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Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Stick To What You Know

As you all know, I'm a Republican. I'm pretty well plugged into the national party, read all the conservative magazines (except Pat Buchanan's), and have a pretty good knowledge of trends within the party.

So it always strikes me as somewhat odd when a liberal friend mentions some sort of rift within the Republican party that I've never heard about. For example, a couple of months ago, a liberal friend mentioned that there was a big battle within the Republican party in 2004 over retaining Dick Cheney on the ticket because he was a political liability. I tried to explain that there had been some discussion as to whether another veep choice might be best in terms of setting somebody up as the heir apparent in 2008 (since Cheney's health is rather precarious), but there was no concern that he was going to hurt Bush's chances of reelection in 2008.

That's the way I feel about Todd Gitlin's piece in today's LA Times. Gitlin's one of the ubiquitous 1960s radicals who've burrowed into the universities and are trying to spread their leftist philosophy to their students (with decidedly poor results I might add). His piece is entitled "The Right Divide".

With binocular vision, people tend to see only two sides in politics. So right and left alike have frequently misunderstood conservatives as a solid monolith. Republicans' control of Congress and Bush's 2004 victory gave weight to the belief that the GOP is not only a victory machine but a unified bloc.

But just review the last month for a fuller picture. A Republican-run Congress, over White House objections, has opposed torture and disallowed oil drilling in Alaska. It refused to extend the Patriot Act for more than five weeks while it took time out to consider civil liberties. Congress also passed a fierce measure against immigration without Bush's guest-worker program. Stringent budget cuts that the White House had supported passed the Senate only thanks to Vice President Dick Cheney's tie-breaking vote. Bagman-lobbyist-crony Jack Abramoff is poised to blow the whistle on conservative legislators.

They did pass the torture bill, which annoyed me to no end. But the Republicans were pretty solidly in favor of opening up ANWR to oil drilling; it was only the unanimity of the Democrats in opposition and the peeling off of a few Republicans that doomed it. The Patriot Act extension was supported by all but a few Republicans. And of course, Abramoff has nothing to do with rifts within the party; that's just a little bit of padding by Gitlin.

The rest of the article is mostly about how President Bush has been unable to get some of his campaign pledges accomplished. Gitlin does make some decent points, and seems to have a real idea of who the neocons are and their relative strength in the party, as compared to most liberal commenters who use the term as a shorthand for "Republicans who are for the Iraq war".

But I suspect that in the end, this is just another in a long line of articles intended to buck up liberals that ends up coccooning them instead. There have been any number of articles talking about the impending implosion of the Democrats; hence the need for somebody to take the opposite tack and talk about the impending implosion of the Republicans.


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