Kermit the Frog might have said “it’s not easy being green,” but these days it’s easy to be green, not so easy to be Republican.
Consider recent developments.
Fred Thompson, long touted as the GOPster’s dream candidate, made his debut as an announced candidate for the presidency, and was practically booed off the stage.
Here’s a guy who seems to be so, like, presidential. While in college, he managed to get his teenage girlfriend pregnant but, as was the quaint practice of the time, married her. Years later, as a divorced Washington lobbyist, he cavorted happily with a variety of (much younger) beauties and eventually married one of them. According to published accounts, he’s a smart, charming, somewhat lazy guy who dabbled in law and politics, and eventually found his true métier: acting!
Is he Ronald Reagan’s heir, or what?
Alas, if you listen to James Dobson, no way. The estimable Doctor D. looked over Thompson and, in a recent e-mail, wrote “Isn’t Thompson the candidate who is opposed to a constitutional amendment to protect marriage, believes there should be 50 different definitions of marriage in the U.S., favors McCain-Feingold, won’t talk at all about what he believes, and can’t speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail? He has no passion, no zeal and no apparent ‘want to.’ And yet he is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians? Well, not for me, my brothers. Not for me!”
Meanwhile, another of the GOP’s stable of confirmed womanizers has announced his candidacy, on one condition. If his supporters will pledge $30 million by Nov. 1, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich allows as how he’d deign to run for president.
“You can’t bring all your good ideas if you don’t have the resources to communicate,” Gingrich reportedly said earlier this month during a breakfast in Washington.
Apparently, Gingrich hasn’t noticed that folks aren’t exactly running up to him in the mall and showering him with golden ducats.
And out on the campaign trail, the front running GOP hopefuls were being blasted by members of their own party for failing to attend a candidate debate about minority issues sponsored by an historically black college.
Addressing his comments to Messrs. McCain, Giuliani, Romney and Thompson, former GOP vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp told the Washington Post: “We sound like we don’t want black people to vote for us. What are we going to do — meet in a country club in the suburbs one day?”
In the halls of Congress, Democrats came up with a nifty way to skewer Republicans in Iraq, disguising a troop withdrawal bill as a solicitous measure aimed at protecting members of the military from extended deployments in Iraq.
All the Dems, and half a dozen Republicans supported it, but the president eked out a “victory” because, absent a supermajority of 60, the GOP could block it. Not that it mattered — Bush would have vetoed it anyway. Gleeful Democrats were no doubt high-fiving, having managed once again to hang the Iraq albatross around the GOP’s figurative neck.
If you’re a Democrat, all of this Republican stumbling, bumbling, and infighting is more than wonderful. It’s as if a Bronco fan, the week before the Indianapolis game, saw Peyton Manning throw five picks, sprain his ankle and get in a screaming match with Coach Tony Dungy. It can only bode well for the future — and in this case, the future is November 2008.
Admittedly, it doesn’t look good for the pachyderms in ’08. Iraq’s a mess, the party’s splintered a dozen different ways, the renascent Democrats are uniting around Hillary Clinton, staying on message, and seeming more credible every day. Maybe they can actually get us out of Iraq, reform the tax system and usher in an era of inclusive, lift-all-boats economic growth.
I certainly hope so. Peace and prosperity are wonderful. But I’m not sure that The Dems can pull it off.
Come January 2009, we can expect the GOP’s nightmare scenario: Democrats in control of the House, Senate and White House.
It happened in Colorado, and it has been a Republican nightmare. Smart, pragmatic Democrats have pursued sensible, moderate policies that have isolated and marginalized the Colorado GOP. It may be decades before the party regains power.
But Colorado Dems aren’t like Dems elsewhere. They aren’t in thrall to the national interest groups that exert such power elsewhere. That’s why Bill Ritter, a pro-life career prosecutor and committed Christian, could be nominated to run for governor. That’s why moderates like Ritter, Senate Majority Leader Alice Madden, the Salazar brothers and House Speaker Andrew Romanoff lead our local Donksters.
Nationally, it’s a different story. Will we see competent, moderate governance or swarming interest groups, intent upon raising taxes and feeding at the federal trough?
If we do, Democrats may quickly fall from their lofty perch.
Maybe the arguments among Republicans are a sign of health, not malaise. Maybe the party is ready to transform itself and return to its roots.
We know that the wide prosperity that characterized America under Eisenhower, Kennedy, Reagan, and Clinton was driven by policies that Republicans once embraced, and will embrace again.
Those policies are simple. Link taxation to spending, adopt a cautious and realistic foreign policy, support entrepreneurs, make regulation simple and transparent and hire qualified people, regardless of party.
Just wait. Soon enough, the GOP will be done with the profligate incompetence of the Bush years and, headed by men and women whose names we may not yet know, will mount a comeback as stirring and unlikely as those the Broncos pulled off in their first two games of the season.
And I’d guess that Dr. Dobson will still be displeased.
John Hazlehurst can be reached at John.Hazlehurst@csbj.com or 227-5861.