What a relief we all felt! After 8 years, George W. Bush had demonstrated that Republican policies led to the death of thousands in unnecessary wars and the collapse of our country's economy. The Republican brand had suffered the biggest blow one could imagine.
I remember thinking at the time - "I wonder how they will re-define themselves?" It didn't take long to find out that they weren't interested in re-defining...they just simply dug in deeper. First, there was Senator McConnell's "party of no." Then there was the summer of the unglued Tea Partiers at town hall meetings with their "death panels" and "keep your government hands off my Medicare."
Rather than re-think their positions, the Republicans decided to go with the energy of "the crazy." And that energy, combined with a slow economic recovery, got them a victory in the 2010 midterms.
Some in their ranks, like David Frum, tried to warn them.
I’ve been on a soapbox for months now about the harm that our overheated talk is doing to us. Yes it mobilizes supporters – but by mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead.
But no one seemed to be listening.
Now its time to pick a presidential candidate for 2012. Is it any wonder they're having trouble coming up with a credible candidate? A few months ago, Peter Beinart made this observation about what is going on with Republicans since 2008.
When parties lose power, activists ascribe the loss to the ideological impurity of their incumbent president. In so doing, they vent the frustrations they kept bottled up while their side was in power. Since defeat frees them from the messy business of governing, ideological purity suddenly becomes easier. And since defeat usually hits party moderates disproportionately hard, the opponents of purity usually hold less sway.
No one who has the slightest clue about what it means to actually win a national election and govern is going to step in to this mess right now. That's the reason their field of candidates is so weak. And its also why the only tactics they have left are to widen the racial divide and disenfranchise as many voters as possible.
Its also what makes this a great campaign ad for the Democrats.