The Possum Republicans - NYTimes.com: Politicians do what they must to get re-elected. So it’s not unexpected that Republican senators like Richard Lugar and Orrin Hatch would swing sharply to the right to fend off primary challengers…. [I]t is worth pointing out that this behavior is not entirely honorable. It’s not honorable to adjust your true nature in order to win re-election. It’s not honorable to kowtow to the extremes so you can preserve your political career. But, of course, this is exactly what has been happening in the Republican Party for the past half century. Over these decades, one pattern has been constant: Wingers fight to take over the party, mainstream Republicans bob and weave to keep their seats.
Republicans on the extreme ferociously attack their fellow party members. Those in the middle backpedal to avoid conflict….
In the 1960s and ’70s, the fight was between conservatives and moderates. Conservatives trounced the moderates and have driven them from the party. These days the fight is between the protesters and the professionals…. [T]he protesters don’t believe in governance. They have zero tolerance for the compromises needed to get legislation passed. They don’t believe in trimming and coalition building…. Of course, the professional politicians don’t want to get in the way of this torrent of passion and resentment. In private, they bemoan where the party is headed; in public they do nothing.
All across the nation, there are mainstream Republicans lamenting how the party has grown more and more insular, more and more rigid. This year, they have an excellent chance to defeat President Obama, yet the wingers have trashed the party’s reputation….
As I have written in the past: You know, I went to Washington in 1993 to work for what we called Lloyd Bentsen's Treasury as part of the sane technocratic bipartisan center. And it took me only two months--two months!--to conclude that America's best hope for sane technocratic governance required the elimination of the Republican Party from our political system as rapidly as possible. Dole and Gingrich's "We really don't care that these policies are good for the country--are a lot like policies we would enthusiastically support if proposed by a Republican president--but we are going to try to block them because that will weaken Clinton" wad a real eye-opener. Nothing since has led me to question or change that belief--only to strengthen it. We really need a very different opposition party to the Democrats: a less dishonorable one.
Now David Brooks--who has spent the last nineteen years carrying water and making excuses for today's Republican Party--finally says what I have been saying since 1993. Where have you been, David?
But where have these party leaders been over the past five years, when all the forces that distort the G.O.P. were metastasizing? Where were they during the rise of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck? Where were they when Arizona passed its beyond-the-fringe immigration law? Where were they in the summer of 2011 when the House Republicans rejected even the possibility of budget compromise? They were lying low, hoping the unpleasantness would pass….
We’ve had a primary campaign that isn’t really an argument about issues. It’s a series of heresy trials in which each of the candidates accuse the others of tribal impurity. Two kinds of candidates emerge from this process: first, those who are forceful but outside the mainstream; second, those who started out mainstream but look weak and unprincipled because they have spent so much time genuflecting before those who despise them.
Neither is likely to win in the fall. Before the G.O.P. meshugana campaign, independents were leaning toward the G.O.P. But, in the latest Politico/George Washington University Battleground Poll, Obama leads Mitt Romney among independents by 49 percent to 27 percent….
First they went after the Rockefeller Republicans, but I was not a Rockefeller Republican. Then they went after the compassionate conservatives, but I was not a compassionate conservative. Then they went after the mainstream conservatives, and there was no one left to speak for me.