I don’t agree with George Will on much (anything?), but I agree with him 100% about this.
Let us not mince words. There are at most five plausible Republican presidents on the horizon – Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Utah governor and departing ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, former Massachusetts governor Romney and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.
So the Republican winnowing process is far advanced. But the nominee may emerge much diminished by involvement in a process cluttered with careless, delusional, egomaniacal, spotlight-chasing candidates to whom the sensible American majority would never entrust a lemonade stand, much less nuclear weapons.
Among the “careless, delusional, egomaniacal…” candidates Will cites specifically are Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich, both of whom have gone completely off the deep end into lunacy with their ravings about Barack Obama, Kenya, the “Mau Mau revolution,” a bust of Winston Churchill (huh?), and god knows what else. Clearly, these people long ago misplaced their marbles, the only question being where – or where?!? – are the men in the white coats to take them away to the funny farm?
In all seriousness, though, George Will for good reason leaves Huckabee, Gingrich and Palin (let alone Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, and others even crazier and less fit to be president, if that’s even possible) off his list of “plausible Republican presidents.” I also strongly agree with Will that “when self-described conservatives such as Malzberg voice question-rants like the one above and Republicans do not recoil from them, the conservative party is indirectly injured.” My only question is why other conservatives, those who care about their movement, don’t join Will in drumming these wackos out of their party? Are we so entrenched in “red team”/”blue team” that we can’t criticize anyone from our “side?” Well, I’m proud to report that here at Blue Virginia, if you look through our archives, you’ll find PLENTY of criticism of Democrats, and that won’t stop anytime soon.
Bottom line: most (or all) of us here are strong Democrats, but we’re also strong environmentalists, strong supporters of gay rights, of womens’ reproductive freedom, of progressive taxation, of a fair and just society, of high-quality health care for all (as a fundamental human right, also as smart policy), of a strong public education system (and opposition to the “for-profit” model or anything else that damages the public schools), etc. We’re not going to abandon those principles, even if it means calling out anti-progressive Democrats, cuckoo-for-cocoa puffs Democrats, etc. And no, that doesn’t weaken us; sunshine almost always makes us stronger, as is sticking to the core progressive principles that made our party great in the first place.
P.S. As a progressive and a Democrat, I of course am hoping beyond hope that Republicans DO nominate one of the non-plausible candidate, thus guaranteeing that they lose in a landslide to Barack Obama in November 2012. As an American, however, I’d feel much more comfortable with a Republican Party that stepped away from its embrace of the lunatic fringe (John Birch Society, Tea Party, whatever) and returned to the sensible conservative party it the GOP was for much of its history (including when I started out my involvement in politics as a Teenage Republican back in the late 1970s in Connecticut).