Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Friday, March 02, 2012

David Brooks' GOP Obituary?

Very early in my newly found blogging career, I posted a piece quoting extensively from a David Brooks column  and then waited expectantly for the comments to come pouring in. Nothing. Nada. Not a one. I was such a novice at the time that I hadn't as yet downloaded a tracker to follow visitors, so I didn't have a clue as to whether or not anyone had even read it. Probably not.

Brooks offered up a little history lesson that added some insight into all the ugly hysteria that was only just really kicking in but which, as we have seen, has grown into a cacophony of twisted lies, conspiracy theories and ugly rhetoric.  He wrote:
Just months after the elections [2008] and the humiliation, everyone is again convinced that Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and the rest possess real power. And the saddest thing is that even the Republican politicians come to believe it. They mistake media for reality. They pre-emptively surrender to armies that don't exist.
They pay more attention to Rush's imaginary millions than to the real voters down the street. The Republican Party is unpopular because it's more interested in pleasing Rush's ghosts than actual people. The party is leaderless right now because nobody has the guts to step outside the rigid parameters enforced by the radio jocks and create a new party identity. The party is losing because it has adopted a radio entertainer's niche-building strategy, while abandoning the politician's coalition-building strategy.
Unfortunately, the Republicans weren't paying any attention to Brooks - or me, she says modestly - back in October 2009. Now the conservative columnist is all but writing the Grand Old Party's obituary.

Brooks begins by pointing out how once thoughtful and reasonable Republicans such as Richard Lugar and Orin Hatch have swung sharply to the right to maintain their Congressional seats. "Politicians do what they must to get re-elected."
. . . this behavior is not entirely honorable. It’s not honorable to adjust your true nature in order to win re-election. It’s not honorable to kowtow to the extremes so you can preserve your political career.
* * *
Republicans on the extreme ferociously attack their fellow party members. Those in the middle backpedal to avoid conflict. Republicans on the extreme are willing to lose elections in order to promote their principles. Those in the mainstream are quick to fudge their principles if it will help them get a short-term win.
In the 1960s and ’70s, the fight was between conservatives and moderates. Conservatives trounced the moderates and have driven them from the party. These days the fight is between the protesters and the professionals. The grass-roots protesters in the Tea Party and elsewhere have certain policy ideas, but they are not that different from the Republicans in the “establishment.”
The big difference is that the protesters don’t believe in governance. They have zero tolerance for the compromises needed to get legislation passed. They don’t believe in trimming and coalition building. For them, politics is more about earning respect and making a statement than it is about enacting legislation. It’s grievance politics, identity politics.
Brooks missed the boat when he said. "For them, politics is more about earning respect . . ." Obviously, they aren't interested in "earning respect" but in "gaining control".
All across the nation, there are mainstream Republicans lamenting how the party has grown more and more insular, more and more rigid. This year, they have an excellent chance to defeat President Obama, yet the wingers have trashed the party’s reputation by swinging from one embarrassing and unelectable option to the next: Bachmann, Trump, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum.
But where have these party leaders been over the past five years, when all the forces that distort the G.O.P. were metastasizing? Where were they during the rise of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck? Where were they when Arizona passed its beyond-the-fringe immigration law? Where were they in the summer of 2011 when the House Republicans rejected even the possibility of budget compromise? They were lying low, hoping the unpleasantness would pass.
The wingers call their Republican opponents RINOs, or Republican In Name Only. But that’s an insult to the rhino, which is a tough, noble beast. If RINOs were like rhinos, they’d stand up to those who seek to destroy them. Actually, what the country needs is some real Rhino Republicans. But the professional Republicans never do that. They’re not rhinos. They’re Opossum Republicans. They tremble for a few seconds then slip into an involuntary coma every time they’re challenged aggressively from the right.
Without real opposition, the wingers go from strength to strength. Under their influence, we’ve had a primary campaign that isn’t really an argument about issues. It’s a series of heresy trials in which each of the candidates accuse the others of tribal impurity.
As a result, two kinds of candidates have emerged: one forceful but outside the mainstream and the other who may have started out in the mainstream but now look weak and unprincipled "because they have spent so much time genuflecting before those who despise them."
Neither is likely to win in the fall. Before the G.O.P. meshugana campaign, independents were leaning toward the G.O.P. But, in the latest Politico/George Washington University Battleground Poll, Obama leads Mitt Romney among independents by 49 percent to 27 percent.
Leaders of a party are supposed to educate the party, to police against its worst indulgences, to guard against insular information loops. They’re supposed to define a creed and establish boundaries. Republican leaders haven’t done that. Now the old pious cliché applies:
First they went after the Rockefeller Republicans, but I was not a Rockefeller Republican. Then they went after the compassionate conservatives, but I was not a compassionate conservative. Then they went after the mainstream conservatives, and there was no one left to speak for me.
Like extremists of all persuasions and throughout history, the wingers aren't listening. They don't care. They're so hell-bent on gaining control they don't care if they destroy not only their own party but the entire country. The "Opossum Republicans" are more interested in preserving their careers than standing on honor and principle. They have sold their souls to the devil for a few votes and, in the process, doomed the country to an uncertain future. Patriots they are not.


  1. All I can say is, this country is lucky to have someone as smart and principled as Barack Obama on the ballot. Plus, he will be the only candidate running on experience. In this dangerous world we live in, experience counts. What can a governor [who was out of the state more than he was in it during his four years in Massachusetts] claim as experience in foreign affairs?

    1. I do not always agree with Brooks nor do I always agree with Obama - or any other president during my lifetime for that matter. I wish Obama had been more forceful in the beginning but I don't think he or the rest of us were prepared for the stonewalling on the part of the GOP. Mitt has flip-flopped so many times on so many occasions - and within the space of a few short seconds - that there are many Republicans who are turned off by him as well. Not one of the GOP candidates has the necessary qualities to be president, which may be why they've tried so hard to clobber each other. But, no matter who gets the nod in the end, no doubt they will rally behind the nominee, even if it means holding their noses when they vote.

  2. Excellent presentation. Thank you very much.

  3. It's hard to forgive "opossum Republicans" like Lugar and Hatch (and so many others). The Republican party is a very powerful institution and letting extremists and nutcases take control of it creates a dangerous situation for the country. Patriotism, if nothing else, should inspire sane Republicans to take a much stronger stand.

    Thanks for posting Limbaugh's advertisers on the sidebar, by the way. That business with Fluke is really the last straw. Just as I'd been thinking Gingrich was the most bloated and disgusting right-wing misogynist out there, Limbaugh grabs the title away again.

    1. Sadly, not only are the Republicans made up of a bunch of wet noodles. This is one time when I might agree with the statement, "Democrats do it, too."

      Limbaugh's statements are over the top and it is a HUGE story. Another advertiser has pulled out and others are considering it. But the blowhard just keeps blowing:

      "LIMBAUGH: This woman comes forth with this frankly hilarious claim that she’s having so much sex, and her buddies with her, that she can’t afford it. And not one person says, did you ever think about maybe backing off the amount of sex that you have? … "

      Even Carly Fiorina calls him out.

      Maybe we will finally see the demise of this cretin.

  4. You know, if you just looked at David Brooks, you'd think he's a Democrat. (I maintain you can usually tell by looking.) All right, I know that is not a substantive comment, but what can you expect from me?

    1. I don't totally disagree. After watching the RNC, I've often observed how they all look alike, that is, not too bright. Brooks is an interesting individual who used to be a liberal. As I've read and watched him over the last few years, I see a man struggling with his conservatism - or maybe, more accurately, with being a Republican. There is an interesting, albeit thin, bio at Wiki.

  5. Talent On Loan From God has "apologized." But here's the thing: Limbaugh attacked Ms. Fluke and called her a "slut" and "prostitute," and impugned her honor not once, not twice, but THREE times on his show this week. He tripled down.

    Now he's saying he shouldn't have, that he works in the theater of the absurd, satire, whatever. But we all know the difference, and Limbaugh's pretending that people with half a brain will not understand what his non-apology is about:

    This time he went too far, and it was going to hit him in his pockets. Limbaugh is who he is: a bully, a bigot and a woman-hating pig mouth. And, may I add, a yellow-bellied coward.

    Did I leave anything out?

    1. "Abusive"? This was no apology by any stretch of the imagination. And yes, the only thing he's worried about is losing sponsors.

  6. I haven't been writing about the campaigns lately because they've out-crazied my wildest imaginings. Besides, I knew you'd be right on top of it all. Clearly, I left it in the best of hands.

    I think of Brooks as a bellweather-turned-canary; he's extremely useful to us on the Left for reporting back from the fray. Michael Steele and Steve Schmidt have been serving those functions well for MSNBC, too.

    Excellent piece, Les, and I am impressed with your prescience and Brooks' early warning. This line stood out for me on the so-called primary campaign: "It’s a series of heresy trials in which each of the candidates accuse the others of tribal impurity."

    1. The GOP campaign has become redundant and there really isn't anything new or different anyone can say about it. More than anything, the entire spectacle demonstrates the overreach on their part and how boundaries of honesty and decency mean nothing to them. They pay no attention to moderates like Brooks, just like they ignored (and booed) Nelson Rockefeller in years gone by. Even though I'm not conservative by any stretch of the imagination, I think it would be a real calamity should the extremists succeed in destroying the GOP altogether. Of course, they did ask for it in their eagerness to get votes.

  7. 'Noticed that PARSLEY'S PICS shows up as the second listing on a search for "David Brooks GOP obituary". Hopefully others will read your well phrased post.

  8. Replies
    1. I don't mind "food" work either. ;) Thanks and you keep doing likewise.

  9. Many good comments. I will just opine that the wingers and oppossum Republicans deserve each other, while the country doesn't deserve any of them.