Frank Rich: Earth to GOP, the Gipper is dead
"While 10 white, middle-aged Republicans spoke glowingly at the recent debate about the lasting legacy of of former president Ronald Reagan, their party continues to crumble under the weight of the Bush Administration," Frank Rich writes this week in his Sunday New York Times column.
"Much as the Republicans hope that the Gipper can still be a panacea for all their political ills, so they want to believe that if only President Bush would just go away and take his rock-bottom approval rating and equally unpopular war with him, all of their problems would be solved," writes Rich. "But it could be argued that the Iraq fiasco, disastrous to American interests as it is, actually masks the magnitude of the destruction this presidency has visited both on the country in general and the GOP in particular."
"By my rough, conservative calculation -- feel free to add -- there have been corruption, incompetence, and contracting or cronyism scandals in these Cabinet departments: Defense, Education, Justice, Interior, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development."
In his column, Rich looks back on the optimism with which Bush and Karl Rove into the White House, noting that his fellow Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that "We may say a final, welcome goodbye to the wedge issues that have divided Americans by race, ethnicity and religious conviction."
Tracing the continuing decline of the Republican party, Rich points out that "the pressing matters that the public cares passionately about -- Iraq, health care, the environment and energy independence -- belong for now to the Democrats."
Exerpts from Rich's column:
Wrongdoing of this magnitude does not happen by accident, but it is not necessarily instigated by a Watergate-style criminal conspiracy. When corruption is this pervasive, it can also be a by-product of a governing philosophy. That's the case here. That Bush-Rove style of governance, the common denominator of all the administration scandals, is the Frankenstein creature that stalks the GOP as it faces 2008. It has become the Republican brand and will remain so, even after this president goes, until courageous Republicans disown it and eradicate it.
We've certainly come a long way from that 2000 Philadelphia convention, with its dream of forging an inclusive, long-lasting GOP majority. Instead of break dancers and a black Republican congressman (there are none now), we've had YouTube classics like Rove's impersonation of a rapper at a Washington journalists' banquet and George Allen's "macaca" meltdown. Simultaneously, the once-reliable evangelical base is starting to drift as some of its leaders join the battle against global warming and others recognize that they've been played for fools on "family values" by the GOP establishment that covered up for Mark Foley.
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