GOP Rearrangement Syndrome

February 11, 2008

Here we are — the non-McCainiacs — just minding our own business and contemplating such lofty ideals as party unity while the McCainiac cabal lobs yet more rhetorical cruise missiles our way. Hold your fire, boys, we’re trying to meet you at the peace table.

If I were just slightly inclined toward the conspiratorial, I’d wonder whether this were an orchestrated assault by the McCain forces against the recalcitrant. Could more be going on than meets the eye?

Given the aggressiveness of McCain’s soldiers, I’m thinking they are not as interested in a rapprochement with Reagan conservatives as they are in taking over the party from them.

If they were seeking reunification, would they be making their attacks personal? Would they be suggesting that those not-yet-warm to John are afflicted with McCain Derangement Syndrome? Would they be salivating over their delusional fantasy that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham are losing their influence?

You’d think they’d think twice before hurling invectives toward the very base of the Republican Party, whose support in the general election is indispensable to McCain.

Not to worry, say the McCainiac lieutenants. “We’re not directing our fire at the base. We’re just criticizing its self-appointed spokesmen: Rush, Sean, Mark, Laura and assorted winger pundits. Those fire-breathing loudmouths don’t represent the base, but only a ‘very conservative’ group, which is statistically insignificant.”

McCainiac elitists should be careful not to discount the depth and breadth of the angst out there against this ongoing abandonment of conservative principles under the Republican umbrella. It’s not just Rush, Sean, Mark and Laura.

If they could see my e-mails alone, they’d be shocked. Just think of what the others are receiving. To be sure, I’m receiving plenty from people chiding me — after misreading my columns — for refusing to support McCain and thereby facilitating the election of Hillary or Obama and all that entails.

Let me say it again, more directly: I will support McCain if he’s the nominee. So please quit putting words in my mouth. I won’t, however, stop trying to make him accountable to the base and to pull him to the right.

But it doesn’t appear McCain’s henchmen will be satisfied with the mere support of the base. And they darn sure won’t cotton to our efforts to keep McCain from straying further to the left.

No, what we are witnessing is a resurrection of the historical GOP turf war between the Reagan conservatives and the disgruntled Rockefeller moderates. This neo-Rockefeller branch of the GOP sees this moment — McCain’s inevitable nomination, albeit by default, and the politically confused state of evangelicals under the tutelage of Mike Huckabee — as an opportunity finally to retake the GOP from the Reagan conservatives. Think of it as GOP Rearrangement Syndrome. And their strong support of the war has given them a narrative around which to forge their new coalition — as if they have a monopoly on hawkishness.

They want to remake the party in their image. They are the neoconservatives, the national-greatness types who profess to believe in conservative ideals but have no problem achieving them through liberal ends — i.e., more government. They apparently believe that history has passed traditional conservatism by, that big government is here to stay — and not to be resisted — and that Reagan conservatives should make the best of it and try to direct government toward conservative causes.

Reagan conservatives (and Libertarians) recognize that conservatism through liberal means is still liberalism. They strongly reject that they must abandon their fealty to fundamental constitutional restraints on government.

This is just a humble suggestion, but perhaps John McCain should be less exercised about the recalcitrance of traditional conservatives to his liberal meanderings. Instead, he should worry about the silent coup being orchestrated in his name — as if his default ascension gives him some kind of McMandate to restructure the party. He should stop and consider whether he is being used to usher in a paradigm shift in the conservative movement and the Republican Party. It will never work anyway since the very sizeable base remains overwhelmingly conservative. Just look at Huckabee’s victories and Romney’s unsolicited win of the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll.

McCain has a choice to make — and so do neo-Rockefellers presuming to do his bidding. They can either engage in a scorched-earth strategy against the conservative base in furtherance of their power play — in which case, they’ll never get to first base (pun intended). Or they can work with the base, most of which, I dare say, will work with them, especially toward the common end of a secure America.

The McCainiacs, instead of lecturing the right, ought to practice what they preach. Can’t we all just get along?

Besides, it’s much more fun to direct our fire at Democrats. So let’s get back to business.