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The Politics of Self-Destruction: Is the 'Stupid Party' that Stupid?

By       Message Robert S. Becker     Permalink
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Republicans aren't just having a bad season, a bad year or bad election cycle. When a shrinking minority, bereft of rebuilding moves, starts hurling thunderbolts at each other, we can project bad decades. Not so long ago, rightwingers began leaping off cliffs and denying reality, so unfazed by repeated failure they went whole hog, denying their own denial. So rather than adapt, like any healthy, evolving organism, the GOP got stuck in a quicksand of losing endgames rife with rancor, bigotry and negation. Not only can't the right fix stupid, its party ineptly tears itself apart while boosting the bemused, undeserving opposition.

Since the post-Iraq, post-Katrina Dubya disgrace, what happy headline (except the 2010 House coup) heartens the aging, raging band of GOP crusaders? Not this firmer White House, not this Senate, not harsh public opinion, not legislative wins, and certainly not inescapable demographics. With bloody handwriting on the rightwing wall, when exactly is everything over but the shouting? More Americans than not find the GOP out of touch (62%), too extreme (52%) and resistant to change, according to a Pew poll released Tuesday. Party favorability nears 30%, with no bottom in sight.

Salon's Steve Kornacki exposes the latest, self-made land mine in "The GOP's Ted Cruz Problem:" the party's not yet "doomed, but it does need a reboot -- a reboot that's difficult to envision as long as the party's base continues to celebrate behavior like Cruz's   . . . [that's] a major obstacle to the ideological modernization that the Republican Party is desperately in need of." While we applaud the good news -- the Reagan-Bush coalition is kaput -- there will be inevitable fallout: dying parties leave large, stinking corpses before the air clears. Plus, as the right rode ferocity to success, brace for incendiary gang warfare that will demonize enemies, inside and out. Hard to imagine party rebranding as in-fighting divides the factions quicker than overstuffed bacteria.

Behold the two basic warring factions: in this corner, the corporate establishment (low taxes, low regulations, state subsidies) vs. a motley Limbaugh mess of anti-tax Tea Partiers, evangelical fundamentalists (and anti-abortionists), NRA purists, plus fringier insurgents, gun nuts, and secessionist militias. The TP over-reaction to Karl Rove, branding him a Nazi stormtrooper, dramatizes how firebrands plan to battle "establishment" shills messing in "their" primaries. As Politico's Mike Tomasky summarizes, "The problem is that [so much GOP] is fanatical - a machine of rage, hate, and resentment . . . we've never seen anything like this in the modern history of our country. There's a symbiosis of malevolence between the extreme parts of the GOP base and Washington lawmakers, and it is destroying the Republican Party."

Scoring the Fast Food Fights

Already, a year ago partisans like Fred Barnes bewailed the "Republican death wish," by which dingbats keep doing "something crazy or stupid that diminishes their election prospects." Shoot-from-the-hip campaigners infected all, as the Akins-Mourdock dinosaurs dive-bombed. And the "legitimate rape" spectacle crowned months of GOP primary self-abuse, including my favorite moment: when the "free enterprise party" attacked Romney's "predatory capitalism." Such bedlam must have unnerved Mitt, who then blundered as often as possible, veering between appalling flip-flops and censure hurled at the 47%. The election trauma then oozed like poison into post-election GOP fiascoes, whether boldly shielding the rich from dreadful taxation or decimating government over imagined "fiscal cliffs" or melodramatic sequestration.

No wonder Dick Polman presumes a "GOP bloodbath, already in progress," for even Tea Partier Matt Kibbe conceded "gang warfare." Ditto, from ex-Dubya adviser, Mark McKinnon:

All sanity seems to have left the ranks of those in charge of the GOP. Increasingly, it is becoming clear that the party is against everything and for nothing. That's not governing. That's just lobbing hand grenades. And the GOP is shrinking daily before our eyes.

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So, that worked so well the new plan is to lob grenades at fellow travelers. Ridiculing Rove as a Nazi is a telling slam, forcing Bush's Brain on FOX to argue he's no autocratic bully (rich indeed, even when correct on suicidal primary winners). Limbaugh and Gingrich joined in the Rove salvos. Okay, Rove is a snake but consider wingnut attacks, as from Ann Coulter, on the respectable Marco Rubio, the party's one-week savior getting pilloried for pushing immigration "amnesty" that "dooms the GOP." Is that all? Or when? Jeb Bush, waking from the dead center, piled on Rubio while ex-rising star, Rand Paul, kept Tea Parties humming by matching rhetoric with Cruz for the wingnut king.

Uncivil Hostilities, Casualties Mounting

Fisticuffs extended to defense matters, as loose cannon senators McCain and Lindsay harshly slam Cruz's neo-McCarthyite innuendo that impugned Republican Hagel's honor. Imagine. Only last month, Chris Christie (a rare GOP bird) blasted the NRA over arming schools after eviscerating Speaker Boehner for delayed storm aid votes. Earlier still, Romney staff losers (plus the deranged Dick Morris and FOX goons) had blamed Christie alone for the loss (as if Mitt was a shoe-in). In rushed Rudy Giuliani, defending Christie against shrill party lashings: "He put his state first." Nobody on the right is obviously putting party, let alone nation first, and new battlegrounds surface weekly.

In short, the election fiasco only reinforced where the right went badly wrong, reduced now to inane, schoolyard bullying against itself. When do previously typical, post-election firing squads get so mired in hostility they set off tectonic disruptions, auguring new parties? Rachel Maddow describes a staggered GOP "Engulfed in Flames," entirely self-induced. Why do so few rightwingers refuse to challenge wild NRA excesses, despite growing backlashes that undermine the GOP and its all-too-literal blood brother. Nor has the most absurd ideologue of all, Grover Norquist, been drowned in his own bathtub. 

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Just what a party with 30% favorability needs: obedience to a medieval absolutist who views tax hikes as if drone attacks. Talk about lose-lose: Republicans either appear demented by worshiping such demagoguery, or they shame themselves, apologizing profusely for keeping the government from bankruptcy. What happened to the old war cry. "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing"?

Yes, the rightwing is ripe with dim bulbs, but only buffoons on a suicide mission defy the definition of insanity attributed to Einstein, "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Bingo, this week House zealots duplicate earlier mortification by embracing highly unpopular, sequester brinksmanship while opposing highly popular minimum wage increases. Don't party geniuses realize even illiterate voters understand blackmail and Robber Baron messaging?  

R.I.P., Ashes to Ashes

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For a decade, Robert S. Becker's rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, messaging and frameworks, now featured author at OpEdNews, Nation of Change and RSN. He appears regularly at Dissident Voice, with credits (more...)

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