Political Animal


February 07, 2013 2:23 PM Getting Played

By Ed Kilgore

I’m getting a tad hoarse objecting to the meme that the Republican Party is engaged in a struggle for its very soul between “moderates” like Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio and Eric Cantor and Karl Rove and crazy people like Todd Akin and Christine O’Donnell. If you still need convincing, James Vega and J.P. Green and I have just put out a memo under the auspices of The Democratic Strategist patiently explaining all over again that the intra-GOP differences, where they exist at all, are strategic and tactical, not ideological.

But while I am flagging in my labors, Charles Pierce is just getting warmed up. Have an appropriate beverage and enjoy him sending up the latest example of the above meme, as maintained, of course, by Politico’s VandeHei and Allen:

Over at Tiger Beat On The Potomac, there’s a real buyer’s market for the Brooklyn Bridge, Florida swampland, knockoff Rolexes, and large bags of magic beans. The two presiding geniuses there today have chipped in with a Behind The Curtain feature about how you know that the Republican party is remaking itself anew because Dick Morris and Sarah Palin lost their gigs at Fox News, and because…”BOBBY” JINDAL! EEEEEKKK!!!!….
Not much gets past the two presiding geniuses. Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin were genuinely terrible candidates. Dick Morris’s record for predicting things was decidedly worse than that of the octopus who used to pick the winners of soccer matches. And Sarah Palin was a public dolt. From these things, and many more, the American people decided that the Republican party, and the conservative movement that gives the party its inimitable je ne sais quoi, had gone insane. The authors figured this out on Tuesday, I believe….
[D]oesn’t the fact that Fox has walked in lockstep with the rebranding con that the Republicans are trying to pull generally pretty much prove that it’s basically still a propaganda vehicle?….
Look, kidz. You’re being played. There is no sign of moderation in Republican politics. The obstruction goes merrily on in Washington. It’s just targeted better. In the states, the wild things are still at play, as we shall see in a later post. The problem isn’t the way people talk about the policies. It’s about the policies. People would have come to the same conclusion they came to about Willard Romney if the 47 percent tape never had surfaced. The Republican party is still radically anti-choice. It’s just going to be more careful how it tosses around the word, “rape.” “Bobby” Jindal is as much an extremist as Todd Akin ever was. The fact that he returns your calls is irrelevant.

I would imagine Pierce shares my conviction that we can howl about it all we want without denting this meme, since much of MSM journalism would crumble without the assumption the two major parties are by definition equally composed of “moderates” and “ideologues” in a dynamic that ever leads towards bipartisan compromise in the Center. If it requires calling stone ideologues like Rubio and Jindal “moderates” or remaking Fox News into the Voice of Conservative Reason, so be it.

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.


  • low-tech cyclist on February 07, 2013 2:49 PM:

    I dunno - I think that rather than being played, Vandehei and Allen are in on the con.

    Or they could be dumber than a box of hammers. It's really hard to decide which.

  • boatboy_srq on February 07, 2013 3:14 PM:

    The difficulty is that the public - including the Really Serious People - want a second rational, responsible political party. And they're used to having it in the GOP of yesteryear. Even after the Contract On -er, With - America, the Clinton impeachment, eight years of Shrubbery and now the Teahad, there's a deep resistance to acknowledging the absolute batsh#ttery rampant in the modern GOTea. And whenever someone - like Rubio or Jindal - who can, on occasion, speak in complete sentences including words longer than two syllables, there rises the hope that this person is proof.

    Unfortunately for that conviction that the GOTea can't be really, certifiably off-the-rails, the current crop seem to be in one of three camps: 1) those while still insane nonetheless possess dictionaries; 2) downsized former marketing professionals; or 3) amoral opportunists (but I repeat myself).

  • Ronald on February 07, 2013 3:34 PM:

    Part of the problem is that the Republicans continue to persist that their ideas are credible. They've backed themselves into ideological corners that they can neither defend nor escape from.

    So they fall back on whining, playing the 'victim' card, blaming 'them' for their problems, or otherwise totally ignoring the facts in front of them (and us all!)It is dangerous, really, to have such a party of blatently ignorant politicians controlling such a huge segment of American life.

    Reagan, for all his flaws, was at least willing to negotiate...the Teapers (fed and grown by Rove and co.) have no desire to negotiate for any reason- because they've been told over and over and over again (in ads, by fox news, by their political leaders) that they are RIGHT and TRUE and no matter what anybody says they cannot be wrong.

    No wonder things are so f**ked up.

    Of course, now we're watching those chickens 'coming home to roost', and seeing if 'turdblossom' can at all leash the beast he created and fed on his vision of "50-state Republican dominance for generations to come"

    It's been said many times: Pass the popcorn!

  • BillFromPA on February 07, 2013 3:35 PM:

    It really doesn't matter if the MSM buys the latest crap or not, the GOP problem is that actual voters have come to see the repug craziness for what it is and the only viable response the GOP has is to try to mute the appearance if idiocy without actually changing the idiotic policies that are shrinking the party. The 'sane' repugs claim it's only a preception problem whereas the perception folks have of the GOP are accurate and immutable.

  • Diana W on February 07, 2013 3:41 PM:

    I agree. Allen and Vandehei are in on the con. Fox is still Fox. Palin and Morris departures represent marketing decisions, not ideological change. Ailes is still in charge. Rove, Hannity, O'Reilly are still spewing, and down-ballot GOP legislatures are doing horrible things all over the country. There has been abolutely no substantive change to GOP ideology, up to and including Rubio.
    Allen/Vandehei's idea of "moderate" is something to the far right of Atilla the Hun. Time Magazine's concept of moderate is about the same. Don't turn the bright lights off on these guys (and yes, it's mostly guys. They are still toxic.

  • Stetson Kennedy on February 07, 2013 3:50 PM:

    Thanks Ed, the link actually send me to [i]Tiger Beat on the Potomac[/i] when I thought it would take me to Charlie's column.

    I now have to go shower.

  • max on February 07, 2013 4:15 PM:

    since much of MSM journalism would crumble without the assumption the two major parties are by definition equally composed of “moderates” and “ideologues” in a dynamic that ever leads towards bipartisan compromise in the Center.

    I'm with low-tech cyclist: there is a large faction of upper-crust East Coast conservative types and they basically run the MSM. The tricky part is they aren't cultural 'heartland' (gag) conservatives. (That's because they have gay friends and whathaveyou.) They ARE economic conservatives that run the ideological gamut between Grover Norquist and Angela Merkel.

    They're classists, not stone racists and very dedicated to image above all else. And they don't really care which party wins as long as that party does what they want.

    (For example, there are bunch of massacres in the rest of the country, but no sudden support for gun control. A guy goes off in Connecticut and suddenly it's all gun control all the time. But a peculiar sort of gun control - one that doesn't seem to support actual gun control (hey, the impoverished hordes might show up at your place in the Hamptons), but would like to crack down on 'bad people'. So video games or porn or computers or black people or terrorists are the problem, and just never you mind that Nancy Lanza was just their sort of Nice Northeastern White Person and her son wouldn't have been stopped by anything they're proposing. Same as 9/11, another words.)

    At any rate, those folks run the media and they will by God push their agenda, even if it's unpopular. Hell, because it's unpopular.

    ['The courtier press: can't live with them, can't send them off to live with the results of their manias.']

  • evodevo on February 08, 2013 11:04 AM:

    Hard to lose your soul when you never had one...

  • Rip on February 08, 2013 4:12 PM:

    The battle for the soul of the Republican party is between the crazy conservative extremists and those on their right.