Monday, July 6, 2009

A Pup Tent

The news these days can be pretty grim. Unemployment continues to rise. GM and

Chrysler could end up in bankruptcy together. Pakistan is less than stable. Afghanistan is

getting more American soldiers. North Korea is lighting off nukes and making belligerent

noises toward the South. However, no matter how depressing the news gets, there is one

ongoing story that brings a smile to my lips and puts a lilt in my step; and that is the ongoing

saga of the Republican Party.

The story of the GOP and it's future is playing out almost daily on radio, television,

and in the papers. Like Moonies without their Reverend Sun Yung Moon or Hare Krishna's

without an airport, the current Republican Party appears lost in a wilderness of anger,

resentment and recriminations. They have been crushed in two successive national elections.

They have lost control of the White House and Congress. The polls show that about 25%

of Americans identify themselves as Republican. The party's popularity has not been this

low since the Great Depression. In an attempt to jump start their moribund prospects

they have resurrected a Bush...Jeb, to travel around the country "listening" to what

Americans think. However, nothing is more entertaining, and rarely has anything been

as fun to watch, as the conflict between the hard liners of the Cheney/Limbaugh side of

the party versus the moderate Rockefeller Republicans like former Secretary of State,

Colin Powell, and even George H.W. Bush, also known as Bush #41.

No matter how down or depressed one gets, the sight of Dick Cheney on a news

program or on Fox is like a burst of sunshine and lollipops. There he is on "Face the

Nation" declaring that he would rather have Rush run the party than Powell. He

questions whether Powell is even a Republican anymore. He defends torture and calls

it America's finest hour to keep the nation safe. Unlike President Obama, who is

weakening this country and is soft on terrorism; Cheney reminds Americans that he was

willing to torture, illegally spy, and if necessary, wreck the economy in order to defeat

Bin Laden and the gang. Cheney and Limbaugh do not want any weak-kneed, sissy,

Nancy-boys like Powell in their party. They may have ducked Vietnam and have never

heard a shot fired in anger; but they are on the front line of the war now. There are no

moderates in their foxholes. Even though Cheney's favorability ratings are worse than

Bush #43, specifically 18%, and even though Limbaugh drives women and independents

into the arms of Obama; they are a gift that keeps on giving. One interesting point is

how Cheney, Limbaugh, et. al., rarely if ever talk about Iraq or Afghanistan. Since these

are real wars, with real bullets, and require real courage and heroism; the two wars should

give them plenty to talk about and highlight their quest for the Holy Grail of political

redemption. Yet, it is as if the wars are over and mission accomplished. (this is of course

a planned political strategy...GOP operatives have told all that the message is "we kept

the nation safe" and that is the mantra repeated over and over again. Don't muddy the

waters with talk of real war, just remind everyone that America is safe because we were

willing to do the dirty work none of those spineless, lilly-livered, weak-kneed moderates

like Powell were willing to do).

What is Powell's real sin? What did he do to incur the wrath of the regressive

warrior chiefs? How does he get under Cheney's skin? He certainly didn't cover himself

in glory as Secretary of State. He helped get us into an unnecessary war in Iraq. He

carried water for Bush/Cheney. He went to the U.N. and gave a speech in which every

assertion of fact turned out not to be true. He let Bush use him to project an image of

moderation and diplomacy at a time when all Bush really wanted to do was go to war.

Powell swallowed his pride and his integrity and covered himself in ignominy for his

President. Why do Cheney/Limbaugh hate him so much?

OK, he did come out in support for Obama for President. However, Cheney

hated McCain too. McCain was seen as weak, especially when it came to torture.

Secretly, Cheney was praying Obama would win knowing that he would inherit two wars

going badly and an economy that was tanking.

So, if it wasn't his endorsement of Obama that got Powell thrown under the

bus, what was it? Could it be that when Powell talks about the need for a bigger tent

for the Republican Party, he is striking a real nerve? Republicans used to be the party

of less government and conservative values. They were fiscally moderate and socially

tolerant. Richard Nixon opened the door to "Red" China. He created the Environmental

Protection Agency and even was in favor of wage and price controls. While many Southern

Democrats fought to the last breath against the Civil Rights movement, moderate

Republicans were supportive in Congress. Democratic presidents kept taking us to war...

Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson; while Republicans warned against foreign

adventurism. Colin Powell constructed the "Powell Doctrine", advising presidents to

"define what victory means and have a clear strategy before committing American troops

to combat". True Republicans would be horrified to wake up to government that can

secretly bug your computer, seize your library records, and read your e-mail without a

warrant of any kind. When Colin Powell calls for a bigger tent, when he talks about the

need to grow the party, when he insists that they need to be able to disagree and yet

still call themselves Republicans; he is treated like a pariah. God, this is so much fun to

watch. My spirit soars as I watch the GOP become the party of white, male,southern


Actually, I am not being entirely truthful. While I enjoy watching

Cheney/Limbaugh eating their young, I am disquieted too. You see, we need the old

Republican Party back. We need a vigorous debate in this nation. A moderate Republican

Party would benefit us all. A moderate Republican Party would be aghast at how intrusive

the government has become. They would be appalled at the out-of-control spending.

They would be at the forefront of the climate debate because true conservatives believe

in preserving the best of things, including clean water, clean air, and a sustainable

eco-system. The Republican Party of Colin Powell would protect privacy and acknowledge

a woman's right to control her own reproductive life. They would see that a government

that can stop you from obtaining an abortion can also mandate that you get one. One of the

hallmarks of the Bush years was the remarkable lack of a debate about so many issues.

The Democrats were cowered into submission constantly, waiting to be accused of being

soft on terror; and the Republicans of the Cheney/Limbaugh wing of the party simply

rubber-stamped anything the administration wanted to do. When push came to shove,

the Democrats rolled over and played dead while the Republicans just played. The nation

was not well served; and the mess we have today resulted.

I admired Republicans like former Congress members Tom Campbell, Pete

McCloskey, Jim Leach, and Senators like Jim Jeffords and Lincoln Chafee. I didn't always

agree with them; but I could admire the principled stands they took and the moderation

they reflected. Maine Senators Olympia Snow and Susan Collins still represent the

moderate wing of the party; but they are few and far between.

So while I smile and my spirits soar each time Cheney/Limbaugh take to the

air; I will secretly hope that the GOP wakes up and sees the train wreck coming and

return to its moderate, slightly Libertarian roots. The nation will be better of in the

long run. What do you think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please send

them to

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