But this year, the GOP message managers are having to dig so deep into the pit of right-wing-fringe quackery just to get a pulse, I don’t think there is any way they can come back with a mainstream message that would satisfy a majority that is openly rolling their eyes at stale Republican tactics. If the theme song for 2004 was (or should have been) the Who’s "Won’t Get Fooled Again", the song for ‘08 (if it wasn't so obscure) may well be "Clown Strike" by Elvis Costello: "Even a clown knows when to strike."
As usual, the GOP message is driven by talking-points sent out to pathetic lackeys on wing-nut radio and their thin-shadow blogger-buddies. The message having been driven like a spike into the heads of the wrongly-faithful, the pitiful bunch of Republicans running for president can only sign on to the warped agenda and hang on for dear life. Here are some of the "winning" issues the GOP has chosen to highlight in the twilight of its relevance and existence:
- WAR: Even Iraqi insurgents and al-Qaeda whackjobs don’t hold a candle to the wing-nuts in their lust for more blood to be spilled by American soldiers. If it takes 5 – heck, 10 or ("like Korea") 50 – more years of death, mutilation and tears to justify the deadly bad judgement of Junior Bush, they’ll do it – or, rather, they’ll have you do it for them. While anyone with any sense turned against the worst foreign policy blunder in American history years ago, the wing-nuts want our sitting-duck soldiers to be there longer; at risk for no good reason. Adding intellectual insult to haven’t-you-had-enough injury, the same people who brought you the Iraq fiasco are now beating the drums to invade – or, at least, bomb the hell out of – Iran.
The GOP candidates are all on this one-wheeled bandwagon to some degree or other. John McCain is busy putting the final nails in his political coffin by declaring himself ready to be "the last man standing" for the failed Iraq mission, whatever it is. Draft-dodger Rudy Giuliani is also not shy about putting more young lives at risk. Nominee-to-Be Romney at least has an issue he hasn’t had the chance to flip-flop on, cheerily announcing that the population of the institution that is the symbol of our international pariah-ness – Guantanamo – should be "doubled". No kidding, he really said it should be doubled. With opponents like these, who needs supporters?
- IMMIGRATION: About a year ago, it dawned on the GOP message-designers that they had to throw a hail-mary pass to get traction with their deep, back-woods base. So they got senior TV/radio wing-nut Sean Hannity to celebrate and publicize the "Minutemen", a bunch of racist thugs in SUVs who were conducting a private campaign to chase and harass poor border-crossers in the Southwest. This led to the declaration of a "crisis" in immigration. Apparently, there were just too many brown-skinned, foreign-languaged people showing up for work all across America. The trumped-up "crisis", not coincidentally, led to the first increase in years for membership in the Klu Klux Klan and other "organizations" who know how to make the most of xenophobic hysteria.
Again, the GOP candidates have heard the siren sound of their nut-base and, instead of volunteering for the next Habitat for Humanity project, will be out there with the suddenly-enriched private contractors (check for Minutemen to make the most of their opportunities here), building giant double-fences to keep Them out. Meanwhile on the northern border, Canadians will continue to come and go with impunity, their white skin shining in the sun of continued opportunity.
- STEM CELLS: Opposition to stem cell research is the new measure of how whack a politician is. Thousands of frozen embryos are tossed out every year, as the couples who save their possible futures in a jar conceive on their own, change plans or simply move on. Some of those embryos headed for the dumpster can be used to search for possible cures for various ailments and conditions. But, from the people who bought you the Terry Schivo tragedy, we have irrational opposition to such research.
Again, the bunch of minor figures calling themselves Republican presidential candidates genuflect at the altar of the right-to-"life" crowd (their version of life, not yours, thank you), facts and common sense be damned. They do an elaborate dance and pretend that there are alternatives (like the recent diversion about getting usable cells from the skin of mice, or something like that), but its all just pandering. Cue up Monty Python musical number from The Meaning of Life: "Every sperm is sacred/Every sperm is good..."
- NO-TAX PLEDGE: Here in Wisconsin, we have a bunch of Republican and a Democrat or two who have signed on to a "no new tax" pledge circulated by helpful GOP blogger Owen Robinson and driven by the usual talk-radio mouthpieces. The result is now chaos in the statehouse, where reasonable compromises made during the usual state budget process have been thrown out the window by the GOP-controlled Assembly. Never mind that no one has come forward with an alternative way to fund state programs without the fee and tax increases proposed by Gov. Doyle and massaged by both Dems and Reps on the Joint Finance Committee. The Sin of Tax has been committed and the pure will force the hand of government to righteousness, or so the line goes. Today’s hardliners will be tomorrow’s tail-between-leggers, declaring victory over minor concessions and living on to poison some other debate some other day.
Again, it’s hard to see how the national or state GOP escapes responsibility for any of this radical fringe posturing. Will U.S. voters really vote in a president who has pledged to continue the disaster in Iraq? Will they really return a party to power that is committed to preventing valuable stem cell research and one that beats up on the immigrants we know to be a valuable resource to our national economy? Will they really support lawmakers who make ridiculous no-tax pledges, tying the hands of the government to do important things, like provide health care for those without insurance?
I think people have had it with the lies, the posturing and, ultimately, the goals of the Republican party. They have shown themselves to be indifferent to what matters and incompetent in providing basic services without corruption. I’ve never had much use for them, but now most of America is so done with Bush and anyone who looks like him. Read any poll you want – the country has not only decided to turn the page – they are looking people reading from a different book.