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The Republican Civil War Of 2013-2015?

I’ve written before on the topic of how the Republican Party in general, and conservatives in particular, might react if the party loses the 2012 Presidential election. With some scenarios positing that the Romney-Gingrich battle could last for months, and signs fairly apparent that hard-core conservatives still aren’t sold on the idea of Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee, the topic is coming up all over the place now. At The New Yorker, George Packer argues that if the nominee is Romney and the GOP loses, it will empower a reaction from the party’s right wing that will likely lead to a 1972-style electoral disaster down the line:

[W]hat if Romney wins the nomination and loses the election? This scenario is still the odds-on favorite. To deduce the consequences among Republican activists, let’s imagine a counter-factual from 1972: pit Nixon against Humphrey or Muskie or Jackson, a candidate imposed on the liberal Democratic base much as conservative Republicans feel Romney is being imposed on them. A Nixon win would have convinced the liberal base that the party had not been true to its core. The theology would have hardened a little more. Next time, they’d nominate a real liberal, a candidate of the grassroots.

It’s easy to picture hard-core Republicans coming to the same conclusion: Romney and the party élite betrayed the party’s principles (again, after McCain) and gave the country four more years of the hated Obama. Never again! Next time, a real conservative! (Go back another twenty years, to the G.O.P. convention of 1952, and Senator Everett Dirksen, of Illinois, a supporter of the conservative Robert Taft, pointing at Thomas E. Dewey, the party’s moderate two-time loser, and thundering, “Don’t take us down the path to defeat again!”)

(…)

If Romney wins the nomination and loses the election, the party will continue down into the same dark hole where Palin, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Santorum, and now Gingrich all lurk. So a sane Republican has a terrible dilemma, today in Florida and beyond. That’s what happens when political parties are captured by a minority of fervent believers.

It would be better for the Republican Parry in the long term, Packer argues, if Gingrich were to win the nomination and lead the party to what seems to be a certain, probably massive, electoral defeat in November. At that point, it’s likely that the Party establishment  and the fiscally conservative wing of the party will assert itself by making the argument that taking the party down the road to Gingrich-ian radicalism was the wrong idea. In the end, it could mean a saner GOP in the model of men like Chris Christie and Jon Huntsman rather than Michele Bachmann and Allan West.

At this point, though, it looks like Romney will be the nominee notwithstanding Gingrich’s challenge and, as if to confirm Packer’s hypothesis, Jeffrey Lord at The American Spectator is already talking about a “take no prisoners” strategy if Romney fails to beat Obama:

If Romney is nominated the hard-edged bashing of Gingrich will vanish when the opponent becomes President Obama. Why? Because, Romney and the Establishment GOP will run the updated version of the Dewey-Ford mortgage driven campaign. After all. A presidential campaign, to quote Romney, isn’t talk radio. One can’t attack Barack Obama in this fashion. One can’t say the reason this presidency is an utter failure is because of an Alinsky-ite, far left philosophy. Nooooooooo. One must say simply and politely that Obama is, to quote Romney directly, just “over his head.”

In other words, if Romney loses Lord and those who agree with him will argue that it happened because the Romney campaign wasn’t tough enough against Obama, that it didn’t go after his alleged “socialism,” or that he didn’t bring the Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers up again for the umpteenth time. They’ll point to his loss, and McCain’s in 2008 and Dole’s loss in 1996 as another piece of evidence in support of their argument that the GOP loses when he doesn’t nominate a candidate that’s conservative enough. Of course, there’s really no evidence for this argument at all. Dole lost in 1996 because he was running against a popular, telegenic, well-liked incumbent President in time when the economy was booming and was, well, Bob Dole. I’m not sure that a Republican candidate with more personality than Dole would have done any better, but it’s fairly certain that Dole didn’t lose that election because of doubts about his conservative bona fides. John McCain lost because he was a Republican trying to succeed an incredibly unpopular Republican President in the middle of the most several financial crisis in a generation, and because he ran one of the worst campaigns in modern American political history. A better run campaign might have held on to a few of the traditionally Republican states that Obama won that year, but I doubt any Republican could have won that election under the circumstances that existed at the time. If Mitt Romney loses in 2012, it won’t be because isn’t conservative enough, it will be because he didn’t give the American public sufficient reason to fire the incumbent President.

Of course, those facts don’t matter in the middle of a heated political battle for the soul of a political party, and the right wing of the GOP seems to have convinced itself of the fact that all it needs to do is nominate the most conservative candidate and it will instantly win. The one example the point to in support of this argument, of course, is Ronald Reagan. The problem is that Reagan was not a typical politician and he was able to overcome many of the arguments that were made about his being too radical due to his personality, the skills he gained as an actor, and a connection to middle America that Republicans don’t really seem to have any more. Furthermore, it’s not even really true that Ronald Reagan was the “most conservative” candidate running for the Republican nomination in 1980; that title should probably go to someone like Phil Crane, the former Congressman from Illinois who was also a candidate that year. Furthermore Reagan didn’t beat Carter because he was “more conservative,” he beat Carter because the economy was bad and getting worse and, between the Iranian Hostage Crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the United States seemed to be losing ground abroad. The additional fact that Carter was a sub-part President and a bad campaigner helped too.

Noah Millman doesn’t think that the GOP would be torn asunder by a Romney loss in November:

Regardless of who the GOP lost with this year, I wouldn’t expect a profound soul searching. The Democrats had to lose a run of five out of six Presidential elections over two decades to thoroughly remake their party. If you want to know what will likely follow a Romney loss, take a look at what followed Dole’s loss in 1996.

The thing about that is that I don’t think the conservative base would be all that eager for another George W. Bush either, even if it meant winning the White House. Between the increased political activism by conservatives that came with the rise of the Tea Party, and the false sense of history that this community has developed by sheltering itself inside the talk radio/Fox News bubble, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a 2016 nomination fight that starts years earlier and ends up being much more contentious, with the result being a candidate so far to the right that the GOP ends up losing its third Presidential election in a row in 2016. Maybe by then, they’ll be willing to listen to the people that have been warning them all along.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. legion says:

    At that point, it’s likely that the Party establishment and the fiscally conservative wing of the party will assert itself by making the argument that taking the party down the road to Gingrich-ian radicalism was the wrong idea.

    You’d think that – because that’s how a sane, rational person would respond. The problem with this discussion is that sane, rational people wouldn’t have gotten the GOP in this situation to begin with. Just look – out of all the candidates that started in the Primary Clown Car, not a single one is really electable. Even the few potentials whose personal history & baggage wouldn’t have alienated more than half the electorate were saddled with party positions that are insulting at best (“poor people are just lazy”) and clearly suicidal at worst (“Invade Iran!” “Make poor people pay all the taxes!”).

    In short, no matter who takes the golden ring, the Republican Party won’t shift its path one bit. But I be a lot of people will stop calling themselves Republicans come next winter…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  2. michael reynolds says:

    If Democrats continue to run African-American or perhaps Hispanic candidates it will be easy to keep the GOP united. Of course if we ran a white guy the unifying force of conservatism would fail.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 13

  3. Moosebreath says:

    As I noted in a previous thread, when Democrats lose, they nominate someone more conservative (as Mondale was more liberal than Dukakis, who was more liberal than Clinton). When Republicans lose, they nominate someone more conservative (as Bush the Younger was more conservative than Dole).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  4. Hey Norm says:

    “…The thing about that is that I don’t think the conservative base would be all that eager for another George W. Bush either, even if it meant winning the White House…”

    But just watch as they get in step behind Romney who is just another George Bush. He simply refuses to say the name. Supply-side economics and Neo-Con imperialism. The same ideas…nothing has changed. Nothing will change. It’s impossible to change when you keep doing the same sh!t over and over again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  5. michael reynolds says:

    What exactly are the doctrinal differences between the GOP establishment and the Tea Party?

    Think all black people are on welfare. Check.
    Think all Hispanics are illegals. Check.
    Think we should outspend the entire rest of the world on military. Check.
    Want gay people legally designated as second-class citizens. Check.
    Want government control of wombs. Check.
    Want smaller government for poor, minorities, working people. Check.
    Want larger government insofar as it benefits defense. Check.
    Terrified of Sharia law.
    Regular hand-jobs for Bibi Netanyahu. Check.
    Tax cuts for rich people. Check, check, check.

    Not finding all that much daylight there, except that the establishment may be somewhat less concerned about Sharia.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 30 Thumb down 18

  6. David M says:

    Another good reason to hope for a Gingrich nomination and a second Obama term. I’m hard pressed to see the difference between Romney and GW Bush though, especially when it comes to any policy differences.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  7. Scott F. says:

    if Gingrich were to win the nomination and lead the party to what seems to be a certain, probably massive, electoral defeat in November. At that point, it’s likely that the Party establishment and the fiscally conservative wing of the party will assert itself by making the argument that taking the party down the road to Gingrich-ian radicalism was the wrong idea.

    The watershed moment wouldn’t come with a massive Gingrich electoral defeat, either. It would be far, far too easy to rationalize that Gingrich lost due to the demonization of his character (by the nefarious Obama and the complicit lame stream media) rather than any public rejection of his conservative ideas. A drubbing of Santorum might have brought about that moment, but that’s just not in the cards.

    Even the hardcore conservative fantasy – a brokered convention that bestows the nomination on Mitch Daniels – has built-in excuses (e.g. there’s was not enough time between convention and election to get the message out, plus the nefarious Obama and the complicit LSM).

    If the profound disapproval of GWB by the end of his two terms is not enough to bring about some self-reflection on the part of the GOP, it’s going to take a truly stark set of circumstances to get it to ever happen. The ticket of Paul Ryan/Marco Rubio getting hammered by Andrew Cuomo/Al Franken could do it, perhaps.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  8. Brummagem Joe says:

    Packer’s scenario is entirely plausible. Lord for all his falsifications about Reagan and issues is pretty representative of a lot of base opinion. It may stupid and ignorant about realities but it is what it is. And the reality is the Republican establishment is as married to big government and the administrative state as are Democrats because that is the essential nature of modern government in mass western pluralistic societies. The leadership for short term electoral advantage has created this mirage of small govt etc etc and now they are stuck with it. Personally I’ve no doubt if Romney loses to Obama very serious schisms are going develop in the GOP. They are there already and only need some catalyst to create an unravelling. It doesn’t mean the end of the GOP but it would mean a prolonged period of internecine struggles.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  9. Kylopod says:

    I love the way Lord so blatantly cherry-picks his evidence, sometimes leaping over several decades of contrary information, to support his claim that nominating “real conservatives” is always a winning proposition for the GOP, while nominating moderates is always a losing one. He goes on and on about how the moderate Dewey lost in the 1940s, then immediately starts talking about Reagan’s 1980 victory. Somehow he never mentions Eisenhower, the establishment-backed moderate who won two comfortable landslides, or Goldwater, the conservative insurgent defeated in one of the biggest blowouts ever (against a most liberal opponent, I should add).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  10. Brummagem Joe says:

    I’d add btw the way that the mere fact this conversation is taking place in the conservative blogosphere and not just being laughed off is in of itself evidence of the plausibility of Packer’s scenario.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. Kylopod,

    Yes I noticed that too and Lord’s entire 7 page screed could be the subject of it’s own fisking. The one that had me laughing was his assertion that, until the Progressive Era, the Republican Party was a “conservative” party. That is so wrong it’s not even funny. The GOP from 1856 until roughly the Wilson Administration was the party that advocated for increased tariffs, internal improvements, and large government projects. It was the Democratic Party, by and large, that was the home of fiscal conservatives during that era.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  12. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Kylopod:

    Lord’s piece has a lot of bs but then bs is the language of the Republican base.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  13. Moosebreath says:

    Michael,

    I’d say the GOP establishment is less interested in social issues in general (including both gays and abortion). They use them because it stokes up their base, but then ignore them until it’s time for the next election.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  14. Vast Variety says:

    So what your suggesting is that the GOP needs to nominate Rick Santorum so that they loose so badly that they ditch the far right Theocratic dictatorship wing of the the party and actually get back some sanity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  15. Barb Hartwell says:

    I truly believe Obama will win the election and I agree with Doug, Republicans would have a deep hole to dig out of, but how much nuttier can they get. They should be looking for a guy or gal who is actually wanting to make things right for our country, not just a corp whore.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  16. Vast Variety says:

    @michael reynolds: Just imagine if Democrats ran a Hispanic Gay man.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  17. MBunge says:

    “In the end, it could mean a saner GOP in the model of men like Chris Christie and Jon Huntsman rather than Michele Bachmann and Allan West.”

    But there’s little evidence that the Christie’s and Huntsman’s of the political world can win a damn thing without the Bachmann’s and the West’s supporting them.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. David M says:

    It really is remarkable to see how completely Bush 43 has been written out of history by the GOP, as they simultaneously advocate virtually identical policies. I did finally think of one difference, as somehow the GOP position on immigration policy has worsened since Bush 43.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  19. Turner says:

    @michael reynolds: Sounds like a pretty good platform to me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  20. doubter4444 says:

    @Moosebreath:
    I’d say the GOP establishment is less interested in social issues in general (including both gays and abortion). They use them because it stokes up their base, but then ignore them until it’s time for the next election.
    In the past, maybe, I mean It used to be that way, but i would not bet on it now. State congresses have swerved hard to the right and are pushing many social agendas long desired by the conservative base.
    They are essentially a farm team for the National Reps.
    Don’t automatically assume that the “back home” urging of constituents won’t be acted on.
    That’s the real scary part.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. sam says:

    @Turner:

    Sounds like a pretty good platform to me.

    Say, are you the author of the Turner Diaries? The sentence structure is about right. I’d only recommend against the big words. ‘Platform’ confuses your readership. Too many syllables.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  22. Ron Beasley says:

    @Vast Variety:

    loose so badly that they ditch the far right Theocratic dictatorship wing of the the party

    Without the Theocratic dictatorship wing of the party the Republicans couldn’t win a single election and they know it. That’s why they created the wing to begin with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  23. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Hell, if Romney loses the GOP for decades could be lost in the political wilderness.

    Palin in that event likely will run in 2016. No matter what that would make that cycle a disaster for Republicans. If she won the nomination she’d be slaughtered in the general in a Goldwater-style blowout. Down ticket contests would be affected. If she lost the nomination her acolytes and paladins undoubtedly would stay home and not vote, thereby crippling the nominee’s chances. Then what? In 2020 whomever the party would nominate would be facing an incumbent. In 2024 there still would be the dichotomy between the rational businessmen types and the frothing-at-the-mouth wingnuts. Mike Pence, anyone? Instead of Ron Paul drawing the nuts and flakes there will be Rand Paul. It’ll be a perpetual circus.

    Electable prospects like Brian Sandoval would have to fight their ways through the cracker blocs. Big state governors paradoxically would be at disadvantages, because the erstwhile GOP “base” tends to look askance at such items as track records and experience. It’s a clusterfuck.

    If Obama is reelected it would not shock me if Democrats consecutively prevail in the next several presidential contests.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  24. WR says:

    @MBunge: How is Christie any saner than the rest of them? He shares their agenda of destroying unions, slashing worker pay and benefits, and lavishing tax breaks on the super rich. Oh, and he’s perfectly okay with targeting gays if he thinks it will help him shovel more money at rich people.

    He’s also a rude, unpleasant bully, which is why Republicans love him. But why does that make him “sane”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  25. Latino_in_Boston says:

    I generally agree with the thesis that a Romney loss will lead to a GOP civil war and that they probably wouldn’t come back to a more moderate stance until they were clobbered repeatedly in the elections (sort of like the UK conservatives).

    Unfortunately, this has a real cost for the country. We cannot afford to have an insane party as the other pillar of American politics, particularly if that party insists on blocking everything. If the Democrats had any backbone and/or intelligence, they would try to look at the systematic reasons and abolish the filibuster, or at least return it to what it was intended for–actual debate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  26. Neil Hudelson says:

    @sam:

    You’re in a fiesty mood today (judging by this and other threads).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  27. Gustopher says:

    If the Republicans nominated Gingrich and lost, they would quickly be discovering how Newty isn’t really a conservative, he’s a RINO, and if they had just nominated a real conservative, they would have won.

    Who that real conservative would be, and what policies the would have, I have no idea.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  28. Barb Hartwell says:

    @WR: I guess they think he talks like the average guy,and the people will like him. He`ll find out the people are smarter than that. The person who really scares me is Toomey of Penn. that guy made my blood run cold the first time I heard him talk. He seemed to be pure evil.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  29. Just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Brummagem Joe: Clearly, you haven’t been around long enough to have heard the complaints that the blog had been taken over by leftist (yet libertarian leaning) carpetbaggers. The purges took care of most of them though.

    On to my real topic. Some of us have been cheering on Palin, Newt, Bachmann, and the Tea Party freshmen and were rooting for rejection of the debt ceiling deal because we agree with Stansfield Turner (?) that in the case of the GOP “we had to destroy the village in order to save it.” Giving the wingnut cohort what they want is harsh medicine, but if it is necessary, better sooner than later.

    As to a restored conservative movement, I’m sure there will be one at some point. It would help if “the fiscally conservative wing” were actually fiscally conservative instead of simply adverse to paying taxes, but they are not, and that is yet another obstacle to restoration. Let me know when you get your act together.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  30. @Gustopher:

    I joked about that a day or two ago, but I think it’s true. There is plenty of history there to paint Gingrich as a big-government insider. I mean, we know they’re just giving him a pass on it at the moment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  31. Kylopod says:

    If the Republicans nominated Gingrich and lost, they would quickly be discovering how Newty isn’t really a conservative, he’s a RINO, and if they had just nominated a real conservative, they would have won.

    That has occurred to me. Already there are conservatives saying just that–Glenn Beck, for instance. Still, I wonder if there are any candidates for which they couldn’t pull out this rationalization. Santorum’s economic views have been called into question. Perry was “soft” on immigration. Cain wavered on abortion. Bachmann made the HPV remark–and so on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  32. Tano says:

    @Just nutha ig’rant cracker:

    because we agree with Stansfield Turner (?) that in the case of the GOP “we had to destroy the village in order to save it.”

    NOT Stansfield Turner. The phrase that has become so common seems to be a slightly altered version of a comment made by an unnamed US officer out in the field in the midst of the Vietnam War, to the reporter Peter Arnett.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  33. superdestroyer says:

    @David M:

    Do you really think that the rank and file Republicans want to continue NCLB. Do you really think the rank and file Republicans want to keep taking their shoes off at the airport? Do you really think the rank and file Republicans would support subsidies for agriculture and steel.

    The problem with Romney, Gingrich, and the rest is that the pollsters and advisers has convinced them that one gets elected by promising government goodies. GW Bush wanted to expand the government to get certain groups addicted to the Republican form of government goodies. Of course Bush was wrong and left office with a 20% approval rating.

    One you think that talking about the scope and size of the government, what it should and should not do would help Republicans. But all Democrats have to do is promise to tax others and spend the money on core Democratic Party groups. That is an advantage that no conservative party will ever be able to overcome.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  34. Franklin says:

    My suggestion: wait until Romney makes his case to the general public (not the hard-core right) and see if he actually loses in November. Lots of stuff can happen between now and then.

    Also, all of the above presupposes that Gingrich is truly more conservative than Romney. Show me the evidence. Neither of them has a fixed ideology. Gingrich throws crap at the wall to see what sticks, Romney is in some unknown place between moderate and conservative.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  35. superdestroyer says:

    A civil war between groups in a party that cannot win national elections or state wide races in most large state is sort of pointless. Is there really any groups currently in the Democratic Party that would be open to any conservative idea. Why alienate large groups in the current party with there no hope of getting any group away from the Democrats.

    It is more likely that conservative will just abandon politics and find way to adapt to a liberal state with very high taxes, bad schools, and open borders.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  36. Davebo says:

    If Romney loses in November, it could be the start of a bitter fight insider the Republican Party.

    Seriously Doug, when Superdestroyer manages to form more coherent sentences than you, it could be time to hang it up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  37. jd says:

    Am I the only one who thought, “Darn! Why couldn’t THIS have been the caption contest?”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. @Kylopod:

    Still, I wonder if there are any candidates for which they couldn’t pull out this rationalization.

    Of course not. Political conservatism is no longer a philosophy, it’s an identity group. So there’s no particular set of views that characterize it, just ones popularity with the tribe. And people who embarass the tribe by losing elections will quickly find themselves exiled.

    So in a way, they’re actually right that the party wouldn’t lose if only they chose a true conservative as their candidate. But only because the statement is a tautology: a true conservative would win because winning, and winning alone, is what makes you a true conservative now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  39. Kylopod says:

    @Stormy Dragon: But that didn’t happen on the Democratic side. A big element of the DLC takeover of the party and the rise of Clinton was that they were reacting to having lost big when nominating liberals (McGovern, Mondale, and Dukakis). Of course, they were making the same fallacy of causality that Lord makes about moderate Republicans: 1972, 1984, and 1988 were years in which Republicans were likely to win regardless of the Democratic candidate. If the Dems had run Cuomo in ’92, it is likely Cuomo would have become president, while Clinton in ’88 would probably have lost.

    Nevertheless, the party did conclude that nominating liberals was hurting their electoral chances, and this belief had an effect on the trajectory of the party. Because Mondale talked plainly about raising taxes, Democratic candidates have since tried to pass themselves off as tax-cutters, only backing tax hikes on the wealthy. Because Dukakis got demonized for his ACLU membership and his opposition to the death penalty, all subsequent Democratic nominees have been supporters of the death penalty and weak on civil liberties.

    Republicans, in contrast, seem to just move ever further to the right. Even their definition of “moderate” shifts rightward over time. It is easy to forget that when Ford selected Dole as his running mate in ’76, it was done to attract the party’s right flank, represented by Reagan. Twenty years later, and Dole had come to occupy the party’s center, not because he’d moved in that direction himself (on the contrary, he shifted rightward to get the nomination), but because the party itself had moved to his right. Similarly, by any reasonable measure Romney 2012 is to the right of Romney 2008. But in 2008, he was the darling of conservatives, the candidate who embodied “all three legs of the conservative stool” in Limbaugh’s words, whereas now he’s the RINO who’s no different than socialist Obama. That’s because the party has moved to his right, and rewritten history to justify it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  40. Montanareddog says:

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a 2016 nomination fight that starts years earlier and ends up being much more contentious, with the result being a candidate so far to the right that the GOP ends up losing its third Presidential election in a row in 2016

    It could be a self-fulfilling prophecy too, if more and more moderates are driven from the party.

    It is good to see an absence of liberal gloating in the comments; many liberals are distressed by what is happening to the GOP not just because we fear what would happen were some of these extremists to be elected; we also recognise that a de facto one party state is very unhealthy for the body politic. A sane conservative party fighting a sane progressive party for the middle ground (or multiple variants of such parties in Proportional Representation systems) is a key element of liberal democracy and healthy governance.

    OK, the unrepresentative nature of the Senate and gerry-mandering of House Districts, plus recession-generated voter anger gave the GOP a lot of elected strength at the Federal level in 2010; but there has not even been a minimum pretense of actually wanting to govern (what with the fundamental crisis of food stamps being spent on lapdances threatening civilization as we know it). And this is either going to cost the GOP dear with the voters soon, or the USA is going down the tubes.

    I believe that in two party systems, the parties eventually end up adjusting their policies to reflect the needs of the broad church of the left and of the broad church of the right. It is a Darwinian adaptation to the available ecological niche. So the GOP ought in time to revert to a saner disposition, especially if the Democrats overreach which will happen without constructive opposition. The fear is what damage will be wrought before that happens.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  41. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Think all black people are on welfare. Check.
    Think all Hispanics are illegals. Check.
    Think we should outspend the entire rest of the world on military. Check.
    Want gay people legally designated as second-class citizens. Check.
    Want government control of wombs. Check.
    Want smaller government for poor, minorities, working people. Check.
    Want larger government insofar as it benefits defense. Check.
    Terrified of Sharia law.
    Regular hand-jobs for Bibi Netanyahu. Check.
    Tax cuts for rich people. Check, check, check.

    I rarely disagree with you, Michael, but this time I have to. Establishment GOPs say all these things, but, like Mitt Romney, they’ll say anything to get elected. The only one they ever think about or care about is tax cuts for themselves.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Montanareddog:

    but there has not even been a minimum pretense of actually wanting to govern… And this is either going to cost the GOP dear with the voters soon, or the USA is going down the tubes.

    Not in this neck of the woods will that cost the GOP. Around here, they want the USA to go down the tubes. They won’t say that tho. What they will say is that the USA already has gone down the tubes and the only way to save it is….. Well, you know the insanity they rant as well as I.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  43. Rob in CT says:

    GW Bush wanted to expand the government to get certain groups addicted to the Republican form of government goodies. Of course Bush was wrong and left office with a 20% approval rating.

    You think THAT’s why he left with 20% approval?

    Unless you think the Iraq War was a “government goodie”…

    Iraq wasn’t the only reason, but it was big. So was the economic crash that, by the time he left office, was ongoing (though not directly his fault – I’d argue his tax policies may have had a very small hand in it, and some lax oversight but that goes to both parties).

    He didn’t leave office with 20% approval because of Medicare Part D.

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  44. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Just nutha ig’rant cracker:

    The purges took care of most of them though.

    ?????

    On to my real topic. Some of us have been cheering on Palin, Newt, Bachmann, and the Tea Party freshmen and were rooting for rejection of the debt ceiling deal because we agree with Stansfield Turner (?) that in the case of the GOP “we had to destroy the village in order to save it.” Giving the wingnut cohort what they want is harsh medicine, but if it is necessary, better sooner than later.

    I basically agree with this theorem but would rather the deux ex machina be something less destructive in terms of collateral damage. Stansfield Turner ….do you mean the former head of the CIA now deceased?

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  45. superdestroyer says:

    @Rob in CT:

    If the war had really been an issue, then the Democrats would not have taken three years to get out of Iraq and would still not be in Afghanistan.

    The economy collapsed because Bush (and Rove) thought that they would use government goodies to keep enough people happy while knowing that a real estate collapse was inevitable. Bush just hoped he would be out of office before the collapse occurred.

    The Republicans even after the push by the Tea Party have refuse to make any cuts in spending. That is one of the reasons that the CBO is anticipating trillion dollar deficits forever. No one in DC is really interested in budget cuts. It is now everyone looking out for themselves and that is why the Republicans are irrelevant. When everyone is just looking out for themselves, the Democratic Party will grow in power.

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  46. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Rob in CT:

    and some lax oversight but that goes to both parties).

    Hardly. Regulatory failures by the Bush admin and the Fed were a major factor in the financial crackup.

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  47. Brummagem Joe says:

    @superdestroyer:

    If the war had really been an issue, then the Democrats would not have taken three years to get out of Iraq and would still not be in Afghanistan.

    Don’t be ridiculous. Of course the wars were a issue. When we invaded Iraq it had something like 70% approval, now those numbers are reversed with something like 72% thinking it was a debacle. Even approval for the war in Afghanistan has swung negative (just). And the timetable of leaving has nothing to do with it. In neither case was just turning a switch and leaving a viable option. It amazing there are wingnuts who were in the front of the chorus applauding the invasions and now they’re critcising Obama for length of time he’s taking to get out of these debacles.

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  48. @Brummagem Joe:

    It amazing there are wingnuts who were in the front of the chorus applauding the invasions and now they’re critcising Obama for length of time he’s taking to get out of these debacles.

    This.

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  49. Rob in CT says:

    @superdestroyer:

    The war was a real issue from the standpoint of Bush’s approval rating. He was unpopular, in large part, because of the stupid, unnecessary war he started.

    That it took the Dems longer to unwind that war than many of us would have liked has nothing whatsoever to do with Bush’s approval rating.

    Try again.

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  50. Rob in CT says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    There were people with Ds after their names who were plenty cozy with Wall St., all for not looking behind the curtain, etc. There are sleezeball Democratic Senators (Chris Dodd springs to mind) who were hurting, not helping. I’m not drawing direct equivalence here, necessarily, but it’s really entirely too comfortable to pin all of this on the GOP.

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  51. Diane says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Spoken like the truly uninformed! Nice job.

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  52. Curtis says:

    If Obama wins in November, it will be five out of six wins in the popular vote for Democrats, which is the threshold cited by Millman. Losing four out of six with only two narrow as could be victories is hardly awe-inspiring. I don’t understand why the Republican situation would be that different than the Democrat’s back in the day.

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