Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Brown Effect

by Fred Barnes - February 1st, 2010 (Pub. Date) - The Weekly Standard

Scott Brown’s victory spoils a popular myth. I’m not referring to the one about Teddy Kennedy as an indomitable force in Massachusetts, even from the grave. Yes, the Kennedy myth was rendered inoperative. But so was the fable about a death struggle pitting tea party populists and angry conservatives against moderates and the Republican hierarchy. That myth foresaw conservatives refusing to support candidates with even the slightest of moderate tendencies, dividing the party, and ruining its chances in the 2010 elections.

Republicans won a huge victory in Massachusetts, yet almost as soon as it was won, two things happened on my favorite web site Social conservatives started to smear Brown for not being conservative enough in his victory speech and George W. Bush supporters started to rail against all those fiscal conservatives and libertarians who stopped giving Bush a free ride just because he was right on most of the war issues. The response of these groups hold the seeds of future self destruction by Republicans that fueled the myth Fred Barnes claims just ended.

I hope Barnes is right, but knowing the arrogance and self righteousness of the two overlapping segments in the Republican Party represented by social conservatives and "compassionate communists", I would question whether we have weathered that storm. It is more likely we have a breather during which the fear of losing our nation has caused the extremists in the Republican Party to show a little tolerance for what Reagan called those who agree with us 80%. The important question is whether we can use that tolerance to reach out to those closest to us (right center moderates) and not drive them away with the usual hate mongering the Republican extremists are so fond of.

Simultaneously I wonder if the McCain wing of the party has now figured out that reaching out to those closest to us is not the same as reaching out to those on the far left. It seems to me that a lot of Republicans can't differentiate between right center moderates who have been driven out of the Republican Party versus extremists who are from the progressive wing of the Democrat Party (like Feingold and Kennedy).

If you have found common ground with Feinfold and Kennedy, as McCain and Bush did, you might wonder whether you have lost your way or gone even further and lost your mind.

The comment in Fred's article that I found most important is the guidance from Frank Luntz on "opposing earmarks, 'a laser-like focus on wasteful Washington spending,' and 'no tolerance for ethical malfeasance whatsoever—no more Mark Foleys'”. Fear of losing some power by Republicans from cleaning up their own house cost us our entire power base in recent years. I wonder whether the next time Republicans have power the same short sighted bigotry will prevail?


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