Sunday, January 29, 2012

Those Fine Young GOP Cannibals

We have witnessed something very disturbing this week. The Republican establishment which fought Ronald Reagan in the 1970s and which continues to fight the grassroots Tea Party movement today has adopted the tactics of the left in using the media and the politics of personal destruction to attack an opponent.
Sarah Palin, "Cannibals in GOP Establishment Employ Tactics of the Left", 27 January 2012
You know what I so like about Sarah? He completely comical disregard for any facts, starting the the very first paragraph of her of her nearly 1,400 word turgid screed she "penned" on her Facebook page. Since we're talking about facts, let's talk a few facts about Ronald Reagan, especially around the 1970's when he allegedly fought against the heinous Republican establishment.
  1. 1964 - Ronald Reagan campaigns for Barry Goldwater, releasing his "Time for Choosing" speech which raised $1 million for the Goldwater campaign and launched his political career in California. This is the year that Sara Palin is born. I'm 10 years old at the time.
  2. 1967 - Regan is elected to his first term as governor of California, defeating two-term incumbent Edmond G. "Pat" Brown. Sara Palin is three, and I'm 13.
  3. 1968 - Reagan joins the "Stop Nixon" movement within the Republican party in an effort stop Nixon from being nominated in Miami that year. Nixon winds up with 625 delegate votes, 25 more than he needed and thus dominating the convention. Nelson Rockefeller comes in second, and Reagan comes in third. Nixon goes on to win the 1968 election for his first term as president. Sarah is now 4 and I'm an elderly 14, old enough to really start paying attention to politics in a staunch Republican household.
  4. 1969 - While governor of California, Reagan sends in the California Highway Patrol to quell anti-Vietnam war protesters at UC Berkeley. The incident becomes known as "Bloody Thursday", resulting in one student death and one injury. This triggers further actions from Reagan, who calls out 2,200 National Guard troops to occupy Berkeley for two weeks to further crack down on the protesters. Sarah is now 5. I'm 15, and old enough where the actions in Berkeley resonated strongly with my sense of right and wrong. While I felt the protests were wrong, I felt what happened at Berkeley to the protesters were far worse. I didn't realize it at the time but that event started my eventual break with the Republican party.
  5. 1970 - Reagan is elected to a second term as governor of California. He will serve until 1974, then step down, refusing to run for a third term. Sarah is now 6, and I'm 16.
  6. 1972 - Nixon is re-elected for a second term as president, defeating Eugene McCarthy in one of the largest landslide elections in American history. Sarah is now 8, and I'm 18, and attending college as a freshman.
  7. 1973 - First Watergate, then the Oil Crisis, rock the nation. Between the revelations of misconduct printed in the Washington Post and the gasoline price controls and rationing, as well as the 1973 stock market crash, life isn't all the pleasant, especially for a 19-year-old college sophomore who has to commute to college and to a part time job. Sarah is now 9. Oh. One more news item. Spiro Agnew resigns as vice president over criminal charges of tax evasion. Agnew is replaced by Gerald Ford.
  8. 1974 - Nixon resigns as president rather than face impeachment over Watergate. Gerald Ford, who replaced vice president Spiro Agnew less than a year before, become president. Sarah is now 10, and I turn a nearly ancient 20.
  9. 1976 - Reagan runs against presidential incumbent Gerald Ford as the Republican candidate. Reagan would eventually loose, in the process damaging Republican solidarity. That loss of solidarity, along with the public's anger of Ford's pardoning of Richard Nixon, helped sweep Jimmy Carter into the office of president. Sara is 12, and I'm in my early twenties, and a fully fledged independent. I actually vote for Ford because as a Georgia native I'd seen what Carter did as governor, and I was not impressed.
  10. 1980 - Reagan campaigns for president against a Republican field that includes George H. W. Bush (the intelligent Bush). During the campaign Bush labels Reagan's economic plan as "voodoo economics". That criticism magically disappears when Reagan is nominated and Bush is selected as Reagan's vice presidential candidate. Reagan goes on to win the election, again by a wide margin, over Jimmy Carter. This is the last election I vote for a Republican.
Reagan didn't fight against the Republican establishment so much as with factions within the Republican establishment. By the time Reagan started running for president he was already well established, having become a Republican in 1950, 17 years before he ran for governor, and 18 years before his first run for the presidency. During that time he'd endorsed Eisenhower in the 1950s and Nixon for his presidential run in 1960 against John F. Kennedy. He was a classic staunch California Republican who helped to shape Republican thinking throughout the party (both for better and for worse). He was as much an insider and part of the establishment as anybody else, and to say he was fighting the establishment is to say he was fighting himself.

Reagan's march to the White House were classic American politics, where he built a base of support and executed a long-term vision, key attributes every successful presidential candidate has, attributes that Palin has absolutely no clue of whatsoever.

And as far as the "politics of personal destruction to attack an opponent" are concerned, there is no politician more adept at playing that game than Gingrich himself, who honed those skills while attacking then-president Bill Clinton, along with everybody else on the right. Skills that have been used with great abandon by right-wing talk show hosts. The Republican party now eats its own with great gusto because the Republican party, especially with the Tea Party, has driven away the intelligent, thoughtful moderate members who put country before personal gain. A concept that Palin herself can't begin to fathom, as she quit her job as governor of Alaska to pursue a highly lucrative book and Fox-paid talk show career.

The Grand Old Party isn't so grand anymore. It's devolved into the Party of Know Nothing and the Party of Grand Hypocrisy, the Party of Win At Any Cost.

The Eleventh Commandment: Thou shall not speak ill of any fellow Republican.
Gaylord Parkinson, 1966, used by Reagan during his 1966 campaign for governor of California

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