Political Animal


March 05, 2013 10:40 AM Happy Campers

By Ed Kilgore

I was amused to read Maggie Haberman’s piece in Politico today that expressed her or her employers’ frustration with the length of the post-2012 period of reflection in the Republican Party. I mean, Lord, it’s gone on for close to four months now, which in Politico Years is a century.

More revealing is Haberman’s summary of the “camps” in the GOP with differing views of the party’s problems:

There’s a split between those who believe the party’s problem is cosmetic, those who believe it’s data-based and those who think it’s ideological and policy-based.

That third camp—you know, the one in touch with objective reality—is not mentioned again in the remainder of this long article. And why should it be? Nobody but a few wonks—and maybe the perpetually misaligned Jon Huntsman—is over there toasting marshmallows at that tiny fire.

The rest of the campers are happy to argue with each other over the advisability of this or that “reform” so long as no one brings up ideology, which by definition cannot be wrong because it’s the ideology of The Founders, and the Real Americans, and the job-creators, and the “makers,” and in some accounts, of Almighty God—yea, of Ronald Reagan! So to the vast impatience of Politico, which wants to stop all this deep thinking and get on with the fiscal battles and the next two election cycles, Republicans will continue their Struggle For the Epidermis of the Party until it’s very clear “maintaining conservative principles” is the wave of the future, just like it’s been since 1964.

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.


  • biggerbox on March 05, 2013 11:05 AM:

    One problem for the Republicans is they can't agree on what they want to be. Do they want to be a political party in a democratic system, and attract votes? Or do they want to be a doomsday cult? Do they want to be an effective tool for the political purposes required by the corporate elite, or do they want to be a radical Christianist revolution?

    It's not just that they can't agree on what they need to do to hold power, it's that they can't even agree on what they'd do with the power when they have it.

  • cwolf on March 05, 2013 11:06 AM:

    Republicans will continue their Struggle For the Epidermis of the Party...


  • low-tech cyclist on March 05, 2013 11:11 AM:

    "Republicans will continue their Struggle For the Epidermis of the Party..."

    Quote of the Day!

  • Josef K on March 05, 2013 11:38 AM:

    And Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

    Dear gods, is this all we have to look forward to for the next four years? The GOP so morribound by its ideology it can't even function anymore?

  • MuddyLee on March 05, 2013 11:51 AM:

    Huntsman was the most "presidential" of any of the repub candidates in 2012 - and he polled about one percent of the repub primary voters. The inmates have taken over the asylum. The repubs are hopeless - they must be defeated in 2014 and 2016.

  • boatboy_srq on March 05, 2013 12:00 PM:

    The GOTea dilemma is simple - especially now that they're working toward the extinction of the RINO. Are they a money-centric party, which occasionally says something [more] stupid [than usual] when it comes to social issues, or are they a party for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue which [occasionally?] succumbs to greed when presented with wads of corporate cash? Because the only two options which seem available are a) find some way for the corporatists of the party to adhere to FundiEvangelist Orthodoxy, or b) find enough special interest cash to make said Leviticus-thumping foetus-worshippers feel sufficiently Elect to shut their traps.

  • CharlieM on March 05, 2013 4:18 PM:

    Heh. "..struggle for the epidermis of the party".

    Good one. And so perfectly describes what's going on.