Sunday, January 25, 2009

Spot the mismatch

This L.A. Times column by Mickey Edwards is like one of those elementary-school standardized test questions where you've got to figure out which item doesn't belong in the list:
The Republican Party that is in such disrepute today is not the party of Reagan. It is the party of Rush Limbaugh, of Ann Coulter, of Newt Gingrich, of George W. Bush, of Karl Rove. It is not a conservative party, it is a party built on the blind and narrow pursuit of power.
Maybe it will help if we do it this way:
  • No. 1 radio talk-show host.
  • Author of six New York Times bestsellers.
  • Former Speaker of the House.
  • Former President.
  • Political strategist for former President.
So, on the one hand you have two politicians and a political strategist -- people directly involved in the politics and policy of the Republican Party -- and on the other hand you have a radio star and an author. Between these two groups, a vast chasm exists. Much that President Bush did, with the advice of Rove, was adamantly opposed by Limbaugh and Coulter, and sometimes opposed by Gingrich as well.

Trying to lump these five very different characters into a single category is not an answer to the question, "What's wrong with the GOP?" Rather, it is a response to the question, "Can you name five famous people hated by liberals?"

Does Mickey Edwards actually listen to Rush Limbaugh? Does he have some specific criticism of Ann Coulter? What policies or strategies of Bush, of Rove, of Gingrich does Edwards mean to criticize? We don't know. He just grocery-lists these five demons while lashing out at small-government conservatives (which raises the mystery of why someone named "Bush" is on his list).

It's as if, after the 2002 mid-term elections brought disaster for Democrats, a liberal had said that Alan Colmes, Michael Moore, Tom Daschle, Bill Clinton, and James Carville were "what's wrong with the Democratic Party" -- and then announced they were voting for George W. Bush! (Edwards supported Obama.) What Edwards is doing, in other words, is a reverse Zell Miller, except that Miller actually had a coherent argument for his disaffection with the Democrats, whereas Edwards' only complaint is that Republicans stopped winning elections.

Well, actually, that's not his only complaint. On the one hand, his recent book strikes a libertarian argument against an "imperial presidency," but on the other hand, vis-a-vis the economic crisis, in his L.A. Times column, he slams libertarian conservatives whom he condemns as advocating a do-nothing policy. So which is it? Does government have too much power (to fight terrorists) or not enough power (to fight recession)?

Never mind the contradictions. The point is that he, Mickey Edwards, is guardian of the One True Way. And it's just a damn shame about those 386 overdrafts on the House bank, or he could have saved us from all this woe. Maybe when Jack Abramoff gets out of prison, he will have something meaningful to add to the tale of how the GOP departed from the One True Way.
UPDATE: The Edwards column made Quote of the Day over at Hot Air, generating more than 300 comments, including this by El Gordo:
I´m getting sick of the meme that we are against elites, ideas or science. It is Al Gore who put science in the service of ideology. It is liberals with Harvard degrees who impose cap-and-trade, the mortage ponzi scheme or the trillion dollar porkfest on our economy. What has Joe the Plumber done that is so terrible? What? Conservatism did not create the current mess.
Exactly. And why does Mickey Edwards get to be the guy who says "I told you so"? I don't remember his name showing up on David Frum's list of "unpatriotic conservatives" who opposed the Iraq invasion. I don't remember reading any op-eds from Edwards warning about the credit dangers created by the Community Reinvestment Act (although others did warn about it). So, on the botched war and the botched economy -- two major issues that have hurt the GOP in recent elections -- so far as I can tell, Edwards was silent. And as to the Abramoff-inflicted "culture of corruption" issue, well . . . Edwards is in no position to throw stones.


  1. Was gonna say the same thing, but nowhere near as well. Thanks!

    you might like the nasty comments about this guy's piece, at HotAir ("I'm mad because I used to be important..." etc)

  2. I have to disagree. I think the point is that guy has simply lost his friggin marbles.

    I am struck by how selectively sqeamish these Vichy types are. They all abhor this strawman of the Godbothering southern abortionbomber, but are perfectly willing to gaze dreamily upon a competent teleprompter reader who was backed by a big city political machine.

    I don't get it. I used to think the old canard about Rockefeller Republicans acting as some sort of dimwitted defeatest cabal was all hyperbole. Now I feel like the horse in the final chapter of Animal Farm.

  3. WTF, at least El Rushbo is constitutionally qualified to be President!

  4. Edwards "teaches" at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Enough said.