Justin Webb (Mark Mardell’s predecessor as BBC North America editor) has written a little piece about the current state of the Republican Party. He’s not pleased, of course, which is no surprise to those of us who remember him looking down from on high and declaring that the US had “moved on” from social conservatism. Now that there’s a struggle for control of the Party between – I generalize a bit – the recently ascending Tea Party-inspired small government/fiscal conservatives, and the Santorumite, Republican establishment, who love big government and spending out their ears, and see nothing wrong with legislating personal behavior, ol’ Justin simply does not know where to turn.
And so he sticks his head further up the ivory tower. His goal here is to show you how the Republican Party is simply not ready to lead the country, because they’ve become too extremist.
Right up front, we can see Webb trying to frame the Narrative, eliding facts to create the context he needs. When Henry Olson from the American Enterprise Institute says that the Republican Party is united in its opposition to “government”. He means the current Government’s far-Left policies, as in those of The Obamessiah. Spend a few minutes at AEI.org and decide for yourselves exactly what’s being opposed.
Rick Santorum is still close behind Romney because of all the social conservative/big-government types left trying to take control of the Party back from the Tea Party movement, who gained the momentum in 2010. Santorum is not a fan of personal freedom, yet he’s still getting quite a bit of support from Republicans anyway. Anybody trying to tell you that the whole Party is united against “government” is either lying, or is actually saying something else.
What really angers ol’ Justin is what he perceives to be how the Republican Party is being driven to the extreme right by the “deep south”. And – what a shock – he dishonestly describes the authority to whom he appeals for this.
Political writer Michael Lind left the party because he sees its modern unity as toxic. Too much based on the values of the deep south of the USA – and in particular a visceral and unquenchable dislike of any government by anyone, of anyone.
“The thing that holds together the modern Republican party is opposition to the government,” says Mr Lind.
Lind indeed left the Republican Party: in 1996. The following year, he published a book entitled, “Up From Conservatism: Why The Right Is Wrong For America”. In 2002, he published a book about George Bush and the “Southern Takeover of American Politics”. Does this sound like someone who’s talking about “modern unity”? Yet ol’ Justin is using Lind’s decade-old song to prove that this is a new problem.
Of course, this also denies the fact that Texas is not part of the “deep south”, nor are Arizona and Utah. But I guess that’s beside the point, as he’s probably sort of referring to the fact that the agrarian southern Colonies were concerned about too much government power back when the US was founded, and that legacy continues to this day. Perhaps I’m giving him too much credit for having a clue about US history.
Even so, Bush’s Republican Party was big-government to the max. That’s why the Tea Party movement went after the incumbents in 2010. They were, and those still left are, social conservatives and not much else. But ol’ Justin hated them for that, and was happy about the “strange death” of that movement in the US. Except, of course, it that movement is very much alive, which is why Rick Santorum is still going.
To further support his argument, ol’ Justin points to Sen. Olympia Snow (R-ME) who has decided not to seek another term. He describes her as “moderate”, which means big-government, Republican establishment, exactly the kind of pol the Tea Party has been trying to get rid of for the last couple years. To those of us who get our news from outside the bubble, it’s no surprise that she’s decided not to accept a challenge for her seat from within her own Party, not because she’s unhappy that the Party has moved too far to the Right for her taste (which is a stupid reason to quit anyway), but because her husband is facing a major corruption lawsuit. Even the far-Left FireDogLake blog knows that Justin’s story is complete and utter BS. Snowe isn’t really facing a serious challenger yet, but has decided to drop out anyway.
So this is pretty much a total lie from Justin Webb.
Next he speaks with Matt Kibbe of Freedom Works, a major organization supporting the Tea Party movement. He really does talk about shutting down a few enormous, bloated government agencies, some of which have nearly the sacred cow status that the NHS has in Britain. Naturally, this frightens Webb, as his visceral inclination is that the State is All.
This is supposed to be the final proof that there’s something seriously wrong with the Republican Party. The thing is, the Party’s move to the right on this issue is a bad thing only if one is on the Left, and views small government as some sort of extremist position. Ol’ Justin is definitely making a value judgment here, and his personal political bias is on full display.