No Country for Old Moderates

Today’s post title is taken from an article that appeared in The Daily Beast. The writer is, supposedly, conservative. However, once you wade through all of his ‘inside the beltway’ bias, you will see he’s been feeding from the establishment trough. On the other hand, he does makes some points and not, I believe, in the fashion he intended.

No Country for Old Moderates


It’s not ‘moderates’ vs. ‘conservatives. The two opposing Republican sides, if they really are opposing, are ‘radical’ and ‘conservative.’ And only one side is fighting. The other is rolling over, says Michael Tomasky.

The more I think about this Republican “civil war,” the less it looks like war to me. It often gives the appearance of being war because these Tea Party people march into the arena with a lot of fire, brimstone, and kindred pyrotechnics that suggest conflict. But what, really, in hard policy terms, are these two sides arguing about? Practically nothing. It’s a disagreement chiefly over tactics and intensity. That’s a crucial point, and so much of the media don’t understand it. But I’m here to tell you, whenever you read an article that makes a lot of hay about this “war” and then goes on to describe the Republican factions as “moderate” and “conservative,” turn the page or click away. You are either in the hands of an idiot or someone intentionally misleading you.

This is Tomasky’s first error. The differences between the Conservatives and the establishment in the GOP is not just ‘tactics.’ It is about goals. The Conservatives want change, reforms, and a return to government as envisioned by the Founders. The establishment is interested only in maintaining their personal positions and power. Tomasky has swallowed the establishment’s pablum or is an active participant as an establishment propaganda organ.

What’s going on presents many of the outward signs of political warfare. Insurgent radical extremists are challenging already very conservative incumbents whose thought and deed crimes are that they are conservative only 80- or 90-something percent of the time instead of 100 (or 110, preferably). Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), American Conservative Union 2012 rating of 92, being challenged? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell? He got 100 percent in 2012!  Hey, I was joking about that 110!

So sure, running primaries against people like this can be called warlike acts. But a real war has two sides who believe different things and are willing to fight to the death for them. In this war, that description applies only to one side.

This…skirmish, let’s call it, is between radicals and conservatives. (It certainly doesn’t involve moderates; there are roughly four moderate Republicans in Congress, depending on how you count, out of 278.) The conservatives, the more traditional conservatives such as John McCain, Orrin Hatch, and many others in the Senate, and House Speaker John Boehner, could be a force if they wanted to. But by and large, they’ve refused to be. If the GOP had two warring factions, then you might expect that on all major high-profile legislative votes, the schism would evince itself in the roll calls. But when you look back over the list of high-profile measures that have come before them while Barack Obama has been president, the conservatives and the radicals only really split on two occasions.

Now you see where Tomasky comes from. He believes McCain, McConnell, Hatch, Boehner are all conservatives. I can not imagine how more wrong he could be unless his personal views align with Marxists like Sheila Jackson Lee or he’s in the pay of Karl Rove.

After the fiasco and sellout to Obama earlier this month, these politicians, the ones Tomasky calls ‘conservative,’ and those like them, have been unmasked. No, they are not conservatives. They are not even moderates. They are democrats in disguise.

Tomasky, according to his establishment talking points, sees little difference between these “conservatives” and the “extremists and radicals” like the Tea Party, Cruz, Lee and a handful of others.

The radicals may be fighting a war. But the conservatives are executing a classic rearguard action. At best. And that’s not much of a civil war.

If, above,  you substitute “conservatives” for radicals and “the establishment” for “conservatives” in the second sentence, the quote is correct.

One was the fiscal cliff deal as 2013 started. In the House, 85 Republicans backed that deal and 151 voted against it.  In the Senate, the vote was 89-8; 40 Republicans backed and five opposed. (Three Democrats opposed it because the tax-increase threshold went too high, from the expected $250,000 per household to $400,000.) The second was the vote we just had to reopen the government and raise the debt limit. That, of course, passed the House by a comfortable margin, with the support of 87 Republicans, while 144 opposed.  The vote in the Senate was 81-18, with 27 Republicans voting aye and 18 nay. 

That’s it. Interestingly, those two votes show us a radical caucus in the Senate that grew in 10 months from five to 18, while in the House, the radicals have outnumbered the conservatives in a remarkably consistent way. But those are the only diversions from party unity.

From Tomasky’s view, the Senate votes are the only ones that matter. He writes that a growth of conservative Senators from five to eighteen is massive. It is no growth. The Obamacare vote—oh, excuse me, the unlimited debt limit vote just unmasked all those RINOs from the GOP Senators.

He refuses to examine the differences between the houses of Congress. The House members have only two-year terms. The Senate six-year terms. The political changes across the country manifest themselves more quickly in the House than in the Senate. Once a ‘moderate’, read RINO, is elected, he remains in the Senate for at least six-years. The House, however, is more responsive to the moods of the country and you will see political trends appear there well before any such change is reflected, if at all, in the Senate.

One could add one more basis of disagreement. Occasionally, the conservatives cast votes conceding that the government ought to be able to function as designed; you know, with agencies having people run them. But that happens only once about every two years.

Now is the time for them to stand up and say “enough.” An October 7 Washington Post-ABC poll found that just 52 percent of Republicans approved of how Republicans were handling the budget negotiations. That’s margin of error to 50-50. So half of the Republicans in the country disapprove of what the GOP just did.

But they might as well be zero, for they effectively have no representation. The regular conservatives—most conspicuously the craven Boehner, but all the others, too—did nothing to represent these people until the last possible second, and until the radicals demonstrated conclusively that they couldn’t pull off defunding Obamacare.

Think about that. Half of one of our major political parties, constituting many millions of citizens, barely has a voice in Washington. If they did have a voice, none of this late madness would have happened. But the legislators who ostensibly represent them are cowards, kittens, balled up in the corner. The radicals may be fighting a war. But the conservatives are executing a classic rearguard action. At best. And that’s not much of a civil war. And it says a great deal about the character of the Republican Party, and especially of the conservatives. History will remember.

Remember, when reading the text above from Tomasky, everywhere he writes, ‘conservative,’ substitute, RINO. He is correct, however, when he says that fighting a rearguard action is doomed to defeat.

There are a few nuggets of truth in Tomasky’s article. You have to do some label substitution to get there, but truth is there. Tomasky, if he is to ever be a believable political writer, must get outside the weasle-pit that is Washington, and spend some time out here in fly-over country. The nation’s political world does not solely exist only on the coasts.

If the GOP is to survive, something that is very much in doubt at the moment, it truly must become “No Country for Old Moderates”—Old RINOs. A house-cleaning is coming. It will take a few election cycles to weed them all out but that weeding will occur—if we aren’t, first, in a real civil war. Early skirmishes may have already occurred.