Day By Day

Monday, May 04, 2009

Republican Moderates Speak Out

Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, Eric Cantor and other moderate Republicans are making their first foray into the 2010 competition. This weekend they started a "listening tour" in which they argued that the Party must reach out to moderates and minorities, put Reagan-era ideas behind them, and address the "problems of the twenty-first Century" [whatever that means]. So far there is little in the way of specifics, but as Romney noted, they will have to get specific pretty soon.

Read about it here.

This morning I heard Joe Scarborough [who is rumored to be interested in re-entering politics] saying pretty much the same thing -- basically that the Republicans have to honor Reagan, but not to follow his ideas slavishly as they attempt to adapt to new circumstances. Scarborough also says that the problems for Democrats are accumulating rapidly and that 2010 looks to be a pretty good year for Republicans. I don't know about that, but there are encouraging indicators out there -- widespread corruption among the Democrats, an over-reaching administration, persistent economic bad news, likelihood of a foreign crisis, etc. One final point made by Scarborough, is that anger does not play well in elections for Republicans. Democrats can get away with being angry because the press will not call them on it, but Republicans have to learn from Reagan that geniality, rather than anger, impresses voters.

As I write, Rush Limbaugh is talking about the tour and Jeb's remarks. His response is interesting. He says that conservatives are not so much looking for a return to Reaganite ideas as looking for a leader who can articulate a coherent conservative position, as Reagan did. He then affirmed that one core principle that cannot be compromised is opposition to abortion. Beyond that he didn't get specific. That means that, for Limbaugh at least, there is a lot of wiggle room for moderates. He also considers people like Romney, and any other participant in the 2008 contest, to be beyond the pale. They had their chance, he argues, they waffled on principles, and they failed -- don't give them another chance because they will fail again. But, and this is significant, Rush was careful to note that he does not include Jeb in that bunch and considers Bush to be a potential leader for the future.

What I take from this is that there is a real conflict going on within the Republican Party, but that there is considerable room for compromise, and that 2010 will be the real test. If moderates do well in the congressional contests of that year, if they do so without compromising on the abortion issue, and if they can focus attention on the horrors being perpetrated by the current administration rather than directing fire at conservatives, they will take control of the Party going into the next Presidential election and mount a serious challenge to the Obamination. If not, then the current internal dissension will continue and so will Democrat dominance.

Read about it here.