Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Brooks: GOP Blows Historic Opportunity

Conservative columnist David Brooks continues the trend of writers from the right as the sharpest critics of the present Republican party in The New York Times.

It could be that this has been a glorious moment in Republican history. It could be that having persuaded independents that they are a prudent party, Republicans will sweep the next election. Controlling the White House and Congress, perhaps they will have the guts to cut Medicare unilaterally, reform the welfare state and herald in an era of conservative greatness. But it’s much more likely that Republicans will come to regret this missed opportunity. So let us pause to identify the people who decided not to seize the chance to usher in the largest cut in the size of government in American history. They fall into a few categories:

1. Beltway Bandits--Washington special interests such as Grover Norquist and the anti-tax Club for Growth. Once an aide to Newt Gingrich and ally of Jack Abramoff, Norquist helps enforce the no-compromise extremism that grips the GOP.

2. Media Blowhards--Right-wing media personalities committed to their own careers rather than promoting conservative governance. Their goal is to keep their older, whiter audience riled up by portraying politics as an all-out, life-and-death morality play. Messy compromises advancing conservative aims like entitlement reform but requiring concessions are bad for ratings. Rush Limbaugh's picture should accompany the term "demagogue" in the dictionary.

3. Show Horses--Media darlings such as Sarah Palin and Michele Bachman who seem to value celebrity over actual political achievement. They keep themselves in the spotlight with provocative, ideologically pure rants but seem uninterested in the nitty-gritty of responsible governance.

4. Permanent Campaigners--Members of Congress whose efforts focus more on political point-scoring than on passing meaningful legislation that solves problems. This week's symbolic votes on the "cut, cap and balance" bill with no realistic chance of becoming law are prime examples.

Brooks sums up:

All of these groups share the same mentality. They do not see politics as the art of the possible. They do not believe in seizing opportunities to make steady, messy progress toward conservative goals. They believe that politics is a cataclysmic struggle. They believe that if they can remain pure in their faith then someday their party will win a total and permanent victory over its foes. They believe they are Gods of the New Dawn.

--Ballard Burgher

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