Archive for Wednesday, March 11, 2009

GOP needs a makeover

March 11, 2009


In the 1987 film “Moonstruck,” Rose Castorini, played by Olympia Dukakis, walks home accompanied by a man she met in a restaurant. When he asks her if he can come in, she declines. When he asks why, she responds, “Because I’m married and because I know who I am.”

On a political level, that seems to be the problem these days with the Republican Party. Many Republicans have forgotten who they are and what they are supposed to stand for. This is why there was such a strong reaction to Rush Limbaugh’s speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington recently. Limbaugh tried to remind Republicans what they once believed in and of the ideas that won them elections. Instead, too many Republicans have tried to cozy up to the liberal elite, hoping they will praise them for being “reasonable” and “moderate.”

This strategy has never won Republicans elections, though it may have made some of them feel better about losing.

Michael Steele, the new Republican National Committee chairman, was caught in this Venus flytrap when he seemed to agree with a CNN interviewer that Limbaugh’s radio program is “incendiary” and “ugly.” In truth, it is educational and inspirational to conservatives and anyone else interested in substance, rather than emotion. Those who call Limbaugh an “entertainer” mischaracterize him. He is a passionate advocate for ideas in which he believes, ideas that brought prosperity to the Republican Party when it also embraced them.

I asked Michael Steele about the brouhaha he didn’t start, but to which he contributed. In an interview last Thursday in his RNC office, during which he proudly pointed to a picture of himself with Limbaugh (appropriately off to his right), I asked Steele if he planned to heed the few calls for his resignation.

“No!” he shouted, before I could even complete the question. “And shame on (those) who should have the cojones to at least come and talk to me.”

Steele said he called Limbaugh to apologize for his remarks. He said Limbaugh was “very gracious.” He agrees with Limbaugh that some Republicans appear embarrassed by their party’s positions on certain (notably social) issues. Does Steele think too many try to curry favor with some on the left, especially the big media?

“I do think it’s a problem generally,” he replied. “I don’t think we should worry so much about them and that’s why I don’t feed them. If I sat and worried about what The Washington Post was going to write about me tomorrow, I would stay in my room.”

Steele said he is in stage two of a two-stage process to reform and transform the Republican Party. He won’t reveal details, because, “The mice who are scurrying about the Hill are upset because they no longer have access to the cheese, so they don’t know what’s going on.” He says his process has been “insular” because he doesn’t want people “pontificating” on his decisions or second-guessing them before they are made.

Barack Obama talked during the campaign, and since becoming president, of the need for a new bipartisanship. Does Steele believe he is serious?

“No! Having a photo-op with a bunch of Republicans, inviting them to have a beer with you, or watch a football game is great theater, but when you don’t take our suggestions seriously, when you don’t respect our staffs and involve them in the vetting process; when you don’t confer with the minority party ... you’re not serious about bipartisanship.”

Didn’t Republicans when they ran Congress do to Democrats what Democrats are now doing to Republicans? “Right,” Steele admits, “and everyone (then) clamored for bipartisanship. Did they get it? No.”

Steele believes bipartisanship “is a fiction of politics. It’s an idea people work toward, but the reality is something else...”

Steele thinks White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is “running the entire government,” noting he is not known for bipartisanship, but for slash-and-burn politics.

Asked where President Obama is weak, since his poll numbers remain in the high 60s, Steele responded, “Everywhere when he puts his policies on the table.”

That alleged weakness hasn’t yet sunk in with voters, but Michael Steele believes it will soon. First, though, there is that small matter of an extreme makeover for the GOP. Perhaps another film title might serve as a guide for Republicans and where they need to go: “Back to the Future.”

— Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


Tom McCune 9 years, 1 month ago

LOL. Cal, if you find Rush's show "educational and inspirational" then you are the one in need of a makeover. A full frontal brain transplant would be a good start.

Rex Russell 9 years, 1 month ago

As a Repulican turned Independant in the past year, let me just say that Cal is starting to get a little off track these days. He has twisted some logic and facts to support his ideas. I have listened to Mr. Limbaugh before. He doesn't reflect my personal morals or political views. His focus is more politics as bloodsport without substance. His concept is to fan the flames of ideology instead of intelligent debate. The GOP has swung so far to the right as to be almost absurd. At the same time they are actually, a mirror image of what they profess to be. If I am too sensible and moderate to be considered a real Republican by Rush and Cal, so be it. The new mantra by some, is that we (the GOP), lost recent elections because we are just not Republican enough. Strange thought. The truth is something much more basic and simple. Some long time supporters just had enough. These are people who voted the other way for the first times in their lives. Go ahead Cal, convince your colleagues that they need to move farther to the right to survive. I hope it works for you.

pistachio 9 years, 1 month ago

Rush is a fat, hypocritical blowhard who flunked out of college after only 2 semesters. Defender's probably right - Rush doesn't know the meaning of "conservative" because he probably flunked poli-sci.

Annointing this radio clown as the intellectual leader of the GOP is as ridiculous as choosing Howard Stern or ManCow. I've talked to 7-year-olds with a better grip on the world than Rush.

beawolf 9 years, 1 month ago

If the Republicans do not get out of bed with the extreme right and start to denounce some of the idiocy been spouted by Limbaugh, Coulter, Beck, Hannity et al, they will not have a viable party by 2012. If they do not come up with some substantial alternatives to turn the economy around (instead of re-hashing the same old, failed policies), more seats will be lost in 2010 as well. Right now their only strategy is to hope the Democrats fail.

labmonkey 9 years, 1 month ago

The Democrats were genius for bringing up Rush Limbaugh into the national debate, because Republicans and Conservatives have fallen into the trap. Instead of discussing real issues, ones when they come to light take the luster off Obama (the $785 billion of pork, Obama signing in the $410 spending bill with all the earmarks instead of keeping a campaign promise) , we are talking and arguing about a big fat blowhard and ignoring real issues. Good move Democrats, good move.

salad 9 years, 1 month ago

"Rush is a fat, hypocritical, drug-addicted, thrice divorced, blowhard who flunked out of college after only 2 semesters." -Fixed

BTW, I hope that Rush and Cal do get to have their way with their party....take it over and keep tipping past the precipice. Eisenhower was a Republican. Lincoln was a Republican. Rush and the neo-cons are....I have no real idea what they are. Someone explain it...please.

jayhawklawrence 9 years, 1 month ago

I may be very down on the Republican Party right now, but I still remember the sins of the other Party over the years.

I am confident that the American people remember also.

I would be forewarned, as we rid ourselves of the Karl Roves and the Newt Ginrich holdovers and the Dick Cheneys and Bushcos, we are going to be watching what this other Party does very carefully.

Extreme left wingers are just as bad as extreme right wingers.

Abraham Lincoln spoke of his faith in the American People in his Gettysburg address and nothing has changed. We will get it right in the end.

feeble 9 years, 1 month ago

Steele was just cited in an interview supporting a pro-choice position. He's toast, as the Republican base will not accept this position from their leadership (de facto or otherwise).

As long as the GOP allows itself to be identified with Birthers, Surrounders, or other fringe elements (such as Chuck Norris for President of Texas), it will continue to have significant problems at the voting booth. The GOP will need to convince the independent voters they are credible if they want to win mid-term elections and recapture lost seats. Being the opposition party isn't enough.

beawolf 9 years, 1 month ago

ArumerZwarteHoop (Anonymous) says…

"Tax cuts are unpopular? Only for the parasitic segment of society."

Again you spout nonsense.

Republicans have made a serious strategic mistake in becoming so dependent on tax cuts, both as a way to win elections and as a call for limited government. Why did the deficit grow so much during the Bush tenure? Because borrowed dollars were needed to support the Republican tax cuts. Republicans can't focus on tax cuts, because they haven't had any viable ideas for how to limit spending.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 1 month ago

But for the help of a compliant media and hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions, Barry wouldn't be President today.

jayhawklawrence 9 years, 1 month ago

The so called "liberal media" did not demonize George Bush Jr. The American people know this even if you don't.

He and Cheney and Rumsfeld screwed up.

And the Authoritarian Conservative leadership that has taken over the Republican Party has run its inevitable course to ruin.

Time for a major reformation in the Republican Party.

The future is waiting and you are not currently part of it.

beawolf 9 years, 1 month ago

Nancy & Snap,

Do you bother do read the drivel you post? Your comments are inane, have no substance, no credence and are never supported by facts. Blaming the media for the failures of the Bush administration is childish at best. At least Nancy had the courage to state the GOP needs a makeover. Now, why not step up to the plate and begin to define what that makeover should look like, instead of whining about the evils of the Democrats policies. Time will tell if Obama succeeds or not, but to rely on his failure rather than put the effort into creating an alternative is political suicide.

temperance 9 years, 1 month ago

ArumerZwarteHoop, Let's be clear. Your cousin was denied entry into The Ivy League because he wasn't as qualified as the other applicants, lacked extracurricular talents, didn't have references that were as glowing as his competitors, his family failed to donate to the right charities, and/or he wasn't a legacy. Since the admissions decision in the Ivy League are highly confidential, there's no way of knowing if affirmative action played a role in his admissions denial. So, stop making things up and passing them off as if they were true. Your cousin just wasn't good enough for the Ivies. Race/ethnicity is an easy excuse, so quit your victimized white man routine. It's really boring.

beawolf 9 years, 1 month ago

"You cannot be this stupid.".... Yes he can. Check out some of his other posts.

beatrice 9 years, 1 month ago

GOP needs a make-over -- but they already have a designer wardrobe, courtesy of the Governor of Alaska.

Tom McCune 9 years, 1 month ago

Cal loves Rush and Rush loves Cal. Strangest case of man love I have ever seen. They should elope. Hopefully far, far away.

Jim Phillips 9 years, 1 month ago

All of this uproar over a radio personality from the party that gives us Tim Robbins, Michael Moore, Barbara Streisand, Whoopi Goldberg, Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Ted Dansen, Oprah Winfrey, The Dixie Chiks, Alec Baldwin, etc.

I've said it before, the Republicans do need a makeover. When we stop believing we're moderates, we will be on the right track.

I find it interesting that the most Liberal posters on this thread tell us what the Republican party should be. Hold your breath 'til we get there.

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