Sunday, March 24, 2013

GOP Done in by Iraq?

Daniel McCarthy makes the strongest argument for the deleterious effect of Iraq and Afghanistan on the Republican Party in The American Conservative, criticizing the GOP for approaching both foreign and domestic policy from a doomed, outdated strategic perspective.
The GOP never learned to talk to the post-Vietnam generation in the first place; over the last decade, it compounded the problem by launching wars that, far from resolving the unfinished business of the Vietnam era, only made clear that those who are refighting the conflicts of that time are oblivious to today’s realities.  While Republicans wage a war on the past, Barack Obama has staked claim to the future—in the same way that Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan once did. Meanwhile, Obama is winning the culture war because that war continues to be fought by the right in the terms of the Vietnam era.

I heard it said during Bush's first term that Rumsfeld and Cheney were still trying to "win" Vietnam and Watergate.  That seems to be the larger neoconservative vision: American military power, unchecked, will transform the world.  Similarly, the Republican domestic agenda seems like an attempt to turn the clock back (to Reagan's tax policies, to a 1950's social order, to dismantle the New Deal).  One of the thirty-something focus group respondents quoted in Robert Draper's New York Times Magazine piece summed it up when asked what the Republicans should do.

"Stop trying to fight the battle that’s already been fought and trying to bring back a movement. Get over it — you lost.”

No comments: