A Trifecta of Inadequacy

03/14/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the tired state of the Republican Party and how it desperately needs to blow past the disastrous Bush years and rediscover its core values. But months after being overwhelmingly rejected by the American people, the Republican Party remains unable to recapture its substance. Instead, we have only seen more pandering to the fanatics and dim bulbs, more of the same putrid ideas and more power-plays that evoke politics before country -- while the economy crashes and burns.

Weeks after the election, a Gallup Poll recorded that 67% of Republicans wanted Sarah Palin to be the party nominee in 2012. A recent Rasmussen poll found that 55% of GOP voters want their party to look more like Palin. (The fact that 43% of Republicans decry their party for becoming "too moderate" under Bush is utterly terrifying.) Yes, Sarah Palin -- the hockey mom who makes George W. Bush and Dan Quayle look like professors -- is the front-runner to lead this party. We're talking about the governor who couldn't identify the Bush Doctrine or recall a Supreme Court case besides Roe v Wade. The journalism major who couldn't name a newspaper she reads. The Vice Presidential candidate who repeatedly informed us that she does not know what a Vice President does!

But the constituency's fondness for the intellectually feeble doesn't end there. GOP officials are now seeking economic counsel from Joe the Plumber, the daft Ohioan McCain exalted as "an American hero" and "my role model" during his campaign. Yes, Joe the Plumber -- the alleged plumber without a plumbing license, who was recently in trouble for not paying his taxes and who has no discernible background or expertise in any field. The dreamer who was upset that Obama was going to disrupt his fantasy by increasing taxes on a business he wasn't even close to owning, even though Obama's tax plan would have left him better off in reality. The commentator who obtusely claimed that Obama's "ideology is completely different than what democracy stands for" and blathered on FOX News that a vote for Obama would bring the "death of Israel."

Even so, none of this is as disturbing as Rush Limbaugh's rapid ascent to "new leader" and "new face" of the Republican Party, as numerous journalists suggest. Just hours after Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) took an honorable stance and reprimanded Limbaugh for "throwing bricks," he was reduced to his knees in an embarrassing apology to mighty Rush. John McCain, who once upon a time criticized the fringe elements of his party, defended the talk radio host against those who dare to be critical of a conservative voice with a "wide viewing audience." Other prominent GOP officials have joined the rush to Limbaugh's defense, while he humiliates them further by bragging that Obama is "more frightened" of him than of the most powerful Republicans in Congress. Incredible.

It's no wonder Republicans refuse to play ball on President Obama's crucial stimulus package -- they're beholden to madcap who has broadcast his desire to see his president fail; they're searching for guidance in a thick-headed clown who continues to view Obama as a gay-marrying Muslim socialist from someplace foreign, and they're keen on ushering in as their new leader a former beauty queen who reminds us of Miss Teen South Carolina. Despite Obama's commitment to bipartisanship and repeated overtures to the GOP, we've watched them sit on the bleachers and sulk while their country sinks deeper into hot water. Obama has reminded the GOP that the reason they were crushed in November was that their ideas, which they still cling to, "have been tested, and they have failed." Maybe it's time to loosen the fist, take a hint and grow up.

So there's your Republican Party in a nutshell: controlled by Rush Limbaugh, seeking wisdom from Joe the Plumber and eager to extol Sarah Palin as their next commanding officer. How is this not sending chills of horror down more spines?

And to my conservative friends: this isn't about our philosophical differences -- we all want two respectable parties so they can keep each other in check. This is about holding both to certain minimal standards, which one of them clearly isn't fulfilling.