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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/12/11

The GOP's Presidential Dilemma

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At the turning point of Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta "Trial by Jury" The Judge announces: "A nice dilemma we have here, That calls for all our wit, for all our wit."   The public face of the GOP often seems witless (other than to their devoted, Fox"News"Channel indoctrinated followers).   But privately, the true leadership of the GOP, seen very little by the general public, has a great deal of wit in the defense and promotion of the agenda of their patron, the US Corporate Power.   In fact they have much too much of it for the long-term good of both our nation and the world at large.   It is this private face of the GOP, its true leadership that faces a major dilemma in the upcoming US presidential election.  

The private face of the GOP does not include most of their public figures. Their elected officials for the most part are bought and paid-for employees of those who run the Party. They have neither an independent voice nor independent power.   (As much as certain Tea Party GOP front men and women may think they do, this is not the case). Second, the GOP is not the Propaganda Channel - otherwise known as the Fox"News"Channel mentioned above - nor is it its order-giver, Roger Ailes. For Ailes takes his orders from those above him too. Third, the GOP is not their raft of paid political consultants and celebrity figures like Sara Palin, Donald Trump and the Christian Reconstructionist Mike Huckabee. (Want to know why he didn't run this time around? He has close, although private, connections to that replace-the-Constitution-with-Biblical-Law-the-way-we-see-it organization.   Those connections certainly would have come to light this time around and even some the GOP voters would have had a hard time stomaching it.) No, the true GOP leadership is on the other hand, for the most part a highly secretive group.

Two of the true GOP leadership's few public figures are Karl Rove and Reince Priebus. Rove is of course a major fundraiser and he is also the developer of the goal he intended to be achieved under the GW Bush Presidency of a "Permanent Republican Majority." He failed in this attempt.   However, he appears to be on this way to achieving a "Permanent Republican Government," at both the federal and state levels.   This state of affairs is one of the bases of the GOP presidential dilemma.   Reince Priebus is the recently appointed Chair of the Republican National Committee. One of his major claims to fame is his drafting of model state legislation aimed at significantly reducing minority, youth, and working-class voting by significantly reducing access to the voting booth. This legislation has been passed and is on its way to being enacted in many of the states in which the GOP took control of both the legislative and executive branches in the 2010 elections.   And then there are the Koch Brothers, the poster boys, willingly or not, for the Right-wing Corporate Power that has taken control of major parts of the US economy and is milking it for every last dollar of profits that they can lay their hands on.

However, the bulk of the real leadership of the GOP is to be found in highly secretive groups. One of them is the National Council for Policy. According to Source Watch ( "The Council for National Policy is a secretive forum that was formed in 1981 by Tim LaHaye as a networking tool for leading US conservative political leaders, financiers and religious right activist leaders. The group, which meets three times a year, promotes, "Educational conferences for national leaders in the fields of business, government, religion and academia to explore national policy alternatives.' Weekly newsletters are distributed to all members to keep them apprised of member activities and public policy issues. A semi-annual journal is produced from membership meeting speeches. In 2001, ABC News reported: "The CNP describes itself as a counterweight against liberal domination of the American agenda.' Others are not so kind to the organization and its motives. Mark Crispin Miller states that the CNP is a 'highly secretive... theocratic organization -- what they want is basically religious rule' ( A Patriot Act ). Barry W. Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State , told the New York Times about the CNP meeting ahead of the 2004 Republican National Convention: "The real crux of this is that these are the genuine leaders of the Republican Party , but they certainly aren't going to be visible on television next week.' "Another secretive group is the Koch Brothers' fundraising machine, which seems not to have a name, publicly at least, although it could be called "Citizens United's Little Boys." One can be certain that there are a number of other GOP backroom organizations that are indeed truly secret.

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And so, what is their dilemma? In a sentence, who would they rather have sitting in the Oval Office just after noon on January 20, 2013 - the present White House occupant or one of the not-quite-ready-for-prime-time-bunch who have declared their run for the GOP Presidential nomination.   Consider this.   If Rove wants a permanent Republican government in terms of true GOP policy he is well on this way to getting it.   Current government foreign policy, for, let's say, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Pakistan, China, Russia, the European Union, and last but certainly not least, Israel, runs pretty much along GOP lines. On taxes, they are screaming for more cuts, but they already have had a bunch under the current Administration.

What they call "big government" is miniscule compared to that of virtually every other advanced capitalist country. The 19th Century Prussian Chancellor Bismarck, who created the world's first national health insurance system in the 1880s, would himself be appalled at what passes for national health care policy in this country. As for the "safety net" and the so-called "welfare state," again by comparison the former has many more holes than net and the latter doesn't exist in the same sense that it exists by any measure of comparison elsewhere. Adolf Hitler, probably the greatest practitioner of Keynesian economics ever to hit the world stage, would be scratching his head over the dismal level of government investment in the US economy. So that's what they've got.  

Then consider that they've got in the White House, someone who in the end, goes along with them on most things. He may make some liberal/"progressive" noises now and then, but over and over again: on health care reform (which ended up simply as a major Federally-mandated subsidy for the private health insurance companies); on repealing the Bush tax cuts; on withdrawing from Afghanistan; on closing Guantanamo' about doing nothing serious about climate change (except to some extent over at a courageous EPA); on nuclear power (big subsidies, but minimal for renewable); about being serious about rooting out the evils of Wall St. and sending at least some of the perpetrators of the 2008 collapse of finance capitalism to prison; about going after the torturers and more importantly the ones who wrote the rules they followed; and so on and so forth.   When push has come to shove, for the most part it is the President who has been getting shoved. (What he does in the end about the debt ceiling, GOP-let's-drown-what's-left-of-the-Federal-government-that-we-don't-like-in-the-bathtub, al la Grover Norquist blackmail attempt remains to be seen.) In all of this, Obama has been generally following the policies of the old Democratic Leadership Council, whose former Director, Al From, recently came out with a statement generally praising GOP policies.

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So what is the kicker for them with Obama in the White House? When all of their policies produce the predictable negative results, they can just turn around and blame him, and blame him, and blame him.   Then predictably he responds with, for the most part, "we've got to change the way Washington works."    He hardly ever says anything like "you know, folks, it's Republican policies that are to blame, and let me tell you why."   Then the "blame Obama" tune first hits the echo chamber of the propaganda channel.   Then it hits the equally damaging, for real people suffering from the real problems created by GOP policy, "on-the-one-hand-this-and-on-the-other-hand-that" position taken by most of the other major news outlets.

So, given the available talent, knowledge, and skill level of their potential candidates, there is a strong temptation among the true GOP leadership to stick with what they've got until 2016. By that time, the country will be in much worse mess, which they would blame of course entirely on the President, and they could then triumphantly bring in the next Bush, who would win and then make things even worse. But that's another story.

Given all this, why would they want the Presidency in 2012? Three primary reasons: First of all, to get control of environmental regularity policy (financial regulatory policy having changed not very much). Obama, particularly with his oil-industry connected man over at the Interior, Ken Salazar, has not been outstanding on environmental regulation (mountain-top removal continues unabated, as does fracking --- poison the New York City water supply, anyone?)   But, any GOP Administration would be even worse, which is just what the Corporate Power wants. Second of all, they could cement their control over the federal judiciary. For 2 - years they have blocked countless Obama nominees to the District and Circuit Courts and will continue to do so (of course with little criticism from the White House on the matter). Most of those vacancies will all still be open in 2013, as well as, most likely, at least one liberal seat on the Supreme Court (Justice Ginsburg). Third, they would get all their hacks back into the various powerful, non-career positions in the federal bureaucracy.   One prime example?   The former lobbyist for the beef and dairy industry who wrote the last (totally fake from the nutrition/health point of view) "food pyramid" for the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services that has been, thankfully, replaced by the dinner plate.

However, and it a very big however, if the GOP gets the presidency they would almost certainly retaining their majority in the House.   On the Senate side, whether or not they regain a majority, they would retain effective control of the Senate, which they have had for most of the Obama Presidency.   Thus they would eventually be blamed for all that would eventually go wrong. Savagely Le-vinitating O'RHannibaugh would be able to blame it all on Obama for just so long, even though they would try to do so forever.

So there's the dilemma for the real GOP leadership.   Through voter suppression and vote-tampering Rove/Priebus can make the election turn out pretty much way they want it to.   That will indeed be a tough decision for them.   Stay tuned, folks. This one will be fascinating to watch.


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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a "Trusted Author," he is a Senior Editor, (more...)
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