In 1980 Ronald Reagan won the Republican nomination. He beat a future president, George H.W. Bush; two future Senate majority leaders, Howard Baker and Bob Dole; and two lesser-known congressmen. This year Mitt Romney won the GOP nomination. He beat a radio host, a disgraced former House speaker, a defeated Senate candidate, a former appointee of the Obama administration, a tongue-tied Texas governor, a prevaricating religious zealot who happens to serve in the House of Representatives and a cranky libertarian doctor. Where did all the talent go?
Until the Republican Party can answer this question, it makes no sense to continue to carp about Mitt Romney and the startlingly incompetent presidential campaign he’s running. His faults as a politician are manifest. He is robotic, unknowable (his own wife asserted at the national convention that “he made me laugh” and then failed to cite a single humorous moment), ideologically incoherent and severely out of touch with the average American. He is his party’s nominee because, like the one-eyed man in the valley of the blind, he is just the best of the worst.
Since Republicans are so focused on the individual and not on the system that produced him, they miss the real problem. The system in this case is the series of incredibly damaging primaries and caucuses that, in the crucial early stages, produce a candidate who could sweep Bavaria. The Iowa caucuses alone take the GOP so far to the right that it all but dooms the winner. Romney had to vow to stop thinking. He had to virtually declare himself anti-Hispanic (criticizing Texas for providing tuition discounts to the college-age children of illegal immigrants). While he has now moderated his approach, it is a bit late. Hispanic is not Spanish for Stupid.
Across the board, Romney pandered to the right. He did so on guns, abortion and even Iran. A GOP candidate has to oppose same-sex marriage, deny global warming and insist — against all evidence — that local control of education is the best.
The list of Republicans who looked at Iowa’s daunting demographics and did not run is more distinguished than those who did. At one time or another, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain (who was forced to drop out) were front-runners. Can you think of any two people less qualified for the presidency?
They have designed a system where, politically speaking, the lowest common denominator wins. We are all the poorer for it.
Contrast the candidates of yore with the collection that took the field this year. The Republican Party has had a brain drain so that now its highest intellectual achievement is — like an infant in the Terrible 2s— simply to say no to everything, especially taxes.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
The Republican Brain Drain
Washington Post that looks at the intellectual decline of the GOP and the sad fact that the Party is no longer a party of ideas and innovation but instead a party that only looks backwards and that seeks to drag the nation back to a place in history that was never as wonderful as in the minds of the reactionaries and Christianists. Trying to return to the 1950's simply does not address or find solutions to 2012 problems. The GOP has a systemic problem that must be corrected: the primaries and caucuses need to be retooled to lessen the impact of the insane elements in the party. Here are some column excerpts: