Go here to find comments by the Arizona Senator’s daughter about the dismal state of the Republican party. She sees that Democrats right now are about 1,000 times cooler than members of her own party (being a Republican is about “as edgy as Donny Osmond,” she says). (According to her website playlist, McCain herself is pretty cool at least along one axis: Her website playlist includes artists ranging from flavor-of-the-month Lily Allen, to Charlie Parker, to the sludgy “Our Lady Peace.”)
But her criticism goes way beyond the GOP’s coolness gap: Warming to her task, she then expresses her disagreement with the party’s positions on stem cell research and marriage equality. She even offers this startling statement:
“Where has our extreme thinking gotten us? President Bush will go down as one the least popular presidents in history. I constantly hear stories about Republicans who previously worked for President Bush and my father feeling ostracized, unable to get jobs in D.C. right now.”
If I were a Republican strategist (about as likely as my being selected as host of Saturday Night Live), I’d say: Listen to this woman!
But no: Instead, the clownish Rush Limbaugh (played masterfully by the Obama Administration) elicits oohs and ahhs from the party faithful, while the comically inept RNC Chairman Michael Steele again finds himself in the soup for daring to suggest that the abortion issue should be left to the states (not, as he was “accused” of, stating that every woman should have the right to make that choice — no sirree!). Mike Huckabee and Ken Blackwell (his former rival for a position that now has all of the “earmarks” of a booby prize) jumped all over him, with Blackwell huffing that Steele needs to “re-read the Bible, the U.S. Constitution, and the 2008 GOP Platform.” So much for Steele’s promised — oh, and risible as well as cringeworthy — “hip hop makeover” of the party.
Let me offer some unsolicited advise for a quick, if incomplete, fix for the party’s problem; one suggested by Meghan McCain’s statements, above. The Republican governor of Vermont, Jim Douglas, should sign the marriage equality bill when, as is expected, it passes the state legislature. As his website discloses, Douglas is fairly progressive — a necessity for a politician in left-leaning Vermont. Yet he has signaled an intent to veto the bill, on the factually insupportable ground that the state’s civil union law is sufficient; and for the facially inane reason that the state has too many other serious problems, what with the collapsing economy and all. (Look again at the website for a list of the things he’s doing and tell me this argument passes the straight-face test.)
I’m no expert on Vermont politics, but I suspect Governor Douglas would suffer no significant backlash from signing the bill. And he might also help change his party’s image for the better. Almost certainly, this means it won’t happen. The GOP seems intent on marginalizing itself at every opportunity.
David Brooks, writing about the financial crisis, puts the party’s current ineptitude succinctly: “If Republicans were to treat this like a genuine emergency, with initiative-grabbing approaches, they may not get their plans enacted, but voters would at least give them another look. Do I expect them to shift course in this manner? Not really.”
He’s probably right, but maybe Governor Douglas can break the destructive spell.