Michael Gerson: "The GOP's main problem is not the contraceptive issue; it is the perception that it has become too ideological on many issues. Women and independent voters have seen a party enthusiastically confirming its most damaging stereotypes. The composite Republican candidate -- reflecting the party's ideological mean -- has been harsh on immigration, confrontational on social issues, simplistic in condemning government and silent on the struggles of the poor. How many women would find this profile appealing on eHarmony?"
"This is the hidden curse of the Republican congressional triumph of 2010. Republican activists came to believe that purity is all that is necessary for victory. But a presidential candidate, it turns out, requires a broader ideological attraction than your average tea party House freshman."
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Gerson, a former George W. Bush speechwriter, hit the bull's eye. The votes have been counted on the question of whether the tea party is the best thing to happen to the Republican party or the worst, and the answer is the latter. Republicans can not decide whether they are a political party (the GOP) or a movement (conservatives). Many Republicans regard themselves as conservatives first and Republicans second. This is why fissures continually open and close that divide the party's ranks, why a Michael Quinn Sullivan is allowed to do his dirty work.
Unfortunately, Texas Republicans, smug and self-satisfied after years of unbroken success, haven't gotten the memo. Rick Perry drove the state Republican party so far to the right that public policy disappeared from the Republican agenda and was replaced by the ideology of cutting government to the bone. The 82nd Legislature devastated the education and health care infrastructure in this state.
I spoke to a friend yesterday, a Rick Perry loyalist and a Republican operative. He lives in a border county. He has seen firsthand the wreckage of his local school system. "The Republicans can't govern," he told me, sadly. He's right. They can't, and they don't want to. We have had ten years of almost total neglect of state services. Does anybody believe that there will be no consequences--I don't mean consequences at the polls, I mean consequences for real human beings--from ten years of neglect?
The things that are happening in this state today will bear bitter fruit. I don't like to speak of doom and gloom scenarios because I try not to get too far away from the middle. But there is no middle in Texas politics today. There is only a far right, and it represents the worst of the Texas character--uncaring, unconcerned, uninformed. All I can say is, read Michael Gerson's words. They will come true in November.
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