Sunday, May 10, 2009

Quote of the Day: Mike Huckabee on the "irrelevant" GOP

By Michael J.W. Stickings

As the oh-so-beloved theocrat put it in an interview with The Visalia Times-Delta:

They'll basically be a party of gray-haired old men sitting around the country club puffing cigars, sipping brandy and wondering whatever happened to the country. That will be the end of the party.

Don't be fooled, though. Huckabee is no voice of moderation in a party that has precious little of that virtue. On the contrary, his critique of the party comes, as you might expect, from the theocratic right:

Throw the social conservatives the pro-life, pro-family people overboard and the Republican party will be as irrelevant as the Whigs.

I just don't get it, though. Who's talking about throwing the theocrats (which is what "social conservatives" are) overboard? Who is talking about moderation, about moving to the center, about reaching out to independents? The Republican Party has in recent years become increasingly conservative, increasingly extremist, and its shift ever further to the right has only accelerated since last November's election. Isn't the current GOP the GOP of Mike Huckabee's dreams?

I get that Huckabee finds fault with current efforts, such as those of the recently launched National Council for a New America, to refashion (or, more accurately, rebrand) his party:

The idea that we ought to moderate basically means we ought to fundamentally change our philosophy.

But, again, such efforts are hardly about moderation, let alone about fundamentally changing the GOP's "philosophy" (which is far too lofty a word for Republicans in any event). The NCNA is led by the current right-wing leadership of the party, not by the few so-called moderates who are left in the party. What's more, at least one prominent moderate, Arlen Specter, is gone, and others, like the two Maine senators, have been effectively marginalized. The Republican Party, in short, is the party of Rush Limbaugh, a party that is purging dissent and solidifying itself as an extremist, absolutist mob of hardened ideologues. It is the party Huckabee, if he is to be taken seriously, should want it to be. So what's his problem?

If anything, Huckabee is bitching because he wants to be the leader of the Republican Party. It may already be a far-right, theocratic party, but he wants it to be far-right and theocratic on his terms, and under his guidance. The fact that others on the right are taking a lead in rebranding it -- Mitt Romney, Eric Cantor, etc. -- just means that he is losing whatever minimal influence he ever had.

Either that, or he just doesn't have a clue what's going on with his own party.

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