat as if we were facing Hitler's vast mechanized armies in 1939. In fact, we were chasing after poorly organized bands of lightly armed desert nomads. The only way we could possibly lose that war was by losing sight of the true enemy, overreacting to the threat it posed and turning the Moslem masses against us. And that's exactly what we did under George W. Bush and the Republicans. We took our eye off of Afghanistan before capturing Osama Bin Ladin, and focused our attention on Saddam Hussein, a traditional, largely secular dictator who had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11. And then, since we had convinced ourselves that western civilization was struggling for its very existence, we resorted to a systematic program of war crimes to produce a speedy victory. Instead we ended up alienating most of the world (not just the Arab world). And the whole time... in the background... unobserved by a government preoccupied with an ill conceived war... our economy was inching toward disaster.
5) Ideological Rigidity: Rush Limbaugh and his talk radio cohorts have become the de-facto heads of the Republican party, and their brand of conservatism is both psychotic and extreme, and their relentless quest for ideological purity has only shrunken the party's base. They've driven away the moderates and left only a shell of a party that is coextensive with an ignorant, biblical-fundamentalist minority mostly centered around the American South. The GOP snake is swallowing its own tail and it doesn't even realize it.
And that, is pretty much that. There's more that could be said (about health care, for instance, or job security) but it's all pretty much in the same vein and helps the GOP not a whit. The Republicans right now are screwed, and they did it without any help from outside their own ranks. Couldn't have happened to a more deserving bunch of folks.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
at 7:16 AM