With The Radicalization Of The GOP, More Mainstream Conservatives Are Taking Another Look At The Democrats-- A Mixed Blessing
The new mayor of Santa Clarita is a lifelong Republican. And so is the whole city council. But, as we saw yesterday, they unanimously sent a public admonition to longtime GOP congressman Buck McKeon. These are mainstream conservatives, a very different breed of Republican from the far right ideological extremists who have taken over the Beltway Republican Establishment and are leading it straight down the toilet. And while we're talking about Santa Clarita, this week former Republican congressional candidate and McKeon aide Harrison Leonard endorsed Democrat Lee Rogers, McKeon's opponent in the November general election. His statement:
“I’m deeply troubled by what I see going on today in our nation’s capital. Our country is saddled with a seemingly irreversible burden of debt that is weakening the dollar and jeopardizing our retirement. Our international standing remains strained as the men and women of our armed forces are stretched to the breaking point. And the civil liberties we cherish as a free people are being undermined by bureaucrats who seem to care more about power than freedom.
“I get the sense that Americans of all political stripes are tired of ‘politics as usual,’ and are searching for a candidate with substantive, principled positions in which Republicans, Democrats, and independents can all find common ground.
“Today, I am proud to announce my full support for Dr. Lee Rogers. Lee is a family man who has found success by making his own way in the medical field. He is one of us and his story perfectly embodies the spirit of our community. Most importantly, he’s a concerned citizen who loves his country. Lee will be a common-sense advocate for the revitalization of the American workforce, for strengthening our national defense, and for improving our health care system. I am confident that Lee will always put his values and guiding principles ahead of special interests and party politics.
“At one point I was an intern to Representative Buck McKeon, and with all due respect to the Congressman, being a career politician doesn’t make one a leader. Real leaders lead on the issues and aren’t a rubber stamp for their party. After two decades, I think it’s fair to say Mr. McKeon’s had his chance to make a difference in our community and he is currently failing us miserably on the local front with his paralysis on Cemex.”
Sometimes things like this happen locally. Republicans in northeast Los Angeles County may be making history by rejecting a longtime Republican congressman but almost the entire Throckmorton County (Texas) Democratic establishment switched parties and joined the GOP earlier this month. But there's something different going on now-- and it's national. Conservative operative and former Reagan staffer Michael Fumento got right to the heart of it this week at Salon in explaining his break with the extreme right. Fumento is a skilled and entertaining writer and I suggest you read his whole piece at the link above. As he explains, his exposés primarily appeared in right-wing publications. Back when they were interested in serious research. I also founded a conservative college newspaper, held positions in the Reagan administration and at several conservative think tanks, and published five books that conservatives applauded. I’ve written for umpteen major conservative publications-- National Review, the Weekly Standard, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, among them. And then he goes into why he's "changed" and why he's no longer a movement right-winger.
That was the old right. The last thing hysteria promoters want is calm, reasoned argument backed by facts. And I’m horrified that these people have co-opted the name “conservative” to scream their messages of hate and anger.
Nothing the new right does is evidently outrageous enough to receive more than a peep of indignation from the new right... Last month U.S. Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican recently considered by some as vice-president material, insisted that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party, again with little condemnation from the new right.
Mitt Romney took a question at a town hall meeting this month from a woman who insisted President Obama be “tried for treason,” without challenging, demurring from or even commenting on her assertion.
And then there’s the late Andrew Breitbart (assassinated on the orders of Obama, natch). A video from February shows him shrieking at peaceful protesters: “You’re freaks and animals! Stop raping people! Stop raping people! You freaks! You filthy freaks! You filthy, filthy, filthy raping, murdering freaks!” He went on for a minute-and-a-half like that. Speak not ill of the dead? Sen. Ted Kennedy’s body was barely cold when Breitbart labeled him “a big ass motherf@#$er,” a “duplicitous bastard” a “prick” and “a special pile of human excrement.”
The new right loved it! Upon his own death shortly after, Breitbart was immediately sanctified and sent to lead the Seraphim. He was repeatedly eulogized as “the most important conservative of our time never to hold office,” skipping right past William F. What’s-his-name Jr.
There was nothing “conservative” about Breitbart. Ever-consummate gentlemen like Buckley and Ronald Reagan would have been mortified by such behavior as Breitbart’s-- or West’s...
Meanwhile, these people who practice shutting down the opposition through shouts and smears accuse President Obama of having dictatorial dreams? A recent email I received, based on accusations from umpteen right-wing groups, blared in caps-lock fury: “BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA HAS SIGNED A MARTIAL LAW EXECUTIVE ORDER!” This specific message, from a group calling itself RightMarch.org, goes on: “THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS! BARACK OBAMA IS TRYING TO VIOLATE THE CONSTITUTION, BECOME A DICTATOR, AND TAKE AWAY OUR RIGHTS!”
Outrageous, indeed. Obama’s order updated a National Defense Resource Preparedness act, which was essentially identical to one signed 19 years earlier and actually originated in 1950. It granted no authority to Obama that he did not already have under existing laws.
President Obama is regularly referred to as a Marxist/Socialist, Nazi, tyrant, Muslim terrorist supporter and-- let me look this up, but I’ll bet probably the antichrist, too. Yup, there it is! Over 5 million Google references. There should be a contest to see if there’s anything for which Obama hasn’t been accused. Athlete’s foot? The “killer bees”? Maybe. In any case, the very people who coined and promoted such terms as “Bush Derangement Syndrome, Cheney Derangement Syndrome and Palin Derangement Syndrome” have been promoting hysterical attitudes toward Obama since before he was even sworn in.
No, I’m not cherry-picking. When I say “regularly referred to,” interpret literally. Polls show that about half of voting Republican buy into the birther nonsense (one of the more prominent hysterias within the hysteria). Only about a fourth seem truly sure that Obama was actually born here. In her nationally syndicated column Michelle Malkin wrote regarding Limbaugh’s slut remarks, that “I’m sorry the civility police now have an opening to demonize the entire right based on one radio comment.” In a stroke she’s expressed her disdain for civility and declared the new right’s sins can be dispatched as an itsy-bitsy little single faux pas, “one radio comment.”
...The new right cannot advance a conservative agenda precisely because, other than a few small holdouts like the American Conservative magazine or that battleship that refuses to become a museum, George Will, it is not itself conservative. Pod people are running the show. It has no such capability; no such desire. I find that disturbing for obvious reasons. But, based on my own conversations with liberals, I think-- nay, I know-- that if more of these allegedly godless, treasonous people understood real conservatism a lot would embrace many conservative positions.
Thus everybody realizes government spending has lost its airbrakes. But while the new right screams the most about big government, it nonetheless supported President George W. Bush as he presided over the largest expansion of government spending since uber-liberal FDR and left us with a massive debt before President Obama was sworn in. Why? Silly rabbit! Because the left opposed him.
...Obsessed with attacking, the new right will carpet-bomb positions of the old right if the left comes around to it.
Thus the right has traditionally opposed government subsidies. My first cover story was in Buckley’s National Review, arguing against ethanol subsidies that ultimately grew to $6 billion annually. But when the Senate sought to repeal the subsidy last year, right-wing guru and Jack Abramoff henchman Grover Norquist fought it-- with the stunning argument that cutting a government subsidy is actually a tax hike in disguise!
And could the Republican Party have possibly found a more perfect presidential candidate for this manufactured milieu than Willard Romney? Wednesday he proposed getting serious about abolishing free public education and replacing it with a for-profit voucher system that would guarantee America a place in the Troisieme Monde. So will he have to carpet bomb this Willard Romney?