When you hit rock bottom, stop digging.
Two weeks ago at the Republican National Committee’s winter (of their discontent) meeting in Charlotte, full-time 2016 presidential contender and part-time governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal, spoke truth to power. In simple English, the national language of the Republican Party, he said these words that shocked the rational world:
“We must stop being the stupid party.”
These words shocked conservatives because they thought up until that meeting that they were the smart party and that the era of Big Socialism was over with Romney’s election. These words shocked liberals because something a Republican politician said was grounded in facts and evidence. These words shocked Donald Trump because he thought stupid was the goal.
The party of Reagan and Lincoln has been in an intellectual race to the bottom, and has been so far ahead of the competition in this race, you could be forgiven for thinking their dismal public performance has been aided by drugs, and I don’t mean the helpful Lance Armstrong variety. The GOP has ricocheted from discussion of rape to birth control to death panels to secession, and then reliably back to rape. The consistency and predictability has been remarkable.
Could the party be turning a corner back towards sanity? Since Jindal’s speech, there have been signs of a grudging acceptance of his advice. Against the party’s well-honed instincts, it has tried to purge dumb in favor of the electable, if not the smart.
After leaning towards doing more stupid and passing a redistricting plan in Virginia that would disenfranchised the will of the voters, the legislation that was pushed through by the State Senate died in the House and the GOP governor Bob McDonnell had indicated that he would not sign the legislation.
After diving head first into the deep end of stupid in Michigan by introducing a mandatory transvaginal ultrasound bill, the legislation was quickly withdrawn (no pun intended) after being exposed to the light of media coverage.
Fox News has dishonorably discharged 2 of its right wing spokesmodels, Sarah Palin and Dick Morris, for stupid conduct unbecoming. This is not a sign of a new centrist philosophy at the entertainment network but it is an acknowledgment that you can’t be what Morris described as “wrong at the top of his lungs” repeatedly and hope to survive as a “news” outlet.
Karl Rove is using his SuperPAC Death Star to target what he considers to be extreme candidates in GOP primaries, igniting a public war between the crazy and the deeply disturbed. I would say that this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black, but that could be construed by Fox News as a racist rant by a known liberal sympathizer.
Republicans agreed to raise the debt ceiling with little fanfare, just as it had been for every other administration in the history of the Republic, displaying a rare show of common sense in Washington.
The GOP is talking immigration reform in terms that the electorate generally supports, instead of focusing on electrified fences and self-deportation fantasies.
Now the disloyal opposition still has a ways to go. They still believe that they are being punked by climate scientists with the illusion of rapidly melting ice caps. They are still obsessed with the politics of Benghazi-Truthers. They continue to oscillate from calling the sequester “no big deal” and “necessary”, to calling it “the death of American power in a dangerous world” and “devastating to the economy”. They still think they can fool around with the Violence Against Women Act renewal and win the politics of that argument. They are increasingly enamored with the merits of nullification and insurrection.
To paraphrase Paul Simon the singer-songwriter, not the former bow-tie wearing Senator, the GOP is still crazy after all these years. But to quote another singer-songwriter, perhaps “the times they are a-changing”.
The Republicans have had their crazy binge for a decade (at least) now. I wish them good luck with the stupid purge because the left needs a smart competitor to counterbalance its passions.
At least for some Republicans, the digging seems to have stopped.