May 13, 2009

Republicans Behaving Badly

When I see stuff like this, it makes me want to throw my hands up in despair and change my party's registration.

Not just the "Democrat Socialist Party" resolution, although that is at once profoundly silly, unnecessarily offensive, and ultimately misguided and counterproductive. But also the idea that the party, having just chosen a new administrative leader, feels the need to hamstring him. If he's doing such a bad job, why not remove him from his position altogether and get a replacement? There is no shortage of available candidates.

Now, when I see stuff like this, I'm heartened and want to stay. Congressman Toomey is not someone on whom I expect to agree on a lot of social issues. But he seems to be reaching out to moderate Republicans like me to tell me that I too have a place at the table (or in the tent, to use the metaphor). I get the opposite message from a guy like Chris Rubio in Florida. And from Dick Cheney -- by the way, Mr. Cheney, attacking Colin Powell is not a good way to make friends and influence people in the middle part of the political spectrum.

Congressman Toomey is playing it smart -- he isn't compromising his own socially conservatives positions, but he is reaching out to consolidate different kinds of Republicans around his candidacy. If he can pull it off, he'll be doing his part to keep the party's coalition together rather than, say, Senator Jim DeMint's avowed preference for ideological purity at the expense of legislative impotence. (DeMint is wrong; it would be better to have 60 Republicans in the Senate than 30, even if -- particularly if -- that majority were squishy on the issues.) That's what people in this corner of the party can reasonably hope for from people in his corner of the party. It's a shame that more conservatives in the GOP aren't following his example.

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