Bad Fiction: GOP ’12

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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  1. Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

    Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    FWIW, Will, I’ve been thinking of Republicans as “they” instead of “we” for a couple of years now, and I keep on hoping that will change again. I knew it would get worse before it could get better.Report

    • Burt – I think it’s pretty important to draw a distinction between Washington Republicans and the rest of the country.Report

      • With which side of that distinction being more palatable?Report

        • Dependent entirely on location, I think. I loved the GOP when I was living in the Pacific Northwest, but like the Democrats where I am living now. Washington Republicans and Democrats being somewhere in between.Report

        • In most cases, the state/local level is far more palatable, simply because they are forced to govern.  To cite a particular example, my state was likely to be found to be in violation of the new EPA rules on ozone (implementation of such since suspended).  As one of the Republican leaders in the state legislature (one chamber controlled by each party) said to his colleagues, “Ladies and gentlemen, we can work with the Democrats and pass a plan to address the ozone problem that takes some of our concerns into account, or we can refuse to cooperate and let the federal EPA dictate a plan to us.  Which do you think will be the better plan for your constituents?”

          Still, the heart of legislative power is that of the purse.  In almost all states, they are required to pass an actual budget, and the operational budget has to be balanced.  In a typical state budget process, far more of the details of spending are addressed in the budget, rather than simply delegated to the executive branch and its army of permanent bureaucrats.  Consider TANF, the current version of welfare that replaced the AFDC entitlement program.  At the Congressional level, it’s largely $X billion plus broad guidelines.  At the state and local level, it’s hundreds of individual programs with money most often split statutorily, with the executive-branch implementers regularly questioned in detail by the legislature.Report

  3. The 2004 Democratic primary field was:

    • John Kerry
    • John Edwards
    • Howard Dean
    • Dick Gephardt
    • Dennis Kucinich
    • Joe Lieberman
    • Al Sharpton
    • Wesley Clark

    When you look at the way some of those guys imploded during or afterwards, or you look at the poor quality of their campaigns… it’s not THAT much different. My point is that re-election years seem to bring out a lower tier of competition.

    With that said, the GOP field is certainly an embarrassment. I take some solace in the quality of folks who seem to be in the wings for 2016. It’s also a little perplexing to think about how hard it is still going to be for the President next year.

     Report

    • Avatar Zach in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

      The 2004 Democratic field chose to enter the race by Fall 2003 when Bush had ~70% favorables. My impression is that the GOP in 2012 is blinded by success in 2010 and apparently thinks that even one of the many terrible candidates can/will be Obama.Report

    • Mike,

      In terms of persona, at least, the 2004 Democratic roster is starting to look better and better to me. Kerry, (pre-scandal) Edwards, and Gephardt at least are on par with Romney, who is among the more palatable ones in the GOP field this time around. And the fringey ones, like Kucinich and Sharpton, never got as far as the fringey Republicans this time around. It’s not just the presence of some of these candidates in the field, but rather which ones are jumping ahead for stretches here and there, that I find downright bizarre.Even Howard Dean, who did jump ahead, isn’t Cain or Trump or even Gingrich.

      That being said, I agree with your main point about running against incumbents. This coming election seems to be a rather extreme example, though. It’s entirely possible that I am caught up in the moment and am minimizing the oddities of the Democratic 2004 crop.

      I might share your optimism about 2016, but some of the previously “promising prospects” like Jindal, (pre-VP nominee) Palin, and Pawlenty didn’t really pan out. I have some thoughts on Jindal, none of which are particularly flattering to the GOP (and which could be entirely off-base and perhaps best kept to myself).

      Thanks for chiming in.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        dems were clearly going for a caretaker there. netroots tried for dean, but except for him, they were pretty third string (remember edwards earlier positions)Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman says:

        Also, to make it more apples to apples we would need to have just gone through some periods of Sharpton and Kucinich being the front-runners.Report

      • Avatar Koz in reply to Will Truman says:

        “Kerry, (pre-scandal) Edwards, and Gephardt at least are on par with Romney, who is among the more palatable ones in the GOP field this time around. “

        I disagree with this one. Gephardt is more like Huntsman, a decent enough candidate but too far away from the cultural center of gravity of their respective parties. Kerry and pre-scandal Edwards missed their calling as characters in a sitcom.

        “And the fringey ones, like Kucinich and Sharpton, never got as far as the fringey Republicans this time around. It’s not just the presence of some of these candidates in the field, but rather which ones are jumping ahead for stretches here and there, that I find downright bizarre.

        I’m completely with you here. Even if we acknowledge that Sharpton and Kucinich were always fundamentally joke candidates, you sense that they had more credibility going through the motions Donald Trump or Herman Cain or a couple of others.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Koz says:

          John Kerry came within a couple hundred thousand votes of being President Kerry. I think Gephardt would have done about the same. Edwards struck me as the strongest in the field, though his act might have worn thin by the end. Hard to say.Report

          • Avatar Koz in reply to Will Truman says:

            “John Kerry came within a couple hundred thousand votes of being President Kerry.”

            Well, yeah. If ever I write something like, the Democratic party is now and forever a blot on the name of democracy and a free people, be assured there are reasons for that.Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

      Um, aside from Edwards, who imploded afterward? I mean, as Will pointed out, Kucinich and Sharpton were sideshows, and to make a comparison, Kucinich never got more than a few percent in primaries, Sharpton didn’t get higher than a few percent out of of South Carolina and neither of them were considered actual possible nominees, unlike Ron Paul or Herman Cain, their closest dopplegangers.

      Outside of those two, you could see every person in that race as a reasonable nominee. On the other hand, the GOP only has two people that seem to be reasonable nominees (Huntsman & Romney) and yes, I know one Rasumussen sample showed Newt ahead of Obama.

      Sure, I don’t doubt that the 2016 field in the GOP will be stronger than ’12, but my question is how many hersey’s will those 2016 competitors make by then, especially if Romney is the nominee and loses? Will Jindal accidently send a dollar to an illegal immigrant? Will Daniels say two nice things about Obama? Will Rubio screw up? And so on.

      I think if you’re a moderate conservative, you don’t fear a Gingrich nomination and loss. You fear a Romney nomination and loss. If Romney is the nominee and loses, every narrative in the far-right will be seen as proven to them and it’s straight on to crazytown.Report

    • My favorite moment of that round of selection was when they all started falling all over themselves to admit to smoking marijuana (or was that 2008?). I also liked when Wesley Clark kept emphasizing that one of his relatives was Jewish in order to try and court the Jew vote. Howard Dean’s sweat and screaming turn me off.Report

    • Avatar Koz in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

      “The 2004 Democratic primary field was:

      John Kerry
      John Edwards
      Howard Dean
      Dick Gephardt
      Dennis Kucinich
      Joe Lieberman
      Al Sharpton
      Wesley Clark

      That is pretty much a horrendous clown show. But as much as it pains me to admit, the 2012 Republican Presidential candidates are, in toto, worse.

      The only saving grace for the GOP is that out of their list, they do have three potential Presidents: Romney, Huntsman, and Santorum. The Demo’s really don’t have anybody. I think Gephardt is probably their best candidate, but prob not acceptable to the Demo base. After that it’s Kerry and Lieberman (who is even more unacceptable).Report

      • Avatar 98rsd in reply to Koz says:

        Santorum?  Based on what?  Ok, he’s not an idiot (see Bachmann, Perry), but his gay marriage=man on dog looniness gets more and more out of the mainstream every month.  His hyper-Catholicism may be okay for a priest, but not for a policy-maker.  They threw him out of Pennsylvania, remember?

        After years of pandering to the lowest common denominator, the GOP has arrived at the bottom.  Enjoy.Report

    • Avatar MNP in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

      Hmm, refresh my memory, when did Kucinich, Sharpton, or Lieberman have time as the front runner or alternative in 2004?Report

      • Avatar 98rsd in reply to MNP says:

        You know, it’s popular internet history:  Reagan balanced the budget, Nixon was hounded out of office by a few liberals, etc., etc.  Trickle Down History we should call it.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to MNP says:

        Even the Liberal New Republic endorsed Lieberman in 2004.Report

        • Avatar Gus in reply to Jaybird says:

          I assume that’s a joke but I can never tell these days. Mary Peretz will back the most vociferous supporter of Israel.Report

          • Avatar Greg in reply to Gus says:

            No worries, it’s snark. We’ve long adopted the “Even the Liberal New Republic” phrase to point out how conservative it’s become. “Even the Liberal New Republic published an article full of lies to kill Clinton’s health care proposal… Even the LIberal New Republic published the unreconstructed racism of the Bell Curve… even the Liberal New Republic endorsed born-again Republican Lieberman…”

            Three-way tie for third! Three-way tie for third!Report

  4. Avatar Zach says:

    I doubt you’ll have to wait till the convention. Deadlines have passed for SC, FL, and NH, but you can show up at the Iowa Caucuses the day of and win. There’s tons of time to get on the ballot in more than enough states to win the nomination, although it will require an organized and well-funded campaign to do so. Try your hand at a thought experiment in which you are Marco Rubio or Bob McDonnell (amongst others) and know that you would easily beat Romney if you could get onto all primary ballots. What would be the best strategy now?

    I think the best move is to wait as long as possible (to avoid debates until a few more clowns drop out) while organizing support behind the scenes for a massive entry into the race a few weeks ahead of Iowa, having already secured the implicit support of a couple hundred million in SuperPAC money. Note that a late candidate to Romney’s right will probably inherit delegates won in SC and FL anyway. I can’t imagine that folks like Rubio and McDonnell would turn down the best chance of being the most powerful person in the world that they’ll ever have. And even if their late entry doesn’t get the critical level of support needed to win, they can quickly back out and be in an influential position during the campaign.

    Note that Rove’s outfit (Crossroads) hasn’t gotten involved in the primary; part of that’s about not dividing the party, but at this point if Romney’s the only reasonable choice it benefits their general goal of getting Republicans nominated to wrap things up quickly. Rove hasn’t shied away from attacking the not-Romney candidates, yet he hasn’t supported Romney either. He’s sitting on the hundreds of millions of dollars (to fund signature campaigns for ballot access) and donor network (to quickly raise money to combat Romney) needed to win.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Zach says:

      I might have agreed with you until recently. The combination of Fred Thompson in 2008 and Rick Perry in 2011, though, makes me wonder the extent to which a candidate can jump in fully prepared. Not just organizationally, but mentally. A convention pick (even one who is not presently running) could be able to get the nomination and then have the entire party apparatus behind them… but I’d still consider it a hindrance in the general election. I think there is some real value to the grueling primary process. Too much information on a candidate too fast seems to be really problematic. (None of this applies if a candidate has been campaign-vetted, or in the limelight for a really long time, like say Jeb Bush or Mike Huckabee.)Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Will Truman says:

        I think that if Fred Thompson had known how much the 2008 campaign was going to be about personality rather than issues, he might have stayed in a bit longer.Report

      • Avatar Zach in reply to Will Truman says:

        I don’t know that the primary process is all that value with respect to being grueling, but it’s a huge disadvantage to start your national campaign in August rather than April or May or so. Without the super-delegate x-factor that Dems have, I can’t see the primary process playing out fully without getting a candidate… Romney will have to win more delegates than the not-Romney’s combined.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Zach says:

          I agree with what you say, but I think as a filter mechanism, it remains a pretty valuable tool. When candidates have already been filtered, such as with an incumbent or with a VP running, then it’s much more easily arguable that it’s for the best that there be no primary opposition. But absent that it gives voters some useful information as to how they respond to pressure and stress, and (though this is unrelated to the grueling aspect of it) whether there are any huge vulnerabilities that would lead the candidate to utterly fail in the general election.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Zach says:

      …while organizing support behind the scenes for a massive entry into the race a few weeks ahead of Iowawhile organizing support behind the scenes for a massive entry into the race a few weeks ahead of Iowa…

      The Iowa caucuses are four weeks away, with the combination of Christmas and New Year’s stealing maybe a week worth of organizational time from that.  For someone who was going to try this, it looks like launch this week, or forget it.Report

      • Avatar Zach in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Yeah that’s very true. I’d expected something to drop by now and looked into getting some money into InTrade (but it takes to long thanks to US law). Rubio (and others in the field) are paying $10 for $0.10. Was also going to buy Huntsman which would’ve already covered any losses.Report

  5. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    In terms of the general election it doesn’t matter who the GOP eventually nominates. As James Carville famously said, “It’s the economy stupid.”Report

  6. Avatar JG New says:

    “if Romney wins the nomination and runs a conventional campaign, this will all be forgotten and the equivalent of an adolescent phase and not any sort of genuine threat to the republic”

    Good luck with that.  Even should Romney capture the nomination, he will need the Tea Party base more than ever in an attempt to either (a) convince them to hold their noses and vote for him, and/or (b) continue to fan the anti-Obama flames that he has been fanning to date.  I see the chances of a conventional, adult campaign as practically nil.

    The Republicans responded to their 2008 electoral loss by convincing themselves that they lost because they hadn’t been authentically conservative enough, and consequently oved farther to the extreme right.  2010 confirmed (in their minds) the wisdom of that move and encouraged the adoption of even more radical Jacobin views.  That is what has encouraged the parade of preposterous GOP “candidates” this cycle, and Romney will not be able to back away from the radicals – he must, indeed, continue to embrace them.  To expect him to start acting like a rational, serious, thoughtful candidate is wishful thinking indeed.

    My own hope is that Romney (whom I consider to be a cynical phony) and Gingrich (a narcisstic, pseudo-intellectual phony) commence to savaging each other forthwith.  Should be fun to watch.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to JG New says:

      Even should Romney capture the nomination, he will need the Tea Party base more than ever in an attempt to either (a) convince them to hold their noses and vote for him, and/or (b) continue to fan the anti-Obama flames that he has been fanning to date.

      I think (b) is inevitable and qualifies as a conventional campaign, at this point. I regard (a) as possible, but not inevitable. Romney will go with the more electorally favorable political winds. I don’t think that is by running the same sort of campaign that he has run in the primary. Leading to…

      The Republicans responded to their 2008 electoral loss by convincing themselves that they lost because they hadn’t been authentically conservative enough, and consequently oved farther to the extreme right.

      Jesse Ewiak noted above that a Romney loss would only strengthen this mentality. He might be right and it’s a thought that crosses my mind (particularly if he does not run a campaign geared primarily towards motivating the base).

      I think this is a flame that eventually runs out of oxygen. I’m not saying that the 2016 nominee will be more moderate than Romney, but the approach will be different (like the transition from the “He’s not Bush!!!!!” Democratic campaign in 2004 to the “He’s Obama!” campaign in 2008).Report

      • Avatar JG New in reply to Will Truman says:

        I’m not sure that my situation (b) falls into a coonventional campaign if it consists of a lot of demagoguery  – “apology tours,” crypto-birtherism and other outright lies.  I’m not naive about the vicious streak in US politics, but things have gone too far over the line lately.  I’m no fan of John McCain, but I thought his gentle, yet public correction of a woman who called Obama a Muslim during the 2008 campaign was a mark of character and i respected that.  I cannot imagine Romney doing the same thing.

        However, I tend to agree with you that a Romney loss might not necessarily push the GOP even further to the right – it’s already pushing past the outer limits of credibility.  And the Dems, after their 2000 defeat, did not respond by polarizing even farther left – they moved decidedly centerwards.  So perhaps the pendulum will start to swing back.  Because the GOP these days is headed into Orwell countryReport

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to JG New says:

          I’m no fan of John McCain, but I thought his gentle, yet public correction of a woman who called Obama a Muslim during the 2008 campaign was a mark of character and i respected that. I cannot imagine Romney doing the same thing.

          Forgive a moment of abject cynicism, but this will be entirely a political calculation. With regard to Obama, the goal of the Republican Party is to attack him in every way imaginable without it reflecting sufficiently negatively on the attacker to be counterproductive. The goal of the Democratic Party is to place as many avenues of attack as being “out of bounds” (due to racism/xenophobia, whether it exists or not) as possible so that any and all attacks reflect as negatively as possible on the attacker.

          Even despite McCain doing what you said, accusations of racial impropriety were made against him during the campaign. If the GOP determines that they can’t win (they will be accused of race-pandering regardless and people will believe/disbelieve/care about the accusations by party line) no matter what they do, they will make the most of it. To the extent that they determine their vulnerability is tied to the amount and type of negativity, they will back off.

          Perhaps I am not so cynical in that I believe the latter is more likely than the former in a general campaign. And I was going to say that before I read this.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Will Truman says:

            Personally, I don’t doubt most Republicans in the Washington who got there before 2010 think Obama is a threat to the future of America. Maybe Bachmann, but even Newt knows Obama is basically your average center-left Democrat.

            On the other hand, here are the reactions on the National Review’s blog to the above story.

            First, some highlights from the blog post
            “Gee, if Obama’s personal-approval numbers are still high, why would you want to take them down? Let them stay there, lest the Democrat-Media Complex accuse you of being a blue meanie.

            Remember, GOP: principles, not policies. Principles, not policies.

            [b]It’s not Obama’s policies that are the problem, it’s Obama and everything he represents and stands for. Engage the president on the deepest, most potent level, or join John McCain and Bob Dole on the ash heap of history.[/b]”

            Really, this party is too dumb to live.”

            Now, for the comments –

            “It seems that today’s Republicans who are not totally beholden to the national party nomenklatura are actively vilified by their own party and abandoned to twisting in the unending Democratic smear machine wind, and we are left with the choice of RINO statists like Gingrich and Romney.

            Yes, hammer Obama on his absolutely indefensible record, but repeatedly expose him for his leftist hatred of individual liberty and his incredible personal hypocrisy.

            Romney and Gingrich should be exposed to a showing of Sean Connery and Kevin Costner in The Untouchables if they really want to beat Obama. Maybe that will bring Newt back from his alternate-history authorship to the world we live in today, and actually put some passion for America into Mitt’s heart..”

            “The problem is that while they are committing suicide, they’re murdering the Republic in the process.

            If they, as assumed, settle for a nice, polite defeat, the Republican Party will shatter into two factions, the Tea Party and Vichy RINO mushy statists. With the non-liberal side broken, the Dems will have unfettered reign to Sovietize the country and permanently entrench judges and bureaucrats who will ensure the permanent tilt towards the Left even if some new conservative movement were to regain a modicum of power.”

            “For once I want to see a right-leaning candidate willing to fight for policy outcomes as hard as the Dems do.”

            “Truth is more important than nice. We are in a battle for the collective soul of our nation. We need strong sunshine in every dark corner of this administration. Fast and Furious. Solyndra. Obamacare.”Stimulus.” Etc. Etc. Etc.”

            “Obama is demonstrably arrogant, smug, criminally naive, hostile to free enterprise, and contemptuous of nearly all Americans. There is example after example of his administration’s indifference to the rule of law. All the Republicans have to do is tell the truth about the man. No lies, not even any spin, required.”

            Now, before anybody else runs in, I know. BUSHITLER, Democratic Underground, Daily Kos, whatever. There were even some people in the comments who aren’t liberals trying to argue against this.

            But, those above comments are the id of the GOP. They’re what the people want to hear from their candidates and like I said below about Huckabee, they don’t want a candidate who just disagrees with Obama about economic policy. They want someone who believes Obama is the ruiner of the nation like they do.

             Report

            • Some of this is Jane’s Law. As far as Huckabee goes, I don’t disagree that his congeniality is a liability in the primary. But I also think, particularly in the general election as well as with some of the money-men* who want to win in a general election, there is more of a balancing of priorities. I don’t think the ids get what they want (regardless of who gets the nomination). But we’ll see. My crystal ball is foggy.

              * – This, actually, is where #2 below could actually help mitigate #1 if Huck had run.Report

            • Cherry-picking comments sections, Jesse?  One can “prove” any assertion with that technique.Report

          • Avatar JG New in reply to Will Truman says:

            “If the GOP determines that they can’t win … no matter what they do, they will make the most of it. To the extent that they determine their vulnerability is tied to the amount and type of negativity, they will back off.”

            That sounds like a far more rational cost-benefit analysis than anything I’ve heard from the GOP lo these past several yearsReport

    • Avatar Mike in reply to JG New says:

      “To expect him to start acting like a rational, serious, thoughtful candidate is wishful thinking indeed.”

      The real underlying problem is the organized Repug noise-machine. Think about it: Romney wins? All of a sudden the backroom deals start: either he sticks to the “conservative way, fake-fantasy-Reagan-that’s-nothing-like-the-real-Reagan” phoney baloney lines they want to hear, or he can get shot down when hate radio turns their guns on him and demands a “real conservative Tea Party third-party candidate.”

      End of the election cycle? I can already tell you how they’re going to spin it (each of these is presuming a Romney nomination, but will spin pretty much the same for a Newt nomination).

      – Romney wins, Repugs keep/expand House, Senate stays nominally Democrat: “Those outnumbered Libruls are holding the country hostage.”

      – Obama wins, Senate stays nominally Democrat, Repugs hold House: “Those outnumbered Libruls stole the election but we control the House so we can stop em. Time for war boys!”

      – Romney wins, Repugs win both House and Senate by some strange wave: “Whoopee we won boys, time to do everything we ever wanted – fuck women’s rights, fuck consumer rights, fuck workers’ rights, fuck environmental laws, and (nod to Gingrich here for his stunning honesty recently) let’s put those 5 year olds back to work.” Occasional sideshow of “OMG THOSE AMERICA HATING LIBRULS ARE HOLDING THE COUNTRY HOSTAGE” whenever a filibuster hits.

      – Obama wins, Senate stays Democrat, Repugs lose house: “America Held Hostage” bullshit begins on the Big Fat Druggie’s show again (retreading 1993-1994), rest of the noise machine picks up the drumbeat. Screams of “we lost because we weren’t conservative enough” start up all over again.

      Tell me where you think I’m wrong. I make these predictions now, based on the Repugs doing precisely the last thing each time for the past 30 years. We can even look them up when the time comes.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Mike says:

         Romney wins, Repugs win both House and Senate by some strange wave: “Whoopee we won boys, time to do everything we ever wanted – fuck women’s rights, fuck consumer rights, fuck workers’ rights, fuck environmental laws, and (nod to Gingrich here for his stunning honesty recently) let’s put those 5 year olds back to work.”

        Even if the republicans win the house, senate and presidency, there wiont be any rollback in women’s rights onsumer rights or workers’ rights, nor are children going to be put to work. Environmental laws probably a bit (but Obama wasnt really good on the envrionment either so there isnt pretty much anything to roll back). The most I forsee is an expansion of the military industrial complex and some losses on the front of gay marriage.Report

  7. People have been saying that the GOP is insane and unhinged because the GOP has been insane and unhinged.

    The Bush administration gave us Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, the executive’s asserted power to wiretap and to detain & torture US citizens without charges or a warrant, surpluses turned into deficits, Raich v Gonzales, and also the invasion for bogus reasons & failed occupation of an arbitrarily selected Middle Eastern country. Not too conservative, I don’t think, by conventional understanding of politics and philosophy. What was the response of Americans to all this? Well, as Bush left office, he had a 28 percent approval rating from independents– and a 75 % rating from Republicans, according to Gallup. According to an ABC/WaPo poll, Bush left office with 34% approval from independents, and 68% from Republicans– but 82% from self-professed “conservative Republicans”. Over the course of his presidency, Bush received an average of about 80% approval of “conservative Republicans”.

    Since Pres. Obama has been elected, policy positions that were once boilerplate Republican ideas– e.g., cap and trade, an individual health insurance mandate, Keynesian stimulus, Section 8 housing vouchers, the Earned Income Tax Credit– are taken now not merely as undesirable, but as unconstitutional tyranny.

    Republicans have no policy views. In that sense, you’d think that Mitt Romney, who as far as anyone can tell doesn’t have any policy views, would be the ideal nominee. But GOP affiliation is about a feeling of intense resentment towards those they view as tribal outsiders. And Romney, while he has no beliefs, doesn’t appear to be One Of Us.

    So Gingrich, who’s been in the public eye for a while, and therefore has taken stances on a whole pile of issues that would run afoul of current GOP orthodoxy, is surging forward because he projects animus toward the president.

    They are who we thought they were.Report

    • If Bob keeps saying that rolling a 6-sided die will yield a 4, he’s going to be right at some point. It doesn’t make him insightful or prescient.

      The fact that you view NCLB and Medicare Part D under the context of “unhinged” tells me that we are coming from very different places and I should not be motivated to take your perception of what is unhinged and crazy to heart. Because, at the end of the day, you would probably view me the same way.Report

      • From that list, “Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind” (and Raich v. Gonzales and surpluses turned into deficits) are evidence that GOP allegiance is entirely shorn of policy or ideological views. It’s about loyalty to a side.

        From the rest of that list, “the executive’s asserted power to wiretap and to detain & torture US citizens without charges or a warrant… and also the invasion for bogus reasons & failed occupation of an arbitrarily selected Middle Eastern country” are evidence that the party has been not merely unconservative, but unhinged.

        Today, the GOP opposes– unanimously, with maximalist rhetoric and legislative efforts– policies it proposed weeks or months before, like an individual health insurance mandate and cap and trade.

        The GOP is, and for some time has been, a tribal organization without any policcy beliefs.Report

        • It is, of course, fair from a libertarian perspective to argue that in some cases the Democratic Party has been, at the very best, insufficiently defensive of individual rights against Republican onslaughts. Torture and warantless wiretapping, plus the Iraq invasion and occupation, leap to mind.Report

        • Thank you for the clarification.

          I suppose then, the source of our disagreement then would be of tribalism and politics more generally. While I would actually agree that conservatives are more tribal than liberals, when looking at Republicans and Democrats I see two party affiliations (both formal and informal affiliations) as being tribal hodgepodges. And I don’t see the distinction between “all tribal” and “not” as being located in between the tribalism in each.

          When we look at things like approval ratings, the question becomes “compared to what?” to which the answer is going to be “compared to the other party” and is particularly likely to elicit a positive response despite misgivings. Heck, even the exact same policy (Medicare Part D proposed by a Democrat, PPACA by a Republican*) is going to elicit a different response because it comes down to a matter of trust, which itself becomes quite related to party affiliation.

          * – Which, of course, is Romneycare to some extent. It’s worth noting that I was a tentative defender of Romneycare when it came out and spent more time defending it with conservatives who opposed it than liberals who did – despite the fact that it was under a Republican governor who even then was being mentioned as a possible GOP presidential candidate. The seeds for the eventual opposition to PPACA had already been planted. This, of course, could be construed as evidence of how far right the GOP has gone, but that’s a question of policy rather than tribalism. Also, not entirely unrelated to the difference between liking a policy in the abstract and suddenly having great trepidation when it is up for actual implementation.Report

          • Sure. I can see explaining away, say, NCLB. I guess I’d put it this way– most folks I know who are small-government or fiscal conservatives had left the GOP by 2004, and certainly by 2006. The GOP just came out and said that “deficits don’t matter”, and they showed that they didn’t think federalism or size & power of government concerns were relevant either.

            But when it really became clear that the GOP didn’t have any policy views whatsoever was when, about 45 seconds after Pres. Obama was inaugurated, the GOP just couldn’t stop talking about the deficit and the size & power of the government. Do not pass go, do not pause for 20 seconds and explain what went wrong in the past decade, just, full speed ahead, “federal policy is socialism.”

            In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, which I supported, I countered anti-invasion folks who pointed out that we’d helped Saddam all throughout the 1980s by saying that this increased our responsibility. Among the many, many reasons I was wrong at the time is that the folks who were leading the drive for the invasion were Saddam’s erstwhile arms dealers, like Donald Rumsfeld. There was no contrition, no sign that he and folks like him had learned anything; there were just a new set of incentives and talking points.

            It’s the same thing with anyone who trusts, say, Paul Ryan today. He voted with the Bush administration 94% of the time. He voted for Medicare Part D, against making it more cost-effective, (for NCLB), for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and for Pres. Bush’s fiscal policies. Today, he says that he was right to vote for Medicare Part D, and that we need to phase out Medicare because of the deficit. But he wants to phase out Medicare because he doesn’t like Medicare. We know that he doesn’t care about the deficit. (Ending Medicare may or may not be a good idea; not relevant for this post).

            The GOP primary is deeply unserious because the GOP is deeply unserious.Report

            • But when it really became clear that the GOP didn’t have any policy views whatsoever was when, about 45 seconds after Pres. Obama was inaugurated,

              This partly gets at the comment that spawned this conversations. The criticism that the GOP has no policy convictions started well before Obama took office. I think that this criticism started gaining merit earlier than that, but this particular criticism (a) started before that and (b) was often spoken at the same time as the mutually exclusive criticism that the GOP has a staunch right wing agenda to send us back to the dark ages.

              I am amenable to a lot of criticisms of the GOP and lodge many myself. Up to and including the notion that it is or ever will be any sort of “small government” party to match its rhetoric. My original comment, though, was a reference to the fact that I was resistant to some of the criticisms because I have heard them dating back to the 90’s, far before they applied. Bob with the die.

              With regard to the current primary, the question that I have is to what degree we’re looking at Jane’s Law, and what degree we’re looking at a fundamental shift. It’s sure looking to me like the latter, right now, which is why I wrote this post, but the evidence is not fully in. And, for the reason of Bob and the die and the boy who cried wolf, I am not likely to take to heart the criticisms of those who hate everything the GOP stands for (or would stand for, if they weren’t saying that the party stands for nothing at all).

              (Nor, of course, can I take all that seriously those who argue that the GOP stands for things, like small government, that is contradicted by everything they did when they were in power and the convenient attack-rhetoric they’ve used when out of power.)Report

              • Heh heh, WillT.  I love the ones where they get the other guy coming or going.  Well put:

                ” I am not likely to take to heart the criticisms of those who hate everything the GOP stands for (or would stand for, if they weren’t saying that the party stands for nothing at all).”

                In fact, the variant is that the GOP of 2000-2006 was the same ol’ self-serving unprincipled pols.  And the very future Tea Partiers who voted with their asses and stayed home for the GOP drubbings of ’06 and ’08 may actually be for smaller government, but they’re batshit crazy.

                Impaling the GOP on both horns of Jane’s Law:

                The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane.

                Got GOPers coming or going.  Masterful technique. Props.

                 Report

              • Well, now we’re getting into questions about the acuity of the folks who are making these anti-GOP arguments, and then it really does start, I think, to require specifics. There aren’t any in the initial post here (which is fine, this is a blog post, not a dissertation), so I guess I’d just say, “it depends on who said what and why.”

                For my part, I’m a poor representative, I think, as I supported the Iraq invasion, and didn’t come around to the “Pres. Bush is an unmitigated disaster” perspective until, I dunno, 2007 or so. I do believe that, in light of the past decade, it appears accurate to say that the GOP doesn’t have policy beliefs. (I’m a little less interested in the question of who was right about that when, tho I guess that’s a bit self-serving, as I was hoping, around 2003, to be able to vote for his reelection). I recall thinking that there was an awful lot to this comment at the time (early 2008):

                Movement ‘conservatism’ has roughly the same intellectual content as being, say, a Milwaukee Brewers fan.

                Throw away your Burke and Oakeshott and get a big foam “We’re #1 finger”, because that’s the level at which movement ‘conservatism’ is conducted.

                Report

              • As a casual follower of the Milwauke Brewers, I resent that comparison. Baseball demands a degree of thoughtfulness from its fans.

                I also note for the benefit of the original commenter that Vince Lombardi was famous for being the coach of the Green Bay Packers not the Milwaukee Brewers. The comment suggests only a nodding acquaintance with professional sports from Wisconsin — and only a nodding acquaintance with Lombadri’s philosophies: he qualified his emphasis on winning by blending in strong doses of integrity as well. Coach would have tolerated a loser who had given his all and done as instructed but wound up failing. He would not have tolerated a cheater.Report

              • Agreed– that part of the comment never seemed to make sense to me, so I didn’t include it here.

                I do think that Republicans’ views on policy– on, e.g, cap and trade, deficit spending, the health insurance mandate, etc.– are very similar to my views, as a Red Sox fan, on Mark Teixeira. A few years ago, I thought he was one of the most dependable, slickest fielding power-hitting first basemen in the league. Now that he’s signed with the Yankees, I hate his stupid, fat face.Report

    • How in the hell is Raich v. Gonzales a stain on Bush? Have you *LOOKED* at who decided that case?Report

      • The Bush administration fought that case all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that the interstate commerce clause gave them the power to imprison state citizens engaged in activity legal under state law. The way the SC ruled on the meaning of the Constitution is of less concern in this discussion than the policy decision of the executive to fight all the way to the SC, arguing for a ruling in the favor of executive power. This is because Republicans are concerned with states’ rights only when those states are violating the rights of their citizens.

        This effort then winding its way through the courts, combined with Dick Cheney’s declaration that “deficits don’t matter”, led Republicans to furiously reject the GOP’s nominees to turn out in record numbers for the Bush-Cheney ticket, in a strong statement against permitting same-sex marriage.

         Report

        • Avatar Kolohe in reply to reflectionephemeral says:

          And the Obama adminstration fought for DOMA in the courts for the first two years.Report

        • And which judges agreed?

          Personally, I am *THRILLED* that a case involving the CSA made it to the SCotUS. I save my ire for the justices who have not read the Constitution rather than the AGs bringing the law to the SCotUS.Report

          • The fact that I don’t like something doesn’t mean that the Constitution prohibits it. If the contemporary understanding of the Constitution permits the federal government to lock people up for reasons I don’t like, the executive still has the ability to decline to lock up those people.

            I hated the policy result in Kelo, but it was far from an unreasonable decision by the SC. It would have been reasonable to view a decision the other way as a departure from existing jurisprudence, and pretty inarguable that such a decision would have been a departure from the original understanding of the meaning of the takings clause.

            Not everything that I don’t like is forbidden by the Constitution.Report

            • So do you have a problem with Gonzales v. Raich or not?

              Let me guess: You are 100% good with how the Supreme Court found the law to be Constitutional, you’re just upset with the government for enforcing a Constitutional law?Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jaybird says:

                 

                Clarence Thomas, originalist, in Raich:

                Justice Thomas also wrote a separate dissent, stating in part:

                Respondent’s local cultivation and consumption of marijuana is not “Commerce … among the several States.”

                Certainly no evidence from the founding suggests that “commerce” included the mere possession of a good or some personal activity that did not involve trade or exchange for value. In the early days of the Republic, it would have been unthinkable that Congress could prohibit the local cultivation, possession, and consumption of marijuana.

                and

                If the Federal Government can regulate growing a half-dozen cannabis plants for personal consumption (not because it is interstate commerce, but because it is inextricably bound up with interstate commerce), then Congress’ Article I powers — as expanded by the Necessary and Proper Clause — have no meaningful limits. Whether Congress aims at the possession of drugs, guns, or any number of other items, it may continue to “appropria[te] state police powers under the guise of regulating commerce.”

                and further:

                If the majority is to be taken seriously, the Federal Government may now regulate quilting bees, clothes drives, and potluck suppers throughout the 50 States. the end is near This makes a mockery of Madison’s assurance to the people of New York that the “powers delegated” to the Federal Government are “few and defined”, while those of the States are “numerous and indefinite.

                Report

  8. Avatar Kolohe says:

    I wonder how much Huckabee is not kicking himself for getting into it.  He would have had a hard fought, but rather clear path to winning all the Tostitos.Report

  9. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Ah, the fantasies about what might have been!

    …Were it not for a Hike Down the Appalachian Trail, there is a good chance that Mark Sanford would already be the presumptive nominee. Or at least fighting it out with Romney over it in a fight he would ultimately win (or, alternately, a fight that would make Romney look better than he currently does on Mitt’s path to victory).

    Sanford had reasonable appeal to libertarian-minded Republicans and the ability to reach out to moderates. But would he have been able to get enough of the Tea Party types too? I think the scenario would have been a fight in which there was less of a race to the intellectual bottom and therefore a constructive rather than destructive pre-primary season.

    Of course, the relevancy of Sanford vanished somewhere on a flight to Buenos Aires. Alas.Report

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