Some of the more interesting things I read yesterday had to do with Peggy Noonan’s column
in the WSJ
Buried, quite literally, at the very bottom of Ms. Noonan’s column was this lil gem:
On the pundit civil wars, Rush Limbaugh declared on the radio this week, "I'm here to tell you, if either of these two guys [Mr. McCain or Mike Huckabee] get the nomination, it's going to destroy the Republican Party. It's going to change it forever, be the end of it!"
This is absurd. George W. Bush destroyed the Republican Party, by which I mean he sundered it, broke its constituent pieces apart and set them against each other. He did this on spending, the size of government, war, the ability to prosecute war, immigration and other issues.
Were there other causes? Yes, of course. But there was an immediate and essential cause.
And this needs saying, because if you don't know what broke the elephant you can't put it together again. The party cannot re-find itself if it can't trace back the moment at which it became lost. It cannot heal an illness whose origin is kept obscure.
Hoo-Boy. Bull. Pasture. Red Flag. (Trying on another metaphor instead of my UCR “Jane, You ignorant slut!”) Captain Ed sez “no, it wasn’t Bush…”
It doesn't mean we don't have trouble, but Noonan's wrong to lay the whole thing on Bush. While it's true that he hasn't provided much in the way of fiscal discipline, he didn't run for office as a Steve Forbes conservative, either. He spoke of compassionate conservatism, a code for big-government approaches for center-right policies, and he delivered. Bush talked about working on bipartisan solutions to national issues, and he pretty much did that before the Iraq war turned sour. Republicans elected Bush knowing what they were going to get, and Noonan can't seriously claim shock over the result.
The seeds of Republican discontent took root in Congress, not the executive. It was the succession of Republican Congresses that refused to cut spending, and instead blew wads of cash on non-defense discretionary spending. Bush led in some of these efforts, but he didn't multiply pork exponentially; that came from House and Senate Republicans. He didn't climb into bed with K Street, either -- that project started before Bush ever arrived at the White House with Tom DeLay and others.
While Billy Hollis at Q&O sez:
And the GOP faithful are still out there attempting to scare folks with "What? Any Republican is better than Hillary! If you small-government types know what's good for you, you'll get behind the GOP nominee, whoever it is. Otherwise, it will be a disaster!"
Well, it will be a disaster - for the political insiders and those whose life revolves around winning. The Democrats already suffered through theirs. In 1994, the entire Democratic political establishment was shell shocked when the GOP took Congress, by a big margin. The GOP has not yet faced their own disaster, mostly because they've been blessed with stupid enemies.
But I think it's coming, sooner or later. Sooner, if McCain or Huckabee are the standard bearer. Later, if the GOP squeezes out one more victory, but just can't internalize the need to stop selling the spending, stop the earmarks, and get serious about their core small-government principles.
As for me, I found James Joyner’s commentary more in alignment with my take on things political:
And, frankly, Reagan’s record — as opposed to his rhetoric — isn’t exactly what those who pine for the Good Ole Days seem to think it was. Reagan did virtually nothing to advance the socially conservative agenda he talked about. He appointed Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, two moderate swing votes, to the Supreme Court to go along with Antonin Scalia, his lone conservative appointee. And he signed the biggest illegal immigrant amnesty bill in the country’s history. He allowed spending to skyrocket under his administration, leaving the country saddled with historic debt.
It’s 2008, not 1980. Most women work outside the home. There hasn’t been a military draft in more than a generation. There are significantly more than three television channels. We’ve completed the shift from a manufacturing economy to a service economy. Our political climate has, understandably, changed a little. Goodness, there’s a serious chance that a woman or a black man will be our next president; that was the stuff of stand-up comedy routines in Reagan’s day.
The campaigns of Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, Ron Paul, Tommy Thompson, and Fred Thompson never got off the ground. If you thought they’d be great presidents, you were virtually alone. Sorry for your loss but it’s time to move on.
The president represents 300 million-odd Americans and is selected through a grueling process that ensures he’s vetted by widely varying constituencies. The primary process runs potential nominees through a gauntlet and then the general election requires appealing to pluralities in enough states to get at least half of the votes in the Electoral College.
Ms. Noonan is fundamentally correct in her brief conclusions about Bush’s record regarding the war, spending, and small government. But Bush’s missteps hardly qualify as “destroying the Republican Party.” I’m more or less inclined to agree with Mr. Morrissey when he lays the blame on Congress for the GOP’s failure in the mid-terms… yet he, too, is off the mark by claiming the seeds of GOP destruction were planted in Congress. Dubya could have exercised more and better leadership in that space…like finding and using his veto pen about five years before he actually did, and engaging in some creative arm-twisting with the GOP congressional leaders.
And then there’s The War, which (IMHO) has been about as badly managed as any of our previous wars, and worse than most. Still… you go to war with the administration you have, not the one you wish you had… to paraphrase some former administration official. Dubya changed course in Iraq at the Eleventh Hour, or perhaps later than that. The War may be out of the headlines now, but Dubya’s lack of success up until May/June of 2007 certainly had a LOT to do with Republican dissatisfaction, and almost everything to do with Democrat angst.
So. Is the GOP falling apart, or what? Yes and no. I’ve seen and heard the term “healthy debate” used a lot this past week to describe the internecine warfare within the GOP, and healthy debate is good…when it’s healthy. I’ve also read a lot of opinion that smacks of “I’ll take my ball and go home if we don’t play by my rules” kind of talk as well. There’s always this sort of talk during an election cycle, and it’s usually just talk. Except in 1992. And you know what happened then. Could 2008 be déja-vu all over again? We DO have some…umm… rather familiar Lefty faces in this year’s race that make me wonder. Especially when I get e-mails like this:
From: Draft Bloomberg Committee firstname.lastname@example.org,
Date: Jan 15, 2008 4:20 PM
Subject: The Draft Bloomberg Petition
Draft Bloomberg Committee Launches Petition
If you believe Mike Bloomberg should run for president, then now is the time to tell him!
America needs and deserves a president with vision and a proven track record of solving tough problems and delivering real results, a president who can bring America together through true leadership and fine character.
With a recession looming, we believe that Mayor Bloomberg, a proven successful businessman and public servant, is that leader to help us rebuild our country.
Join the Draft Bloomberg Committee on the ground floor by completing two important activities that will help bring Mayor Bloomberg into the presidential race:
1. Sign the petition to draft Mike Bloomberg: Add your name to the list and stay informed about our draft movement. Sign online now!
2. Publish the petition on your blog: The more voices we have shouting Mike's name, the more likely he will be to enter the race. Publish the petition on your blog!
So… either we get it together as a party, or some idiot will decide to jump in and tear it all apart (I appreciate the irony involved in calling a billionaire an idiot, believe me), no matter if it’s Mike “I’m NOT running for President” Bloomberg, Ron “Isolationism is Good!” Paul, or anyone else who thinks a third-party candidacy is viable in the US of A*. But there’s danger for conservatives even in the absence of a third-party candidate, and I’m speaking of the “a pox on BOTH their houses, I’m staying home” crowd. If you fall into the latter category, then I suggest you get ready for another Clinton administration. Or worse.
Another thing: you forfeit your inalienable right to bitch, piss, and moan if you stay home on election day. That should be important to at least some of you. Unless, you know, you lie about not voting... but you wouldn't do that, now, would ya?
In the meantime… Mr. Joyner has it right: let’s discuss our differences and support the guy we prefer. But after all the hootin’ and hollerin’s done in St. Paul come September, let’s get behind our nominee and work to win.
* Unless Nader or someone like him decides to run again, in which case: Yes. It’s all about where the votes come from, eh?
Today’s Pic: A much younger me (a 30-year old me, to be exact) doing what I used to do before Algore invented these here inter-tubes, and doing it in TSMP’s student apartment in Mushashi-Koganei, a borough in metropolitan Tokyo. I think the photo captures my inner geek pretty well, doesn’t it?
Sometime in 1975… I’m thinking it was winter, coz I have my GI long-underwear shirt on. There wasn’t any central heat in that apartment and it could get very cold, as in ice-on-the-inside-of-the-windows cold, see-your-breath cold. The general chilliness, of course, was a damned good excuse for TSMP and I to crawl into her futon and get warm. Kinda. Sorta. As a by-product.