Saturday, December 08, 2012

Taibbi on DeMint Exit and GOP Implosion

The big news out of Washington this week was that Senator Jim DeMint, the Tea Party impresario who struck out when promised to make the Affordable Care Act President Obama's "Waterloo," and who struck out several more times when he endorsed also-rans like Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle, Richard Mourdoch, and Todd Akin for the Senate, was throwing in the towel and retiring.

Even though DeMint is ostensibly trading up by taking a high profile perch at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, it still counts as a win for those who value reason over dogma and ideas over ideology in our government (DeMint was one of the first in the line of hostage-takers during the last debt ceiling drama two summers ago, lest we forget).

As Matt Taibbi explains, DeMint's exit from the Senate, coupled with Mitt Romney's spectacular loss at the polls just over one month ago, is merely indicative of the much broader identity crisis that's currently afflicting the once-Grand Ol' Party as it attempts to finds its way in the new reality that's seen President Obama re-elected, and where the Tea Party label has become more of a liability than ever:

Privately, what you hear on the Hill is more and more complaining that Tea Party extremism of the DeMint type has not only cost Republicans the Senate (where DeMint's support of losers like Christine "I dabbled in witchcraft" O'Donnell and Canada-bashing Nevada candidate Sharon Angle may have cost the party winnable elections) but perhaps the White House as well. You hear talk that Republicans are listening to polls showing majorities are tired of DeMint-style filibustering tactics and will blame Republicans, not Democrats, if this fiscal cliff thing goes completely sideways. 
So this is a mutual split. The Tea Partiers were sick to the point of puking of RINO types like Boehner who are gearing up to put the Republican Party's name on a massive tax increase and may eventually bend on choice, immigration and gay rights. The Republican establishment, meanwhile, is sick of waking up every morning wondering which of the party's extremist dingbats has decided that the best way to win national elections is to give interviews calling carbon dioxide a safe, naturally-occurring gas or demanding that unmarried, sexually-active women be barred from teaching children. The disgust these two groups feel for each other is genuine and in some cases may actually exceed the disgust they feel toward opponents on the blue side of the aisle.
There's more at the link, including Taibbi making the same Romney-John Kerry comparison that I made the day after the election, and explaining why the current state of Republican confusion shouldn't be assumed to remain the status quo. Politics is just too fluid, with too many moving parts, for anything to be a given.

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