Political Animal


May 13, 2013 3:17 PM Where Are the “Reformish” Pols?

By Ed Kilgore

If you haven’t read Ryan Cooper’s piece from the May-June issue of the Washington Monthly, give it a gander when you get exhausted from reading about Benghazi! and the “IRS Scandal.” He’s done us the invaluable service of examining all of the conservative writers who have been touted in the last few months as promoting “reform” in the Republican Party, and providing some points of contrast and comparison.

But what I most like about Ryan’s piece is that he puts as much emphasis on the political influence—or the lack thereof—of these “reformish” conservatives as on the “ideas” or policies they are discussing. And it’s not just a matter of talking to Hill staff and assigning a rating for their apparent influence, either. When the “Democratic reform initiatives” began to get traction in the late 1980s, it wasn’t because Democratic pols were listening to “reformist” wonks and writers—it was because they were participating in and to a large extent leading these discussions. As Ryan notes:

It is easy, however, to exaggerate their influence. “There is a cultural gulf,” says John Feehery, a former staffer for Tom DeLay and Dennis Hastert, between the reformist writer-intellectuals, with their New York/Washington sensibilities, and Republican officeholders, with their base of voters in Texas, Kansas, and Georgia. The reformists “are speaking the language of policy,” notes Feehery, while the base “is speaking the language of hating Obama.”

I’ve already argued today that one of the byproducts of the current scandalmania that’s now gripping the conservative commentariat and the GOP could be a total loss of interest in any “rebranding” effort. The same fate could easily strike interest in “reformish” wonks and writers on the Right, who may soon be tempted to put big hatpins through their frontal lobes and join the feeding frenzy.

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 May 13, 2013 3:57 PM:

    And, if Hillary runs, and wins, their fever won't break.

    They'll just change from passionately hating a black man, to passionately hating a white woman - a white woman they've passionately loathed and despised for over 2 decades.

    If the fever breaks at all, it won't be until all of the old white Conservatives die-off - which will probably take place in the term, hopefully two, that Hillary serves.

    Because, FSM help us if a Republican is elected President in 2016, or 2020, with a Republican Congress.

    The Republican Party, and the base, will go nucking fut's, with joy, a zeal to repeal, and a determined will to exact revenge.

    That, will be so gruesome a fate for us Liberals, and this country, maybe even the world, that I wouldn't even wish it on the worst and most vicious of the Conservatives.