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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cheney Vs. Powell: The Republican Political Civil War Continues

This weekend General Powell fired the latest salvo in the political civil war within the Republican Party.

Along with this, and on another show, for Governor Tom Ridge referred to Rush Limbaugh as "shrill". On that note, here is how pundit Bruce Bartlett described the situation.

Powell has to accept that he is in a unique position to command attention and lead the Republican Party—or at least that part of it that isn’t consumed with defending the indefensible on torture or living in a fantasy world where the economy would be booming today if it just wasn’t for Obama’s budget deficits. It’s a pretty small constituency these days—most of those, like me, who share Powell’s views have left his party to become independents—but it may be enough to build a foundation on that can offer a meaningful challenge to the dominant Cheney-Limbaugh-Palin wing of the Republican Party that views all efforts to expand its membership as a sell-out to be resisted at all cost, even if it means further political losses.

But at the end of the day, the job of a political party is to win elections and to win elections it must be inclusive, not exclusive. Thus the ultimate message Powell has to offer Republicans is the most persuasive one of all—follow him and win or follow Cheney-Limbaugh-Palin and lose. Personally, I would like to see Powell follow in the steps of Dwight D. Eisenhower and run for president—I’ll sign up for his campaign today even if it means having to rejoin the Republican Party. But if he is serious about not wishing to do that, then Powell has a responsibility to help those who share
his vision by lending his enormous credibility, popularity and fund-raising ability to their efforts. If he fails to do so he risks being seen by history as someone who walked away when the times demanded that those who share his beliefs stand and fight for what they believe.

This follows weeks in which such figures mocked the likes of Colin Powell as folks no longer invited to be in the Republican Party.

All of this leads me to ask, why can't there be room in the party for both. I feel like Rodney King, "can't we all just get along". The party maybe going through some soul searching however it would be patently false to conclude that the party has been holding to strict conservative principles and they lost because of this. That's simply not accurate. The party lost its way on its conservative principles and that's why it lost.

That said, just because someone is pro choice, for comprehensive immigration reform, or doesn't mind a few government entitlement programs, doesn't mean they aren't, and shouldn't be welcome in the party. The party must stand for something and that something needs to be strict adherence to conservative principles. That said, it shouldn't be a mandate that strict adherence to every principle is a prerequisite for entry into the party. Rudy Giuliania is moderate to liberal on several issues, but I consider him a very solid Republican. He governed as a fiscal conservative (even though he worked with a liberal legislature), he was tough on crime, and he believes in an aggressive GWOT policy. Should we dismiss him because he's pro choice?

Moderates shouldn't try and move the party more toward their ideology. That's a battle they will lose. The base is now, and always will be, a solid conservative base. Tom Ridge shouldn't demand that the party adopt a pro choice platform. John McCain shouldn't demand the party adopt a moderate border policy platform. Ron Paul shouldn't demand that the party adopt a dovish GWOT policy. Yet, they are all welcome in the party even though on these issues they disagree with the platform.

In fact, the whole thing is so obvious to me that I wonder why so many politically astute individuals are going on like this. Does Colin Powell really think that the Republican Party will embrace the position that people want more government and are willing to pay for it? Does Rush Limbaugh really think that daring Powell to leave will help the party? Do all of them really think that sniping back and forth helps anyone but the Democrats?

I understand that there is a natural progression of soul searching following a big loss in politics. I just don't understand why it needs to turn into the food fight it has so far. All of this appears to be egos rather than principle. I, for one, would hope that all of these pols begin to act with some maturity because this political civil war is getting really immature and ugly.


tsiya said...

Powell voted for Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, and Obama. He doesn't sound very republican to me!

Anonymous said...

Powell is twice the man of Cheney.