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Repudiating the Radicals: The Quest to Save the GOP From Itself

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This is not exactly what I had planned on writing about.

No, this week’s article was supposed to revolve around the tragic story of Arthur E. Teele, a powerful South Florida politician who could have had it all — and then some. He took his own life in the lobby of the Miami Herald building exactly five years ago after the local media dragged his name through the mud with an 18-wheeler on the basis of corruption allegations. Posthumously, all of the charges filed against him were dropped and he remains a revered figure in most of Metropolitan Miami’s African American and Republican Party circles to this day.

As much as I would like to further elaborate on Teele’s spectacular rise to and fall from power, I cannot. There is a far more pressing issue facing America and, more specifically, its center-right political movement today. Last Sunday, I wrote about a study conducted by the American Enterprise Institute which found that, on average, liberals are smarter than conservatives so long as economical issues are not brought into the equation. This did not surprise me as those who seek to control the lives of others — namely social ultraconservatives and leftists — cannot be amongst the smartest members of society as only fools believe that they can possibly have absolute power over the actions of their peers.

Since the GOP was successively booted from power on Capitol Hill in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles, a particularly radical faction of social ultraconservatives has discovered an opportunity in the Party’s electoral malaise. Its members believe that they have the chance of a lifetime — the chance to recreate the GOP in their own image. What does this image consist of, exactly? Well, let us see; a healthy dosage of hypocritical self-righteousness, a smattering of state theocracy, a sliver of birtherism, a dab of anti-intellectualism, and, to top it all off, the unyielding and unquestionable worship of The Woman Who Would (Never) Be President, Sarah Palin.

It would take a list that would be, at the very least, a mile long to name every single last one of the kooks propagating this madness. Therefore, allow me to give a short rundown of the top three people who, in my opinion, are destroying the Republican Party. The first is Glenn Beck, the self-proclaimed libertarian talk show host who was caught ripping off one of his top radio competitors on an almost daily basis. Not long after, in an interview with Forbes Magazine, he could not help but brag about being nothing more than an entertainer who “could give a flying crap about the political process”. Nonetheless, he has an extremely loyal fan base and is thus unlikely to decline in popularity anytime soon.

Coming in second is Erick Erickson, the editor-in-chief of Red State, a very poor far-right imitation of the left wing mother-of-all-blogs Daily Kos. He recently wrote about one of his fantasies in which Ordinary Folks converged on their state legislator’s home, “pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp”. That’s not all, though. He also described how he might “clean his gun” in order to protect his property from, amongst other things, “government apparatchiks coming to enforce nonsensical legislation”. The scariest thing of all about Erickson, though, is that he is actually a public officeholder. Apparently, the citizens of Macon, Georgia feel that he is an asset to them on their city’s Board of Councillors. If, as a politician, he is anything like he is as a pundit, well — then that says quite a bit about the place that has come to be known as the Detroit of the South.

Rounding out the list in third place is Jim Robinson, the so-crazy-he-cannot-be-serious founder and publisher of Free Republic, a far-out-on-the-right-wing-fringe discussion forum which has an unfortunately heavy clout with certain demographic groups inside the GOP. He considers John McCain, one of America’s most indisputably conservative and honorable politicians, to be a “treasonous bastard” and “two-bit political hack”. He and the participants in his FReakshow tend to despise moderate, sensible Republicans even more than they do leftist Democrats, as evidenced by their efforts to elect fellow fringe activists during primary season, even when this creates a scenario in which the Democrat will almost certainly be victorious in the autumn. Though he does not realize it, Robinson is a gift that keeps on giving to the Left, as he and his cohorts often make their job much easier than it should be.

If the Republican Party wishes to make a comeback in both Houses of Congress this November, then these extremists, their organizations, and their allies must be completely and totally repudiated. The Silent Majority will never go along with their antics and either be repulsed into voting for the Democrats or fall into submission and not vote at all. Success for the GOP lies not with knee-jerk socially ultraconservative ideologues, but with centrist pragmatists such as Mark Kirk and Mike Castle. The Party desperately needs candidates who have no interest in shoving their personal agendas or beliefs down the throats of others and recognize that politics, while most certainly a sport, does not have to be a brutish one. If done correctly — in the Rockefeller/Eisenhower mold — it can be a non-combative sport in which good ideas are taken from members of both parties and implemented in a manner which is plausible and realistic.

Let us hope that, in the coming months, cooler heads prevail amongst the leadership and electorate of the Republican Party. America’s future depends on it.

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About Joseph F. Cotto

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Joseph, you should bill yourself as the only moderate left in the GOP. But don’t worry, we libertarian Republicans are willing to work with you when the ultraconservative nuts reject you.

    And for the record I’ve been repeatedly banned from both Free Republic and Red State for such crimes as criticizing the Bush administration and mocking religious extremists.

    But I have to tell you that the days of idiots like Erickson and Beck are numbered. Young Republicans are much more fiscally conservative and socially moderate and not attracted to the religious right. They’re pragmatic and tolerant and increasingly powerful and that’s very encouraging.

    One key thing you missed, though. Don’t forget that Erick Erickson has now been legitimized as the dumbest commentator on CNN.

    Dave

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Erickson actually redeemed himself [very incompletely] by refusing to defend Breitbart during the Sherrod fracas.

    This is a great article. I doubt the author and I would agree on much else, but the extremist dumb-dumb rhetoric of Beck et al is pernicious and destructive, to the GOP as well as to the level of discussion in the country at large.

    I’d offer this as counter-evidence to Dave’s ever-rosy picture of tea partiers. Bob Inglis, soon to be ex-congressman from South Carolina, was practically lynched last year at a town hall meeting. His main crime? He criticized Beck for fear-mongering and suggested his constituents should consider ‘just turning the TV off’ rather than listen to Beck’s hyperbolic rants.

    Inglis is not a closet moderate, but what used to be called a ‘main line conservative.’ But he rejects the wacko rhetoric of Beck and others, and was thus branded as The Enemy, and lost his primary.

    There’s an element to the tea party movement [according to that disputed NY Times poll, a majority of tea party sympathizers] who are older and whiter than the electorate as a whole. And a plurality of them love Glenn Beck and consider him a reliable source for news and information.

  • Baronius

    Joseph – There was no study commissioned by the AEI. There was an article about a study, and it said something quite different from what you’re representing.

    According to Wikipedia, Mark Kirk has a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood, an A from the NEA, and (if this is correct) an F- from the NRA. That doesn’t sound like moderation.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Mr. Cotto –

    I didn’t think I’d ever say this, but my compliments on your article. It’s not that I think it’s a great article in and of itself, but more in that it reassures liberals like myself that there are those among the Republicans who realize the danger of boarding the far-right crazy train. In all honesty, I’d happily vote for an Eisenhower – because he wasn’t afraid to tax the uber-wealthy and call out the danger of too much power wielded by the military-industrial complex.

    But I’m afraid that you don’t see what’s really driving the Republican party off the right side of the sanity rail – your punditocracy.

    In almost any poll among conservatives as to who is the most powerful or influential among the Right, Limbaugh and Beck almost always appear in the top FIVE, right up there with Cheney and Rove and the other leading lights of the Republicans.

    But the thing is, Limbaugh and Beck – and all the other powerful pundits that effectively rule the talk-radio airwaves – are not subject to term limits. Not only that, but when Reagan removed the barrier between the news media and the corporate side of networks, all of a sudden the news media had to show a PROFIT…so instead of giving facts about what this or that person or corporation is doing wrong, now the journalists have to answer to the corporate bean-counters who have to worry about losing advertising revenue…

    …and if you don’t think that’s an issue, how about reading this conservative blog’s take on the increasing relationship between Rupert Murdoch and Fox News and an extremist Saudi Prince. Now how would YOU react if this prince had such influence over, say, NBC?

    But I digress. So long as Republican politicians who show a little bit of spine and speak out against Rush or Beck or whomever, and then wind up having to apologize to the same far-right pundit because that pundit has so much sway over the Republican base that he can cost that politician his seat, the Republican party will be at the mercy of the pundits…who for the past fifteen years have been playing a game of “I’m more conservative than you!”

    Today, nearly any of the great Republican politicians (and ANY of the pre-Dubya GOP presidents) would be proclaimed RINO’s and tarred and feathered by the far-right pundits…and until your politicians rediscover their spines, the pundits will keep it that way.

  • Arch Conservative

    The whole world simultaneously bitches about the radicals in the GOP and looks the other way while far left kooks hijack the Democratic party.

    I wonder why that is.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Definitions of ‘left kooks’ vary. The closest left equivalent to the tea party is Netroots/Daily Kos, and they feel somewhat disenfranchised by a White House they feel is too cautious and moderate.

    The closest left equivalent to Beck, Hannity and Limbaugh is Keith Olbermann. He can be shrill, but he’s actually also very smart. And genuinely funny, at least sometimes.

    And Rachel Maddow is so much smarter and more civilized than the right’s yelling heads that there is no comparison. She expresses some very strong opinions [although not at all extreme, as far as I’m concerned], but she doesn’t seem to have a mean bone in her body. She can eviscerate a ridiculous argument more effectively and more nicely than would seem to be possible.

    And for sheer kookiness, you’ve got ‘em all beat, AC.

  • zingzing

    archie: “I wonder why that is.”

    because most of the world is to the left of you. most of the world is to the left of me as well.

  • Zedd

    Cotto,

    I agree with the first part of your article. Those are some of the problems of your party. I think they go deeper but its refreshing to know that some committed Reps see the nuttery. However I think the real problem is that you don’t know what the issues are because you haven’t paid attention for a long time.

    Your worship of state vs focusing on solutions has rendered you out of touch and useless to the public.

    Lets be honest. The reason you find yourselves with so many carnivalish distractions is because you have no message. The core of what you stand for is weak and gimmicky. You tried being the moral ones (that was doomed from the start), it came back to bite you badly. You tried being the fiscally responsible ones – you failed miserably. You tried being pro big business… problematic. What was left to harp on?

    What’s lefe? THE STATES. The problem is, that focus doesn’t fit in a global society where 80yr olds chat face to face on Skye with long lost relatives from the old country, at will; where they facebook with their family members across the nation, daily if not minute by minute.

    That focus was relevant when people were less connected, and the next state was a distant place. For many under 45, state and local politics only exist as a stepping stone to national politics. State politics are where you duke it out about education and they get it wrong but more than even Washington politics, its a breading ground for good old boys and qid pro quo.

    In addition to a weak fundamental focus, you omitted to include The Spin as a culprit. You have spun yourselves out of existence. You have talked so many points that what you say is not seen as genuine sentiment but another cooked up gimmick; the gimmick of the day. Younger Reps would not recognize your party without the rhetoric of the day. Strip away the snide half truths that filthy-up the airways daily, and you don’t have a Republican Party.

  • Arch Conservative

    “because most of the world is to the left of you. most of the world is to the left of me as well.”

    Of course I realize that. I just don’t get the logic that say’s because that’s true I must move to the left.

    Question………

    If Keith Olbermann is so smart, then why does he never have anyone on his show that disagrees with him? You’d think if he was such an intellectual dynamo he’d relish the opportunity to use his show to skewer those on the right who disagree with him.
    Instead he reads from a teleprompter every night something that someone else wrote while speaking with a bunch of “yes man” guests and gets worshipped for it by a bunch of moonbats.

    Trust me……give me a year to learn how a television show works and learn to read from a teleprompter on cue and I could do exactly what Olbermann does.

    I don’t particularly care for Hannity myself but at least he occasionally has people who disagree with him on the show. Olbermann never does. There is no diversity of thought, only a steady stream of moonbattery.

    “And Rachel Maddow is so much smarter and more civilized than the right’s yelling heads that there is no comparison.”

    Ah yes….she’s a polite moonbat propagandist.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Archie,

    Try to get the anger quotient out of your system. If anything, you should be equally outraged not just against the Left but against the Right, too, for perpetrating the sham that is called the government.

    If you want my honest opinion, Archie, you’re more to the left than you realize (but I don’t mean it in the political, stereotypical sense, only in the sense of being more critical than most, even within the BC community). I just think that you don’t like what’s happening to you, which is why you often resort to mild name-calling (moonbat is mild IMO). Don’t you perhaps suspect that some of Rachel Maddow’s talking points are on target?

    I wouldn’t know because I don’t listen to talk shows or TV newscasts – most of my info I get from print, and then make up my own mind as to where the truth lies.

    But the larger point, Archie, it’s a sham dispute – who is more trustworthy and more credible – Fox News or CNN, Maddow or Hannity. We have been ideologically divided as a nation, thanks to our politicians who try to convince us there is a world of difference out there. And the media only reflects this political climate.

    Again, an irrelevant argument as far as I am concerned, and those who fall for it and choose one side over the other are equally duped; and that’s the intended result.

    But you know better than that, Archie.

  • Arch Conservative

    Roger………..

    I don’t, and I don’t think anyone else should, generally equate the left witht he Dem party and the right with the GOP.

    I have plenty of scorn and contempt for the GOP that I do not share for those who espouse true conservative beliefs, especially in the economic realm.

    With the exception of abortion, because it is in fact the taking of a baby’s life, many of my positions on social issues tend to lean more to the moderate or libertarian side of things.

    I don’t really care what people do in their own homes as long as they’re not hurting anyone else or shoving who they are or what they’re doing in your face in public every two seconds.

    The premier example is gay rights. As I grow older, I think I’ve also grown more humble (thank god) and my thinking has changed on the issue. While I still do not support gay marriage I fully support civil unions that bestow the same full legal rights as heterosexual marriage. The reason I still oppose gay marriage is that since the founding of this nation marriage has always been defined as one man one woman and more often than not throw in some kids and you have a family. This model has served this nation well in the past and I think it is well worth keeping as the ideal. However I realize that not everyone must live their life but what I view as ideal and it would be obscene for me to expect others to forgo their happiness if that happiness was brought about by sharing their life in a romantic relationship of someone with the same partner.

    Back to the political though. The pivot point for where I now find myself in terms of politics at this moment in time is that BOTH parties are selling this nation down the river. As much of a personal responsibility free market kind of guy I am, I’d also be a liar if I didn’t say that big government’s partner in crime was big business. Is capitalism with a conscience even possible any more? I don’t have the answer to that one.

    The one thing I know for certain is that the more that big government and big business collude to exert their power over us, the worse off we all our.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I couldn’t agree with more, Arch.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Can I call you Joe?

    Joe, It is such an affront to most peoples’ intelligence to be treated this way. oh, just plug in a woman or a black man! but, still not warming to the Latin population, are they?

    I wondered why you haven’t mentioned, Mitt and Newt.

    :) Better yet, join the independent voter party. We don’t plug anyone in…

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Beck has abused the airways, here is a way to take constructive action.