Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Republican Civil War

A new day means a new series of news articles on the brewing feud between Palin and McCain. Hopefully, by spreading the word as best we can, we could help to fan the flames a little. It would be soooo much fun to see this thing completely erupt before election day. We all know they'll tear each other apart on November 5. Why not start now?

The NY Post runs with the headline, "Pit Bull Turns on Maverick: Now Palin's Bucking Her Own Ticket." Nothing really new to report, since we've been keeping score, but it's telling that this exchange was made to Rupert Murdoch's GOP-friendly paper:

The last straw for the vice-presidential candidate was the raft of criticism from the $150,000 worth of high-end clothes the Republican National Committee bought her, a campaign source said.

Palin showed how much that gaffe got under her skin yesterday at a rally in Sioux City, Iowa, telling the crowd she'd stepped off the plane and donned a warm, cream-colored jacket. "And it's my own jacket," she said.

A McCain insider told The Post that relations between Palin and some of the campaign aides with her have soured. "She's lost faith with the staff. She knows the $150,000- wardrobe story damaged her," the insider said.

But the novice vice-presidential candidate is partly to blame, the campaign official sniped. "She's an adult. She didn't ask questions about where the clothes came from?" the source said.

"She's now positioning herself for her own future. Of course, this is bad for John. It looks like no one is in charge."

This isn't just about who takes the fall for this historic loss. It's about positioning for the 2012 race. Palin may be a big star among the hard right of the GOP, but this doesn't mean she'll be even remembered a couple years from now. She needs to stake her own ground now, and move quickly before Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, or even David Patraeus (keep your eyes on that guy) establish themselves as the Republican frontrunners.

The Post article also points out - from McCain's people, no less - that Palin is, well, not too bright. Okay, she's as dumb as a bag of rocks. The $150,000 wardrobe is only the latest issue. Her frequent deer-in-the-headlights moments, her absolute cluelessness about issues, even about the Vice Presidency itself - Sarah Palin has been a programmed droid since day one. But now the droid believes the hype, that she is a real human being. And now she's wandering off the reservation to prove it to the masses. She's become the Ralph Wiggum version of the Tin Woodsman.

Back to the news media, the Telegraph UK has an article on the brewing civil war in the McCain camp, one that looks at the greater picture of a possible Obama landslide and historic shift in American politics. The Telegraph, more so than most US media, seems to grasp that 2008 is not merely a "change" election from the Bush-Cheney era; it is a change from a generation of conservative rule. It marks the end of the Nixon-Reagan era of government. And that is what will ultimately drive the GOP's factions apart at the seams.

We are facing an historic rout at the polls, and the Republicans know it:

Aides to George W.Bush, former Reagan White House staff and friends of John McCain have all told The Sunday Telegraph that they not only expect to lose on November 4, but also believe that Mr Obama is poised to win a crushing mandate.

They believe he will be powerful enough to remake the American political landscape with even more ease than Ronald Reagan did in 1980.

The prospect of an electoral rout has unleashed a bitter bout of recriminations both
within the McCain campaign and the wider conservative movement, over who is to blame and what should be done to salvage the party's future.

Mr McCain is now facing calls for him to sacrifice his own dwindling White House hopes and focus on saving vulnerable Republican Senate seats which are up for grabs on the same day.

Their fear is that Democrat candidates riding on Mr Obama's popularity may win the nine extra seats they need in the Senate to give them unfettered power in Congress.

If the Democrat majority in the Senate is big enough - at least 60 seats to 40 - the Republicans will be unable to block legislation by use of a traditional filibuster - talking until legislation runs out of time. No president has had the support of such a majority since Jimmy Carter won the 1976 election. President Reagan achieved his political transformation partly through the power of his personality.

Ahh, that's so good to read on a sloppy Sunday. The Telegraph article does an excellent job highlighting the fears among the GOP, the rift surrounding Sarah Palin, and the coming civil war within the party that echoes the UK's Tories when Tony Blair was first elected.

We'll be seeing and hearing a lot more of this in the coming weeks and months:

In addition to Mr Frum, who thinks her not ready to be president, Peggy Noonan, Ronald Reagan's greatest speechwriter and a columnist with the Wall Street Journal, condemned Mr McCain's running mate as a "symptom and expression of a new vulgarisation of American politics." Conservative columnist David Brooks called her a "fatal cancer to the Republican Party".

The backlash that ensued last week revealed the fault lines of the coming civil war.

Rush Limbaugh, the doyen of right wing talk radio hosts, denounced Noonan, Brooks and Frum. Neconservative writer Charles Krauthammer condemned "the rush of wet-fingered conservatives leaping to Barack Obama", while fellow columnist Tony Blankley said that instead of collaborating in heralding Mr Obama's arrival they should be fighting "in a struggle to the political death for the soul of the country".

During the primaries the Democratic Party was bitterly divided between Barack Obama's "latte liberals" and Hillary Clinton's heartland supporters, but now the same cultural division threatens to tear the Republican Party apart.

Jim Nuzzo, a White House aide to the first President Bush, dismissed Mrs Palin's critics as "cocktail party conservatives" who "give aid and comfort to the enemy".

He told The Sunday Telegraph: "There's going to be a bloodbath. A lot of people are going to be excommunicated. David Brooks and David Frum and Peggy Noonan are dead people in the Republican Party. The litmus test will be: where did you stand on Palin?"

We've already seen a steady exodus of moderate and classical Republicans, incuding a number of famous faces like Colin Powell and the granddaughters of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Barry Goldwater. The punditocracy has already begun its little war, with people like David Brooks and David Frum on one side, the diehards on the other. Palin really does seem to be the focal point. In s sense, she is the perfect symbol for the cult of personality the GOP has become in the last 15 years.

Interesting that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are never mentioned. The hard right has a serious problem dealing with reality. And it's impossible to avoid seeing the sheer devestation left by the Bush administration. But the conservatives, like any authoritarian movement, cannot accept that the Party or its ideology could ever be at fault. Big Brother is infallable. The Party can do no wrong.

So instead, they're going to have a proxy war, with Palin at the center. She's the perfect symbol for the Bush years, its theocratic dogma, its hubris, its sheer stupidity. These are the people who need Daddy to tell them what to think, who to hate, who to be afraid of. Their world revolves around the alternate reality provided by Limbaugh, Fox News, Dobson, and the like. This election will shatter could shatter that fantasy world to pieces, especially if Obama wins in a cross-country landslide, and the Democrats win that 60th Senate seat.

Denial and repression are the fuels for this movement. They won't be going away anytime soon, but they will be tearing each other apart for quite some time. I don't expect the "sober" Republicans like Colin Powell or David Brooks to prevail. The Crazies are in charge, and they're too entrenched to give that up. Thankfully, they are a small minority in America, relegated to a few regions of the country, relegated to the ashes of history.

There will always be bad politicians, and we will always have the Masters of War among us. But we are through the worst of it now. We are finally emerging from America's long dark night of the soul. The Age of Dobson will pass, the Age of Limbaugh will pass, as all things must pass. It is the way of things. America is stronger than any of those wicked monsters. Democracy is stronger than any of them. It has faced greater threats and triumphed. We shall do so again.

No comments: