Kristol's Blasphemy, Norquist's Denial

Thus far, the most ear-popping conservative reaction to last week’s election has come from Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol. On Fox News Sunday, he spoke a truth that you would have expected to have been bleeped by Roger Ailes’s censors before it could reach the tender ears of shocked right-wingers: “It won’t kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires,” Kristol said. “It really won’t, I don’t think. I don’t really understand why Republicans don’t take Obama’s offer.” And there was more: “Really? The Republican Party is going to fall on its sword to defend a bunch of millionaires, half of whom voted Democratic and half of whom live in Hollywood and are hostile?”

If it were possible to kill Paul Ryan and Grover Norquist, the prince and monarch of anti-tax Republicanism, in a single stroke, Kristol’s words would surely have done the deed. It’s one thing for 'wingers like Sean Hannity to be urging the party to give up on its anti-immigration hard line—which has always been more of a nativist wedge issue designed to keep the white folk frightened and voting GOP—and a whole ‘nother ball of wax to strike at the very core of modern Republicans’ raison d’etre. It’s impossible to know, just yet, how many conservatives share Kristol’s sentiment—we’re not, after all, far removed from last year’s Republican debate when all 10 presidential contenders felt compelled to swear that they wouldn’t take a deal to raise revenues $1 for every $10 of budget cuts. But there have been growing murmurs of protest, even before the election, against Norquist’s iron-fisted enforcement of the pledge he’s extracted from most Republicans in Congress to never raise a tax on anything, for any reason, under any circumstances.

But what is the Republican Party about, if it’s not intractable opposition to taxes and social insurance programs? It would be fascinating to find out. Norquist, of course, is obliged to pretend that nothing out of the ordinary happened last Tuesday. “The president was elected on the basis that he was not Romney and that Romney was a poopy-head and you should vote against Romney." Translation: Don’t worry, people, there was nothing more at stake last Tuesday than poopy-headedness. But of course he says that; he has to. (No word on how Ryan is holding up.) We’ll soon find out, in the wrangling over the so-called “fiscal cliff,” whether he’s right—or whether his congressional minions will at last unleash themselves and make a bold foray into the great, scary unknown: governance. 

So They Say

“It's not a bad idea.”

Former RNC chairman-turned-MSNBC pundit Michael Steele, on whether he might seek the position again

Daily Meme: Poor, Poor, Pitiful Mitt

  • While the GOP bickers about what—if anything—ails it after last week's disheartening losses, its foremost pallbearer is having quite the pity party, which, of course, the Internet has decided to crash.
  • Saturday Night Live got the ball rolling this weekend by having the former candidate go on a milk bender ...
  • ... a calcium binge likely accompanied by heartsick web stalking of his accidentally launched transition website.
  • McSweeney's transposed Romney's tragedy onto Tom Joad's famous "I'll be there" refrain.
  • Another tough pill for Romney to swallow: His supporters aren't even sticking around long enough to give him a shoulder to cry on—he's losing Facebook friends at the rate of 593 per hour.
  • However, the Romney stalwarts remain. Look at these devastated white people, who look like they were forced to watch the end of The Notebook 20 times instead of witness the downfall of a very rich man who, let's be real, doesn't have it that bad. 
  • Then there's the guy who got a large Romney tattoo. On his face. As he eloquently puts it, “I’m the guy who has egg all over his face, but instead of egg, it’s a big Romney/Ryan tattoo. It’s there for life.”
  • At least they can ease their suffering with a Romney shopping spree—all campaign merchandise is now available at bargain-bin prices!
  • Benjamin Wallace-Wells sees Mitt as a man apart from the ideological moorings of his party—something that could have been a virtue in different circumstances, but instead condemned him in 2012: "What Romney could offer was not a philosophy but something at once more intimate and more limited: only the capacities of a single individual, himself."
  • Being a lone wolf means that he also, in the words of the Baltimore Sun, "has no future in the GOP." Time to head back to the milk jug, eh Mitt?

What We're Writing

  • Paul Waldman on the conservatives’ post-election scapegoat: the American people.
  • Abby Rapoport on progressives’ big wins in state ballot measures last Tuesday.

What We're Reading

  • While the Senate will have its first openly gay member, Tammy Baldwin, the House will have Congress’s first openly bi representative, Krysten Sinema of Arizona.
  • Paul Rudnick imagines what an 11-year-old's love letter to Nate Silver would look like.
  • Ryan Lizza tries to envision how the Republican Party could regain an advantage in states transformed by immigration.
  • Jon Chait argues that the election wasn't small or petty—it was a big debate on class, and Obama won.
  • Karl Rove's next electoral playground? Picking sides in Republican primary fights so super PACS have less of a chance of making worthless investments.
  • Swing states had great turnout in last week's election, but other states—especially Hurricane Sandy-ravaged New York and New Jersey, saw a dip.
  • Completely clueless about the fiscal cliff? Never fear, Kevin Roose's Absolute Moron guide is here to help.

Poll of the Day

The gender gap in last week’s election was the largest ever measured, according to Gallup. Obama won women by 12 percentage points, and Romney won men by eight, for a 20-point gap. In 2008, Obama tied John McCain among men—but had a 14-point edge with women voters.

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