Tag Archives: GOP

Is the GOP Fighting a Civil War?

Is it North vs. South all over again? Recent public statements seem to indicate moderate Republicans, mostly from the North and Midwest, are getting tired of their conservative, southern brethren.

Witness the recent shot across the bow by Ohio Senator George Voinovich. “We’ve got too many Jim DeMints and Tom Coburns. The party is being taken over by southerners”, the outgoing senator says.

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Some of this is pushback from DeMint’s now infamous “Waterloo” statement regarding the Obama health care plan. Yet that doesn’t tell the whole story. The GOP has been steadily losing support in areas where just a few years ago, they did well in elections. Only in the South do they dominate, and that’s because they’re generally so conservative.

So what to do to stem the tide? As a progressive, I shouldn’t really care about this.

However, I do remember a time when the GOP was a very different party.

When I was coming up, people like Nelson Rockefeller, Jacob Javits, and Lowell Weicker were prominent figures in the Republican Party. Even now, there are moderates like Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe among the ranks of Republicans. Trouble is, their numbers are shrinking.

Part of the problem is that conservative Republicans have an army of support, not only in their home states, but among the right wing punditocracy that rules conservative talk radio and television. For some reason, even the mainstream media tends to overblow their importance to, for example, the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. The mitigating circumstance there was the decision by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham to support the nomination.

The battle over health care reform has emboldened the conservative wing as well, as evidenced by De Mint’s  “Waterloo” remark.

The question is, at what cost? Can the conservative wing of the Republican Party actually expect to turn back the clock? Do they really think there’s any currency left in the ideology of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney?

Maybe conservative think tanks have convinced them it can happen. Maybe the tea parties, and the birthers, and the people clamoring for the status quo on health care can sway the American people one more time. I’m not betting on it, though.

One thing the conservative Republicans forgot all about was the economy.

To this day, there have been few bold proposals coming from the Jim DeMints and Tom Coburns of the world as to how that gets fixed. Without the vision to deal with that, the GOP could be a minority party for many years to come, no matter how many times they say “no”.

And the South would lose the war. Again.

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So Long, Sarah?

So Sarah Palin officially quit as Governor of Alaska Sunday.

One wonders if the people of that state feel cheated. She hadn’t even served two years when John McCain made her his running mate. One also wonders, all this time down the road, how he feels about that one. Anyway, the choice was Palin’s to make, and no one thinks she’s simply going to write a book while making moose casserole for the family. In case you hadn’t noticed, Sarah Palin has ambition.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with that ambition. In fact, in these times it’s difficult to get ahead without it. The question for Palin is, how to leave all those ethics questions, along with those about her fitness for high office, behind her.

And, the question of whether or not she’s a quitter? My good friend starlil363 sent me an e-mail the other day that chronicled Palin’s seeming inability to stay focused on one gig.

She quit five different colleges before graduating from the sixth, she quit her job in television, she and husband Todd quit their snow machine dealership, she quit her job as Mayor of Wasilla to run for Lt. Governor, she quit as chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and now she cuts and runs from being governor.

Nice. Yet from the moment McCain picked her, Palin has found she likes the limelight. She enjoys jousting with David Letterman, enjoys dogging out the father of her grandchild, enjoys instant celebrity as much as any reality TV show star. She thinks it’s her ticket to the White House, and there are those on the right (and left) who will feed her delusion. On a certain level, Sarah Pain being taken seriously is the best thing that could happen to the Democratic Party. That’s why much of the criticism you heard when she announced her resignation came from the GOP.

So what really is next for Sarah Palin? Fox News must be keeping some kind of contributor’s chair warm for her. She can go around the lower 48 [states] without anyone saying she’s neglecting her duties as governor. She really could star in a reality TV show, but that’s not likely.

Maybe, and I don’t think it’s likely either, she’ll use this down time to pursue some of that intellectual heft so many thought she was lacking on the campaign trail. Every now and then it’s nice to know what you’re talking about.

But then, if she works for Fox, that won’t be necessary. So what is Sarah Palin’s future? You tell me.

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Specter Switches from Repub to Democrat – Principle or Self Preservation?

For a lot of Democrats, it doesn’t matter whether Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter became a Democrat for ideological or selfish reasons. Chances are… it was both anyway.

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The long serving Republican maverick has been alienated from his party for quite some time now. The deal breaker was his decision to support President Barack Obama on the stimulus bill. That prompted RNC boss Michael Steele to wonder aloud if such treachery should be followed by a stiff, well funded primary challenge when Specter runs for re-election next year.

No such worries now. Specter has already received assurances from Democratic bigwigs that the party will back him to the hilt next year. President Obama has pledged to campaign for him. And of course, Specter’s switch, the 21st among senators since 1890, now allows him to paint the likely Republican senate nominee, former Rep. Pat Toomey, as too conservative for Pennsylvania voters.

If you do the math, Democrats are now one final court case away from holding a veto proof majority in the Upper House. If, as expected, Al Franken is finally seated as Minnesota’s junior senator, there will be that magic 60 the Obama Administration has doubtless prayed for. There will still be work to be done to get major legislation passed, no doubt. Still, this makes the prospects easier.

It also has daunting implications for the GOP. It removes one of their major talking points, the possibility of using reconciliation to move past possible Republican filibusters. Yet there’s a deeper meaning here. It makes the GOP’s alleged “big tent” look small. It further marginalizes a party that’s already out of power.

There could well be increased calls for Michael Steele’s head, calls that glib, pseudo-hip sound bites won’t quiet. And it all could have been avoided if conservative blowhards in both Congress and the media hadn’t acted as if Specter’s vote on the stimulus bill amounted to some sort of high treason.

So let’s see now. We’re in midweek, and already a powerful Republican senator has jumped ship, and the Senate paid no attention to Sarah Palin fans who vowed to derail Kathleen Sebelius‘ nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary.

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In baseball parlance, that’s oh for two. The GOP echo chamber will doubtless use today’s first 100 days hoopla to pound on Obama and all things Democrat. The real question is, will anyone be paying attention?

Somehow those tea parties seem like a long time ago.

You tell me. Post your comment …here: How important is Arlen Specter’s defection to the Democrats?

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