Dumping on the Republicans
While Richard Viguerie keeps blaming John McCain's failed White House bid on the senator's alleged disrespect for "The Base," the political intelligentsia are heaping more scorn on the Republican Party and people like Viguerie in particular. The Economist editors conclude that the defeat in the voting booths happened because "the party lost the battle for brains." Instead of facing up to tough choices and making thoughtful, fact-based arguments, most Republican candidates campaigned with cheap, dumbed-down slogans:
Energy? Just drill, baby, drill. Global warming? Crack a joke about Ozone Al. Immigration? Send the bums home. Torture and Guantanamo? Wear a T-shirt saying you would rather be water-boarding. Ha ha. During the primary debates, three out of ten Republican candidates admitted that they did not believe in evolution.
Ouch. Meanwhile, erudite foreign relations expert Fareed Zakaria was recently interviewed by CNN and made it clear what the problem is:
The Republican Party has become a party bereft of ideas or trapped by the wrong ones. The Reagan-Thatcher revolution of low taxes, deregulation and tight money isn't relevant to the problems of under-regulated financial products, huge deficits and a deepening recession. Add to that the Republican Party's social program is out of tune with an increasingly young, diverse and tolerant electorate.
Well, it might not be quite that bad. After all, there are creative voices of reason scattered about here and there among the Republican ranks, but they are currently getting drowned out by the cacophony of the "grassroots rebels." That'll change one of these days. And I would take issue with Zakaria's contention that the Republicans are less attuned to foreign affairs; after all, it was John McCain who held firm to a strong stand in favor of free trade with Latin America, while Obama pandered to the protectionists.
RPV "musical chairs"
Jeff Frederick has been chairman of Virginia Republicans for less than six months, and already there are calls for him to be replaced, as noted at Bearing Drift; hat tip to Waldo Jaquith. For more background on why many people distrust Frederick, see Contemporary Conservative.
It's hard to keep up with who is the current RPV chairperson, so for the benefit of those with short memories, here goes:
- Gary Thompson (? - Aug. 2003: convicted in the Matricardi scandal)
- Kate Obenshain Griffin (Sept. 2003 - Nov. 2006: left to work for Sen. Allen)
- Ed Gillespie (Dec. 2006 - June 2007: left to work for Pres. Bush)
- Mike Thomas (interim)
- John Hager (July 2007 - May 2008: defeated)
- Jeff Frederick (May 2008 - )
Frankly, it's hard for me to get too excited about who controls what office in the Republican Party right now. The situation is such a mess right now that it's hard to see how anyone could be effective in that post for more than a few months. I figured Frederick deserved a chance, but all that strident campaign talk about Obama and the Democrats' links to terrorism turned me off. As the anointed leader of the self-proclaimed "grassroots" faction (SWACtion), he obviously had no appeal to me.
Begich beats Stevens
In Alaska, the mayor of Anchorage Mark Begich defeated incumbent Senator Ted Stevens by about 3,700 votes, enough of a margin to preclude any state-funded recount. Stevens, who was the longest-serving Republican in Senate history, was recently convicted on corruption charges, i.e., failure to report gifts as income. See Washington Post. Two Senate seats have yet to be decided, however (Georgia and Minnesota), and the Democrats might just make it to the cloture-proof threshold of 60.
Perriello goes to D.C.
In Virginia's Fifth Congressional District, Democrat Tom Perriello has a 745-vote lead over incumbent Rep. Virgil Goode (a former Democrat), and is now heading to Washington in preparation for taking office, even though a recount is still possible. See the Waynesboro News Virginian.
Michael Moore, expert
So there was Michael Moore on "Larry King Live" last night, pretending to be an economic expert. It would be hard to argue with his harsh criticism of the over-paid, under-brained auto industry executives, but Moore said the answer to Detroit's problems is for the Federal government to take over the industry. (What??!) Ironically, he virtually echoed what I wrote in the photo caption of Wall Street in my blog post yesterday, saying that the auto industry's plea for money from Congress means "the end of the capitalist system as we know it." The difference is that whereas I lament this passage to socialism from capitalism, Moore exults in it, adding: "And good riddance!"