Apr 30 2009

GOP Moves Towards Centrists To Regain Viability

Published by at 7:37 pm under 2010 Elections,All General Discussions

It has been a long 4+ years since the purity wars erupted in the one time conservative coalition, destroying alliances and sending centrists (who are not ‘moderate’, just not extreme) out the door to the Democrat candidates. The end result: 51 house GOP seats and 13 GOP senate seats lost since the 2002-2004 election cycles when there was talk of a filibuster proof GOP majority in the senate. Now the democrats have the filibuster proof majority within reach.

The conservative denial about their political decline is best seen in two recent news items. The first was the insane comments by Sen DeMint, where he claimed that he would prefer an impotent echo chamber of 30 true (e.g., pure) conservatives  (who would make up an impotent backbench of whiners) to actual control of the senate and its agenda:

DeMint says he would rather have 30 Republicans in the Senate who really believe in principles of limited government, free markets, free people, than. . .that don’t have a set of beliefs.”

Talk about loser talk. Who would support a movement whose strategy is permanent irrelevance? Anyone think this would attract supporters, volunteers and donations? Of course, not! A plan to be pure and irrelevant is the fast track to the laughing stock corner of the trash bin of history. Who would waste 2 seconds on a plan of endless political failure and election losses? I am stilled floored at how ridiculous this statement is. 

The second laugher example was Bill Kristol’s declaration that losing the only leverage the GOP had left (the filibuster) was a victory for the right!

Good News for Republicans!


Similarly and contrarianly, I wonder if today’s Arlen Specter party switch, this time to the president’s party, won’t end up being bad for President Obama and the Democrats. 

What a dumb attempt to put a smiley face on defeat. I guess al Qaeda should be happy that, while they lost Afghanistan and Iraq, it is good for them since they don’t have to try and win in these places anymore. This is logic? This is leadership? Will Kristol be happy with further GOP irrelevance?

This insanity had to come to and end sooner or later if there were going to be an effort to change the nation’s future, to lead us in a better direction, to do more than whine and tout purity. Finally there are signs that groups of conservatives and GOP leaders – who live way outside the righwing fringe – are starting to end the slide to oblivion. 

House and Senate Republican lawmakers were the latest to launch a group independent of the RNC, announcing the formation of the National Council for a New America late Wednesday through aides and in a letter going out to supporters Thursday.

The group comprises potential GOP presidential candidates who plan town hall-style meetings to promote ideas different from Obama’s. Their aides and allies have been vexed by the lack of comprehensive alternatives put forward by the national Republican leadership.

The lawmakers’ group includes Jeb Bush, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain. Republican aides on Capitol Hill disclosed the group Wednesday just before Obama started a news conference to mark his first 100 days in office.

It and a similar group — Resurgent Republic, a collection of the party’s senior strategists — are meant to be a Republican roadshow outside Washington’s circus tent.

This could be the conservative Phoenix rising out of the ashes of the purity wars. This is the path back to relevance – find common ground that can unite a coalition of opposition to the liberal policies of Obama and the Democrats (which of course would not include changing Obama current policies on Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and FIS-NSA since these are extensions of the Bush policies). I would also bet these  groups workto craft a new comprehensive immigration package  with Obama in order to oppose any liberal poison pills in the legislation (again, an extension of the Bush-McCain proposals).

I would expect this group to make alliances with conservative Democrats to stop policies that are too far out of the mainstream – opening a dialogue which will allow compromises that attenuate the left wing desires.

But this is just a start. The flame throwers on the far right need to be basically pushed aside so they can stop damaging the conservative brand. In an interesting side benefit to the Specter switch to the Dems it looks like the GOP will be dumping the far right (and unelectable) Toomey for a more centrist candidate in the PA Senate Republican primary:

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is recruiting Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) to run for the Senate because it views Pat Toomey as unelectable against Sen. Arlen Specter, according to Gerlach’s lead consultant.

According to Gerlach consultant Mark Campbell, Cornyn reached out to Gerlach this morning, and the two are expected to chat about the Senate race this afternoon.

Gerlach is one of the most politically tested House Republicans, winning a Democratic-leaning suburban Philadelphia seat despite being a top target in a punishing environment for the GOP. Democrats and liberal groups have spent nearly $30 million against him over the last four elections but he has narrowly prevailed each time.

Either way, leading Republicans don’t sound bullish about Toomey’s prospects in a general election against Specter. The vice chairman of the NRSC, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), said he didnt think “there is anybody in the world who believes [Toomey] can get elected senator there.”

Oh, there are many in deep denial who think Toomey is a gift from God himself and can’t lose. There is a need to end the bleeding and soon. The GOP is losing support at an astonishing and historic rate. Example 1:

Fifty-one percent of people questioned in the survey said they have a favorable opinion of Democrats. While that’s down 7 points from February, it’s still 12 points higher than the 39 percent who said they have a positive opinion of the Republican Party. Fifty-five percent hold an unfavorable opinion about Republicans.

Just amazing, GOP is more unfavorable than the Democrats are favorable. The rejection by the American people is quite clear. Example 2:

Quite a few Republicans see that as an urgent need, especially now that just 21 percent of the electorate identifies with the GOP, according to the April 21-24 Washington Post/ABC News poll. That percentage is the lowest that thePost/ABC News poll has found for Republicans in more than 25 years. 

Even on top issues the raging minority on the right is losing ground. People interested in making a difference as opposed to screaming their moral superiority over all others in this fine country would do well to read the Op-Ed of Sen Olympia Snowe, which reviews her assessment of where the conservative movement took a wrong turn and began to self destruct. Some important excerpts:

When Senator Jeffords became an independent in 2001, I said it was a sad day for the Republicans, but it would be even sadder if we failed to confront and learn from the devaluation of diversity within the party that contributed to his defection. 

I could have hardly imagined then that, in 2009, we would fondly reminisce about the time when we were disappointed to fall short of 60 votes in the Senate. Regrettably, we failed to learn the lessons of Jim Jeffords’s defection in 2001. To the contrary, we overreached in interpreting the results of the presidential election of 2004 as a mandate for the party. This resulted in the disastrous elections of 2006 and 2008, which combined for a total loss of 51 Republicans in the House and 13 in the Senate

… Republicans turned a blind eye to the iceberg under the surface, failing to undertake the re-evaluation of our inclusiveness as a party that could have forestalled many of the losses we have suffered.

I have said that, without question, we cannot prevail as a party without conservatives. But it is equally certain we cannot prevail in the future without moderates.

In that same vein, I am reminded of a briefing by a prominent Republican pollster after the 2004 election. He was asked what voter groups Republicans might be able to win over. He responded: women in general, married women with children, Hispanics, the middle class in general, and independents.

How well have we done as a party with these groups? Unfortunately, the answer is obvious from the results of the last two elections. 

Yeah, the results are obvious to everyone but the oblivious, who to this day cheer each new act of purifying the party of dissenters and diversity. The one thing the purist forgot is, as they distill their ranks down to fewer and fewer true conservatives, they lose all their political clout and open the door for centrists to pull together a viable opposition to Obama and the liberals made up of center left to center right voters, who can defeat either fringe with ease. That is the next phase of this long process. We are hitting bottom, and we will come out the back end of this with a two party system devoid of the fringes. The far right is being distilled out now, the far left will be distilled out when their socialist policies to attack the economic crisis fail miserably.

Sometimes you have to go through tough times in order to learn the lessons that help you jump ahead in the end.

40 responses so far

40 Responses to “GOP Moves Towards Centrists To Regain Viability”

  1. Frogg says:

    Very Good News For The GOP, And Why President Obama Had Better Worry About Not Becoming Another Arnold (new polling in California over tax hikes)

  2. NewEnglandDevil says:

    From Patterico (by Karl) http://patterico.com/2009/05/01/the-hollow-howl-of-the-rinos/ :
    The mutual finger-pointing is well-known by now. So-called “moderates” or “reformers” claim the GOP has drifted rightward, or that it is now dominated by a social conervativism toxic to the larger body politic. Social conservatives respond that such critics are unprincipled, that the 2008 presidential nominee, Maverick-y reformer John McCain, was a big loser, and so on. We have heard it all before. … Glenn Reynolds correctly noted that the social con agenda is, if anything, less strident than it was in the 1980s. Reader Neil Sorens responded that “the change in perception is that with fiscal conservatism abandoned, the only distinguishing characteristic of the Republican Party is now social conservatism. … That perception may well be reflected in how voters saw the presidential candidates in 2008, placing Mike Huckabee as the most conservative candidate, despite his progressive-populist pitch on a number of economic issues. Voters placed Huckabee right next to then-Pres. Bush, and rightly so. … Specter was comfortable with all of this, as a true RINO; he voted for the trillion-dollar “stimulus” giveaway, just as he voted to water down the Bush tax cuts. One of his chief defenders, Sen. Olympia Snowe, stabbed House GOP moderates in the back by voting for the stimulus. However, beyond the stimulus, the fact remains that most of the big-government items of the Bush Administration had substantial support from a Republican House and a Republican (or evenly-split) Senate. … At root, the real problem the Snowes, Frums and Whitmans of the world have is that social cons actually advocate and vote their principles on social issues. If the GOP is in danger of being seen as ideologically narrow and too identified with social issues, it is in no small part because its supposedly “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” wing generally has been socially liberal and not fiscally conservative. Having abandoned the core principles on which Republicans are supposed to agree, they would like the social cons to dump the remainder of their principles as well.”



  3. russellshih says:

    The war in Iraq and the economy cost the Republicans far more than idealogy—that is a red herring! We need a clear choice between the two parties not mirror images of the center.

  4. Toes192 says:

    Is it too late to give Goldwater Girl a pat on the ….ah err … back and a WD for her comment?
    Pretty much exactly right… Pay attention Aj…

  5. Toes192 says:

    Here’s the secret newsflash, Goldwater Girl…
    There are TWO Aj’s… One gives great analysis re: foreign policy, domestic spending and other stuff…
    The OTHER [obsessed] Aj sneaks onto the computer to write long-winded rants about right-wing nut jobs like you and me…
    They live in the same house but never see or talk to each other…

  6. kathie says:

    Have a look at “Gateway Pundit”, maybe Bush didn’t lie!

    Friday, May 01, 2009
    Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki: Captured Al Qaeda Leader Has Close Ties to Saddam Regime
    Funny. This wasn’t the headline in The New York Times.
    It was buried down in the article.

    Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi has close ties to the Saddam regime.
    Hmm. Maybe Iraq wasn’t the wrong war then?

  7. Goldwater Girl says:

    At the risk of being presumptuous, it seems to me there is consensus here that conservatives and Rs believe principles trump so-called purity. The core principles are pretty basic: fiscal conservatism, strong national security, individual liberty and responsibility, and a commitment to justice and opportunity.

    We can disagree about specifics — respectfully and intelligently –but most of us agree on the objectives. We have only ourselves to blame if we allow the meda and the Dems, or even AJ, to characterize conservatives and Rs as the 21st Century’s Puritans. More of us need to come out of the shadows and talk about what we’re for, why we believe as we do, and why we are proud to be conservatives. To engage in the kind of name-calling and nonsense we’re hearing lately from the media and so-called conservative commentators is as intellectually immature as the libs who resort to throwing verbal grenades because they have nothing substantaive to offer.

  8. AJStrata says:

    Goldwater Girl,

    You have found the path out of the mess. I am not insulting ‘true conservatives’ when I use the term they coined for themselves! These people are trying to purify the conservative movement – they say so themselves.

    They coined and sling the insult RINO. Not something I made up.

    See, they act insulted when you simply point out how self destructive it is to distinguish between ‘true conservatives’ and those RINOs. They get all upset when you point out how these endless insults against people more to the center than they are are killing the GOP.

    They get insulted when they are caught insulting and needlessly and recklessly insulting great leaders like Bush.

    And they are shocked when the voters are repelled as those who once cared tried to warn them.

    Respect and Intelligence. Check the comments on this site and see how many ‘true conservatives’ pulled that off!

  9. Goldwater Girl says:


    In truth, I don’t spend a lot of time reading comments — I read your writings and expect more in tone and content from you than I’ve seen re: this particular subject.

    The best (definitive?) piece I’ve read lately is Noemie Emery’s article (Weekly Standard) which I came across this morning. I recommend it to all.


    She distinguishes between the role of a “movement” and a “party”, the need for coalition-building for a party to be successful, and liberally quotes Ronald Regan. Respectful and intelligent.

    While I agree with her take and yours re: the weakness of Sen. DeMint’s position, there is a nugget of truth in what he says. When acquiring, maintaining and expanding political power becomes more important than adherence to basic principles such as fiscal conservatism and responsibiity, then the movement and the party suffer, deservedly so. Finding leaders capable of resisting the seductive influence of the power that comes with political office seems to more difficult than ever for reasons too numerous and complicated to reiterate here.

  10. AJStrata says:

    Goldwater Girl,

    Demint is an idiot. If you have no political clout you get no donations. No donations you can’t get your message out.

    Conservatives can wander in the wilderness for as long as it takes. I have attempted to help the avoid this mess, but they are hell bent on their path of repulsive arrogance.

    I think they are just upset no one is interested in joining them in self destruction.

  11. Goldwater Girl says:


    There you go again … now you are beginning to sound as arrogant as those you crticize for not listening to you or heeding your warnings. When are you going to say or promote something positive instead of ranting?

    I do not regret for an instant Specter’s switch. No loss and, in my view, ultimately a plus for the Rs. My views re: Collins and Snowe are different and always have been. They vote their convictions and, from what I can gather, they actually have convictions unlike Specter. And apparently they reflect the views of Maine voters. I want them in the party even if I disagree with their positions on the stimulus. They are in the same class as Joe Lieberman — folks I can respect/admire even if I don’t agree with them.

    But Arlen Specter is and was no Joe Liebermann. Mark my words, Specter will cause even more problems for the Dems than he ever did for the Rs — because the Dems are even less tolerant than those “purist” Rs you complain about.

    I donate to candidates I believe in. But I stopped sending money to the Republic Senatorial Campaign Commitee and National Committee over the financial support they gave to Linc Chaffee — who lost anyway and turned around and voted against John Bolton’s confirmation. In fact, he killed it almost single-handedly. That money would have been better spent on non-incumbants than on someone as weak as Chaffee generally, and specifically on core issues. Arlen and Linc — two of a kind.

    Finally — you write: “Demint is an idiot. If you have no political clout you get no donations. No donations you can’t get your message out.”

    Wrong, AJ. You have it totally backwards — if you don’t have a message that appeals to supporters and donors, then you can’t attract supporters and donors, and without those, you have neither position nor clout. Principle before power, AJ — otherwise, what’s the point.

    That’s one of the reasons we’re in the mess we’re in. Too many have sold their souls to special interests which have given them money and “clout” — demanded their loyalty and allegience to those interests — and gotten it. Guess who crafts the message then — those who paid for it control it. Guess who really has the “clout”?

    Enough … I’m done. The solution for me is to skip over the diatribes and hope the rest of the content is of the caliber and quality you’ve demonstrated in the past.

  12. owl says:

    kathie, it would not matter if WMD’s were found sitting in the middle of Iraq with a large banner overhead proclaiming ‘Look Here’, who would tell the people? Most would not believe it if news trickled out.

    This is the major problem of the GOP and until they recognize that it trumps all other, it won’t get fixed. If they had confronted the problem, none of this crap would have happened. MSM is a Pug enemy. GOP has not gotten out a message in 8 YEARS. I just watched a new ad. If anything, it is worse than others because of the time frame. God help us all. Why? Because Steyn’s article today pretty much nailed it. He said Obama looks like a moderate and acts like a radical. Yep. He called it moderate, I called it angel.

    Did you hear much of a peep when our current President called the former a Torturer? If that is not the MOST RADICAL thing you have heard in your lifetime, I want to hear what trumps it.

  13. kathie says:

    I agree Owl, the Republicans haven’t gotten a message out in years and too boot they didn’t bother to echo their President when he got the message out. I call it political cowardice (AJ wasn’t happy). Either the Republican congress are ill informed, I think they each need a full time blogger to get the facts, too busy raising money, or they believed that “Bush was the worst President in the 21st century”. If true, then I’m the stupidest voter for voting for him twice.

    Two issues the “Republicans” didn’t like, no child left behind, and medical care expansion with drugs. Well the Harriet Myers thing. I think there is good reason for the first two. The dems would have had a much worse drug care policy and it was sure to come. With “no child left behind”, yes more money, but at least there was accountability and Bush ran on the idea, so nobody should have been surprised, and our schools are deplorable in some cities. They need something.

    AND the war in Iraq, for heaven sake the Clinton Administration was harping on the dangers of Iraq for years. All the lies about Bush were leaked from double secret information. Did many stand up and say so over and over again. NO. Here and there, but not nearly as often as the other side said Bush lied.

    If you are not going to stand up for your President, especially when it is hard, what is the point of a party?

  14. gary1son says:

    In the context of communicating an effective message, unless you’ve already done so, watch these superb examples of doing just that — by Cliff May and Bill Whittle.

    Jon Stewart is forced to conclude arguing with May that Harry Truman was a war criminal, using arguments that are devoid of historical knowledge. Whittle provides the knowledge, and deftly illustrates the vacuousness of Stewart’s stance.

    This in the wake of Liz Cheney’s superb performance vs Norah O’Donnell. These are the kinds of knowledgeable performances we need to get from our politicians, if they could take a little time out from playing politics and fundraising. These are the kinds of performances that cause people to break out their checkbooks without even being asked.

    It’s time to intimidate the Democrat-voting media, instead of forever the other way around.

  15. crosspatch says:

    Obama’s popularity is barely above water at +1% in “strong approval”. Overall, Obama is still at 54% approval. Not exactly stellar and about middle of the road for recent Presidents at this stage of their administration according to a post at Gateway Pundit.

  16. Terrye says:


    I saw that. I wonder when the other polls will start to show that. Right track wrong track is better than it was 6 months ago, but RCP has the average at 42% right track, 50% wrong track.

  17. gary1son says:

    That graph on Obama reminds me of those climate graphs. The slowly descending green line would be the cooling opinions on his presidency, and the red would be the gradually ascending amount of CO2 (talking) coming from him and his administration.

    Only in this case there IS a definite cause & effect relationship, so says my home computer model.

  18. Toes192 says:

    I want to adopt Goldwater Girl…Bringing common sense and civility and logic on this subject…
    Whenever i want to say something, may I just refer to you and say ditto?
    Do you have a blog?

  19. Goldwater Girl says:


    You’re very kind … the other evening/morning was my first comment on any blog in 3-4 years. AJ succeeded in pushing a button or two, and I couldn’t resist. No blog of my own. Will tell you that I actually was a “Goldwater Girl” in ’64.

  20. owl says:

    ” Whittle provides the knowledge, and deftly illustrates the vacuousness of Stewart’s stance.

    This in the wake of Liz Cheney’s superb performance vs Norah O’Donnell. These are the kinds of knowledgeable performances we need to get from our politicians, if they could take a little time out from playing politics and fundraising. These are the kinds of performances that cause people to break out their checkbooks without even being asked.

    It’s time to intimidate the Democrat-voting media, instead of forever the other way around”.

    Okay, I will adopt gary1son because his are the first comments I have read in 8 years that seem to understand the real bullets. Your first mission will be to infiltrate the new GOP group that formed to rebrand us with those horrid ads.