Republicans of the old school, i.e., moderates, who believed in fiscal and foreign policy responsibility, the government staying out of personal issues, and religious modesty are in pain for their party. More than just a few.
My husband is one of those Republicans. He has company. Our old friend Colin Powell has joined him in jumping ship. As a veteran of the Nixon, Ford, Reagan and the first Bush administrations, confirmed five times by the Senate, my husband worked in the State and Defense departments and the United States Information Agency. He is a seasoned old school diplomat and has served his country with total commitment and skill. And he is dejected about the behavior and direction of the GOP. The very word, conservatism, he feels has been hijacked.
Although impressed by Senator Obama's intellect, he continued loyally to support Sen. McCain's campaign. Until, that is, he was stunned into speechlessness by the selection of Sarah Palin as a potential President. The Governor's desire to include the teaching of "creationism" into the academic syllabus was the knock-out punch, along with her lack of federal and foreign policy savvy. During the Republican presidential debates, he was dismayed that out of nine debaters, 4 raised their hands when asked if they believed in evolution. Historically, science and education have not been conflicting hypotheses for republicans, but an ever-increasing right wing religious agenda has undermined previous tradition.
And foreign leaders watch with sharp eyes for missteps. Looking deep into their eyes is a poor substitute for hard-earned experience. Palin's confused remarks play right into great expectations for American diplomatic naiveté. Now is hardly the time for batting the eyes instead of battling wits.
Republicanism of times past included a strong defense posture, resistance to Soviet communism, love of the land and strong conservation values. It believed in limited government, and balanced budgets, quaint beliefs that the current administration, seems to have forgotten. They were real conservatives when it came to choice and sexual preference, believing that government should not interfere in such personal matters.
Further, they were slow to involve us in elective wars. President Bush 4l did not take us to Baghdad; he stopped when his mission was really accomplished. Kuwait was freed and we waved good-bye.
Old school Republicans and Democrats tended to be civil and genial. Disagreeing aggressively during the day, they worked and played together in the evening at dinner tables across Washington and on weekends. This normal give and take and easy socializing have given way to rancor and distance. It is no way to govern or to lead.
So my espoused is grumpy and saddened about his party, and thinks that there is no way it will find its old path back to sense and sensibility.
As a Democrat who has voted for some Republican candidates, George H.W. Bush, for example, I do not feel my husband's pain. The Republicans have brought this ugly recidivism on themselves and it is not healthy for the country. It is old fashioned class- and race-baiting.
The Palin "palling around with terrorists" is beyond the pale. It is both a lie and vicious. No excuses, Republicans, you are tossing around inflammatory and unpatriotic attitudes, not to mention, unchristian language. Don't do it. Stop it right now. It is harmful and divisive. It is fodder for our enemies.
When Sarah Palin says we need to learn more about Barack Obama, you know what those code words mean. The real truth is that we need to learn more about Sarah Palin. We know Obama's life story and core beliefs well by now; we know little about Sarah and what we do know is disquieting.
So, while I am sympathetic with my best beloved's distress, I am jubilant at the prospect of throwing out the rascals who have gotten into this fine mess.
And I am grateful for the prospect of having a President of potent intellect, respectful demeanor, and remarkable unflappability.