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 firstname.lastname@example.org