Gerard Baker on the Republican race

How mad are the Republicans?

I sense that the syndrome says something about what has gone so badly wrong with the conservative movement in the past ten years. It has become so intolerant and exclusive that once orthodox views are now regarded as heresy; while views once merely narrow and eccentric are now prerequisites for membership.

One of Mr McCain’s biggest sins is to have opposed tax cuts in the early years of the Bush presidency because there was no effort to cut spending to match them. This runs counter to the new orthodoxy on the Right that believes tax cutting is a kind of alchemy – cut taxes anywhere at any time and you will always and everywhere produce increases in government revenues. There is not the slightest evidence for this, but no matter. You must believe.

Mr McCain is unacceptable also because he has insufficiently orthodox views on human rights. Last week a writer in the National Review said that Mr McCain was not a conservative because he opposes torture of terrorist suspects. Quite how the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower came to erect a “Torturers Only” sign at its gate will be a matter for historians.

An interesting read and generally spot on in my view. Even if McCain doesn’t pick up South Carolina it won’t mean he can’t win sufficient support on Super Tuesday to make him the clear front-runner. But, as I have said all along, he is the only serious challenge to the leading Democrats. Sadly some Republicans clearly are delluded in believing Huckabee or Romney could do better. Or maybe they know McCain is their only real chance, but the last thing they’d want to admit is that he could win.

We shall see in a couple of weeks whether Republicans would prefer to try to win or sulk because the country doesn’t share their “values”.

The Discussion: 11 Comments

Uh, I might point out that Lincoln suspended habeas corpus and Eisenhower overthrew the democratically-appointed PM of Iran. Just sayin’.

January 18, 2008 @ 2:19 pm | Comment

Ike has a bit of a bad record. He drew up the Bay of Pigs and laid out the beginnings of what eventually became the Vietnam War, in addition to installed the Shah, the seeds of our current problems with Iran.

There’s a great documentary about Barry Goldwater that paints him quite favorably. He was a real Republican: less government with a heavy libertarian streak. He thought religion had no place in politics. (Of course they do make mention to the inconvenient fact that he opposed the Civil Rights Act as a ‘state issue.’) Anyway, he was a really interesting guy, and when he retired in 1988, guess who took his seat: John McCain.

After 44 years things come full circle.

January 18, 2008 @ 2:43 pm | Comment

Dave, not to say either was perfect but neither saw support for torture as a sign of being a “good Republican” did they?

January 18, 2008 @ 3:34 pm | Comment

McCain’s victory in New Hampshire primary was the result of liberals voting in the Republican primary for the candidate they thought most likely the screw the party over.These are strategic voters who have no intention of voting for McCain in the general election. In other words, McCain’s a sure loser with no real constituency.

McCain’s sponsorship of the “comprehensive immigration” bill makes him unelectable right there. There is no public support for amnesty or for the increased level of immigration this would lead to. The polls show that the preferred solution of most Americans is to deport illegals, although offical Washington isn’t even considering this idea. Even in the Iowa Democratic primary, Hillary couldn’t sell the idea of giving illegals driver’s licences.

January 19, 2008 @ 9:06 am | Comment


You are completely right about a growing intolerance within the Republican party, yet I see the exact same thing happening within the Democratic party as well. This is all part of a growing intolerance and polarization that has been going on in the US at least since the death of Tip O’Neil, who had no problem quaffing beers with Ronald Reagan. It’s the closing of the American mind and, unfortunately, one can see it on the blogosphere as well.

January 19, 2008 @ 2:15 pm | Comment

It’s the closing of the American mind and, unfortunately, one can see it on the blogosphere as well.China Law Blog

You don’t say. Incidentally, I recently read a book by an American psychologist by the name of Dr.Doug Soderstrom, and he calls it”the dumbing-down of the American mind.” He writes that there is a very dangerous phenomenon that seems to be occurring in the United States of America; a nearly willful tendency for Americans to forgo reality in favor of believing what they want to believe. But how could such a thing have occurred in such a proud nation, one that, according to George Bush, has become known as a bastion of freedom and democracy, a bright light for the whole world to see?

January 21, 2008 @ 3:56 pm | Comment

growing intolerance and polarization that has been going on in the US at least since the death of Tip O’Neil, who had no problem quaffing beers with Ronald Reagan.

I know this will sound like an old geezer trying to pull rank—- “When I went to school I had to walk 7 miles barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways!”, but I’m guessing you’re 25-35 years younger than me. I can safely say, after the 60’s and the Nixon years “You ain’t seen polarization”.

C’mon, you really think W Bush, Newt Gingrich, Gephardt and Clinton never shared a few laughs together?

Nevertheless, it’s always a point worth mentioning: There are a LOT of closed minds out there, ranting, raving, bumper-sticker thinking, and blind partisanship where there should be cool, critical thinking. Evidence rumour just above and that sad git “2008”.

January 22, 2008 @ 10:22 am | Comment

You are right,instead of showing wisdom and maturity ye old git retort with presumptuousness , glossing over issues and history and calling names of those much your junior who dare criticize and comment by pulling seniority ranks shows nothing but empirical evidence of the blatant narrow-minded haughtiness of an older man that’s passing on and exacerbating the already dumb-down & close minded situation of this generation of younger Americans. Shame on you, Sam_S!

January 22, 2008 @ 4:10 pm | Comment

“Government war is never just. It is in war that the State really comes into its own: swelling in power, in number, in pride, in absolute dominion over the economy and the society.” Murray Rothbard
“Every friend of freedom must be as revolted as I am by the prospect of turning the United States into an armed camp, by the vision of jails filled with casual drug users and of an army of enforcers empowered to invade the liberty of citizens on slight evidence.History suggests that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom.Clearly it is not a sufficient condition.”Milton Friedman

January 22, 2008 @ 4:42 pm | Comment

Shame on you, Sam_S!

Sod off, swampy; at least until you get the intellectual depth to get beyond the bumper stickers.

January 22, 2008 @ 5:23 pm | Comment

Is that the best you can do? What is it with you and bumper stickers and mood buttons, huh? You really do need to get your head out of your sorry ass, you foul mouth, You pathetic,thought you saw a fleet of UFOs, you out of touch geriatric drunk…now sober up and debate respectfully.

January 23, 2008 @ 12:47 am | Comment

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