Etch-A-Sketch President? That’s a new one…

Give the following article from Garrison Keillor a read. You know that Dubya’s in potential trouble at the polls when the Prairie Home Companion turns against him.

We’re Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore: How did the Party of Lincoln and Liberty transmogrify into the party of Newt Gingrich�s evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk?

In the above article Keillor voices a lot of the same concerns I’ve had over the years with what the GOP has turned into. With as much nastiness as is contained in the current GOP platform (and the actions of the current administration are even worse) it’s rather easy to forget what the legacy of the Republican Party is. The GOP is “the Party of Lincoln.” It was also the party of trust-busting and progressive politics in the time of Teddy Roosevelt. Admittedly the GOP was also the party of Herbert Hoover and conscious inaction in the face of despair after the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression. They were also the party of rabid Franklin Roosevelt haters who were actually happy when he died after leading the nation out of the Depression and through all but the finale of WWII.

But as Keillor points out well, in the 1950s and 1960s the GOP was the party of moderation. Odd to think that the last reasonable Republican to have national attention for a prolonged period was Richard Nixon. That’s right, I said “Nixon” and “reasonable” in the same sentence. That alone shows us how much the GOP has changed in less than a generation. What’s truly disturbing is to look at how the GOP’s power base shifted after Watergate. The South is now considered a Republican stronghold. Why? Simple, when the Democrats made civil rights for blacks a pillar of their platform the Dixiecrats abandoned the party. They left at first to start their own party, and when that failed they joined the GOP. And in less than twenty years they were in charge. Lincoln must be spinning in his grave.

The thing is, how do the non-Klansmen of the GOP stand this stench in their midst? Sure, they stand it partially because they want to win elections, and the former Dixiecrats within their midst are good at delivering votes. But one seriously has to wonder if there might come a point when the current generation of Republican leaders not born south of the Mason/Dixon line have had enough of bigotry, religious fanaticism and keeping the party running on the fumes of fear.

We know, for instance, that George W. Bush, for all his faults, is not a bigot. The Bush family has a rather stellar record in this arena. We also know, in spite of Karl Rove’s attempts to convince the Religious Right otherwise, that Dubya really isn’t a pentacostalist religious fanatic. Pick up Al Franken’s book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, and read his tale of how he learned that Dubya really isn’t such an avid Bible thumper for an example. It’s in Dubya’s expedient political interest to court the Dixiecrat wing of the GOP and to mollycoddle the Religious Right who fund nearly every activity of his party. So at which point does someone like Bush lose his patience with the bigotry, hatred and vileness that has become the mainstream of Republican Party politics?

And one has to wonder, what if the majority of the GOP simply refused to tolerate the hateful politics of the frightened white men from the South who make up the most vocal minority that dominates the party? What if John McCain, George Pataki, Arnold Schwarzenegger and other moderate Republicans were to say enough? Where do the former Dixiecrats go then?

I have a suggestion. Let’s send them to Israel. The god-babblers in the party are already anxiously awaiting Armageddon. Why not give them front row seats?

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