Peggy Noonan, once a speech-writer for President Reagan and an insightful commentator, has written an interesting Op-Ed suggesting the imminent “death” of the Republican Party — at least in the general election in November.
he headline Wednesday on Drudge, from Politico, said, “Republicans Stunned by Loss in Mississippi.” It was about the eight-point drubbing the Democrat gave the Republican in the special House election. My first thought was: You have to be stupid to be stunned by that. Second thought: Most party leaders in Washington are stupid – detached, played out, stuck in the wisdom they learned when they were coming up, in ’78 or ’82 or ’94. Whatever they learned then, they think pertains now. In politics especially, the first lesson sticks. For Richard Nixon, everything came back to Alger Hiss.
They are also – Hill leaders, lobbyists, party speakers – successful, well-connected, busy and rich. They never guessed, back in ’86, how government would pay off! They didn’t know they’d stay! They came to make a difference and wound up with their butts in the butter. But affluence detaches, and in time skews thinking. It gives you the illusion you’re safe, and that everyone else is. A party can lose its gut this way.
Many are ambivalent, deep inside, about the decisions made the past seven years in the White House. But they’ve publicly supported it so long they think they . . . support it. They get confused. Late at night they toss and turn in the antique mahogany sleigh bed in the carpeted house in McLean and try to remember what it is they really do think, and what those thoughts imply.
There are always “lots of excuses,” Mr. Reed said of the special-election loss. Poor candidate, local factors. “Having said all that,” he continued, “let’s just face it: It’s not a good time.” He meant to be a Republican. “They brought Cheney in, and that was a mistake.” He cited “a disenchantment with the generic Republican label, which we always thought was the Good Housekeeping seal.”
What’s behind it? “American people just won’t take a long war. Just – name me a war, even in a pro-military state like this. It’s overall disappointment. It’s national. No leadership, adrift. Things haven’t worked.” The future lies in rebuilding locally, not being “distracted” by Washington.
Is the Republican solid South over?
“Yeah. Oh yeah.” He said, “I eat lunch every day at Buck’s Cafe. Obama’s picture is all over the wall.”
How to come back? “The basic old conservative principles haven’t changed. We got distracted by Washington, we got distracted from having good county organizations.”
Should the party attempt to break with Mr. Bush? Mr. Reed said he supports the president. And then he said, simply, “We’re past that.”
We’re past that time.
In 1994, the Republicans promised to be different from the Democrats, then mired in sleaze and scandal. They kept that promise: they were far worse.
It took the Democrats 40 years to screw things up; it took the Republicans twelve. They mixed religiously-tainted bigotry with the politics of fear and added in a whole heap of sleaze and greed and ruined this country. Ruined it.
I hope the Republican Party gets wiped out in November. I think it will.