17 August 2010

The unserious GOP

Since the beginning of August, the Republican Party has focused on two issues: The overturning of California's Proposition 8, and the building of a mosque in lower Manhattan.

The GOP's singular focus at this time should be jobs, the deficit and spending. The country is crying out for leadership like that of Wisconsin's Paul Ryan, a fundamentally conservative fellow whose main defining feature is that, unlike most of rest of his party, he is deeply serious about America's fiscal future. (In Iowa recently, Newt Gingrich, when pressed, refused to name a single government program he'd cut.)

Less than three months from what could be the biggest electoral trouncing in 50 years, the GOP needs to stop with the culture wars and instead focus on the Obama administration's abject failure at, quite literally, everything. The administration has failed at re-energizing the economy, they've failed at job creation, they failed miserably at addressing the oil spill, and they managed to pass a trillion dollar health care bill that no one -- not even the administration's own economists -- has suggested will even come close to reducing costs. Barack Obama is an awful president. And yet, just months from the midterm elections, Republicans are sermonizing about "judicial activism" (again, it's not judicial activism, but we'll save that for another time) in the Ninth Circuit? They're accusing Obama of cozying up to radical Islamic extremists? This is especially ironic due to the Obama administration's policies overseas, which in a number of ways are more radically neoconservative than Bush's.

The GOP is at a crossroads. The Paul Ryan/Mitch Daniels/Ross Douthat wing of the party is abhorred by the incompetence of the Obama administration and thirsting for a truly conservative return to glory. The Sarah Palin/Newt Gingrich/Sean Hannity wing of the party, however -- and the wing that the current Republican leadership has very obviously aligned itself with -- pays only lip service to small government; hysterically demonizes the president with outrageous claims that he was born in another country or that he's a "secular socialist"; and instead of focusing on proper governance, wants to re-fight the culture wars of a bygone era.

This is stupid, for no other reason than one in ten voters is out of work, and does not want to hear this. They want to know how you'll reduce the deficit, how you'll attack entitlement reform, how you'll return competent governance to Washington, and most critically, how you'll get people back to work.

The culture warriors in the GOP ignore this at their peril.

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