The Republican Party is in shambles.
Yeah, I know. That's been kind of obvious for a while. But never was it crystallized more than in the two stories running today showing the party to be completely rudderless.
First, Adam Nagourney in the New York Times reports:
A party and a conservative movement that over the years have been home to a parade of optimistic figures in American politics -- like Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp, who died last week -- is increasingly worried about coming across as downbeat or angry.
He quotes a bunch of the old guard, like former Chairman Richard Bond, worried that the party is coming off as increasingly angry (read: "crazy"), and lamenting that the party seems to be heading over the cliff.
At the same time, a story from Roger Simon in the Politico reports that this weekend, the party is expected to approve a resolution calling on everyone to refer to the Democratic Party as the "Democrat Socialist Party."
To those in the party like the current Chairman, Michael Steele, who don't think this is wise and might resist, an RNC member said, "Who cares?"
I'm fairly sure most of those in the leadership in the party aren't Ozzy fans, but his lyrics seem pretty spot-on here: "Mental wounds not healing... Who and what's to blame... I'm going off the rails on a crazy train..."
Being in the "wilderness" isn't a new phenomenon for political parties. It was a relatively short time ago that the Democratic party was wrestling with its own future, and which way it would go.
The difference is that Democrats (and even Republicans during their soul-searching of the 70s) didn't focus on tone, but on carving out a positive agenda that fit the times.
But this is what happens when Boss Limbaugh is the real leader of your party. An entertainer, Limbaugh is all about tone, and not much about ideas. Tone gets ratings. An angry tone gets boffo ratings. But, an angry tone without ideas doesn't get votes. And by forcing a battle over how angry your tone should be, before you even know what you stand for anymore, you make radio hosts happy, but you lose the American people at a fast clip.
And so, by focusing on tea parties that protest everything, offer nothing, and feature signs with Barack Obama made up like Adolf Hitler, and keying their internal battles on whether or not to call the Democratic Party the "Democrat Socialist Party" or not, Republicans aren't just on their way off the rails on a crazy train, they're about to head straight into the sun, warp factor 10.
Godspeed on that voyage, Grand Old Party.
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