Saturday, June 02, 2007

Republicans must let go

Peggy Noonan asserts that immigration is the pivotal issue that turns the Republican Party leadership angrily toward its base in this WSJ opinion piece:

For almost three years, arguably longer, conservative Bush supporters have felt like sufferers of battered wife syndrome. You don't like endless gushing spending, the kind that assumes a high and unstoppable affluence will always exist, and the tax receipts will always flow in? Too bad! You don't like expanding governmental authority and power? Too bad. You think the war was wrong or is wrong? Too bad.

But on immigration it has changed from "Too bad" to "You're bad."

The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic--they "don't want to do what's right for America." His ally Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, "We're gonna tell the bigots to shut up." On Fox last weekend he vowed to "push back." Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested opponents would prefer illegal immigrants be killed; Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said those who oppose the bill want "mass deportation." Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said those who oppose the bill are "anti-immigrant" and suggested they suffer from "rage" and "national chauvinism."

Why would they speak so insultingly, with such hostility, of opponents who are concerned citizens? And often, though not exclusively, concerned conservatives? It is odd, but it is of a piece with, or a variation on, the "Too bad" governing style. And it is one that has, day by day for at least the past three years, been tearing apart the conservative movement.


Anyone who has dissented against this administration's policies have been called everything from unpatriotic to supporters of terrorists. Where has Peggy Noonan been these last 6 years? Has she not been a member of the loyal press who expanded the scope of this administration's efforts to suppress dissent, the most common being frontal attacks on the patriotism of those courageous enough to vocalize their disagreements?

On March 19 2003, NRO published an opinion piece entitled "Unpatriotic Conservatives: A War against America" in which neocon propagandist David Frum attempts in one long tome to redefine conservative ideology and squelch the emerging pseudo-conservative criticism of Bush's war policies:
But the antiwar conservatives have gone far, far beyond the advocacy of alternative strategies. They have made common cause with the left-wing and Islamist antiwar movements in this country and in Europe. They deny and excuse terror. They espouse a potentially self-fulfilling defeatism. They publicize wild conspiracy theories. And some of them explicitly yearn for the victory of their nation's enemies.

Can Noonan not remember the culture of fear created and perpetuated by this administration's speech-chilling "You're Either With Us or You're With the Terrorists!" mantra, or the incessant insinuations that critics of Bush's policies were un-American?

Remember Ashcroft's 2001 preemption of all criticism regarding the War on Terror's impact on our cherished liberties by simply stating that anyone concerned about the loss of civil liberties were aiding terrorists and giving ammunition to our enemies?

And let's not forget what happens to the "girlie men" who dare to talk about economic policies in anything less than a favorable light, even as these leaders boldly (or I should say baldfaced-ly) proclaim, "If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, not the people to the government, then you are a Republican."

Everyone who had the courage to complain about the deficits, and to question government expansions, and express concerns about White House plans to invade Iraq, were unreservedly pummeled with every label from unpatriotic to anti-American, with Noonan and her peers on the front lines launching these broadsides.

To claim that immigration is the issue that finally brings out the leadership's attack dogs is flagrant dishonesty on Noonan's part.

"Would they speak so insultingly, with such hostility, of opponents who are concerned citizens?" Would they indeed, Ms. Noonan. Welcome to life in the new America you helped construct.


While she accepts no responsibility for the role she played in empowering this administration, cheering endlessly as it strayed further and further from its conservative roots, Noonan does admit she began backing away from the administration a couple years ago. At last and with almost sheepish enthusiasm, she tries to persuade conservatives to realize how far the Bush Administration has dragged the Republican Party from its revered platform. Then to take the next, most painful step, and let go. Rejoin those conservatives who never grabbed hold in the first place.
Now conservatives and Republicans are going to have to win back their party. They are going to have to break from those who have already broken from them. This will require courage, serious thinking and an ability to do what psychologists used to call letting go. This will be painful, but it's time. It's more than time.

Whether her writings will display the introspection necessary to accept responsibility for her part in dividing the republican party is yet to be seen. But at least we now have in writing yet another rat who's jumped ship.

I guarantee you, once you latch onto a verifiably authentic conservative leader who will return your party to its roots, you'll have the good company of millions of Americans among whom you'll soothe your long journey home.

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