Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wall Street Journal: "The Republican Party is fractured"

I found this Wall Street Journal story through Americablog, and it is interesting into seeing that even the WSJ recognizes just how fractured the Republican Party is. From the WSJ:

Republican former Secretary of State Colin Powell's endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama is the latest sign that the Republican Party's coalition is fracturing amid the stresses of the campaign.

Appearing on NBC's "Meet The Press" Sunday, Gen. Powell lamented his party's tilt to the right and a campaign by Sen. John McCain that he said had dwelled too much on inconsequential issues and attacks.

Colin Powell said on "Meet the Press" that he is endorsing Barack Obama.

Gen. Powell, a secretary of state under George W. Bush, echoed many conservative intellectuals in his criticism of Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, saying: "I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States....That raised some questions as to the judgment that Sen. McCain made."

Some Republicans, including Sen. McCain, dismissed the significance of the endorsement. "It doesn't come as a surprise," the senator from Arizona said in an appearance on Fox News Sunday. "I'm very pleased to have the endorsement of four former secretaries of state, well over 200 retired generals and admirals. I've admired and continue to respect Secretary Powell."

The endorsement comes after a series of events that have pointed to the fraying of a Republican umbrella that has relied in the past on both moderates and conservatives to bulk up its governing majority.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell talks about what factors led to his decision to endorse Barack Obama for president. (Oct. 19)

Late last week, conservative radio talk-show host Michael Smerconish endorsed Sen. Obama, as did conservative columnist Christopher Buckley, the son of National Review founder William F. Buckley. The Chicago Tribune endorsed Sen. Obama last week, the first time the paper has endorsed a Democrat in its 161-year history.

Two Republican senators in the middle of tough re-election fights -- Susan Collins of Maine and Norm Coleman of Minnesota -- have denounced Sen. McCain's automated phone calls attacking Sen. Obama. "These kind of tactics have no place in Maine politics," said Sen. Collins's spokesman, Kevin Kelley. "Sen. Collins urges the McCain campaign to stop these calls immediately."

Since Ronald Reagan's victory in 1980, Republicans have built their coalition on small-government conservatives, social conservatives moved by issues such as opposition to abortion rights and gay rights, and pro-military voters -- with some support from older, more moderate Republicans.

In the past weeks, strains have developed on all fronts. Fiscal conservatives, already angered by the growth in government spending and deficits under Mr. Bush, have been incensed by what they see as government intrusion in the markets with the $700 billion Wall Street rescue plan. Sen. McCain voted for the plan, then angered his party's fiscal-conservative wing further by proposing that the government buy $300 billion in mortgages on homes facing foreclosure.

The Palin pick was intended in part to assuage social conservatives who have long been leery of Sen. McCain. While it seems to have succeeded on that score, it may also have driven off moderate Republicans.

"Whether John wins or loses, the party is going to have to go through a period of introspection, and we're going to have to regenerate ourselves," said John Weaver, a former top aide to Sen. McCain.

"The Republican Party is fractured. It is completely, utterly fractured," said Mark Corallo, a conservative Republican political strategist.

The key point in this WSJ story is how the GOP built their party on a coalition of both small-government conservatives and the social conservatives, during Reagan's victory in 1980. However, the GOP was never for small government, as Reagan went off on a huge spending spree in a military build-up, purchased on the government's credit card. And even as they built this huge, military-police state, the Republican Party played up the social fears of abortion, gay marriage, sex education, creationism, liberal activist judges, in order to keep the social conservatives voting with the GOP, even as the social conservative wing of the GOP was taking control of the Party. In a sense, the GOP built a house of cards on the basis of fear, the huge debt that the GOP incurred on the country, and an over-sized military that this country could not afford--especially as the U.S. went on to fight two wars in two countries, without having either the means to pay for the war, or demanding higher taxes in order to finance this war. Again, the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were charged to the government's credit card. And we are now seeing this GOP house of cards completely collapsing.

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