Is the Republican Party Able to Change?

Thanks to Wild Bill, I’ve read P.M. Carpenter’s assessment of George Will’s attempt to thin the ranks of the Republican presidential nominee-hopefuls. Here’s the gist of what Carpenter had to write, followed by a question or two of mine:

Much of what Will routinely serves are merely crockpot-fulls of warmed-over McKinleyism with lids of polysyllabic respectability, yet today he actually sees and is thereby deeply worried about the future. Of his party. Which is, let’s face it — as Will finally has — a laughingstock.

His concluding, almost clinically depressed paragraph projects a longer-term doom for the GOP than is explicit:

[T]he [Republican] nominee may emerge much diminished by involvement in a process cluttered with careless, delusional, egomaniacal, spotlight-chasing candidates to whom the sensible American majority would never entrust a lemonade stand, much less nuclear weapons.

(Polysyllabic McKinleyism: what a great distillation of George Will. Perhaps it should be the new title of Will’s column.)

In the middle of the piece, Carpenter then tears into Mike Huckabee–by means of quoting H.L. Mencken’s tearing up of William Jennings Bryan. The parallel amazes.

And to conclude, Carpenter makes these points (bolding is mine):

“What I do know is this [an allusion to Huckabee’s “knowing” all about Obama’s youth], which also happens to be the greater point I wished to make: No single Republican pol is, or ever will be, capable of altering the GOP’s devolutionary and even apocalyptic course. Such a desirable feat (hey, you libs, you need a conservative party to keep you honest) will instead require a tight collusion among GOP presidential candidates — a willingness free, clear and bold to agree among themselves from the start that in this election (be it 2016’s or in 2020) they will not only distance themselves but vigorously denounce any “careless” and “delusional” bubblings from the foul and corrupted bottom.

Assuming such a collective will (so to speak) exists among influential GOPers to seize back the Party from crackpots and haters, can such a group take the Party back?

To do so, they will not simply have to denounce, in plain rhetoric, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Palin, Bachmann, birthers, and others; they will have to fight with the man who, indirectly, made them king, or at least well placed jesters: Karl Rove.

That is, what worries George Will is a direct result of Rove’s scheming, cheating, and wedge-issuing; it is a direct result of Fox News’s and Rush’s (and others’) going beneath the Planet of the Lowest Common Denominator. I just think Rove and Roger Ailes are too good and too powerful at this game to be resisted successfully.

But I think Carpenter’s point about “libs” needing conservatives (of the Eisenhower brand [?])–except I disagree with the use of “libs.” At their most left, the leaders of the Dems are moderate, and President Obama may qualify as an Eisenhower Republican: look at the tax rates under Eisenhower, and look at Eisenhower’s concerns about the military-industrial complex. If Obama expressed the same concerns today, Fox News would call him a Communist–that’s how far Right the Center has moved.

Dems do need a sane other Party, chiefly so they can make deals in the old political way. The way the system works now, the GOPers promise insane things, ignore the promises, propose other insane things, and pull wedge-issues out of their underwear (like opposing Shia Law in Oklahoma: an example of Cubist politics; one might as well oppose the presence of invisible sharks in Kansas). The Dems can only do what one does in the woods when one sees a rabid skunk: keep a healthy distance.

Currently, to sustain its appeal, the GOP has to keep pushing for things that aren’t, in fact, related to the common good, even the old fashioned sort of common good (like railroad projects) that used to get incumbents re-elected. Wisconsin Ranger Walker’s desire to crush collective bargaining has nothing to do with the budget and everything to do with Rove’s and the Koch Brothers’ Birch-wood fantasies of total control. –Control of a wrecked nation.


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