A fter the Republican-led House of Representatives buckled and extended the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefit extension some hope the GOP is losing its “extremism.”
Some, like the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson believe that after the House agreed to the Senate’s bipartisan agreement,
“Republicans let us glimpse the rift between establishment pragmatists and Tea Party ideologues. There may be hope for the republic after all.”
The vote, of course, settles nothing, it is merely a two-month extension. A tax cut and a welfare check. The best for both of Washington’s parties. We’ll be back shortly for another round of Washington kabuki theatre where the two parties will pretend to find a solution for the economy and the looming entitlement crisis. For Robinson, the issue is appearing “sensible” and getting things done.
Likewise, another Post columnist, Jennifer Rubin, was also ruminating on the radicalism that is overtaking the Republican Party,
“The past few months have provided multiple lessons for the conservative movement on the danger of intemperance. Presidential candidates Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, who prided themselves on ”bold” . . . and “fundamental” . . . change floundered. . . . The party seems to be waking up to the extreme and weirdly paranoid vision propagated by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) As Jamie Kirchick points out in a must-read piece, the very thing that drives his supporters, is giving mainstream conservatives hives . .
“Again and again we see that the loudest voices, egged on by talk show hosts whose success is built on confrontation and on right-wing bloggers who thrive in a tiny echo chamber, have initial appeal, but quickly fade once the extent of their radicalism is revealed and the lack of saleability of their ideas in the body politic becomes clear.”
Well, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich haven’t faded because they were too intemperate, to use Rubin’s word. They are the personification of the modern conservative movement and so is a columnist like Rubin. Promising Big Things in their rhetoric, Rubin is turned off by their style, failing to see that the substance differs little from the status quo she defends.
Cain wasn’t radical. Rather, he was entirely conventional. The 9-9-9 plan was his only somewhat unique contribution to the campaign and he didn’t even know anything about that. He had no ideas of his own. Whenever he was pressed about anything specific he always claimed he would defer to the generals or some other experts. If he had defied the odds and actually reached the White House he would have been completely overtaken by his cabinet members or vice president as George W. Bush was by Dick Cheney.
And Newt Gingrich hasn’t proven himself to be anything besides what he has always been.
Before he ascended in the polls he was posing as the elder statesman of the Republican Party, never attacking another candidate but only the media. When he came to the front of the pack he began defending every government expansion of power and his recent scheme to fire disagreeable judges is just the latest in a line of loony, expansionist ideas perfectly consistent with his past. He is fading today for the same reason House Republicans turned on him in the late 1990’s. He is not a conservative and cannot be trusted. So much for the “New Newt.”
Rubin’s gushing at James Kirchick’s “discovery” of racism in Ron Paul’s newsletters is also illustrative of the uselessness of modern conservatism. Her and other conservatives’ concerns about the language used in a newsletter bearing Paul’s name is just one more example of the Right adopting the tactics and causes of the Left making any distinction between the two insignificant. Gone are the days when only liberals were interested in policing peoples’ thoughts. Now every so-called right-winger has to get in on the act. And that this spokesperson for the establishment Right is taking cues from the journal of establishment Left opinion, The New Republic, also shows that when it comes to seriously challenging the status quo, Republicans have checked out.
For establishmentarians like the conservative Rubin and liberal Robinson, any boat-rocking is off-limits and by definition, extreme. They exist to preserve the illusion that there are two distinct political philosophies battling for America. Rather, it is two centrist parties, posing as liberal and conservative ones, whose only objective is power, its accumulations, and its expansion.