Don’t you love it when liberal, New York Times Democrats give advice to the Republican Party on how it can be more successful?
Don’t you think it comes right from the heart?
And don’t you love it when Republicans believe the advice is actually sound?
Written by Thomas B. Edsall, it was headlined, “Has the GOP Gone Off the Deep End?”
You can guess how Republicans have gone off the deep end – by being too conservative, or, as Edsall characterizes it, “extreme.”
Republicans got this way, Edsall explains, because they listened to Rush Limbaugh.
To make his case for this thesis, Edsall uses an interestingly deceptive time line, quoting an essay written by Mark Rozell, the acting dean of the George Mason University School of Public Policy, and John Paul Goldman, a former chairman of Virginia’s Democratic Party: “Since Rush Limbaugh’s 1992 bestseller ‘The Way Things Ought to Be,’ his conservative talk show politics have dominated GOP presidential discourse – and the Republicans’ White House fortunes have plummeted. But when the mainstream media reigned supreme, between 1952 and 1988, Republicans won seven out of the 10 presidential elections.”
Now hold on here.
While I have no doubt Rush Limbaugh’s two books were very influential in shaping the ideas of millions of Americans who read them, he is first and foremost a radio talk-show host. In fact, he has been the No. 1 radio talk-show host in the nation almost from the day his national show went on the air. That was 1988. So why does Edsall start his presidential election scorecard in 1992? You know why. Because, if you start counting presidential elections in 1992, the scorecard is 4-2 Democrats, which looks bad. But if you start in 1988, the score is 4-3 Democrats, which doesn’t make the case very convincing.
But there’s something else Edsall leaves out of the equation: GOP presidential candidates grew increasingly liberal beginning with George H.W. Bush in 1988 through 2012. Just remember, it went from Reagan in 1980 and 1984 to Bush, Bush, Dole, Bush, Bush, McCain and Romney. Is someone going to tell me the trouble with McCain and Romney was they were “extreme” right-wingers?
Let’s take a look at the progression of Democratic presidential candidates going back a little further in history. Start with John F. Kennedy. He won election in 1960 by running to right of Richard Nixon. He was a tax cutter and stood for self-reliance and a strong defense. He successfully tied Nixon, then vice president, to the policies of Dwight Eisenhower, which he correctly labeled as appeasement to the Soviet Union. He emphasized what he called the narrowing “missile gap” that Moscow was closing by building more nuclear weapons than the U.S. He pledged to cut taxes, which were at an all-time high during the campaign – and he did dramatically when he took office, with some of the best supply-side rhetoric heard until Ronald Reagan came along 20 years later.
Kennedy was succeeded by Lyndon Baines Johnson – more in the Franklin Roosevelt mold – and the “Great Society.” He was a one-term president as a result of his spending and his escalation of the Vietnam War, which he attempted to micro-manage from the White House.
Nixon beat Johnson’s vice president, Hubert Humphrey, when Johnson bowed out of the race in 1968. Nixon campaigned as a conservative, but he was not one – not by a long shot. Fortunately for Nixon, he ran against George McGovern in 1972 – the first of a long line of ultra-liberal nominees who would make Roosevelt and Johnson blush if they were capable of it.
Then came Jimmy Carter, who ran as a moderate, but governed as a hapless liberal who blamed Americans for the desperate economic straights the country found itself in under his leadership. His policies of defeatism and gas lines opened the door for two terms of Reagan and recovery.
But Republicans didn’t get the message. They began fielding candidates who couldn’t carry water for Reagan. They saw him as some kind of aberration. The GOP establishment fell back into its old habit of nominating “insiders” or “establishment” candidates who had difficulty articulating their differences in philosophy from Democrats – mostly because they didn’t have very many.
However, if you’d like to believe the reason Republicans have had such a hard time winning the White House since Reagan is because they have been too much like Reagan, or, as Edsall contends, are more extreme than Reagan, you are not likely to be convinced by actual history.
And if you choose to believe that liberals like Edsall are giving free advice to Republicans because they honestly want them to win more presidential elections, then you are what one of those people Rush Limbaugh accurately characterizes as “low-information voters.”
But, even worse, if you are one of the Republicans who believes that Edsall’s thesis is accurate, I’ve got news for you – you’re in the wrong party.
Jerome Corsi’s latest book offers a spot-on analysis of the GOP’s failure in 2012 and a way the party can reverse its path toward oblivion: “What Went Wrong?: The Inside Story of the GOP Debacle of 2012 and How it can be Avoided Next Time”