I have to say that I have been enjoying watching Republicans squirm while they try to figure out what to do about the fact that pandering to the worst elements among their base for decades has put them in the position where they're going to have to decide how to deal with this Frankenstein monster that they've created, or eventually all of the gerrymandering and election rigging in the world isn't going to keep them from going the way of Whigs.
I also thoroughly enjoyed seeing a conversation about their predicament end up leading to Republican history revisionist and head turd-polisher David Brooks inadvertently admitting to something I'm sure he'd rather not talk about at all -- which is the fact that these politicians calling themselves members of the "tea party" are actually just Republicans.
Sadly you're never going to hear Brooks or anyone on PBS admit that there is no "tea party" and that it's just an AstroTurf rebranding effort by the Koch brothers and their allies to get people to forget that George W. Bush ever existed after the damage he did to their party.
And as my fellow C&L contributor Driftglass has reminded his readers on a regular basis, they built this, and what they are finally being forced to confront right now is nothing new by any means: The Fall of the House of Bircher:
They built this.
Yes they did.
A long assembly-line of Conservative miners, smelters, cutters, assemblers, welders and polishers stretching back through Fox and Rove and Bush, through Falwell and Weyrich, through Atwater and Limbaugh, through Reagan and Nixon, though Wallace and Thurmond...all playing with the awful tools of paranoia, rage, white supremacy and faith...all scavenging the barking mad remnants of the Confederacy and the Jesusland dreams of Christopaths to forge for themselves a mighty machine.
A mighty, angry, crazy, bigoted reactionary electoral beast fed on drivel and dung and led by the nose from cause to cause and candidate to candidate, getting a stronger and wilder and more anxious to spit out the bit and run amok every day.
They were warned.
Yes they were.
They were warned -- by Liberals -- as far back as the 1960s that they were tampering with terrible forces (from me, five years ago):
From Rod Serling writing in an editorial in the (then very right-wing) Los Angeles Times in 1964, in response to a series of articles by wingnut-apologist Morrie Ryskind:
What Mr. Ryskind seems constitutionally unable to understand is that there is a vast difference between the criticism of a man or a party, and the setting up of criteria or patriotism which equates differences of opinion with disloyalty.
We have need in the country for an enlightened, watchful and articulate opposition. We have no need for semi-secret societies who are absolutist, dictatorial, and would substitute for a rule of law and reason an indiscriminate assault on the institutions of this republic that should and must be held sacrosanct. …
“[The far right cannot] discount the fact that sitting it their parlor is the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi Party, every racist group in the United States and not a few of some Fascist orders that have scrambled their way up from the sewers to a position of new respectability.”
Modern Conservatism was born steeped in original, bigoted sin ever since Lyndon Johnson and the 1964 Civil Rights Act --
In conjunction with the civil rights movement, Johnson overcame southern resistance and convinced Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed most forms of racial segregation. Johnson signed it into law on July 2, 1964. Legend has it that, as he put down his pen, Johnson told an aide, "We have lost the South for a generation," anticipating a coming backlash from Southern whites against Johnson's Democratic Party.
From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that... but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.
-- and has been sliding deeper into the septic tank ever since.
They were warned, but they did it anyway. Kept mollifying thugs. Kept flattering bigots. Kept slaughtering science to appease the theocrats and the garden-variety stoopid. Kept whispering to the stone crazy that their paranoia was patriotic. And, of course, kept on dehumanizing and demonizing patriotic, reality-based Liberals who were trying their damnedest to keep their Pretty Hate Machine from rolling back the whole Enlightenment.
More there so go read the rest. And never mind all that according to David Brooks "the establishment is going to have maybe an easier time of it than some might think" with reigning these people in and there's going to be some "new wing that's going to rise up and change the party from the outside." That's going to be a neat trick without completely alienating their wingnut base they've been pandering to for ages now. Sounds like Brooks is still pushing the same "Third Way," "No Labels" crap we've been hearing from him and his ilk for years now.
Full transcript below the fold.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, bring it back home, and talking about politics, pure politics, inside the Republican Party, David, it looks like there are some -- we have seen some evidence of this, but now it looks like it's more out in the open, that some of the traditional -- folks we thought of as being traditional leaders of the Republican Party are openly challenging the Tea Party.
DAVID BROOKS: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is this a momentary difference of opinion, or is it some longer-lasting ...
DAVID BROOKS: I think it's the beginning of a longer-lasting thing.
There's been a lot of calls for Republicans to change. And we have seen that from everybody to Paul Ryan to Marco Rubio. Now we're beginning to see the donor class really begin to change. There is some question, are they trying to change just the candidates, so they don't get Todd Akin, or they trying to actually change some of the substance?
And, so far , it seems to be just the candidates. One of the interesting things -- and I can't say I know the answer to this -- is, how much will the Tea Party fight back? There has been some effort that they are saying, oh, the establishment is taking over.
But my own sense of things so far is that there is not the will to fight among the Tea Party and that a lot of people in the Tea Party are, frankly -- they're not -- they are also Republicans. And a lot of -- say, Rush Limbaugh, for example, who is not Tea Party, he's more an establishment Republican who wants the Republican Party to win.
So I have a feeling that the establishment is going to have maybe an easier time of it than some might think.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you sense?
MARK SHIELDS: I think that William F. Buckley, the great conservative philosopher, had the best advice for Republicans here. He said, I always support the most conservative candidate who is electable.
And that was his rule of support. And the Republicans have been nominating people who have been unelectable. I can think of five Senate seats, Delaware, Indiana, Nevada, Colorado, and Missouri, where they nominated candidates who are unelectable. And Democrats who were really difficult races either to be elected or reelected won in all cases, and the Democrats retained control of the Senate.
Twenty-six percent of the electorate, Judy, is either Asian, Hispanic or African-American. Republicans won 13 percent of that constituency in 2012. They have lost the voters between the ages of 18 and 30 by 22 percent on the average in the last three elections.
I mean, they don't have a constituency. They have got to figure out how to get elected, how -- how to nominate people who are going to win. They're not going to nominate people in New England to win who could win in Alabama or Mississippi.
DAVID BROOKS: That why it can't just be about the candidates.
MARK SHIELDS: That's right.
DAVID BROOKS: It has to be deeper.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, as we keep being reminded, the Republicans -- most of the Republicans who were reelected come from districts where they were comfortably reelected, and they -- do they see a reason to think differently, act differently, when they're being supported by the folks who sent them to represent that district?
DAVID BROOKS: People don't change.
So I read a study this week where they took a look at candidates. What happens when they get -- when their district shifts and their district, say, becomes more moderate? Do the candidates themselves become more moderate? The answer is no. People don't change. So, if you are looking for people atop the Republican Party to lead the change of changing the party, that is just not going to happen.
It's going to be people out in the states. It's going to be people off in a new wing that's going to rise up and change the party from the outside.
MARK SHIELDS: Well, the problem -- I agree with David.
But the problem is, they can move on immigration. And that's a -- there's a legislative response. They say, look, we are moving. But how do you do that with younger voters? I mean, you're a party looking for heretics, rather than converts, which is what they have been. They have been an unhappy group. They're not welcoming.
Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, made a speech this week about being more inclusive with sort of a kinder, gentler Republican Party, for education and being inclusive. But, you know, it's sort of a difference in tone, but, you know, I don't -- I think the Republican problems are serious.
Ronald Reagan won young voters for Republicans, and they were the best group. In 2012, 30 years later, that group that Reagan won was still...
JUDY WOODRUFF: They're still Republican.
MARK SHIELDS: That's right. And that's the problem the Republicans have.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we don't have a problem with the two of you. We love having you every single Friday night.