Republican Renaissance?

On Monday, I asked where all the “real Republicans” are, and, if there are any of them left, whether they could be bothered to try to reclaim their party from the lunatics who have hijacked it. Well, it seems like the tenuous stitching that holds together the mangled remains of the party of Lincoln may well have been put under enough pressure by the Schiavo case that the unholy alliance between the corporatists and the Jesus freaks, upon which the GOP depends for its supremacy, is beginning to tear at the seams.

Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, the sole Republican to oppose the Schiavo bill in a voice vote in the Senate, said: "This senator has learned from many years you've got to separate your own emotions from the duty to support the Constitution of this country. These are fundamental principles of federalism."

"It looks as if it's a wholly Republican exercise," Mr. Warner said, "but in the ranks of the Republican Party, there is not a unanimous view that Congress should be taking this step."

In interviews over the past two days, conservatives who expressed concern about the turn of events in Congress stopped short of condemning the vote in which overwhelming majorities supported the Schiavo bill, and they generally applauded the goal of trying to keep Ms. Schiavo alive. But they said they were concerned about what precedent had been set and said the vote went against Republicans who were libertarian, advocates of states' rights or supporters of individual rights.

"My party is demonstrating that they are for states' rights unless they don't like what states are doing," said Representative Christopher Shays of Connecticut, one of five House Republicans who voted against the bill. "This couldn't be a more classic case of a state responsibility."

"This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy," Mr. Shays said. "There are going to be repercussions from this vote. There are a number of people who feel that the government is getting involved in their personal lives in a way that scares them." (Emphasis mine.)

(So much to exploit…if only the Democrats had had the sense to not vote right along with it! Yeesh.)

The truth is, there’s not much room left in the Republican party for “real Republicans,” who don’t want their president’s policy to be a balancing act between catering to corporations and their highly paid lobbyists and mollycoddling the religious wingnuts. But DeLay and his cronies might just have pushed things one step too far this time, and Bush’s leap into action on behalf of a politically expedient symbol has rendered ridiculous their past defenses of his lackluster response to the Aug. 6 PDB, the events on the morning of 9/11, the 9/11 commission, the tsunami, and every other reaction he’s bungled. He’s made a mockery of their belief in him. Worse, he’s proved us right and them wrong.

The hold-your-nose voters who cast their ballots for Bush, despite the deficit and despite the social conservatism, and justified their support for him on the basis of his alleged integrity and consistency (his ability to “stay the course”), always looked like fools to us—one day you’ll find out, we thought—and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to defend him as anything but the ineffectual minion of Rove’s Machiavellian machinations that we’ve said he is all along. Welcome to reality, folks.

Now go take back your party and we can get back to the business of debating policy like grown-ups.

-- Shakespeare’s Sister

(Crossposted at Big Brass Blog.)