The Karl Rove vs. Teabagger fracas is a ton of fun to watch. But, as Charles Blow writes, “The skirmish speaks to a broader problem: a party that has lost its way and can’t rally around a unified, coherent vision of what it wants to be when it grows up.”
Josh Marshall published a letter from a one-time GOP staffer that is very much worth reading. The letter writer points out that for all the drama and angst and name calling going on, the GOP establishment and the baggers really aren’t that far apart on issues. What’s really eating them is something else.
Neither side in this putative civil war has been willing to reckon honestly with the consequences of the Bush administration for the country (substantively) or the Republican Party (politically). Both do their best to present their views to the public as if the last Republican President had never existed. This has left both groups of activists somewhat unmoored; in politics, you talk ideology and principles when you can’t brag about accomplishments, because voters are a lot better at relating the latter to their own lives.
Since neither the Tea Party types or the big donors and the campaign operatives working for them are thinking of repudiating a Republican administration that lost two wars and wrecked the economy, they are left to air their differences on issues no one besides campaign junkies cares about. The self-styled conservatives complain that Rove and his people say mean things about them; the moneybags wing is dedicated to recruiting candidates who will avoid gaffes. Big deal.
They are not only not repudiating Dubya for the bad consequences; they are not even willing to admit there were bad consequences. And, Steve M says, why would they? Their “ideas” are still considered the mainstream.
Yes, the tax cuts are unsustainable, but they’re now sacrosanct — Republicans wanted to make them all permanent, while Democrats have insisted on locking them in for everyone but the rich. Government-sanctioned torture, once unthinkable, is now celebrated in movies and on TV, and much of what’s worst about America’s post-9/11 foreign policy — Gitmo, rendition, indefinite detention — is still in place. In fact, Republicans are talking about Chuck Hagel as if the neocons were right about Al Qaeda and Iraq, and are right about Iran right now — and they’re getting away with it, because not enough Americans have learned to feel disgust for them.
(Regarding the Hagel hearings, I doubt most Americans were paying that much attention. Probably many of wouldn’t know whether “Chuck Hagel” was a former senator or Roy Rogers’ sidekick. But a majority have figured out Iraq was a mistake.)
So stock up on popcorn, folks. This show ain’t gonna be over anytime soon.