Friday, November 07, 2008


John Boehner, the House minority leader, has an op-ed in today's Washington Post entitled "Republicans' Road Back." BooMan says this about it:

If you parse his words, you'll notice something astonishing. He talks about the core Republican principles of "freedom, opportunity, security and individual liberty," but nowhere does he mention "traditional" or "family values".... he has nothing to say about abortion, gays, guns, God, or immigration.

It looks like the early reaction of the Republicans is that they've lost the culture wars....

And, yes, there's something to this. Here's some of what Boehner wrote:

...In record numbers, Americans voted on Tuesday for a skillful presidential nominee promising change, but "change" should not be confused with a license to raise taxes, drive up wasteful government spending, weaken our security, or give more power to Washington, Big Labor bosses and the trial bar. Americans did not vote for higher taxes to fund a redistribution of wealth; drastic cuts in funding for our troops; the end of secret ballots for workers participating in union elections; more costly obstacles to American energy production; or the imposition of government-run health care on employers and working families.

Republicans have a responsibility to offer a better way. We must reaffirm Americans' faith in our party by reminding them why ours traditionally has been a party of reform rooted in freedom and security....

It's "redistribution of wealth" that sticks in my craw.

The most poisonous thing John McCain did in this campaign was to bring back the language of socialism and apply it to liberal and even left-centrist reform. Fringe-dwellers and Freepers have long described everyone to the left of Ann Coulter as a bunch of socialists, but John McCain gave the use of the word "socialist" an establishment figure's imprimatur. He also unleashed two know-nothings -- Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber -- to do the same as his official surrogates. Yeah, I know: Barack Obama gave him an opening, with that "spread the wealth around" line. But McCain didn't have to go there. He could have avoided deliberately making the public stupider, as, for instance, he avoided attacking Michelle Obama or directly mentioning Jeremiah Wright.

And he went there even as he and his surrogates were painting Obama as close friend of dangerous extremists. Put it all together -- as millions of voters now have -- and you get this message: Barack Obama, friend of those who would blow up the Capitol and let Israel be nuked, wants to take a page from Karl Marx's playbook on the economy, and the proof is that he wants to restore Clinton-era tax rates, otherwise known as redistribution of wealth.

John McCain knows that such tinkering with the tax code is within the American grain -- but his demagoguery has persuaded a large minority of the public otherwise, which may hamstring the new president and Congress. And now the GOP is undoubtedly going to pick up where McCain left off.

I think BooMan is wrong to think the GOP is totally abandoning the culture wars (as residents of the three states where gay marriage was banned on Tuesday would no doubt remind him). But, as enemies go, illegal immigrants and abortionists and gays have been unsatisfying and unreliable post-Cold War substitutes for violent, domination-minded commies, both foreign and domestic. Now the GOP is back on the commie hunt. We're heading forward to the past.


And Sarah Palin, of course, might be the embodiment of that past/future. I keep trying to tell you she's not going away. Now take a look at this Rasmussen poll:

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Republican voters say Alaska Governor Sarah Palin helped John McCain’s bid for the presidency, even as news reports surface that some McCain staffers think she was a liability.

Only 20% of GOP voters say Palin hurt the party’s ticket....

Ninety-one percent (91%) of Republicans have a favorable view of Palin, including 65% who say their view is Very Favorable. Only eight percent (8%) have an unfavorable view of her, including three percent (3%) Very Unfavorable.

When asked to choose among some of the GOP’s top names for their choice for the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, 64% say Palin. The next closest contenders are two former governors and unsuccessful challengers for the presidential nomination this year -- Mike Huckabee of Arkansas with 12% support and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts with 11%....

Despite her evangelical background, Palin downplayed the culture war in the campaign and boasted that she had a gay friend. To Palin and her acolytes, Obama was "the enemy within" in the old-fashioned way -- he was an America-hater and a redistributing pinko. The old-school GOP message is the new GOP message.

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