WASHINGTON, April 30 (UPI) -- Republican leaders say they're planning a new effort to revive the party's image and rebuild after the loss of Sen. Arlen Specter to the Democratic Party.
The new initiative, to be called the National Council for a New America, will involve an outreach by GOP officials including John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former national GOP chairman, CNN reported.
Others on the "panel of experts" will include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, younger brother of former President George W. Bush; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Things that make you go "Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm," indeed.
Draw the battle lines, and Katie, bar the door, the Republican Civil War has formally begun!
This could be a doozy, since both sides have deep pockets and both sides have deeply dogmatic beliefs about the direction the Republican Party needs to go in.
Unlike the Democrats, who underwent their soul-searching change thirty years ago when the deep divide between liberals and moderates coalesced after Jimmy Carter's defeat in 1980 (and look how long that lasted and that was a polite falling out!), this one has all the earmarks of being rancorous and nasty.
One the one side, you have Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin and all the other numbnuts and yahoos whose only claim to fame is a loud voice and someone dumb enough to pay them to speak (Richard Mellon Scaife).
On the other, the line up is pretty impressive, and is clearly an attempt to staunch the bleeding that is likely to occur now that Arlen Specter has jumped ship. Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Richard Lugar will be targeted by the more conservative wing of the party for dismantling, and could follow suit. Included in the list noted above is the force majeure of the Republican Party, Sen. John McCain.
McCain's candidacy, as pathetic as it was, almost singlehandedly saved the Publicans from instant obscurity, attracting independents and even some moderate Democrats (PUMAs, mostly) to his cause. Based strictly on numbers, McCain should have done much worse, and any other Publican would like have been crushed under Obama's wheels.
This is a problem the GOP has had coming for decades. The strident and aggressive attitude and enforcement (Remember Tom "The Hammer" DeLay?) has bubbled up ever since they caught a lucky wave in the timing of the Reagan presidency, and have taken credit for the policies that dealt long-term damage to the American economy.
Thirty year old ideas, which is all the Publicans have been able to dish up for, well, thirty years, have holes in them. The world moves past them quickly. You need to catch up.
I'm not sure who to root for, to be honest. Part of me sees a chance to have a Democratic hegemony for the bulk of this century and thinks that's a good thing, so wants the Rushians to win. Part of me remembers that thirty year old ideas get stale for both sides and that Bill Clinton was most successful when he co-opted some obscure Publican ideas and gave them his own spin, so I'd like to see McCain wrest the party back.
Either way, we're witnessing the end of conservatism.