George Will Schools This Week Panel on Tea Party Causing GOP Civil War
George Will on Sunday gave a much-needed education to the entire "This Week" panel about how the Tea Party is moving the GOP in a positive direction that could alter politics in this nation for years to come.
As Christiane Amanpour and her Roundtable guests - Democrat strategist Donna Brazile, National Journal's Ron Brownstein, and Republican strategist Matthew Dowd - all fretted about the so-called Civil War brewing in the GOP, Will was once again the voice of reason.
"At the beginning of the year, the question was, will the Tea Party people play nicely with others and will they obey the rules of politics? Who's sort of not playing nicely?" asked Will.
"Mr. Crist starts losing the primary to a Tea Party favorite Rubio. He suddenly discovers that he's an independent and changes all his views overnight," he continued.
"Mrs. Murkowski loses a primary and suddenly discovers that she has a property right in her Senate seat and she's going to run as a write-in. Senator Bennett thought of that in Utah, Senator Castle in Delaware is thinking of a write-in candidate. Who are the extremists?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRAT STRATEGIST: But, you know, the Republicans have a great story right now to tell. Excuse my voice. I was up watching the LSU game, clearly.
But the -- the problem I have -- and the Republicans should -- should understand -- is that there's still an eternal civil war going on within the Republican Party. In Washington state, in Delaware, and Colorado, many of the mainstream Republican candidates have not endorsed the Tea Party candidates.
They've provided enthusiasm, they've provided a lot of energy and organization for the Republican Party, but we don't know yet if the Republicans can heal those wounds and provide the kind of turnout they need to beat the Democrats.
MATTHEW DOWD, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think that if you gave most Democrats truth serum and they said who's place would they rather be in, they would pick the Republicans' place in this year's election as opposed to their own place in this year's election. The problem I think for this class that's coming in for the Republicans is for Mitch McConnell, who just talked to, is his ability to herd them is going to be like herding quail, because these folks are coming to Washington and think, "I'm not going to be part of this. I'm not going to listen to the leaders. I'm going to do what the voters want me to do," and they're not going to be -- they're not going to be acquiescent to what the leadership wants.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST: And that's what I actually -- I wanted to ask, because in today's newspaper, there's a quote by a senior Republican, you know, consultant that, after the elections, it's going to be basically all-out war, a struggle for the heart and the soul of the Republican Party. You're shaking your head.
GEORGE WILL: They've been writing this story for eight months about what a problem the Tea Party is for the Republican Party. You know what the problem...
AMANPOUR: Well, Tom Ross basically told us that they lost because of that and they might lose.
WILL: On balance across the country, the Tea Party is enormous help for the Republicans. At the beginning of the year, the question was, will the Tea Party people play nicely with others and will they obey the rules of politics? Who's sort of not playing nicely? Mr. Crist starts losing the primary to a Tea Party favorite Rubio. He suddenly discovers that he's an independent and changes all his views overnight.
Mrs. Murkowski loses a primary and suddenly discovers that she has a property right in her Senate seat and she's going to run as a write-in. Senator Bennett thought of that in Utah, Senator Castle in Delaware is thinking of a write-in candidate. Who are the extremists?
RON BROWNSTEIN, NATIONAL JOURNAL: Donna, I would say, look -- I mean, I think clearly this class of Republicans do not feel they are being sent here to Washington to compromise with Barack Obama or to follow the Republican leadership. So in that sense, there's going to be tension. And I quote Ken Buck in my story as saying so.
But if you look at what they are actually going to be voting on, in all likelihood, over the next two years, there is remarkable unanimity in this class. And despite all the focus on the civil war, I think that is kind of a -- what the long-range vision of what the federal government should be doing or not doing is where you will see diversity.
BROWNSTEIN: But in the near term -- in the -- in the near term, I think -- in terms -- the main thing that the Republicans, I think, are being sent here to do is to block and try to roll back whatever they can what Obama did. I think the spending thing will continue to be a challenge for them, because if you want to reduce the deficits and extend the Bush tax cuts, that does point you back toward cutting Medicare and Medicaid, which is exactly the problem they got into in '95, and they may end up in that same cul-de-sac next year.
But I actually believe there is more commonality in this class than is often assumed. And in the near term, they are going to be a very formidable and, I think, cohesive force.
WILL: And look at the not-so-near term. In the next two cycles, 2012 and 2014 combined, the Democrats are defending 43 Senate seats, Republicans 22. So the Republican wave that's now starting is just starting.
As Will accurately stated, the media have been "writing this story for eight months about what a problem the Tea Party is for the Republican Party." The liberal press are always trying to figure out a narrative that paints the GOP in the most negative light.
First we were told the Tea Party represented an inconsequential fringe of racists and homophobes that will have no impact on elections.
Now that its candidates have produced shocking results across the fruited plain, and have reinvigorated conservative voters like nothing we've seen in many years, the movement is going to produce a Civil War within the Republican Party that will either hurt it in November or make it impossible for it to govern if its successful at the polls.
This is clearly why you could see Will either shaking his head or seemingly laughing to himself as his colleagues waxed philosophically about some as yet unrealized though oft-predicted calamity associated with this movement.
Less than two years after Barack Obama and the Democrat Party won a landslide victory that had the potential of being a political realignment shifting the balance of power in this country to the left for many years nay decades, the Republicans are on the precipice of shocking the world by taking back the Congress.
Is it any wonder the media are doing their darnedest to figure out a way to undermine it or that Will is getting such a kick out of watching them try?