Thursday, November 02, 2006

Another Republican leaves the Party

By Heraclitus

Much like
John Cole, Frank Schaeffer, a writer on the military and long-time Republican, has decided he just can't stomach the Republican Party anymore. For Schaeffer, the last straw was George Allen's smear of Jim Webb. As he writes in The Dallas Morning News:

I'm a Christian, a writer, a military parent and a registered Republican.

On all those counts, I was disgusted by an e-mail I just received that's being circulated by campaign supporters of Republican George Allen, who's trying to retain his Senate seat in Virginia.

The message goes like this: "First, it was the Catholic priests, then it was Mark Foley, and now Jim Webb, whose sleazy novels discuss sex between very young teenagers. ... Hmmm, sounds like a perverted pedophile to me! Pass the word that we do not need any more pedophiles in office." Democrat James Webb is a war hero and former Marine, wounded in Vietnam and winner of the Navy Cross. He was writing about class and military issues long before me and has articulated the issue of how the elites have dropped the ball on military service in his classic novel Fields of Fire. By the way, that's a book Tom Wolfe calls "the greatest of the Vietnam novels."

Mr. Webb's son is a Marine in Iraq. That's an uncommon fact in this era in which most political leaders' children act as if it is only right and proper that it's someone else's war to fight.

Mr. Webb also happens to be running against a desperate opponent supported by people who circulated the stupid e-mail, something that reminds me of a 2000 smear campaign aimed at another war hero, John McCain.

The question, of course, is whether this disgust will spread far enough for the Dems to seize control of at least one Congressional house. The major polls increasingly suggest that we are headed for just such an outcome (but who knows until we actually see the election results). The question then, in some ways a much bigger one, will be whether a defeat will prompt any soul-searching among the Republicans, if it will lead them to repudiate tactics like this. My guess is no; the Hannitys and Limbaughs and Malkins are such an integral part of the GOP propaganda machine that I can't see the party turning it's back on them. The Democrats have been handed a series of stinging electoral ass-whuppin's, and I haven't seen any real soul-searching among them. In other words, while I think it's plain to all that we need a counterbalance to the "sociopathic brat" in the White House, as Amanda Marcotte recently called him, I'm not especially optimistic that this election will reverse or even check any of the trends that seem to me to augur so poorly for American democracy.

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