Philip Rucker and Perry Bacon, Jr., "As GOP celebrates victories, ideological battles between moderates and conservatives remain". November 5
TO a nation already reeling from the threat that the H1N1 virus might run its course before it gets a chance to be videotaped getting a shot, or a nasal spritz, or simply standing in line waiting to get a shot or a spritz, yesterday's post-election suggestion that that an epidemic of faux-nuance might break out among the nation's Press must have seemed like God's Own Leafblower had been aimed its direction. Or would have, if it bothered with reading any of that stuff.
Groundless fears, which it likewise would have known if it bothered with reading any of that stuff; the hard-scribbling men and women of the Press aren't about to let a challenge like that pass, especially when "This Doesn't Actually Mean Anything Outside the Actual Event, Does It?" can be subjected to the previously dialed-in crossfire of Provisional Agreement and simply yammering on like nobody's said anything. You want nuance? Sheesh, that's why there are fake news programs.
And look, don't get me wrong. These people can fill up unloved column inches any way they please, even with Ed Gillespie's "Tips for Teens and Republican Campaign Managers", which reads like a slightly longer, more ideological version of your grocer's Freshness Guarantee. I'm not much taken with the Glenn Beck Takes It Up The Pooper storyline, either; it's just that, in terms of the National Press, one has to bend frighteningly low enough as to read E.J. Dionne to get that one in high relief, rather than as a "harbinger" of Potential Intraparty Squabbling in the GOP, which, incidentally, they've been doing openly since 2005, after being allowed to pave over the cracks in 1988, 1996, and 2000 without much notice. It's difficult to imagine a less attractive candidate than Hoffman, or a more ham-fisted insertion onto the ballot, and I live in Indiana. Do you not really wind up "concluding" that Beck is a half-wit political entertainer and a ratings grabber--provided you're grading on a curve, there--with a FOX News sinecure, who'd last about as long as Rush did on ESPN if thrown out in the real world? Did it take an election to point that out?
The debate has been fueled by a somewhat inchoate populist anger that has taken hold among grass-roots conservatives, encouraged in part by political leaders like Sarah Palin, the party’s vice-presidential nominee last year, and commentators like Glenn Beck of Fox News. In that sense, the divisions within the party extend beyond the traditional strains between the shrinking ranks of Republican moderates and the social and economic conservatives who have dominated the party in recent years.
"Mr. Nagourney? The Last Sixty Fucking Years of American Political History for you, on Line 2."
Look, if I happen to see a Moderate Republican somewhere I'll pass along the warning. In the meantime I'll let Mitch Daniels know, if you'll agree to quit describing everyone in the GOP who's not 100% on board with burning suspected Satanists in the public square--at least until that looks like a good way to get elected--as "Moderate".
As the party turns toward the 2010 midterm elections, pitched battles between moderates and conservatives -- and between the Washington establishment and the conservative grass roots -- are underway from Florida to Illinois to California. Conservative activists, emboldened after forcing out the moderate Republican nominee in a New York congressional race, said they will fan out nationwide and challenge Republican candidates whom they deem too moderate or insufficiently principled.
Here's an idea: maybe political reporters could fan out nationwide and get a sense of what they're talking about.
This is the point where this analysis, were it in a Warner Bros. cartoon, would stop, gingerly feel around its feet without looking, then look down and realize it had run right off the cliff and was suspended in air with just enough time for the obligatory uh-oh take.
Take Indiana. Please. A "conservative" state in both the worst modern appropriation of the term and, occasionally, the fine old sense now skinned and scorned. We've had professional tax revolters since the 70s, professional Bronze Age political scammers of the same vintage, organized (and successful) Lunatic primary challenges in solid Republican districts, and every carnival geek show of attendant issues--banning porn, banning abortions, rewriting biology texts to bring them in line with 1st century thought, public prayer and leftover Cecil B. DeMille prop tablets on the courthouse square--hell, we had Teabaggers in 2005--and…what? Well, and nothing. We've fucked up the tax base, as California did; we'll see if things get that bad here. There's a flag in all our public classrooms. That, and a continually abysmal economy have done a lot for our military recruiting. The only way you can distinguish our Democratic Senator from our Republican is to look at what their wives earn from Big Pharma, and even then it's the precise opposite of what you're supposed to expect when you suppose, as you're supposed to, that Democrat=Liberal and Republican="Conservative". That's a reversal of the days when I was proud to call his Daddy my Senator. So what? In a state where the usual choice at the polls is between a Republican and a Republican-Democrat, the same set of government-assisted problems get dumped on Teabaggers as the ones they gripe about elsewhere. There's a slightly greater chance than the national average that the fuck-up will involve intentional de-funding of vital services rather than spirited mismanagement of same, and there's a near-assurance that the tax rates will in fact remain constant through willful obfuscation accompanied by showy "Cuts". And they're never going to get it. Can these assholes fuck up a Republican primary? On occasion, but check with Fred Thompson. Maybe before we start blathering about a "Renaissance" we could ask what these people plan to do. Replay the Bush administration on the grounds that it can't go that far South twice in a row? There may be a few Republican incumbents who fear a Palin invasion--assuming they won't be facing her in a timed essay contest--but any politician fears a primary challenge. When they've shown themselves to be an actual threat in an established Republican state such as my own, where the Grande Dame of "Moderate" Republicans is guaranteed a Senate seat until he actually begins to putrefy, and the "Moderate" Presidential "Hopeful" Governor would fuck a woodpile on the off-chance there was a snake in it, if I may quote Louisa May Alcott (and good luck to both sides on that one), then we can begin to talk about how formidable the Looniest of the Loonies are.
Maybe, instead of faux-year-end reviews of the President, this would be a grand time to ask what Democrats got for their votes in 2006 and 2008, and why Republicans should imagine they'll be different next time (Please, baby. Please.) Maybe we could hold off until these people actually win an election before we admire their influence, and maybe, instead of asking how readily the "moderates" of the GOP will adapt to Ned Beatty's role in Deliverance, we could start wondering how far they imagine they can swim while wearing lead fins.