Political Animal

Blog

January 28, 2013 9:10 AM Waiting For Righty

By Ed Kilgore

It’s always good to see Paul Krugman confirming one’s arguments, as he did yesterday in a devastating column about the phony “reforms” going on in the Republican Party, as represented by phony reformer Bobby Jindal.

But it’s even more interesting to see a bona fide conservative journalist singing the same tune. The Washington Examiner’s Byron York attended the RNC winter meeting in Charlotte, and found little evidence of any intention among “reformers” of changing the party’s ideology or policy positions:

[N]obody at the winter meeting had any illusions that 80’s-style Republican success is even on the horizon for the party. But even though everyone realized the gravity of the situation, there were still questions, as the members left Charlotte, about how the GOP will try to solve its problems. Will it enter a period of fundamental self-examination? Or will it decide that its main difficulties are in communications and messaging, and focus on superficial changes in hopes of winning future elections?
The answer: Don’t look for fundamental self-examination. Certainly the party’s leaders are talking about serious change. But the conclusion that emerged from the three-day meeting in North Carolina is that the party by itself cannot make fundamental changes when it comes to the stands Republicans take on some of the nation’s most important and divisive issues. The central GOP can improve its technology, its communications strategy, its get-out-the-vote efforts, its engagement with minorities. But a new Republican vision for the future, if there is to be one, will be left for a future Republican candidate to shape.

York goes on to quote Republicans comparing their plight to that of Democrats in the 1980s, followed by the suggestion that it took a presidential candidate—Bill Clinton in 1992—to convince voters the party had changed.

But this is, of course, a circular argument. Presidential nominees do not come out of nowhere, and do not nominate themselves for president. The very movers-and-shakers who were talking to Byron York in Charlotte will have a significant impact on who has the credibility to run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, and who passes the party’s various ideological litmus tests. If the litmus tests are themselves a big problem for the party, as most of us outsiders think they are, then somebody has to relax them before the Electoral Savior of the GOP can spring to life.

And how realistic, by the way, is it that this candidate-created magic will occur any time soon? York reports that Bobby Jindal, for all the adulatory press he got in Washington for his Big Speech in Charlotte, did not exactly wow the room. Calling people “stupid” while confirming their stupid policy positions as “principled” is not necessarily a formula for success. But it’s not clear there is one in a party that fundamentally doesn’t want to change.

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.

Comments

  • kevo on January 28, 2013 9:23 AM:

    Until the Republican party stops being the reason we can't have nice things for the common good, it will be destined to be the party of the Big Fix, and not the party of Big Ideas as it has been in the past! -Kevo

  • c u n d gulag on January 28, 2013 9:44 AM:

    Epistemic closure, and the fear of being primaried from the right, will keep Republicans staying where they're at right now - if not turning even further to the right.

    The news this morning was about some new "Gang of X#", who are working on immigration.
    I don't think much will happen, because, again, the Republican base HATES them some Messicans, and will keep the House R's from confirming much of anything from the Senate.
    And, we'll see what Mitch "Yertly, the Anti-Gay Gay Turtle" McConnell is even will to do, since he's running for reelection in 2014.

    OT - Against my better judgement, I turned on Cup 'O Schmoe's show at 7, and lo and behold, Paul Krugman was on!

    He was trying to explain things to them about the economy, the deficit, entitlements (Earned Benefits), and jobs – and how the priority ought to be jobs, jobs, jobs.

    The idiots on the DC Morning Zoo crew keep talking about lowering the deficit, cutting entitlements, and higher interest rates.
    Richard Haass kept mentioning the interest rates, and Krugman was trying his best not to call him a feckin’ idjit that early in the morning.

    Dr. K might as well be speaking in Ancient Sumarian.

    The look on Richard Haass’ face as Krugman was talking, looked like a chimp’s might, if he was just handed a Rubix Cube and asked to solve it.
    "New data... New data... Sensory overload.... Sen... Overload... Overl... Does not compute..."

    My favorite part came at the end, when Joe said that this was interesting, and would Dr. Krugman like to come back another time?
    And Krugman, obviously as amused as he was frustrated, told him, 'I don't think so. It's too early in the morning for me.'

    From the way he said it, I took it as, "Why would I want the frustration of talking to morons like you this early in the morning?"

    And then, after some Keynesian logic, Schmoe brings on Marsha Blackburn (R-Sibling F*ck, TN) to spew her patented lunacy.

    From the sublime and intelligent, to the rediculous and moronic.

  • Bo on January 28, 2013 9:45 AM:

    There is something deliciously ironic about little Bobby Jindahl admonishing his party about "not being stupid". That's kind of like Palin advising the GOP to "learn more about geography".

  • Bo on January 28, 2013 9:47 AM:

    There is something deliciously ironic about little Bobby Jindahl admonishing his party about "not being stupid". That's kind of like Palin advising the GOP to "learn more about geography".

  • bigtuna on January 28, 2013 10:11 AM:

    You have to really worry about your organization when Byron York provides one of the better cogent analyses of your problems.

  • Christiaan on January 28, 2013 10:50 AM:

    Of course they're wrong that Clinton was the one that turned around the flailing Democratic party. The change happened before his candidacy, in particular with the DLC. It's very hard to keep track of history from inside a bubble, apparently.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on January 28, 2013 11:24 AM:

    Pardon me, but every time I hear/see Bobby Jindal's name, I flashback to that goofy muppet-esque performance that he called a State of the Union Rebuttal... If his little speech-a-doo-hickey was delivered in a similar fashion, well, I guess I pity the fools who had to listen... Hopeless, they are.

  • DRF on January 28, 2013 12:08 PM:

    I think you can't put much stock in what Republican political leaders say; let's watch what they do. The Palins, Gohmerts, etc. in the party aren't all that bright, but the Boehners, Cantors and others, particularly the professional political workers like Rove, are reasonably intelligent and surely get the problems facing their party going forward. Look at where they are heading with the bipartisan framework for immigration reform: if they can get this past the rank and file in the House, this will represent a real shift in policy. Also pay attention to what Cantor proposes this week in terms of policy initiatives, all of which will represent a shift away in focus from their unpopular economic positions.

  • Neo on January 28, 2013 12:21 PM:

    Congress is poised to clear the final $50 billion chunk of emergency aid for Superstorm Sandy relief Monday — and in one vote, it will have used up all the new tax money President Obama won by raising rates on the wealthy in the “fiscal cliff” deal.

  • Mimikatz on January 28, 2013 12:38 PM:

    Tom Edsall's comment over the weekend was dead on. Most people become Republicans because they hate and fear change. You can't expect such people to understand the problem, much less embrace change. They won't, except around the margins,and wil embrace gimmicks and dirty tricks for as long as they can.

  • emjayay on January 28, 2013 1:26 PM:

    Turns out today's Cup O' Joe is up on msnbc.com already. You usually have to wait a day for Hardball and Maddow. Anyway, they did let Paul K do about 75% of the talking, possibly because of having nothing much to say. He was definitely able to make his points, which isn't always the case on this sort of show. Rendell seemed to be on his side, but being a politician talked a bit about political realities of haveing to give the other side something even if they're wrong.

    But what I'm wondering about is...who is that woman and what is her function supposed to be? There's this middle aged woman with too short way to bleached hair and way too pink lipstick and way too much mascara and a way too blah colored knit blouse on sitting next to Joe. She did a lot of cocking her head at various angles and squinting like she was listening and concentrating and a little shuffling of some papers, but only threw in a few meaningless words once in a while. The only thing she said with any meaning was a comment about economy talk being like climate change talk, which PK seized on instead of ignoring like her other comments and spent some time explaining what a stupid remark it was.

  • emjayay on January 28, 2013 1:28 PM:

    Turns out today's Cup O' Joe is up on msnbc.com already. You usually have to wait a day for Hardball and Maddow. Anyway, they did let Paul K do about 75% of the talking, possibly because of having nothing much to say. He was definitely able to make his points, which isn't always the case on this sort of show. Rendell seemed to be on his side, but being a politician talked a bit about political realities of haveing to give the other side something even if they're wrong.

    But what I'm wondering about is...who is that woman and what is her function supposed to be? There's this middle aged woman with too short way to bleached hair and way too pink lipstick and way too much mascara and a way too blah colored knit blouse on sitting next to Joe. She did a lot of cocking her head at various angles and squinting like she was listening and concentrating and a little shuffling of some papers, but only threw in a few meaningless words once in a while. The only thing she said with any meaning was a comment about economy talk being like climate change talk, which PK seized on instead of ignoring like her other comments and spent some time explaining what a stupid remark it was.

  • emjayay on January 28, 2013 1:32 PM:

    There are two of those comments because the first one never appeared to post. It didn't go away and the Political Animal thingy up there in the left corner was still spinning. I've learned to copy every comment here before posting in case something screws up, like I hit the dreaded Preview button by mistake and the captcha is wrong or something.

  • Sean Scallon on January 28, 2013 1:36 PM:

    "the party by itself cannot make fundamental changes when it comes to the stands Republicans take on some of the nation’s most important and divisive issues."

    That's true for any party. Parties are largely a reflection who votes for them, works for them and who funds them and can have a hard time devoting resources to policy issues (The DLC stood apart from the main Democratic apparatus and was largely corporately funded).

    But what's worse for the GOP is that the people on the outside who do affect policy and thinking largely believe "conservatism can't lose" and largely believe also that if voters reject a conservative candidates it's because they weren't conservative enough. The party has absolutely no control over them, even less so now than before and how Republican politicians act and what they say will largely depend on their cues. That was always true of the activist base but now more so of the financiers like the Kochs or Adelsons are just as ideological as the talk show hosts and the astroturf lobbyists.

    Watch the immigration debate and listen to the talk shows, what they say will be interesting.

  • Doug on January 28, 2013 4:54 PM:

    "...80's-style Republican success..." Byron York quoted by Ed Kilgore

    Mr. York mat want to look into what that "success" was really based on. Was it due to a majority of the country actually moving right-ward? Or was it due more to disenchantment with nearly four decades of Democratic domination of DC and the seemingly near-one-party rule that had developed from that domination?
    Because there IS a difference, a very big difference...