Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Republican Shipwreck

Just another day in the Kabuki theatre that the GOP's unravelling has become...(at left, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens).

Gary Kamiya writes in Salon.com on "The Republican Shipwreck". An excerpt:

...But the problem isn't Bush, it's American conservatism itself -- or at least the debased, intellectually bankrupt and utterly failed thing that American conservatism has become. For McCain to truly renounce Bush, he'd have to renounce the tax-cut ideologues who have bankrupted the country. He'd have to renounce the neoconservatives who led us into a catastrophic war. He'd have to renounce the culture-war attack dogs like Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin who have coarsened conservatism's soul.

In short, he'd have to renounce the Republican Party -- and himself.

Yes, there's some part of McCain that stands apart from the disaster that his party has become. In the past, he has courageously taken principled stands on issues ranging from taxes to immigration to torture. He has some laudable independent instincts. His barely concealed rage and frustration, as he watches himself being pulled under by the enormous suction of the sinking GOP ship, bears witness to this. But his occasional maverick stands cannot change the fact that on the key issues, McCain is a faithful supporter of George W. Bush's policies. As Obama ads incessantly remind voters, McCain himself boasted that he voted with Bush 90 percent of the time. It's too late for him now to suddenly pretend that he represents anything other than more of the same.

On a personal note, I can vouch for the fact that it used to be different for McCain.

In 2000, I worked for New Jersey senator Bill Bradley's presidential campaign here in New Hampshire. At the time, Sen. McCain was riding the crest of his "maverick" wave and really WAS bucking the GOP quite a bit (rather than more or less just giving lip service to the "maverick" ideal, as he's done lately). He wasn't cozied up to the religious right (which is one of the reasons why he did well here in the NH primary, but lost to W in South Carolina).

I'd be out and about with Bradley volunteers, canvassing, and we'd occasionally see a group of McCain volunteers. We'd give them the thumbs up! The gesture was happily returned. There was even talk, only partially in jest, of a joint ticket between Bradley and McCain --- perhaps the two most centrist figures running in their respective parties that year.

Boy, that seems like a very long, long time ago...

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