The out-of-power party is using bile instead of brains. By substituting bumper sticker rhetoric for platform policy, Bush’s architect Rove succeeded in transforming the GOP’s constituency to a radio audience of non-reading, non-college educated, white, males, who privately refer to the President in epithets. Political celebrity Sarah Palin voiced easy-to-repeat sound bites that echoed across AM talk radio and Twitter. The transformation succeeded in driving conservative moderates, intellectuals, African-Americans, and Hispanics out of the Party to become amorphic Independents. The Republican Party now seems to be working on alienating women voters over health care issues. The GOP’s successful failure as majority party of the House of Representatives is reflected in record low, single digit congressional approval ratings. Epic sized Super PAC cash-backed poser conservatives are in a campaign that is all about advertising on television and radio. The national good goes unmentioned.
In a surprising New York Times column, David Brooks blames “the professional politicians” who in private “bemoan where the party is headed” and “in public they do nothing.” Although Republicans had a chance to retake the White House, Brooks writes that those pro polls allowed the party to trash its “reputation by swinging from one embarrassing and unelectable option to the next: Bachmann, Trump, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum.”
This is not to say that eastern major market pundits like Brooks or fellow conservative travelers like Charles Krauthammer and Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post know something that the rest of country does not. But when they seem united in their conservative consternation about the likes of Rick Santorum, it begs a question. I am not sure what telling the world that “I almost threw up” after reading the text of a speech by President John F. Kennedy says about Santorum or to whom that comment is supposed to appeal.
The 1960 JFK speech in question had to do with Kennedy’s Catholicism as much as the separation of church and state. Republicans raised his religion as an issue about the Senator’s candidacy much as Romney’s Mormon religion has been questioned. At best, Rick Santorum botched his commentary about the absoluteness of church and state separation by his reference to sickness. At worst, he did not grasp Kennedy’s nuances, or he just does not think before he speaks, which is not a smart presidential qualification.
Santorum later said he wished he "had that particular line back." He should talk to Howard Dean about that kind of wish.
As to Romney, who split his home state of Michigan with Santorum, the former governor suffers much the same think-before-you-speak dilemma as the former Senator. Romney recently told an Ohio reporter, regarding a bill to overturn the Obama administration's much-debated birth control requirement, “. . . the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a women, husband and wife, I’m not going there.” Then he added, “contraception is working just fine, let’s just leave it alone.”
This is why it should be no surprise that Republicans like New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christy and Florida’s former Governor Jeb Bush have eschewed entering the race, a word that seems contextually out of place. They are smart not to enter. The reason is that it would blight their résumés to run and loose to the incumbent President Barack Obama. They have chosen to let the dummies do that. Christie and Bush will save their political cachet for the 2016 election to run against Obama’s Democratic successor. It will also give the GOP time to throw up and recover.