Dec 19 2007

The GOP Purity Wars Rage

Published by at 8:31 am under 2008 Elections,All General Discussions

It all started with the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. David Frum led the personal attacks on the person he used to work for when he was at the White House and who he had some personal issues (he left not long after she arrived). The fall out (as I predicted) was an enormous rift between the social conservatives and the ‘other’ conservatives – all over innuendo and rumor. The far right had attacked the GOP leader and started his fall. In the middle of a war no less.

The purity war raged on and turned into a nativist panic when we learned our allies in the UAE had bought a controlling interest in a set of docks. The far right claimed they would be running the port, in a shocking show of ignorance (The US Coast Guard controls all port security, as well as the ports themselves). The insults thrown at moderates and George Bush supporters flamed up again, and the coalition grew even smaller. The civil war expanded, the drive for purity got so bad those who found there were people we could (and should) ally with in the Muslim world were considered traitors and heathen. The political inquisition had begun.

And then came the final nail in the GOP coffin – what to do with all those long term illegal immigrants who had woven themselves into the fabric of our communities. This group were only a part of the concerns the Comprehensive Immigration efforts addressed. As long as they stay underground they create a massive (20 million some claim) haystack to hide criminals and terrorists. We had a bill brought up twice that would strengthen the borders, increase penalties for employers, and create a real guest worker program that tracked workers, limited their time in America (up to two 3 years stints only) and barred access to citizenship through that path. All things string majorities supported. The Tancredo nativists could not abide a misdemeanor process crime being treated like a misdemeanor process crime. They wanted uproot people and throw them out of the country. The majority in this case agreed back taxes and getting to the back of the citizenship line (after confirmation of no violent crime convictions) was sufficient. In the last bill the ability to deport violent criminals was enhanced so it would be pretty much automatic.

The far right balked and ended any fixes on immigration for years to come. The purity wars hit their ugliest point with attacks on El Presidente Jorge Bush and his traitorous, RINO followers. And the GOP governing coalition loss the right to govern. The moderates and hispanics left the GOP tent, chased out by the intolerant who decided they had compromised enough on issues.

What is strange is the shock and surprise to this day as the civil war the far right started in their usually pique if frustration things weren’t going their way – and only their way – is still rippling through the GOP. Giuliani and Romney represent the hopes of those who want to get back to a governing coalition where compromise is not a crime of treason and progress is better than the sin of doing nothing, destroying progress to show one’s anger at not being listened to. Tony Blankley notes the results of this years’ long fight inside the GOP and understands what it will mean to the party this summer:

The Republican Party primary so far has been an exercise in none of the above. In their turns, Sen. McCain, former Mayor Giuliani, former Sen. Thompson and former Gov. Romney seemed to be or seemed about to be front-runners — only to fall back as the party’s likely voters got a sharper look at each of them. Even my old boss Newt Gingrich, without even announcing, had a handsome surge from 4-5 percent to 18-20 percent in February — before falling back to single digits.

Now former Gov. Huckabee — for the moment surging to the front — is on the receiving end of withering intraparty fire applied with a rhetorical violence usually reserved by Republican polemicists for a Clinton or a Kennedy. Just as social conservatives earlier this fall threatened (for a couple of weeks) to run a third-party candidate if Giuliani got the nomination, so Washington GOP elites are willing to misrepresent parts of what Huckabee has said and written in a savage effort to destroy any chance he might have of being elected.

It is as if each faction of the Grand Old Party feels a stronger passion to defeat its intraparty rival factions than to defeat the Democrats in November. This maximum instinct to deny victory within the party may be a sign of a philosophical rebirth (as in the Goldwater nomination and campaign of 1964), but it is also a sign of a party likely to lose the next general election.

I disagree with Tony on many fronts. First off, Giuliani’s position as lead choice has not shifted that much. But what has cycled through choices is the far right, their standard bearers keep falling flat and rotating out. Where are the strong anti-immigration candidates like Tancredo? No where. Where are the strong nativist like Savage who want to bomb Ayrabs? No where. When you combine the Giuliani, McCain and Romney numbers it is clear what is going to happen. Whichever one of those three who takes the lead will take the nomination.

And then the party will face a stark choice. It will be possible that Bush will have been vindicated in Iraq by this spring, so the Democrats will have failed to fail and Iraq will be spreading the word al-Qaeda is the great Satan (the word is getting out now). So will the party turn on its successful leader and a nominee who follows in his successful steps? A moderate candidate at the head of the ticket could entice enough moderates back from the Dems to make a 2008 a surprise year. Which groups actually> wields more power in the GOP is an interesting question – one which will be answered in 2008.

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “The GOP Purity Wars Rage”

  1. crosspatch says:

    Why is it with our political system I have to choose either the Meathead hippie or the surly knucklehead Archie. There is just no middle ground. It sucks. I don’t like either of them.

  2. chairman says:

    There are many incorrect assumption in this post as to why certain groups have refused to compromise on issues, but I want to address the idea of compromise itself.

    Compromise in many areas of life is a good principle. With zoning codes for instance – I want to build a 5 story house but it will block your view of the lake, so we reach a compromise of some sort.

    You want Mexican food for dinner and your wife wants Italian, so you compromise and get Chinese. Actually you would always go with what your wife wants, but that’s a topic for another day…you get the idea.

    In this article, the author is talking about something all together different. Most of what it discusses are issues of principle. How do you compromise your principles, and if you do, what type of person are you?

    If you wanted to fool around on your wife and she thought it was a bad idea, would you compromise that maybe just a little oral sex would be OK.? Humm, I seem to recall a similiar situation…

    If you lived in China and had two children would you accomodate (compromise) the government policy by killing one?

    I think rather than viewing the so called “purity wars” as a problem, I see it as a reaction that has been too long in coming. Many things in America are way out of whack and won’t be fixed by compromises and nibbleing around the edges of the problem.


    “Live free or die.”

  3. Jake70 says:

    >The far right had attacked the GOP leader and started his fall.

    Harriet Miers is a dude?

  4. AJStrata says:


    Harriet Miers is not the GOP leader while Bush is President – and he is a dude too.

  5. Aitch748 says:

    I’m sick of people who yell about refusing to “compromise their principles.” Newsflash: Politics means having to work with people who DON’T SHARE YOUR PRINCIPLES.

    YOU may find granting citizenship to illegals under any circumstances as intolerable as watching your children being ripped apart by tigers; some of the rest of us don’t share your horror of the idea. Get used to it or be prepared to get things done without our help and support.

    YOU may get the urge to puke whenever President Bush or some other Republican reaches out to the likes of Senator Kennedy in order to get some legislation passed, but some of the rest of us can swallow our disgust enough to realize that Kennedy gets to vote on legislation as surely as any Republican does, so maybe a little strategy might be in order.

    I’m beginning to suspect that people in politics who talk very loudly about “principles” are people who could never get anything done if they actually got elected to public office, because they’d spend half their time getting into feuds with people. In other words, scratch a “principles” person and I suspect you’ll get a “my way or the highway” person as often as not.