Sunday, October 12, 2008

The reports of its death...


That’s typical Bill Kristol — not only chronically wrong about everything, but far worse, completely incapable of acknowledging mistakes. He just suppresses them, pretends they don’t exist, and in that regard is the perfect face for the right-wing movement that is dying a painful, harsh and profoundly well-deserved death in front of everyone’s eyes.

I don't know about this. They still have their wingnut welfare and their fatcat sugardaddies who fund it, still have their Fox News, still have their base, their talk radio message machine. Will all these things just go away with an Obama win? They are going to get thumped in a month, will probably be contrite for awhile, but they didn't become the arrogant, disdainful, crazy party they are by accident, and the forces that made them that way are still out there. To put it another way, how can the Republicans become a more moderate, cooperative party when they have almost no moderate, cooperative people left?

They are entirely discredited -- for now. Independent voters don't like them -- for now. The stranglehold they've had on the discourse for 15 years is relaxing -- for now. But to say their movement is dead assumes the current state of affairs will be an enduring one, and the one lesson everyone should have learned over the past four years is that circumstances change, sometimes rapidly. Moreover, the Republican movement, in its current form, traces back 50-odd years, when the extreme anti-communists and the anti-intellectuals of the 50s reacted against the Wallace and Stevenson Democrats and started moving to the R side. They endured after Goldwater's crushing defeat in '64, watched helplessly as moderates like Nixon took over their party, lived through Reagan's primary defeat in '76, lived through eight years of the hated Bill Clinton. Why should one electoral defeat, no matter how big, destroy a movement that has shown that kind of resilience?

I don't know exactly what these guys are going to do in the future. Some of their most extreme members will be forced underground for awhile -- we won't be seeing another Sarah Palin on a national ticket for quite some time. But people should keep in mind that Bush ran as a moderate in 2000, not as the ideologue he governed as: the overt extremism we've seen on the Rep side over the past four years was an aberration, not the norm -- but the core of the movement remained intact, and drove the Republican Party even behind the mask of moderation. Why shouldn't they be able to pull that off again?

Right now, they are all trying to save their own asses, and as a result of that things look like they are falling apart. But there are powerful forces that push these guys towards unity, and those forces don't show any signs of dissipating in the face of one loss. Assuming Obama and the Dems do a good job of governing in the coming years, this could be a tough eight year stretch for the conservative movement. But it's made it through tough years before, and always come back even stronger. And then there's the possibility that Obama and the Dems fail.