Friday, November 21, 2008

Really Off The Reservation

Kathleen Parker, a conservative columnist who discovered the depth of psychotic vitriol that floats near the bottom of the Republican base when she called for Sarah Palin's ouster from the Republican ticket, has penned a column that shows just how far away she has wandered from what was, once, conservative orthodoxy.

Before I go any further, I should be clear that I am noting this not because I "agree" with her view, or even that I "disagree" with it. I am noting the column because it is a model of sane political advice that I am quite sure her former employers at National Review would consider ridiculous precisely because it is so sane (please remember, Jonah Goldberg is an editor there, which should give anyone an idea of the level of ridiculousness floating around out there in Republican land).

[T]he evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth -- as long as we're setting ourselves free -- is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.


[T]he GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows. In the process, the party has alienated its non-base constituents, including other people of faith (those who prefer a more private approach to worship), as well as secularists and conservative-leaning Democrats who otherwise might be tempted to cross the aisle.

Here's the deal, 'pubbies: Howard Dean was right.

It isn't that culture doesn't matter. It does. But preaching to the choir produces no converts. And shifting demographics suggest that the Republican Party -- and conservatism with it -- eventually will die out unless religion is returned to the privacy of one's heart where it belongs.


the Republican Party is largely comprised of white, married Christians. Anyone watching the two conventions last summer can't have missed the stark differences: One party was brimming with energy, youth and diversity; the other felt like an annual Depends sales meeting.

With the exception of Miss Alaska, of course.

Even Sarah Palin has blamed Bush policies for the GOP loss. She's not entirely wrong, but she's also part of the problem. Her recent conjecture about whether to run for president in 2012 (does anyone really doubt she will?) speaks for itself:

"I'm like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I'm like, don't let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is. ... And if there is an open door in (20)12 or four years later, and if it's something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I'll plow through that door."

Let's do pray that God shows Alaska's governor the door.

While not the entire column, I think these excerpts show what eminently sensible advice she is offering the Republican Party. I also think it should be clear why it will be ignored. Like the Democrats in 1972, the Republicans had a huge can of whup-ass served to them, and they are in search of an identity right now. Just as the Democrats took a long time to regroup and reorganize - in part because, while it is poor form to say so, American meanstream liberalism was bereft of ideas starting in the late 1960's or so. By the time Ronald Reagan was elected, all they had was a kind of reflexive anti-conservatism, and it really didn't serve them, or the American people well. Even their brightest lights of the mid-1980's - Mario Cuomo, Jesse Jackson, Geraldine Ferraro - were left with nothing but reasons why they weren't Republicans. Bill Clinton, the most successful Democratic politician since Franklin Roosevelt, had no core set of ideas, no vision, and offered only a legacy of fiscal prudence that was squandered by his successor.

Kathleen Parker here is telling the Republicans to smile at the conservative base, and then show them the door. I think it unlikely, however, because along with social conservatives there are also the neo-cons. Nihilists to the core, wrong on pretty much everything, they nevertheless hold the whip hand because of the patina of "intellectual prowess" they possess for some reason or other. As such, they will continue to push an agenda that resonates with social conservatives, uniting the two most marginal sectors of the Republican Party in a deadly embrace.

I am not an admirer of Ms. Parker, but I also find her advice, especially in regards Gov. Palin very sound. The problem, of course, is that it will be ignored, even scorned precisely because the two loudest, most vociferous voices in the Republican Party are hostile to actual thought.

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