Tuesday, July 28, 2015

OH, POOR, NAIVE BRUCE BARTLETT

I don't really want to criticize Bruce Bartlett when he's using this Politico column to make good points about the extremism of the modern Republican Party -- but if he thinks a Donald Trump general-election loss would discredit the GOP's extremist wing, he's sadly mistaken:
As a moderate Republican who voted for Obama, I should be Donald Trump’s natural enemy. Instead, I’m rooting for him.

The Republican establishment foresees a defeat of Barry Goldwater proportions in the unlikely event Trump wins the Republican presidential nomination. As Trump’s lead in the polls grows, so too does their panic. Yet, for moderate Republicans, a Trump nomination is not something to be feared but welcomed. It is only after a landslide loss by Trump that the GOP can win the White House again.

Trump’s nomination would give what’s left of the sane wing of the GOP a chance to reassert control in the wake of his inevitable defeat, because it would prove beyond doubt that the existing conservative coalition cannot win the presidency. A historic thrashing of the know-nothings would verify that compromise and reform are essential to recapture the White House and attract new voters, such as Latinos, who are now alienated from the Republican Party.

A best-case scenario would see the nation souring on the Democrats after three victories in a row, the most either party has achieved in the post-war era, and the election of a pragmatic Republican in 2020, unencumbered by the right-wing baggage essential for winning the nomination that dragged down John McCain and Mitt Romney....
If you nodded in agreement at that reference to "the right-wing baggage essential for winning the nomination that dragged down John McCain and Mitt Romney," congratulations: you're not a wingnut. You know that Mitt Romney talked about "self-deportation," denounced Obamacare the way Ahab denounced the whale, and picked granny-starving Paul Ryan as his running mate; you also know that John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate and said it would be just ducky if U.S. troops were in Iraq for a thousand years.

But to wingnuts, these guys were liberals -- or RINOs, which, to the right, is exactly the same thing. Every wingnut "knows" why Romney and McCain lost: because they weren't conservative enough! If Trump were somehow to win the nomination and he went on to lose the presidency in a landslide, even with someone like Ted Cruz (or, God help us, Palin) as his running mate, these same wingnuts -- the ones thrilling to his every word right now -- would say he lost because he was too liberal.

Hell, it would easier to make that case with Trump -- he's given money to Democrats and praised single-payer healthcare, and he occasionally says conservatively incorrect things even about immigration. So we'd be back at square one: Next time, if we want to win, we have to run a conservative! And if no Republican wins the presidency for a generation, it will be because none of them actually were conservatives. Because, to the wingnuts, conservatism can never fail -- it can only be failed.

7 comments:

petrilli said...

"Yet, for moderate Republicans, a Trump nomination is not something to be feared but welcomed. It is only after a landslide loss by Trump that the GOP can win the White House again.

I truly envy the person who believes this. That statement supports my suspicion of an unspoken advantage the modern GOP has over Democrats...that they know at some level they can afford to "sit one out" for strategic or just frivolous reasons.

I suspect many of the worst GOP demagogues know it but won't admit it out loud. Despite the petulant tantrums and end-times hyperbole about "socialist liberalism" and "marching to the ovens", I suspect significantly many know they can afford to sit out an election or vote for a nut job like Trump out of pure bile if it feels good.

They have the secret luxury of knowing that a responsible adult (Democrat) will be around to hold things together, if necessary, when they decide to risk an election and howl at the moon for a while. I suspect there is a good chance that at some level, they know that an Obama, Clinton, O'Malley, Sanders or Webb will at the very least, run things competently and reasonably while they sit one out. Liberals don't have this advantage.

Phil Freeman said...

"Next time, if we want to win, we have to run a conservative! And if no Republican wins the presidency for a generation, it will be because none of them actually were conservatives. Because, to the wingnuts, conservatism can never fail -- it can only be failed."

As long as they lose, who gives a fuck how they feel about it or how they rationalize it? And if it causes them to double down on a proven losing tactic, where's the down side?

Unknown said...

Also, this:

Trump’s nomination would give what’s left of the sane wing of the GOP ...

What IS left of that? Pretty much nothing, I would say.

Unknown said...

They will still have Congress to stop any D POTUS from doing anything worthwhile and a lot of the damage they are doing now is at the state level anyway.

BKT said...

Both of those Unknown comments are spot-on. Like Steve pointed out, Romney and McCain were considered the "sane" and "responsible" ones-- that's how they prevailed to secure the nominations. And they're both retrograde loons whose policy positions were way out of the mainstream of popular opinion.

Roger said...

I don't think they'd say he lost because he was too liberal, unless he "moved to the center" after winning the nomination, which I think he would not do. I think he's saying right now the things he would keep on saying during the general election campaign, and I think he'd get the same 47% who voted for Romney. When he lost the wingnuts would claim widespread voter fraud. I mean they'd **scream** about it. The slightly less insane ones wouldn't, but they wouldn't change, either.

theHatist said...

You'd think that his party being full of insane people would give Barlett pause; after all, if most people who share your political philosophy are batshit crazy, maybe you should rethink your membership to said party.