Sacred Cods and Holy Mackerals

Nothing in moderation?
November 3, 2008, 1:08 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

The Boston Phoenix’s David Bernstein has a terrific piece this week that asks whether the GOP’s shift to the party of Rush and Hannity is dooming the party’s long-term viability.

These radical right-wing creatures now dominate the party’s nominating process, committees, elected officials, organizers, and funders, at the national, state, and local levels, throughout the country.

They are not thoughtful people interested in influencing policy debates; these terrifyingly ignorant hard-liners hold a know-nothing set of rigid beliefs about capitalism, foreign policy, “social values,” criminal justice, immigration, and pretty much anything else that arises. The ideology pumped into their brains is as wrong-headed as the Red Scare promoted by Joe McCarthy, or the racism behind Nixon’s Southern Strategy.

The Limbaugh “dittoheads” have stormed GOP headquarters and devoured dissenters. As political columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. wrote this past week in the Washington Post, “the cause of Edmund Burke, Leo Strauss, Robert Nisbet, and William F. Buckley Jr. is now in the hands of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity — and Sarah Palin. Reason has been overwhelmed by propaganda, ideas by slogans, learned manifestoes by direct-mail hit pieces.” And let’s not forget robocalls.

Buckley, who died earlier this year, once said that he had spent his life “separating the right from the kooks.” He failed — the kooks now run the right.

Merely dismissing the story as a hatchet job by an admitted leftwing journalist would be a disservice to his solid analysis. Simply put, Bernstein argues that the “with us or against us,” absolutist mentality of the rightwing is forcing out moderate Republicans and scaring away younger voters uncomfortable with the party’s demogogeury. Here’s a key fact: The number of registered Republican voters in this country has dropped from 31% in 2000 to 27% in 2008, while the number of registered Democrats has remained about the same: 35/36%

Moderate “Rockefeller Republicans,” once the dominant animal of the New England political landscape, have become an endangered species in Congress as they have been saddled with the yoke of Bush, while at the same time been virtually shunned by the party base. Henry Cabot Lodge would get crushed if he ran in a modern Republican primary.

Deviating from the party line as dictated by Rush, Hannity, Michael Graham, et al — anti-war sentiment, criticism of Sarah Palin — results in a savaging from fellow Republicans. Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, for example, received 12,000 hatemails after calling Palin an embarrassment to the party. And after coming out for Obama, conservative prince Christopher Buckley wrote:

“In fact, the only thing the Right can’t quite decide is whether I should be boiled in oil or just put up against the wall and shot. Lethal injection would be too painless.”      

One of the reasons the Democratic party continues to thrive, especially in Massachusetts, is that they have retained their big-tent party status. Imagine, for example, the viability of the Democratic party if the atheistic moonbat wing of the party attacked and drove out union members and Catholics.

PS — I discovered later that the Globe ripped off Bernstein’s piece and published their own story that included this nugget from former RI Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who has also bailed from the party:

“I just saw a bunch of Rockefeller Republicans camped out under an underpass,” Chafee deadpanned in an interview. “They’re all homeless, pushing shopping carts.”

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