Wednesday, May 18, 2011


The American Prospect's Paul Waldman notes that the number of litmus tests in the GOP is increasing at a furious rate:

It turns out that even Gingrich has to keep demonstrating his ideological bona fides and new litmus tests are being added all the time. It used to be that if you were pro-life and thought taxes could never, ever be raised, that was enough. Then you had to support torture, and be a climate denier, and oppose an individual health insurance mandate. And now you have to support a budget plan that was unveiled just a couple of months ago. Step a toe over any of these lines and you're no longer "one of us." Anyone, even Newt, can get pulled over by the GOP border patrol and asked to show their papers.

But it's not just Gingrich. Even as he's being touted by Republican bigwigs as the party's potential savior in the 2012 presidential election, Mitch Daniels is being greeted with right-wing blog denunciations such as "Pathetic GOP Pushing Daniels, While Begging A Loser To Run" and "GOP Power Brokers Push Obscure Liberal Governor." I knew the righties didn't like Daniels's call for a national "truce" on social issues -- but I learn from The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin that there's a lot more incorrectness where that came from:

... he seems to have gone out of his way to needlessly antagonize social conservatives with his "truce" talk and anger hawks, by embracing defense cuts and suggesting America should do less in the world. He appears overly eager to seek the advice of and incur the approval of non-conservative elites. The prospect of Secretary of State Dick Lugar sends chills up the spine of many conservatives.... He has indicated his receptivity to a value-added tax. His tenure as George W. Bush's OMB director may be a liability not a strength in this election. And finally, his tunnel vision on debt control, if adhered to in office, would wind up lacking focus on economic growth and sacrificing many other issues important to conservatives (e.g. judges, right-to-work).

So you read through the links and you realize that even though Daniels defunded Planned Parenthood in his state, he's not maximalist about pressing every right-wing social issue at all times, so he fails one litmus test. Daniels supported a right-to-work bill in Indiana but decided not to pursue it in this legislative session, so he fails another. The Cato institute complains that he hasn't cut every tax he conceivably could -- so he fails yet another.

And heaven forbid he should turn for foreign policy advice to a -- saints preserve us! -- moderate! Y'know, every time a Democrat gets close to the presidency, a "humor" piece circulates imagining that Democrat's extremely partisan cabinet (Michael Moore, Al Sharpton, and Barbra Streisand inevitably get nominated). The problem here is that this isn't a joke -- Republicans not only want a candidate who won't even have moderate Republicans in the cabinet, they're making one cabinet moderate a deal-breaker.

So, yeah, the litmus tests are piling up. And there'll be more where these come from, I guarantee you.


(Waldman link via Atrios.)

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