Now, a little bit of truth from Steve LaTourette:
But he reserved his harshest words for Norquist, from whom LaTourette recalled receiving a phone call after he and Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) proposed legislation that would enact the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan. That plan aimed to cut the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years through budget cuts and tax reforms, which would set taxes at 21 percent of the gross domestic product.
"Grover Norquist called me and said, 'You're raising taxes $2 trillion,'" LaTourette said, adding that he wondered why Norquist didn't also label the budget proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) a tax hike, since it would raise taxes from 15 percent to 19 percent of GDP.
And, of course, this gem from GOP representative Richard Hanna:
U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna took his own party to task today, saying the Republican Party is too willing to accommodate its most extreme members.
“I have to say that I’m frustrated by how much we — I mean the Republican Party — are willing to give deferential treatment to our extremes in this moment in history,” he told The Post-Standard editorial board.
The moderates who are left in the GOP, like LaTourette and Hanna (who, it must be said, still find it in their hearts to vote lockstep with the leadership) are near extinction. As I said in my last essay, the GOP has almost completely transformed itself into a purely ideological party, not the grand coalition that successful American parties have traditionally been. And, as it has done so, it has diluted its strength.
The thing that has given the GOP its electoral potency since Nixon was an alliance—however tenuous—between the more traditional Republicans (i.e., the "country club" GOP) and the new Turks flooding in from further and further to the Right.
At first, the alliance held somewhat. Even during the Reagan Revolution as the GOP took a decidedly rightward turn, there were enough moderates so as to give "big tent" Republicanism something more than just an ironic meaning.
But the energy and blood was coming from the Right, and it wanted a party in its image, not some traditional coalition. First with the Gingrich Revolution of 1994, then with George W. Bush's ascension in 2000, the party continued moving further to the right, feeding the radicals who, being radicals constituted a shrinking base; however, they gave the party the only energy it could find. If not for the 2001 terrorist attacks, the GOP's radicalization would have doomed it in the 2002 and 2004 elections. Bush was seen by half the country as an illegitimate occupant of the White House, and had almost no honeymoon with the public after his inauguration. The fear engendered by the attacks gave the GOP a shot of adrenaline that got it through to 2006, when the country, tired of its extreme agenda, turned to Democrats in Congress, and then to Democrat Barack Obama in 2008.
Whether we like to admit it or not, Obama's election—abetted by the economic crisis overwhelming the world—again gave the Right a shot of adrenaline. Now it saw someone it deemed illegitimate installed in the White House. Any action he took was seen as a deadly strike at the core of what it meant to be American. Only in that hothouse atmosphere could a very sober, prudent health care reform measure be seen a full-out assault on every value that "real" Americans held dear. Only in that atmosphere could a stimulus package that consisted in large part of tax cuts be considered the first evidence of socialist central planning. And only in that atmosphere could saving the auto industry be seen as unpatriotic.
The 2010 midterm victory for the GOP—aided by Obama voters who stayed home out of pique, and a Democratic Party reverting to its usual beaten-dog ways—was the result. But this time there was no external deus ex machina to save it. The economy was improving, the wars were ending, and the GOP had to govern out in the open.
Its record, as anyone who reads this blog knows, has been nothing short of horrible. Its obeisance to Grover Norquist caused it to foment a financial crisis that saw the US credit rating downgraded for the first time in decades. As this article shows, the Postal Service is about to default on obligations due to GOP intransigence. This Congress has done almost nothing of real importance since taking office in 2011.
And, to add a further insult, the party has chosen as its standard-bearer the ghost of George W. Bush. Mitt Romney might just be even less prepared for the Presidency than was Bush. Expert in outsourcing while head of Bain, he has outsourced both domestic and foreign policy in his campaign to the dominant interest groups in the GOP. He's bringing back the neocons for Part II of the "democracy agenda", while giving domestic affairs over to the most reactionary elements of the party. And his tax policy was probably written by the Koch brothers over dinner one night. The GOP holds Obama in such low regard that they believed any buffoon they foisted upon the public would be greeted as a savior.
And this is the thing about what's going on: it's almost as if Obama had this gamed out, or a scenario quite like it. Black man gets elected President. Tries to implement policies dear to generations of Democrats. Right wing goes off the rails. A backlash, due in part to usual Democratic voting apathy, ensues, and brings the GOP back to a share of the power. GOP over-reaches, underestimating the black guy because, well, he's black. And then the slow, steady dismantling begins.
The fever which has held the body politic for four decades has to break. And it can only do so by slow medicine, carefully administered. The triumphalist GOP thought it had the country on its side in 2010. But it was just a regular, low-turnout midterm election. And all that Obama has been doing since that Election Day has been allowing the GOP to hang itself, tightening the noose around its own neck. And now that it's nice and tight, he is more than willing to help and kick the chair out from under it. And, as LaTourette and Hanna show, the GOP is internally divided, sniping among its constituent parts, as the more realistic members of the party see the coming doom.
In this election season, the Democrats have become something they haven't been in decades: disciplined. Harry Reid does nothing without careful thought. His bringing up the idea that Romney didn't pay taxes for ten years wasn't done cavalierly. Barack Obama, obviously, does nothing without careful consideration. You have to be pretty talented to defeat both Hillary Clinton and John McCain, all while being black. His campaign's attacks have unfolded methodically, at times of his choosing, dealing the most severe blows. The pundits and Democratic "insiders" like James Carville may whine; but they do so because they're no longer insiders. This is Obama's show now, and he gets to choose the cast. And the show's synopsis is neutering the GOP for a generation.
It was obvious to me that this was his endgame months ago. As this year has spun out, it just amazes me that no one in the pundit class has seen the ultimate end of his strategy for what it is. This is not to say that he wants a one-party state; far from it. But when the other party pursues policies which actively harm the majority of its fellow citizens, it has to be exposed for what it is. The two-party system has ground to a halt, because one of the parties simply refuses to budge from its position and compromise in the best interests of the country. The word "compromise" is akin to "liberal" in right-wing circles. It's not to be spoken. Such a party is not a serious partner in governance, where politics in a democratic republic by definition consists of compromise.
So, when you're not out ensuring a Democratic White House and a Democratic Congress, do sit back and marvel at what's going on. Reagan could only dream of the revolution Obama is crafting.