Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Week In GOP Wankery: Clowns To The Left Of Us & Jokers To The Right

Well, another week has gone by and still no concrete signs of the long-promised Republican resurgence that was going to wash the Democratic effluvia from the Capitol Hill stables. In fact, the week past was arguably a disaster for the aluminum foil hat-wearing Tea Partiers who are supposedly leading the GOP charge out of the electoral wilderness and back to . . . uh, relevancy.

First, the party's right wing took a drubbing in several primary-day elections, and when the sun came up on Wednesday morning what passes for the Republican core these days had not only not turned a big corner but was looking even more like the gang that couldn't shoot straight.

There is no question that Republicans are riding the tide of anti-incumbency and may do even better than the minority party typically does in off-year elections.

But it also is obvious that they remain deaf to the issues that concern voters most and continue to believe their path back to power rests on shoving the party's national agenda down voters' throats. It would not be too rash to predict that a 40 House seat pickup that would again give the GOP a majority is a mirage.

Tip O'Neill's famous maxim that "All political are local" was proven once again in the special election to replace longtime and now deceased Democratic Congressman John Murtha in PA-12, a district in Pennsylvania's Coal Belt region that went for John McCain in 2008.

Tim Burns, the Republican, had an excellent shot at defeating Mark Critz, a former aide to Murtha. But Burns, who campaigned with over $1 million in Republican National Campaign Committee moolah, got creamed by Critz, who focused on local issues and ignored Burns' RNCC-orchestrated attacks on Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama, who no matter how hard voters looked could not find on the ballot.

The brightest spot for Tea Partiers was the victory of Rand Paul, who is one of their own and then some, over the Republican establishment candidate in Kentucky to run against a semi-obscure Democrat in the fall for the seat of retiring nut (as opposed to wingnut) Jim Bunning.

No sooner had Paul declared victory from a ballroom at the very kind of exclusive "members only" country club that anti-elitist Tea Partiers decry than he was furiously wiping pee pee off of his tassel loafers over the storm raised because of his put down of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. (He then tried to divert attention by declaring that Obama is "un-American" by being tough on BP for the monumental Gulf of Mexico oil spill.)

Now the Civil Rights Act is what is called a settled thing. It has been on the books for nearly a half century, is a well established part of the social fabric that no one has sought to amend or abolish, and protects all sorts of minorities and not merely blacks. These include people with disabilities, and it should be noted that Paul also opposes the Americans With Disabilities Act.

I happen to think Paul is a bona fide nut, but he is less vulnerable to Democratic attack for his craziness than his inadvertent articulation of how Republicans have used "white fear" instead of minority outreach for so many years. As a blogger colleague notes, now it's time to shove that down their throats.

The final indignity came on Thursday when Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, the once and future Tea party darling, crossed the aisle along with four other Republicans to vote for a financial reform bill that begins (but does not go nearly far enough) to correct the Wall Street excesses that the Bush administration and Republican congressional majority encouraged, plunging Main Street into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Perhaps I am naive, but I continue to believe that most Americans, as battered and beleaguered as they may be, do not want to fight the Civil War all over again and see the Republican comeback for what it is -- a bunch of extremist asshats driving clown cars.

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