The deep end of the pool
I know some of you expect the GOP to save their asses one more time, to pull some rabbit out of some hat. And they may do it, politics can change overnight, and the GOP has the ability to get their word out. But I wouldn't bet on it.
The Republican revolution was built on a house of cards, people who were small businessmen, Washington insiders and academics. Given training and marching orders, they said the right things to get elected, as the Dems had to fumble. The GOP addressed the concerns of people by speaking their language. As Democrats were lured to the ideology of Nader and the Greens, the GOP was refining their message.
Conservatism was the credo, but it really was the cover for a whole host of ideologies and beliefs, from liberterianism to dominionism. What kept it together was success. As long as they kept moving forward, they could continue to hold the coalition together. Which is why gays could feel comfortable pushing economic issues while ignoring social conservatism.
The network of thinktanks and other organs outside government served as the incubator and holding pen for the conservative movement.
However, there was a massive weakness in the GOP machine. Karl Rove knew how to exploit that weakness and turn it into a strength. He created the image of George Bush as a godly man, a redeemed good 'ol boy.
The Democrats didn't see this as a success of method, but of ideology, which it most certainly wasn't. The GOP papered over ideology, or paid lip service to it, while amassing more power. The Clintonistas never understood how vicious the GOP would or could be. They would devour their leaders as quickly as their enemies. They had no sense of propriety or judiciousness. Clinton was the source of all liberal evil.
Even though the Clintons were moderates at best, they were depicted as libertines, Bill, a negroish satyr, Hillary a domaneering lesbian. It was the kind of shorthand depiction of evil that they could use and not waste time explaining. Hillary was the enemy of the NASCAR dad, the evil bitch with too much smarts and not enough pussy, at least for her man.
The Dems, who were used to ideological debates, were stunned at the level of the debate here. They kept using rational arguments and logic, while the GOP was reaching into people's hearts and biases. A lot of the wingnuttery really played into preformed biases like hatred of gays and outsiders. They didn't have to reach into their race card as much, because they were touching other issues.
Oh, race was there, but it was a different context. It wasn't that the niggers were going to rob you, but those niggers were going to rob you. With hispanics, they sold values, but with white moderates and foolish blacks, they wanted to create an alternative black leadership network. They wanted to denigrate not just the activists, but even the centrist NAACP. It was a concerted effort to break the back of black leadership in the US.
The same thing with the faith-based patronage scam. They were going to buy the preachers and expect the parishoners to follow. Not realizing that the preacher just ran the place, not the women who led it.
All of this, every ounce of it, relied upon the arrogant Bush turning into a man of faith. Not too overt, but with a dog whistle here and there, Bush could play religion like a fiddle.
Now, some people, like Amy Sullivan, who looked especially flummoxed by David Kuo's revelations on Scarborough Country, bought this scam hook, line and sinker.
Rove was praying they would bite on this, completely misunderstanding what the GOP was doing. Abandon your base over gay rights and abortion and go after the fundie vote. Which would have doomed the Democrats to minority status. What the GOP was doing was simple and born of necessity: to nationalize the party, they had to get a reliable field operation. In 1976, the evangelical vote went to the genuinely religious Jimmy Carter.
The Republicans saw that and turned even George HW Bush and his wife into religious people, an act worthy of David Blaine. Every Republican from then on was a religious man, who had faith, and Jesus into his life. Even if it was an act, as it was not with the genuinely religious Clinton, who while Baptist, was educated by Catholics.
But the problem was that the kind of Republicans elected to the House were not of the Taft-Goldwater variety, but party hacks. You had some bright ones, like Joe Scarborough, but for the most part, they were the country club, Rotary Club, megachurch board hack willing to spout GOP verities and not think too hard. Which is fine in peace time. In war time, you get the defense of torture.
The other problem with the hacks was that they never saw the need for diversity in leadership. It's smart to have a Murtha and a Pelosi around. It isn't so smart to be led by Denny Hastert. All they wanted was loyalty. And when people like Dick Armey and Newt Gingrich were replaced by DeLay and Hastert, the IQ level dropped 50 percent.
Rove didn't respect Congress for the same reason he didn't respect the fundies, a lot of them were idiots. So when his boy got elected, he determined their role would be to support him at ANY cost. Fuck 'em if they didn't like, nobody was asking them. He had Godly Bush on his side. And they needed Godly Bush to win.
What Atwater and Rove realized was that to win control of Congress, they needed a field operation. The country club folks and white citizens councils weren't doing it. They needed to reach into the churches. And that was their field operation. They converted churches into Republican outreach centers and rewarded them accordingly.
Only problem: it wasn't a cost free arrangement. The GOP had to shine them on for as long as they could, until the Dems fell in on themselves. It was clear that the post-2004 defeat was their high water mark. The Dems were making ridiculous analogies to wife beating and talking of exile to Canada, while the GOP was breathing a sigh of relief that their coalition held together one more time.
Which is how we get to Terri Schiavo.
The fundies called in a chit. So Congress jumped and the rest of America woke the fuck up. The disgusting scene outside the hospice, with the convicted rapist and the thoroughly unlikable Schindlers, showed that the GOP wasn't conservative, it was reactionary. And people didn't like that one bit.
2005 was a year of pushback by the Dems, not always effectively, but as Dems gained a voice, the GOP's life got harder.
Then came Katrina. People wondered what America would do if there was a second attack. Well, God, not Osama, attacked New Orleans and the government failed. People tried to blame everyone but Bush, but he took the brunt of it.
What people were slowly finding out was that Bush thought you were stupid, and Congress couldn't lead. After Katrina, mental lightweights like Mike Pence wanted to play games with the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast. It was clear that this Congress was unable to do anything without the WH holding it's hand.
Then came Abramoff. Congress was exposed as a bunch of small time grifters. The kind of people with their hands out and their minds closed.
But that was small beer compared to child sex predators roaming the halls of Congress. Every leadership issue which had been seen before exploded. The House leadership was that in name only.
Now, the GOP is at the deep end of the pool and flaying. Chris Shays calling Abu Ghraib a "sex club", not only to diminish torture, but to diminish the Foley scandal. His polling is being hammered on this issue, you can smell it.
The GOP is in trouble in the end because their GOTV was based on people who's agenda varied greatly, as they stagger to deal with David Kuo and his book, and they don't know who's going to show up. They thought they could use the fundies forever, stringing them along with promises and no results.
Hitting on pages ended that. It is the most personal of issues for people and one where the GOP simply refuses to deal with it in any form of an accountable manner. Denial, bullshit, and obfuscation can work when discussing Halliburton, but not teenagers in your care. People expect answers, not a deepening scandal with adults blaming everyone else.
Which is why the GOP operation was a house of cards. As long as they could claim success, they could control the results, but once failure enters the picture, it falls apart.
posted by Steve @ 2:26:00 AM