Wednesday, March 06, 2013

GOP Smackdown: Wonks vs.Politicans

Bill Kristol, Peggy Noonan, Newt Gingrich and John Boehner

As noted any number of times on this blog, the remaining rational Republican/conservative pundits are increasingly distressed with the GOP's refusal to reform itself and face a changing political landscape.  Instead of reform and innovation, elected officials in the GOP continue to listen to the same religious extremists - e.g., the Family Research Council, the U.S. Catholic bishops, and other Christofascist groups - and anti-tax groups such as Grover Norquist's outfit that helped settle the stage for the 2012 election debacle.  A debacle that would have been complete at the national level but for the gerrymandering of Congressional districts.  A piece in Politico looks at the intra-party infighting.  Here are highlights:

The latest front in the battle for the future of the Republican Party: the wonks versus the pols.  Conservative thinkers are increasingly agitated that, four months after a second straight presidential drubbing, GOP officeholders are not taking bold steps to bring a 1980s-style Republican platform into the 21st century.

Almost daily, there is a fresh op-ed or magazine piece from the class of commentators and policy intellectuals urging Republicans to show a little intellectual leg and offer some daring and innovation beyond the old standbys of cutting income taxes and spending. It’s not that the eggheads are urging moderation — it’s more like relevance. The standard plea: The GOP will rebound only when it communicates to working-class and middle-class voters how its ideas will improve their lives.

But there is virtually no evidence that these impassioned appeals for change are being listened to by the audience that matters — Republican elected officials.
With few exceptions, most of the GOP leadership in Washington is following a business-as-usual strategy. The language and tactics being used in this winter’s battles with President Barack Obama are tried-and-true Republican maxims that date back to the Reagan era or before. And that, say the wonks, spells political danger and more electoral decline.

Some of the conservative thinkers allow that the politicians are lagging indicators and have time before the next election. But the volume of the grumbling is ratcheting up as the party’s poll numbers continue to fall and the GOP’s fixation on austerity — and only austerity — appears increasingly out of tune.

“The problem with the deficit as an issue is that people care about economic growth more, and the problem with spending cuts is that people like them more in the abstract than in reality,” wrote National Review editor Rich Lowry in a POLITICO column last week, adding: “At times, it seems as if ‘we have a $16 trillion debt’ is the sum total of the party’s argumentation.”

Criticizing GOP inaction on the sequester, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol lashed Republicans in the current issue of his magazine for being “complicit in the failure of political responsibility and national seriousness we’re now witnessing.
As long as the GOP remains beholden to the Tea Party lunatics and religious extremist who have taken over the party base, the pundit and wonk class can rant and complain all they want, but no real change will occur.  Change and innovation do not occur when elected officials are pandering to those detached from objective reality and those who want to turn time back by at least a century.

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