There Goes Arlen
I heard an interesting point of fact on television yesterday morning. More Americans believe in ghosts and flying saucers than identify themselves as Republicans these days. Isn't that a scream?
The Grand Old Party is in the process of imploding. It is now almost exclusively identified with reactionary, white southern males. It would seem that Weeda Peeple are starting to wake up to some seriously nasty little realities. One of those realities is the fact that these hideously foolish people have done more damage to this once-great nation than Osama bin Laden could ever have hoped to do. Once upon a time it was cool (at least to some minds anyway) to be a Republican. Today it is down right embarrassing. They have become the political equivalent of the powder-blue, polyester leisure suit.
Almost three years ago on June 2, 2006, the very first piece I wrote on this site was called George W, Bush: The Last Republican President:
"Please stop soiling the memory of one of the greatest presidents in history by calling it "the party of Lincoln". Don't ever call it that again. Abraham Lincoln's influence on the Republican party ended at exactly 7:22 in the morning on April 15, 1865 when he breathed his last breath."
The last Republican president? At the time I believed it to be mere wishful thinking on my part. Now I'm not so sure. No political party could possibly be expected to survive the fallout from the economic carnage wrought by the GOP during the last thirty years. The damage is now so complete that even the American electorate (not the brightest bunch on the planet, I'm sorry to say) are beginning to put two and two together. They have awaken from the right wing coma that they've been slumbering under since the day in 1980 when they naively sent Ronald Reagan to the White House. They have opened their eyes and have taken a long, hard look at the political landscape - and it's not a pleasant picture; in fact it's a very disturbing one.
There's no longer any rational way to deny it: although there are more than a few Democrats at whose doorstep the blame for this mess may be rightfully laid, it was the Republicans who did this to us. It is obvious that Arlen Specter - along with the great majority of the American people - has figured this out.
You would think that these silly elephants would want to undergo a bit of an image makeover, wouldn't you? You would think that given the current extremist image of their party nationwide, they would seek to nurture intelligent moderates like Specter, would you not? Yeah, I would, too. We both would be wrong, though.
In Pennsylvania, some idiotic group that went by the name of "Club For Change" decided that a mushy moderate like poor old Arlen was too much of a left winger for their tastes and they starting promoting the candidacy of some shrill drone named Pat Toomey to challenge the senator in the Republican primaries next year. Specter saw the writing on the wall and decided to come back home to the party of FDR (he used to be a Democrat). Although he is now dead to most Republicans, he has gone on to a much better place. Rest his soul.
When Michelle Malkin learned of Specter's defection, her response was classic right wing idiocy. Instead of going into an detailed analysis of the reasons why he would want to leave, she sounded more like a half-witted fourteen-year-old in the midst of a temper tantrum. It reminded me of an old Lesley Gore song:
"We have just ten words for you, Arlen Specter: Don't let the door hit you on the way out!!!".
It's my party and I'll cry if I want to! That statement in a nutshell is perfectly illustrative of the much larger problem. It is also is a textbook example of the arrogance of the overwhelming majority of Conservative spokespersons. They did need Specter. They needed him desperately. Arlen Specter's exit was merely another nail in the slowly-closing coffin of their political fortunes. They are no longer a national party but merely a regional one - their major sphere of influence being limited solely to the deep south. That may very well be someone's definition of "a party" - but it's a private party. You and I aren't invited.
The Progressive wing of the Republican party died in 1912 when Teddy Roosevelt had the nomination stolen out from under him after decisively defeating incumbent William Howard Taft in the primaries. The moderate wing, once personified by people like Everett Dirkson, Milicent Fenwick and Nelson Rockefeller, is on its death bed. I am convinced that were Richard Nixon to come back from the dead tonight to seek the nomination from these freaks, he would be dismissed as too liberal. As far as the north east is concerned, the last centrist holdouts are Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine. If they know what's good for them, they'll both jump that sinking ship really soon - much like Jim Jeffords of Vermont did in 2001, forever incurring the wrath of the Bush Mob. In an OpEd piece in this morning's New York Times, Senator Snowe wrote a piece that was sympathetic to the reason for Specter's departure:
"We can't continue to fold our philosophical tent into an umbrella under which only a select few are worthy to stand. Rather, we should view an expansion of diversity within the party as a triumph that will broaden our appeal. That is the political road map we must follow to victory."
Good for her! Only a fool would argue with that very eloquent statement. There's only one little problem. The Republicans ceded control of their party to a cabal of half-witted extremists and kooks a very long time ago - 1964 to be exact. That was the year that Barry Goldwater was forced to accept the nomination on a platform that even he found nauseating. Don't expect any of these knuckleheads to hand over the reigns of power to more thoughtful moderates like Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter any time soon. The longer they retain the power, the deeper the Republican party will become divorced from political reality, spiraling headlong into the abyss of irrelevancy.
Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt are at this minute, you may be sure, doing somersaults in their graves. The grand old party is over - I'm almost certain of that. The fact is, the people who are running that train wreck of a party (people like Michael Steele for instance) aren't visionary enough (or smart enough) to send it in a new and fruitful direction. The next few years will only see their continued self destruction. Isn't life wonderful?
To my beloved niece, Marieke Catherine Pennings who was born on April 29, 1989, twenty years ago today. Happy birthday, Riekie Roo! I've never been able to figure out how the heck I managed to survive the first thirty years of my life without you!