Will GOP Centrists Come Back?

 

If the Democratic drift in the polls—not only toward President Obama but down-ticket Dems as well—turns out to be more than a blip, the results on November 6 will surely cause the Republicans to rethink their right-wing extremism. At least that’s the view of commentators like Andrew Sullivan, whose Newsweek cover story (headlined “President Obama: The Democrats’ Ronald Reagan”) lays out a dream scenario for all who long for a saner, less obstinate Republicanism. “[T]here must remain somewhere in the GOP a residual instinct to prefer playing a part in a solution to intensifying the problem for partisan gain,” Sullivan writes, his heart full of hope. “But this last gasp of civic responsibility will most likely revive only if the current GOP loses decisively this November. Defeat is the only thing fanatics understand. And defeat is something the remaining Republican moderates can build on.”

Sounds logical, yes? Except for two little problems: First, who are these “moderates” Sullivan imagines to be laying low, waiting to reassert their dominance of the party? (Sure, there’s Jeb Bush and maybe Chris Christie, though it’s a bit of a stretch to call either of them “moderate.”) Second, when is the last time that logic governed the GOP? The mainstream of today’s Republican Party is the Grover Norquist/Tea Party faction. If that weren’t true, it would have been feasible for Mitt Romney to win his party’s nomination without undergoing ideological plastic surgery on a Michael Jackson scale. It would have also been possible for the former Massachusetts governor to nudge himself back toward the center in the general election, rather than hitching his wagon to Ryanomics and catering to the base. 

The likely outcome, if Election Day turns out ever-so-sweetly for the Democrats, is that the right-wing mainstream of the GOP will place the blame squarely on the guy they’ve never liked or trusted anyway: Romney. They’ll be convinced that all they need to do in 2016 is nominate a true believer—like poor, stifled Paul Ryan, maybe—and run an unvarnished ideological crusade. It would be a damn good thing for the country if Sullivan's dream comes true. But even a “decisive” setback on November 6 isn’t likely to persuade the zealots who dominate the Republican Party to forsake their religion anytime soon.

 

So They Say

“This attempt to prevent voter fraud is itself the only voter fraud taking place.”

Sarah Silverman, explaining voter suppression in a viral video (warning: explicit language!)

 

Daily Meme: Have a Good Life

  • No one ever called Philippe Reines, Hillary Clinton's spokesperson, a model of savvy media relations, but he outdid himself today, telling a BuzzFeed reporter to "Fuck off" and "Have a good life." Also that said reporter, Michael Hastings, was an "unmitigated asshole."
  • In other words, "The State Dept. Really Doesn't Want To Keep Talking About the Ambassador's Diary CNN Found."
  • But as Megan McArdle points out, "There is virtually no situation in which telling a reporter to fuck off is going to enhance your image."
  • Reines's fury has been brewing for a while, though—he's been outraged at the media after CNN's use of Chris Stevens’s journals in covering the situation in Benghazi.
  • His first testy quote in this episode was to The Wall Street Journal, where he said it was "not a proud moment in CNN's history."
  • This isn't the first time a journalist has outed Reines's less-than-conventional banter with reporters. When a Washington Post reporter was writing a profile about him, Reines tried to make his job easier by doing some of the work for him. “Would it be helpful if I sent you random factoids, pieces of color? For instance, I don’t ever drink D.C. tap water.”
  • A New York Times profile from a few years prior also pokes fun at the "master ruminator" and former streaker.
  • His whole media mantra can be summed up thusly: “If I wasn’t paid to talk to reporters, I wouldn’t, either."
  • In the end, you can expect the Romney campaign to use this gaffe to latch onto the State Department's handling of Libya as a way of distracting from its own public-relations snafus...
  • …as the Daily Caller and  Washington Free Beacon (surprise!) already have.  

What We're Writing

  • Tom Carson on William F. Buckley’s intellectually bankrupt heirs. 
  • Jamelle Bouie on the wrongness of Romney’s move to the right. 

What We're Reading

  • Voting has already begun in half the states. What are you waiting for?
  •  New York magazine takes a look at the Romney who ran a Mormon church in Boston for ten years but seems sadly absent on the campaign trail. 
  • The Obama campaign may be the undisputed master of the doomsday campaign email, but their extravagant swing state expenditures—far surpassing super PAC efforts in these states—tell a different story.  
  • How generous is Romney, really?
  • The Seattle Times endorses the state’s marijuana legalization initiative, arguing, “The question for voters is not whether marijuana is good. It is whether prohibition is good.”
  • Robert Samuelson: Let's retire the American Dream.
  • Gee, maybe that Obama campaign flag wasn’t such a hot idea after all.
  • Paul Ryan can't stop breaking up with Ayn Rand.

Poll of the Day

For much of the year, Latino voters were less enthusiastic about the election than most. But now, according to a new survey by Latino Decisions, they’re more fired up about voting than they were in 2008—and 69 percent plan to vote for Obama, as opposed to 24 percent for Romney. 

For more polling information, go to the Prospect’s 2012 election map.

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