The New GOP Means Business

An interesting article about Sunday’s Republican Debate, held in Orlando, appears in The Nation. The article was written by Bob Moser, who attended the event, and is entitled The New GOP Means Business. The article makes these observations:

The Republican Party’s New Strategy is to Emphasize COMPETENCE:

“These are not the Republicans of 2004. The swarm of business-casual Republicans in Orlando looked like the future of their party–a future that will almost surely swing the GOP back toward the past, in the moderately conservative, business-first, ignore-the-wackos direction of Eisenhower, Rockefeller and Ford.

The crowd here was short on fundamentalists and long on nattily dressed, well-behaved, martini-sipping corporate Republicans–predominantly white ones, of course, but with more sizable black and Hispanic contingents than any other state’s Republican Party can boast (so far). It’s 1956 all over again. The “business end” of the Republican Party has been strongly on the ascent in Florida, after years of embarrassing right-wing excesses from Jeb Bush and the right-wing Christian loonies who briefly took over the state legislature. …Most of the Republicans I chatted with, are looking this year –above all– is a non-Bushian level of competence. It’s that mantle, above all, that the Republican candidates are competing for in states like Florida.

Why Hillary Clinton is far from being a sure winner:

Too many Democrats are clinging to the sunny notion that they will get to run against the Party of Bush again in 2008–this time, with Bushism thoroughly discredited in the mainstream. Under that scenario, a stable, robotic, small-ball centrist like Hillary Clinton looks like a sure winner. What the sanguine Dems are ignoring is that Bushism and neo-conservative ideology are also being hastily discarded by rank-and-file Republicans and their emerging leadership, especially at the state levels. Crist’s (the governor of Florida) mantra is “problem-solving, not politics,” and it is a philosophy that has risen rapidly to preeminence here –and sounds a whole lot like Hillary’s own idea of governance.

Why Fred Thompson is TOAST:

Fred Thompson had absolutely nothing to say, and he couldn’t even say it well. Sure, everyone had heard the bad reviews; they knew that he’d already fumbled questions about Terry Schiavo (ancient history) and oil-drilling in the Everglades (uh, well, why not?) on previous forays in the Sunshine State. But they never anticipated that the man would spend $100,000 for the privilege of clearing his throat repeatedly, looking down at his shoes and mumbling a brief, disjointed account of his resume (he read Conscience of a Conservative, started a Young Republican group in his Tennessee hometown, went to the Senate and voted pro-life, and, well–here he is). Where the others had held forth for nearly a half-hour each, Thompson petered out in just four minutes, completing the fiasco with a closing line that set a new standard for meaninglessness in political rhetoric (quite a standard indeed). “Together,” he muttered in his monotone, “we can do something good for America.” What that “something” might be remained as profound a mystery as why the man is bestirring himself to run for President.

Why Mike Huckabee, If He Could Get the Nomination, Would be AN ABSOLUTE CINCH TO WIN:

The other stunner of the weekend, both in Washington and Florida at Sunday’s debate, was the sterling performance of Mike Huckabee. One of the great mysteries of this campaign has been the reluctance of Christian Right leaders to support the Arkansas governor. While they have pointed to his lack of “viability” — read: money — as the reason, the real source of Religious Right discomfort with the whip-smart, witty Baptist preacher unquestionably lies with Huckabee’s economic populism. He is a down-the-line social conservative, to the extremity of advocating for the repeal of “no-fault” divorce. But Huckabee’s governance in Arkansas has borne scant resemblance to the corporate flackery of his fellow Christian Right heavyweights — the man raised taxes, for goodness sakes, and just won’t stop talking about uplifting the working class and bringing minorities into the party. At times, he even sounds — heaven forbid! — pro-labor. All of which matches him up, almost to a T, with the clear majority of not only Republican, but also independent and conservative Democratic voters in the South and Midwest. These folks, black and white, tend to be social conservatives and economic populists. Huckabee is the first candidate in a long time who embodies that particular political alchemy. He is also, far and away, the most fresh and appealing political talent in the race — on either side. He is the one Republican who would be an absolute cinch to win the general election against any of the three leading Democrats.

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2 Responses to The New GOP Means Business

  1. D. Greene says:

    Yeah, you and Dick Morris thinks he’s got a shot, which is the kiss of death, because Dick Morris hasn’t gotten anything right since he hired that hooker.

  2. Jeffrey says:

    Huckabee sounds like an old school Southern populist. In the Jim Crow era they were at first Populists, but then went to the Democrats as that was the party white people belonged to (cf Tom Watson of Georgia). I think Wallace was the last of that breed of race baiting Democratic populist.

    With the end of segregation and the one-party South, it’s interesting to see where this political tradition would go. It looks like Huckabee is reviving it, sans race baiting, within the GOP. Edwards is working that vein, too.

    For a good fictional treatment of this old political divide see O Brother Where Art Thou. The political figures in the movie are based on historical figures of the era.

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