Political Animal


June 14, 2012 10:04 AM Some Battle. Some Soul.

By Ed Kilgore

Interestingly enough, “centrist” John Avlon looks at the recent brouhaha between Jeb Bush and Grover Norquist and see not a commissar cracking the whip on a pol saying inconvenient things but rather a “battle for the soul” of the Republican Party, with Bush representing a “growing backlash” against Norquistian litmus tests and ideological rigidity generally.

Man, that’s some wishful thinking all right, perhaps understandable coming from Avlon, who used to belong to the now-vanished moderate wing of the GOP.

But as inaccurate as I think Avlon’s assessment is, there’s danger in accepting his assessment of what would represent a backlash against conservative activist tyranny, were it to happen. One of his figures of great courage is Sen. Lindsay Graham, who has simply said he’d accept the idea of devoting a small portion of revenues raised by “loophole closing” to deficit reduction rather than tax-rate-reductions. A four-to-one spending-to-taxes ratio would be fine with him, as a way to get “entitlement reform.”

So are non-Republicans supposed to snake-dance through the streets in joy at the bravery and patriotism of a GOP senator who’ll grudgingly accept keeping tax rates where they are in exchange for the decimation of Medicare and Medicaid? No thanks.

Find me one Republican who’s willing to reflect his or her passion for deficit reduction by supporting a return to the top-end tax rates of the Reagan, Bush 41 or Clinton administrations, and then we’d be talking. Until then, the “battle for the soul of the GOP” is a small skirmish over tactics, not some real ideological reconsideration.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on June 14, 2012 10:26 AM:

    Why is it that in any "Grand Bargain" scenario, the 'Grand's' get all the 'bargains?'

    I wish we had a President whose Congress had some balls - then, we could return to Reagan Era tax rates, and inheritance taxes.

    Wait, that last description fits "Baby Doc" Bush, and his band of merry sycophants, who cut taxes, kept deregulating banking and finance, lied America into two wars and occupations, and had a Big Pharma give-away - ALL off budget, and led us to the verge of being a Banana Republic.

    And that may seem like a day at the beach, if Mitt has his own sycophantic choir, orchestrated by the Koch Brothers, and their ill ilk.

    I mean, A DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT whose DEMOCRATIC Congress had some BAL...

    FSM, sometimes I crack myself up!

  • Anonymous on June 14, 2012 10:41 AM:

    Oh please. Jebbie just wanted to quash the veep talk once and for all.

  • boatboy_srq on June 14, 2012 10:43 AM:

    "Tax reform" is in itself a strategy, and "deficit reduction" a red herring. One look at Bush II is proof enough: the GOP isn't interested in reducing the deficit - so long as the deficit spending goes to things they want to overspend on.

    The goal has always been destroying the social safety net - for which "entitlement reform" is a convenient euphemism. "Entitlement reform" they can sell to (for example) retirees dependent on SocSec, Medicare and the VA while gutting those programs, because the idea that "having paid into those things" and being entitled to the benefits constitute the same thing doesn't occur to those voters. The language is simply part of Othering all the people dependent on the safety net, so that they can kill that safety net without the voters' awareness of what they're doing until it's too late.

  • Anonymous on June 14, 2012 10:59 AM:

    "Until then, the battle for the soul of the GOP is a small skirmish over tactics, not some real ideological reconsideration."

    It is silly to think there would be anything more significant than a small skirmish over something as stunted and deformed as the 'soul' of the GOP. That would be like having a thermo-nuclear war over the last strawberry in the package. You know, the half green one with the giant worm hole in it.

    The GOP is all about letting the 1% shirk their responsibilities and making poor people gain 'self-reliance' through deprivation and starvation or 'salvation' through death.

    The soul of the GOP is a black glob of tar congealing in a life-long smoker's lung. It's not much to squabble over.

  • biggerbox on June 14, 2012 11:04 AM:

    I would expect that the battle for the soul of the GOP would have to take place at the CERN super-collider, since that's the only place in the world equipped to detect particles of such a extreme sub-atomic size.

  • Peter C on June 14, 2012 11:04 AM:

    You may blame @Anonymous on me.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on June 14, 2012 12:43 PM:

    What's going on is Bush presenting the image that the Republican party isn't as toxic and malignant as it would appear to the (trained) eye. He's providing cover for their extremism and appealing to the independents. It's actually all very clever and is going to work FOR Republicans and not against it.

    Same for the insurance companies saying their keep the ACA provisions they mentioned. There's no chance in hell that will happen. What they're doing is talking to the Supreme Court and also to independents who will just say when the Supremes strike it down that it doesn't matter anyway. This keeps Republicans from getting hurt by the Supremes doing the dirty work of the Republican party. Republicans know how to win. Democrats don't.

  • Doug on June 14, 2012 7:54 PM:

    So Disgusted, you're say the Democrats should LIE too?

  • GUCCI ؔ on June 15, 2012 2:54 AM:

    СƾɤΤ襤ŮӤʹȤƺϤäƤGUCCI ؔεLjĤȤʤäƤå Lؔϳ˚ݣƷ|ϷdzˤФ餷ƣäʤСʤ˽ȤäҊФ