August 22, 2010

Will Tea Partiers Have a Veto Over the 2012 GOP Nominee?

That was the “Matthews Meter” question for the panel this weekend on The Chris Matthews Show where they discussed whether the Tea Partiers are going to drag the party further to the right, as the right led by Barry Goldwater did back in the 60's. His regulars are split including Gloria Borger who says let's wait for the mid-term elections and see how independent voters end up reacting to their candidates and doesn't think they're going to have enough power to have a veto power over who their presidential nominee is.

Dan Rather disagreed with Borger and agreed with Matthews that at least one of the people on the Republican presidential ticket was going to have to be someone that the Tea Party was satisfied with.

Richard Stengel is asked about Sarah Palin and what kind of power she's going to wield and Matthews notes that Palin is not just picking “stupid right wingers” but winners. (Note to Chris Matthews, not all of her picks have been winners, some have been right wingers and she's often waiting until those picks are fairly safe before she makes them. I know you and Uncle Pat love her, but she's not some political genius.)

Stengel agrees that Palin will wield a lot of power because so much of the Republican electorate is “listening to the silent song of Sarah Palin” but also notes that there's not going to be some big rift in the party no matter who they choose because the truth of the matter is the “mainstream” of the Republican Party and their right wing base are not that far apart ideologically, unlike the days of Rockefeller and Goldwater Matthews showed earlier in the segment.

That got a good chuckle from the panel who were amused by Stengel's statement. Whether it is because they agreed with it or not I'm not sure. That seems to be the big elephant in the room they all managed to almost get to but failed to discuss in this segment. This is not just a matter of whether the Republican Party is going to continue to move further to the right for the next election cycle. It's a question of whether they're ever going to move back to the center if they see some short term gains in these mid-term elections.

Matthews asks about the Sharron Angles and Michele Bachmanns out there and whether they're going to be “tarred by” their extreme statements. He left off a really long list behind those two with just how many in the Republican Party have gone off of the cliff these days with their rhetoric whether they be out and out racist remarks, talking about repealing parts of the 14th Amendment, extreme xenophobia, talks of secession and now going crazy about this Islamic rec center and bashing all Muslims as terrorists.

What Matthews fails to note is that it's not just a few “extremists” in the Republican Party. It's those who are supposed to be considered “moderate” or “reputable” and who are in leadership positions as well who are right there with this "Tea Party" crowd and spouting this nonsense.

John and Dave really were ahead of the game with the theme of their new book, Over the Cliff: How Obama's Election Drove the American Right Insane. They really have lost their collective minds with the election of our first African American president. If they have their insanity validated during the mid-term elections, I think they're going to find themselves going the way of the Know Nothings eventually, and rightfully so. Matthews thinks they're going to have to answer to the “Tea Party” or in other words, the right wing of the Republican base since that's all that astroturf movement is anyway, right up through the presidential election of 2012. If that's true it doesn't bode well for them in the long run. This country is changing and is more diverse and they're not going to take us back to the 1950's no matter how badly they'd like to try.

Sadly it's really dangerous for our democracy or what's left of it in the near term for one party to continue down this extreme path with nothing to check them along the way. They're going to cause a whole hell of a lot of pain before they're done wreaking havoc and the electorate finally has enough of them.

It's also really tragic that there was a real opportunity for the Democrats and for President Obama to push a progressive agenda when the country was so thoroughly disgusted with George Bush and what eight years of Republican rule brought us. Instead we got the mushy middle and playing to centrists and Blue Dogs and hoping for the Republicans to play nice when instead they obstructed everything in sight and what did we get for it?

The wingnuts are emboldened. Wonderful.

And if we thought the obstruction was bad now, wait until they get some more seats back next time around. And if they win back the House, we'll have some impeachment hearings within the year led by Darrell Issa, guaranteed. Maybe we can ask the president how that bipartisanship is working out for him then if we're unfortunate enough to see that happen.

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