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Saturday, June 02, 2007

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Nightwind

There's some fascinating things going on the Republican party right now. Gingrinch has always pissed the hell out of me, so there must be one hell of a snowball fight in Hell going on right now as we actually agree on the "Republican implosion."

I've only voted for a Republican once, and that was for Michigan then-governor Engler because his Democrat opponent was a complete baffoon (Geoffery Fieger, former clown attorney to Dr. Kevorkian). And I felt terrible about it, because I disagreed with Engler on practically everything... but he was better than the alternative.

For presidential elections, the Democrats had it easy with me: all they had to do was provide someone superior than a monkey. Heck, I'd probably even vote for a trained monkey. (Are you listening, Kerry?) I'm that opposed to the Republican party and what it stands for.

Which means I was astounded several years back when I found out my mother's parents, who were more influential on my liberal outlooks than even my parents, had been both longtime Republicans. It was sort of personal blesphemy to me. But then I was reminded that this was back in the day when the parties were split on things like government involvement, fiscal responsibility, federal vs. state, etc. You know, government stuff.

To be honest, I don't even think of those things when I think of the differences between the parties. I mostly think of the religious right and everything that goes with it, which has really only been Republican in my lifetime.

This year, two things have happened in my view on politics. First, the Democrats have yet to find even a trained monkey (except maybe Obama...I'd really like to hear something about why he's actually make a good president instead of just hearing that he would make a good president. I'm so tired of the spin on him).

Second, the Republicans are suddenly actually offering choices, all the way from practically liberal ("moderate" seems to be an understatement when thinking of Giuliani) to hard-core, religious-right conservative (three candidates disbelieve in evolution).

Just a year ago I commented to a class that a pro-choice candidate could never get the Republican nomination, yet Giuliani continues to lead the polls. (Personally, I think it frightening how many millions of Americans base their vote entirely on the abortion argument, whether pro-choice or pro-life.) of course, the politicians haven't started playing dirty yet, but he's at least a chance. Damnit, if Giuliani gets the nomination, I might actually vote for him because I like him instead of because I hate the other guy, which is my usual method of voting.

Are you hearing me Democrats? I have a chance of making a positive vote in 2008, and, if so, it will be a Republican I'll be voting for. Why? Because many of the things I care about most and associate with the Democrats Guiliani represents: pro-choice, gun control, not religious right, gay rights (up to the point of civil unions), etc. The Republican side of him are the things that made my grandparents Republicans: lower taxes, smaller government, strong on crime, etc.

John McCain is the other wildcard for me. I've thought about voting for him for some time. At some point a friend described him as a moderate, and the term stuck in my head. He's not a moderate. Realizing this, I was in a quandry as to why I've always liked this guy when most Republicans drive me bonkers. The conclusion I've come to is that a Republican doesn't have to be moderate to impress me. He just has to be sane. McCain's a sane Republican, and sane Repbulicans are so rare that I confused them with that other endangered breed, the moderate Republican.

I confess the only bit of the recent Republican debate that I saw were the clips on the Daily Show. But it was truly disturbing to watch multiple other candidates openly endource torture with others dancing around terminology. Even Dubya doesn't openly say that torture is something we should be doing. And you could see it in McCain's face and hear it in his voice: "I'm sorry, my collegues are all suffering from temporary insanity. Torture is bad and I'm not going to say otherwise just to look tougher on terrorism."

McCain and I do disagree on a number of important issues, but at this point, that only goes so far. I'm OK with a president I don't agree with 100%, just so long as he's sane. Sane is important.

hue

First, the Democrats have yet to find even a trained monkey.

How about any trained monkey other than W?
Warren Buffett supports Hillary and Obama. Listen to him on Charlie Rose, at the 30:00 minute mark or so.


Huffman

Giuliani's no moderate. Sure, he's pro-choice, and he really doesn't seem to give a damn if two men or two women live together. But he's an authoritarian; as you noted, he supports torture. Here's what he had to say about torture in last month's debate, moderated by Brit Hume:

HUME: Mayor Giuliani, the former Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, the current head of the CIA have both said that the most valuable intelligence tool they have had has been the information gained from what are called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” to include, presumably, waterboarding. What is your view whether such techniques should be applied in a scenario like the one I described?

GIULIANI: In the hypothetical that you gave me, which assumes that we know there is going to be another attack and these people know about it, I would tell the people who had to do the interrogation to use every method they can think of. Shouldn’t be torture, but every method they can think of.

HUME: Water boarding?

GIULIANI: I would say every method they could think of, and I would support them in doing that because I have seen — [applause] — I have seen what can happen when you make a mistake about this and I don’t want to see another 3,000 people dead in New York or any place else.

Sure, he says interrogators shouldn't go as far as torture, but (wink, wink) they should do everything they can think of. This man and every other Republican candidate except John McCain (who knows a thing or two about torture) is willing to throw away everything I thought our country stood for in the name of security.

I actually find his willingness to support torture while simultaneously saying he doesn't particularly disturbing. At least Tancredo had the guts to say he wants Jack Bauer to throw down on the terrorist SOBs.

So, go ahead an vote for Giuliani if you want to. But don't do it because you think he's a moderate.

ben

McCain is the only Republican who tempts me, and he's not going to get the nomination. Like Robert, I find Giuliani scary. To me, the most frightening thing about the Bush administration has been the erosion of checks and balances and the willingness to play fast and loose with civil liberties. Giuliani's history suggests he's not about to reverse that trend (even if he did clean up New York).

And I don't think Hillary's a great candidate, but she's a hell of a lot more than a trained monkey. Bill Richardson is sharp as well. I'm tentatively with Obama, although I also want to see more before really jumping aboard.

I also see something potentially scary in the Republicans' implosion. Immigration is fracturing the party, but my sense is that it may be leading to a populist, nativist alliance between the anti-immigration wing and the religious right (groups who likely overlap to some degree).

Don't get me wrong: I like that Lou Dobbs-style populism seems to be convincing the Republican middle class that their party is really looking out for the elite - the people whose corporate profits benefit from low-cost labor. And I'm happpy it seems to be exposing, in a way people believe and understand, the "What's the Matter with Kansas" premise -- that conservatives pay lip service to middle-America religious values to win elections, then push an economic agenda more geared toward their elites than rank-and-file.

But if our current political world is undergoing a restructuring, what replaces it? I can imagine the religious right giving way to a sort of broader "cultural right" fueled by anti-immigrant anger. That's scary. (Though I emphatically do not believe that all immigration opponents are merely racists).

Of course, this is all idle speculation and will, hopefully, never amount to anything more.

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