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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Weekend discussion - Is the Republican "civil war" over?

I have a bit of a busy weekend, so I thought it would be interesting to posit this debate point: One year from its inception, is the Republican "civil war" over (and has the crazy right won)?

On a first blush, my answer would be yes.

The crazy right seems to be pushing their debate right now, saying almost anything they want without any pushback from "moderates." What few "moderates" that are left on the stage are largely in retreat, concerned about their own jeopardy if they cross the hardcore, and when one of the "moderates" is attacked, Olympia Snowe, Charlie Crist, Lindsey Graham, etc, none of the other "moderates" dares to step up to speak for them. More or less, the "moderates" have fled the field and are now worried only about their own survival, trying to convince the crazy right victors that they have been on their side all along.

There's also a second question over whether the "civil war" is actually over, or whether this is just early battles. There's also a question over whether a potential influx of disapproving of Obama independents, might shift the field (or whether the crazy wing keeps them away,) but at this point, one year from the "civil war's" beginning, I'm inclined to call it over by the mercy rule.

So, opinions? Are the moderates really out? Will the crazy right over extend, leaving an opening for a moderate resurgence? Has the GOP changed for good? What would be the implications?

I think we now have enough data and distance to have a real discussion.

(And, I think Gingrich over NY-23 was a watershed. If he got pilloried and had to back down, that past amalgam of GOP is certainly gone.)


  • I think it's all a question of who gets the media attention. We won't know if it all means anything until 2012 election.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:55 AM  

  • It seems to me that over the past several years, it's become increasingly acceptable for people on the right to make outlandish, fact-free claims and pass them off as reality. From Creationists, to Christianist historical revisionists, to neo-con foreign policy advocates and to Darwinian, anti-government capitalists. Maybe it started back with Gingrich. Maybe back with Reagan. I don't know.

    But today, it's fair to say that anyone with a conservative bent -- no matter how far bent -- can make bizarre, unfounded statements of "fact" and the media, through which those "facts" are transmitted to us, allow them to go unchallenged and unquestioned. Thus, urban legends and paranoia begin to be accepted truth -- or at least treated as credibly possible.

    Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the "truth." Repeat a behavior often enough and it becomes acceptable. The goal posts of truth and acceptable discourse have been moved.

    As a result the civic conversation is becoming more violent -- sometimes rhetorically, sometimes physically. Assassins are not rebuked. Birthers, neo-confederates, tenthers, and out-and-out fear-crazed teabaggers are increasingly treated as the loyal opposition and not the seditious fringe they are. No one is fighting for factual truth as hard as the crazies are fighting for delusional reality. Thus, delusion wins the podium.

    We think of this as being a Republican civil war, but I'm seeing Blue Dog Democrats becoming increasingly adapt at these sort of table-pounding, foot stomping tantrums to advance their conservative agendas... agendas that mimic the corporatist-greed wing and anti-choice (conservative christiian?) wing of the Republican party. If there's a civil war in the Republican party, there's a civil skirmish in the Democratic party. This is where the future of the National agenda will be determined: not with the GOP civil war, but with the Democratic Blue Dogs.

    It's all about power: accumulating it and exercising it. For the time being the bat-shit crazies have won the battles in GOP politics. If they win -- even minimally -- at the ballot box this is what the GOP will more permanently become. It they lose at the pols will be stuffed back in the basement. But for now, it seems, the Party has decided these folks are the path to power.

    Sorry for rambling. There're too many ideas swirling in my head...

    By Blogger -epm, at 9:07 AM  

  • My guess is a lot of conservatives and old time Republicans find it embarrassing, maybe even scary, but they they can't figure out how to stop it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:15 AM  

  • Anon, fair point, but I think the primary process is tilted towards the crazy right, so I'm guessing that they may have the tip in 2012 if there are no real name moderates willing to endorse or campaign. The only scenario I see is if all the crazy rightists split the vote to make space, but by South Carolina or Florida, there should be only one garnering all that crazy right southern vote.


    EPM, That's a very thoughtful comment. In the context of the "civil war" question, I'm basing my judgement on exactly the fact that the crazies now have the floor and are determining the issues message while the moderates hide silently hoping not to get fingered as a target.

    I certainly get your bigger point that the entire discourse is sliding, but I do see it as a problem particularly acute in the GOP.

    I'm judging the winner based on who is defining the hoops the politicians have to jump through. So long as the Lindsey Graham's and Charlie Crist's etc feel they have to placate the crazies, the crazies are winning.

    As for Blue Dogs, two thoughts. 1) Are they emerging as that centrist block? 2) (Sarcasm) I'm sure if they're "conservative" enough, Republicans will be nice to them in the next election.

    We're a year from that first discussion of the "civil war" and it just seems to me that the mopderates have fled the field in terror.

    There is opportunity for the GOP in the very natural independents' opposition to a PResident and the cresting of the Dem wave, I just don't see that opportunity being fully seized if the crazies are defining message, creating litmus tests, and choosing the issues on which GOP candidates have to define themselves.

    Where would the opposing moderate influence come from? Cantor and Jeb Bush tried their thing and it died. What other name is speaking for rationality, and can it meet the overwhelming screaming of the crazies.

    The one thing I could see turning the ship is if Roger Ailes/FoxNews really tried to shape the party, but I don't see that happening at this point.

    And, I can't believe you went on a list about "fact free" GOP without mentioning 9/11 and the Iraq propaganda.


    Anon 2, Yeah, They are very embarassed, but they seem to be lacking the desire and coordination to do anything about it.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 11:22 AM  

  • I guess that's how Dr. Frankenstein felt when his monster got away.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:25 PM  

  • Yeah, because they built this, starting way back in Reagan when they decided to be the "social issues" party. It was Karl Rove who really juiced them up, though. He's the one that turned them from a part of the coalition into the core of support and organization.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 12:57 PM  

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