In Newsweek, Bush Aide Says GOP Suffers from 'Bolshevik Fervor'
Why is it that the Stan Evans Rule of Washington seems to apply to the liberal media? That rule is "by the time we get a conservative in there, he’s no longer a conservative"? Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson is touted as the author of the January 28 Newsweek cover story on "How My Party Lost Its Way," but Gerson has to compare the GOP to the Communists. How distasteful. Here it is:
In this cycle, many Republicans seem led to support their candidate by process of elimination – "I guess I could live with X." At the same time, many Republicans seem led to oppose candidates passionately – "The nomination of X would end Western civilization." This is a factionalism of Bolshevik fervor, and it is a bad sign. Parties that prefer purity to victory – a la Goldwater and McGovern – usually lose. At this moment, Republicans look like the party that wants to lose the most.
If were picking which conservative could represent us in Newsweek, conservatives would now find it hard to say "I guess I could live with Michael Gerson." These same Republican voters that are now being muddied with comparison to the Bolsheviks for their obsession with "purity" voted easily for Gerson’s man George W. Bush in the last two elections, despite his lack of such purity. At the very least, Gerson might have the manners not to dismiss the voters who gave him his cozy place of profit and prominence as a bunch of bloody-minded Soviet commissars.
Surely, liberal Newsweek editor Jon Meacham loved every word of this piece, especially the claim that major GOP donors are thinking of going Obama.
You could easily argue that voters who prize ideological perfection to other qualities that might make a Republican candidate electable – charm, rhetorical fluency, an ability to build trust – could be making a mistake. But Gerson is writing that conservatives should be championing everything George W. Bush did to expand the federal government, and the fact that these achievements are contrary to their vision of a freer future is beside the point:
Though all Republicans share a belief in federalism and limited government, a simplistic, exclusive emphasis on those themes serves only to confirm the worst Republican stereotypes. What does it profit Fred Thompson to criticize President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, arguing that we should focus on "problems here"? What is the benefit when candidates turn against the No Child Left Behind Act, which has succeeded in improving minority test scores? Why attack a Medicare prescription drug care plan that has been implemented smoothly and is wildly popular among the elderly? In all these cases, why not defend achievements instead of abandoning compelling issues?
Gerson writes that Republicans need to find "compelling conservative and free-market policies that appeal to the concerns of young people, Hispanics and an anxious middle class." That sounds fine. But creating new runaway Medicare entitlements and expanding federal education spending aren’t "free-market policies."
Gerson is demanding that conservatives surrender in an arm-waving attempt to avoid "the worst Republican stereotypes." But the worst Republican stereotypes were the me-too Republicans of the liberal 1960s and 1970s who not only didn't win the Congress -- they weren't in any way persuading the public to embrace conservatism.