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When Novak Draws the Knife

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Message Gregg Gordon

I'll admit to a certain soft spot when it comes to conservative columnist Robert Novak. Well, maybe "soft spot" isn't quite the right way to put it. It can't be. But anyway.

Given a choice between him and the "Gee whilickers"-style promotion of pro-murder policies from the likes of Bill Kristol or David Brooks, I'll take Novak. No preppy, Ivy League elitism here. He's from Joliet, and it shows. You just want a dead body and no fingerprints? Novak's your man. If Novak was your friend, and word got back to him that you had called him a "nice guy," he'd spend half a day brooding about it and trying to figure out how to get you back. He titled his own memoirs Prince of Darkness. As Walter Huston said of Jack Nicholson's "nasty reputation" in Chinatown, "I like that."

And so I felt as I watched our beloved Bob -- again, not the right word -- unsheath the blade for his part in the slow ideological fratricide of the one who has become everyone's favorite scapegoat and human sacrifice, George W. Bush.

The occasion was this week's column on "Obamacons" -- erstwhile conservatives who have decided even an administration led by one called (at least by some) our most liberal Senator would be preferable to four more years of the mind-boggling incompetence and destructive policies of today's Republican party. They like their gated communities, but this more enlightened brand of Republican recognizes they're so much more enjoyable when sitting atop a society that's actually functioning on some level.

There really wasn't that much to the piece. Novak was speculating on if and when Obamacon suspects Chuck Hagel and Colin Powell would openly dump their party and endorse Democrat Barack Obama for President. Short on facts or news, it seemed mainly a vehicle from one of the party's leading propagandists for an in-house expression of disgust over the last eight years. "Revulsion over today's Republican party" is how he describes the core of Obamacon thinking. A "therapeutic electoral bloodbath" is what they think is needed.

"The Republican Party is a dead rotting carcass with a few decrepit old leaders stumbling around like zombies in a horror version of 'Weekend With Bernie,' handcuffed to a corpse," is how Novak quoted one Obamacon, a former Jack Kemp lieutenant. Ouch.

None of this surprises me. Despite whatever Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, and Phil Gramm would have you believe, I've always thought there was a post-Neanderthal majority in the Republican Party. They were happy for the votes those tactics brought them, but they never really believed these people were as crazy as they seemed, and certainly not as stupid as they turned out to be. So I always thought it was only a matter of time before they revolted against the Bush-Cheney hubris-and-incompetence brigade and opted to remain part of civilized society. Only the 9/11 tragedy and the consequent period of national mourning and psychosis kept it from happening long before 2004. Thus disaster turned to catastrophe.

That's why I expect Obama ultimately will win in November and probably win big. Whatever else is said, the Republicans have done an astonishingly crappy job of running the country since being handed the reins of power. Everybody knows it, any Republican who's not insane can see it, and the voters are going to tell them so. You just don't get that many chances to kick a politician's butt so righteously, and John McCain can only wish the old Bolshevik's airbrush artist was still around.

It "should cause soul-searching at the Bush White House about who made the Republican Party so difficult a place for Republicans to stay," Novak concludes with an uncharaceristic poetic flourish.  And he hasn't had a 50-year career in Washington by staying on sinking ships.

Maybe you can lose the left of your party and survive. Maybe you can lose the right of your party and survive. But when you lose the assassins of your party, you got problems.

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Gregg Gordon is a writer, musician, activist, and otherwise ne'er-do-well in Columbus, Ohio. "Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little." - Edmund Burke
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