Friday, May 04, 2007

Grand Old Pity

Republican "revolution" poobah Newt Gingrich was on Fox News last evening quietly weeping over the way America picks a President. "I think that it is so absurd to have this much attention paid to an office that doesn't get filled until January of 2009, that I really think this is exactly the wrong model for this country," Newt complained. (Wait-- is he talking about America's Next Top Model? I was so pleased Britney got booted this week, what a whiner!). Newt also said this, "If anything would convince me to lean away from running, it was watching all of those guys with too little time, with too many Mickey Mouse questions from the reporters. It's exactly the wrong way to pick a president, and I think it doesn't help the country much."

Sort of like the 1994 GOP Revolution helped America?

The sad, listless state of the Republican Party is evidenced by the fact that men like Gingrich or Fred Thompson actually believe they can step in and save the day. Where Gingrich is all ambition, Thompson has none. While Gingrich desperately wants to be perceived as the policy wonk, Thompson is undeniably comfortable being viewed as a superficial hunk. If these two are the potential Party saviors, the elephant in the room is more than just an elephant.

Watching the GOP debate last evening, with the Reagan-hugging, Iran sword-rattling, the 3 who disbelieve evolution and Tommy Thompson's endorsement of firing someone solely for being gay, it was hard not to love Ron Paul:

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul, you voted against the war. Why are all your fellow Republicans up here wrong?

PAUL: That's a very good question. And you might ask the question, why are 70 percent of the American people now wanting us out of there, and why did the Republicans do so poorly last year? So I would suggest that we should look at foreign policy. I'm suggesting very strongly that we should have a foreign policy of non-intervention, the traditional American foreign policy and the Republican foreign policy. Throughout the 20th century, the Republican Party benefited from a non-interventionist foreign policy. Think of how Eisenhower came into stop the Korean War. Think of how Nixon was elected to stop them in Vietnam. How did we win the election in the year 2000? We talked about a humble foreign policy: No nation-building; don't police the world.That's conservative, it's Republican, it's pro-American -- it follows the founding fathers. And, besides, it follows the Constitution.

Take that, Senator McCain.

Newt Gingrich is half right--this is no way to pick a President. But not because we're having debates this far out from a vote. The real reason is that the Republican Party refuses to stand for anything but low taxes and War now-a-days. The media love to label the Democrats as issue-less, but that 2008 debate last week was filled with talk of health care, education, energy independence and removing the troops from Iraq. The GOP meandered around Ronald Reagan, abortion, morality, immigration, Iraq and Iran. One part optimism, the rest parts painfully aggressive absolutes. These candidates seem to forget there's an America inbetween the bedroom and the border that needs help.

Way back when, as Ron Paul reminded us, conservatives actually demanded a smaller government that stepped back from bedrooms, boardrooms and doctor's offices and let America function based on principles of privacy and true freedom. There was a lot to disagree with back then, don't get me wrong, but the old GOP wasn't spinning around a centrifuge of danger and fear. Last evening it was obvious the current crop of candidates share the core value of pandering to the Right, above all else (and no matter how silly-sounding--take it away, Mitt!). A party where Rudy Giuliani leads the pack (his abortion answer was intellectually insane and his 9/11 drum-beating louder than ever) is in trouble.

A refreshing moment came when Sam Brownback was asked if he would support a Party nominee who was pro-choice and the Senator said "Yes." This might have been a kiss-up to Rudy--funny how all these tough white guys are so afraid of Giuliani and Schwarzenegger--but the mere fact that one of the actors on stage revealed a side of modern-day realism made for a precious moment. The fact that Brownback is allegedly the most Christian Conservative of the bunch made it even more telling.

Perhaps Brownback can teach the rest how to proceed: nation-building starts at home.

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