Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Repubican's Lobotomy

Richard Cohen of the WaPo writes of the Republicans in a similar vein to my own post of a few days ago. Writing about an new GOP candidate named Herman Cain, he notes:
I now know slightly more about Cain than I do of John Thune, Mike Pence and Jon Huntsman. They are also mentioned as possible GOP presidential candidates. They join a field of better-knowns, which includes the inevitable Sarah Palin, the persistent Newt Gingrich, the ideologically flexible Mitt Romney, the religiously besotted Tim Pawlenty, the improbable Haley Barbour, the familiar Mike Huckabee, the diligently competent Mitch Daniels and the ferociously conservative Rick Santorum, who could not even hold on to his Senate seat. As this list makes clear, the Democrats will occupy the White House forever.

...there's not a name on the list that screams president! Some of these people are so obscure their faces could be on milk cartons. Huntsman, now the ambassador to China, has no more name recognition than does Cain, who at least has an Atlanta-based radio show. The same holds for Pence and Daniels, substantive figures but nearly invisible to the naked eye. Among other things, they are unconnected dots - Pence and what? Daniels and what? Finish the sentence. What are their causes?

I hear good things about Daniels. I hear good things about Huntsman. Yet no matter how well they test, they must, like all the others, conform to GOP dogma. This will shrink the biggest of men. They have to swear allegiance to a balanced budget, dangerously low taxes, cutting (trivial) waste, fraud and abuse from the budget, the sacredness of even microscopic life, the innocence of mankind in the cooking of the planet, the inviolability of the 18th-century Constitution, meeting the challenges of globalism with even more localism and a furious rejection of the lessons of Keynes - even when those lessons are successfully applied.

Some of this, I think, is linked to a religious faith that rejects an appropriate skepticism. The Republican credo was enunciated by Pawlenty last year when he declared at the Conservative Political Action Conference that "God's in charge." For those who did not quite get this drift, he repeated himself. "God is in charge." Why he felt compelled to make a public spectacle of what in years past would have been a personal matter is now obvious. Republicans are more religious than Democrats (50 percent of evangelicals are Republicans while only 34 percent are Democrats, according to a Pew poll), but the more telling figure is this one from a different survey: Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to believe Satan is a real spiritual entity. The devil, as you can see, is in the polling details.

The consequence of such views has to be crushing. It is simply impossible for a centrist to capture the Republican presidential nomination - maybe even to be a Republican. (I challenge any of the above to wholeheartedly endorse evolution or global warming.) The party continues on a course that has already driven out the political moderates and pro-choicers that once comprised its intellectual and financial core and, in the staffing of administrations, still somewhat does - Colin Powell, for instance. To call this a brain drain understates the calamity. It's a political lobotomy.

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