Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Question for Conservatives

What do you think explains the steady stream of Republicans who have basically accused the current GOP of being nuts? It's not a short list...I'm thinking of David Frum, Bruce Bartlett, and there's a new example this weekend, but as I say it's not a short list. It's certainly happening. It's somewhat similar, I'd say, to the migration of anti-communists away from the Democrats in the 1970s, but it's not quite the same thing; this crowd isn't so much saying that the GOP left them on policy, but that the GOP has just gone nuts.

So: why is it happening? And if you think it reflects a problem with the Republican Party and the conservative movement, what do you think might help?


  1. Losing their majority in the House, failing to take the Senate, and again losing the Presidency is the only thing likely to help in the short term. The next question is whether the Democrats would again squander opportunity.

  2. I'd say there are several GOP types who would be inclined to grumble today.

    Establishment types, obviously. They hate the Tea Party, and any populist movement. They and their friends have had a good thing goin', and won't be inclined to give it up. Big government "conservatism" pays just as well as big government leftism, as we know. They know what they want, and aren't afraid to go after it.

    The purists like Bartlett, generally pure on discrete issues, who will never be happy unless their prescriptions are followed to the letter. Give these credit for principle, at least.

    Then there are the assorted RINOs... neocons... people of that nature. Frum fits in here. They can be discrete issue types, as well, both in terms of what they favor and what they oppose, but they are generally unprincipled hacks, at the end of the day. These are the flotsam and jetsam of politics, basically.

    Obviously, all of the above will be more than willing to collaborate with the Left in order to get what they want, which is of course the reason behind the Left's pushing the "nuts" meme so hard. They know their semi-comrades are in trouble right now... and these semi-comrades are the Left's only lifeline, if the People carry forth as things seem to be proceeding.

  3. WTH are you talking about?

  4. Actually, I think that many new developments in the GOP -- the Tea Party and Ron Paul movements -- are encouraging.

    One way to keep ugly partisanship out of the mainstream would be to have a single unified primary ballot in each state.

  5. Define "nuts".

    I think supply side dogma has failed. So have a lot of Dem policies like thinking throwing more money at schools improves student outcomes. Here is a description of the results of an economic policy that both parties push for that has failed:

    The push by some GOP members to transform Social Security and Medicare without getting Dem support is closer to being nuts. Anyone who looks at polls should know this is a risky strategy because voters love these programs. I think some of the people pushing this consume too much right wing media and it has warped their perception of what most voters want.

    The linked article's comments about the Senate are laughable. The GOP senators are using the rules to block an agenda they don't. This makes them "totalitarians"? The Dems can change the rules if they want to.

  6. Obviously the type of "nuts" that JB is referring to is the anti-rationalist, evangelical, Bachmannite, pray-the-gay-away, anti-science, gun-to-the-economy's-head-let-us-default, 10th-Amendment-means-Texas-can-secede-and-is-its-own-sovereign-entity ridiculousness. You know, the "nuts" kind of republicanism. The kind that denies that there are objective truths, science, empiricism or "experts." Obviously I am conflating a few types of nuts here, but broadly speaking it is about dogmatism and the inability to compromise. This is seen in both the no taxes dogmatism and the evangelical dogmatism. Bachmann, nicely, does both at the same time. Hooray. Ugh.

  7. Not on topic, but I have a question about the 'Joe Mason for President' ad. Is anyone else surprised that someone criticizing Obama from the left would, when speaking of civil liberties, take FDR as a model? I would think most contemporary liberals would know better.

  8. The strangest thing about the Mason ad is the suggestion that FDR was somehow better than Obama on 'gay issues.'

    I googled and found this fascinating piece of history.

    This is priceless:

    The operators who accepted oral sex received notations in their records “in recognition of their interest and zeal” in pursuing the evidence.

  9. " which is of course the reason behind the Left's pushing the "nuts" meme so hard."

    Sarah Palin.

    Michele Bachmann.

    Herman Cain.

    Rick Santorum.

    As long as those four are around, I'd suggest the "left" really doesn't have to "push" anything. You either see these nuts for what they are, or you choose not to.

  10. Is this really new? I vaguely recall Rockefeller Republicans being happy to echo liberal talking points against the Reaganite wing.

  11. Bartlett does it because it brings him a notoriety he never had as merely a conservative. Because he's technically a Republican, Democrats get to say "Even REPUBLICAN Bruce Bartlett says..." He has too much of a stake, and gets too much of a media presence as a reward for his flagellation of his party, to take his opinions seriously. He does it because that's what he's heavily incentivized to do.

  12. "He does it because that's what he's heavily incentivized to do."

    That's absurd. There is far more money to be made promoting the GOP line from talk radio hosts like Rush, to think tank flacks like Jonah Goldberg and to lobbying outfits like the Chamber of Commerce.

  13. Er, except Bartlett is clearly more famous now for being the Republican-who-breaks-ranks than he was for just being a Republican.

    Also, one's own temperament still has to come into play somehow. If Bartlett does not have the taste for "promoting the GOP line from talk radio hosts like Rush," then his choice is between simply being a Republican and being a Republican who gets headlines by criticizing other Republicans. And we can see what he's chosen. Saying that incentives lead him to be the latter rather than the former is not the same thing as saying they can override everything about the man.


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