Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The New GOP Playbook: Brian Speaks

Over at Posthip, Brian finally gets his shit together long enough to chime in on our "joint" blogging project to save the GOP from eternal damnation. Like me, he chose to focus in on Michael Steele's rally-the-troops speech, specifically the continued invocation by the GOP of Ronald Reagan as the end-all and be-all of both past and future Republicanism.

Really, their constant name dropping of Reagan comes down to one thing: Reagan was, and remains, popular. They want to be popular, not because they want to be liked, but because they want Power. They don’t care why he was popular, they don’t care that the things that made him popular are the same things that make our current president popular, they are just hoping that some of his shine will rub off on them while they chant “Terrorism!”, “Enhanced Interrogation!” and “Socialism!” But it won’t.

The Republicans have no Ronald Reagan, and learned nothing from Reagan, and that is their problem. If they had a Reagan, he would have been written off as a moderate RINO by now anyway. And Reagan would be embarrassed by the blowhards and louts who say they are his heirs today.

There is something a little depressing about a party whose big idea is to look forward...by looking back. As Steele said in his speech, the GOP needs to learn from their past...but then he also said the time to fix the mistakes of the past is over. Nope, no mixed message there. Granted, there's nothing especially troubling about a struggling political party looking back to an icon of their movement for inspiration. The Democrats have always done this with JFK. It's a natural thing to do. The main point that Brian makes, however, which I fundamentally agree with, is that the GOP is failing to live up to the very principals that made Reagan so popular. Calling on a return to Reaganism is empty if not matched with actual Reagan-like actions. As Brian says, they don't want Reagan...they want Reagan's power.

As Brian points out, the things that made Reagan so popular across all walks of life are some of the very things that make Obama popular. Reagan was a handsome film star who was good with words, civil, and who exerted a calm and steadying influence as this nation's leader. He was intelligent, articulate and quick on his feet. Obama, who most people would agree shares these likable traits, instead gets reviled as a celebrity for possessing these qualities. Here's Michael Steele on Obama again:

"Folks like him. He’s got an easy demeanor. He’s a great orator. His campaign was based on change and hope. He’s young. He’s cool. He’s hip. He’s got a good looking family. What’s not to like? He’s got all the qualities America likes in a celebrity, so, of course he is popular."

If he wasn't using the word "celebrity" as a flip insult in the same way McCain did during the campaign, you'd almost think Steele was complimenting Obama. He's not. In fact, he's really insulting the American people for being stupid and vapid enough to be suckered in by such shallowness. If Steele really thinks that 2/3 of America has simply been hoodwinked by a charismatic phony with lousy ideas, I'm not sure that insulting their intelligence is the best way to bring them around.


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