Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hurtling toward a train wreck

IS HISTORY repeating itself? As Rick Perlstein wrote in his book “Before the Storm," the Republican Party was hijacked in 1964 by “a little circle of political diehards whose every move was out of step with the times.” Sound familiar? The GOP nominee, Barry Goldwater -- who was the equivalent to Bachmann, Cain, Perry, Gingrich and Palin rolled into one -- "embraced 'extremism' in the fond hope that its time, if not his time, would come." Nobody worried about “electability.” LBJ, of course, went on to crush Goldwater. A similar fate probably awaits the GOP in 2012. They just don't know it yet.

As Jeffrey Toobin explains in the New Yorker, it ain't rocket science:
"What makes this collective embrace of [unpalatable issues] so peculiar is that the Republican candidates, as well as most Republicans, are positively obsessed with winning the 2012 election. They revile Obama and desire, above all, his ouster. In light of this, wouldn’t they seek out the broadest possible coalition for defeating him? Apparently not. Rather, the working Republican hypothesis seems to be that the damaged economy will trump any specific stand on the issues. Americans will embrace the Republican candidate simply to punish Obama for failing to cure what ails the economy. In this environment, even the Republican id will be an easy sell. ... There is, in short, a lesson about both the long and the short run in the election of 1964. In the long run, a campaign based on unpopular ideas may change the country forever. In the short run, the fate of a platform of uniformly unpopular ideas—like that of the Republicans in 2012—is more certain. It loses."
He's right.

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