Thursday, October 19, 2006
Cracks in the Republicans' Armor
All those who see American politics and foreign policy as driven by a well-organized and invariably unified rightist bloc should take heart. As many news stories these days indicate, the political climate is becoming less and less favorable for the Republican party in the US, with many Republican candidates running away, as it were, from President Bush, while Democratic candidates seem to put Dubyah's name in the conversation every chance they get. I noticed this the other night in a debate between Republican Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and his opponent, State Treasurer Bob Casey. Casey just couldn't say "George Bush" enough. What's more important for America's role in the world than simply the Republican Party's inevitable ebbing is the fracturing of that very party, in recent times controlled by dogmatists who intoxicated their political brethren in the center with victory after victory. This is the message of stories like the WaPo's piece today out of Kansas. The reddest of Red States, which was only two days ago profiled in the NYT of being -- of all things -- a refuge for Dick Cheney (his approval rating is 20% nationally), which hasn't put a Democrat in the Senate since the Depression, is seeing a number of high profile Republicans turn Democrat. Why? Because these guys, these mainstream Republicans, so to speak, are sick of the zealotry, the messianic politics. This marriage of convenience is a national phenomenon, but has an interesting backhistory in Kansas, where it has always been a rocky relationship, as chronicled extensively by Thomas Franks in his celebrated book What's the Matter with Kansas.