The Two T’s

THE TWO T’S….The New York Time reports today on Karl Rove’s strategy for the midterm elections. Unsurprisingly, it’s the same as his strategy in 2002 and 2004:

Mr. Rove…has settled on a narrow strategy to try to minimize Congressional losses while tending to Mr. Bush?s political strength. The White House will reprise the two T?s of its successful campaign strategy since 2002: terrorism and turnout.

This is why I think it’s curious to hear Brad DeLong say this about the Republican Party: “I do think that there is hope that they will come to their senses and that building pragmatic technocratic policy coalitions from the center outward will be possible and is our best chance.”

I’d like to believe that too, but there’s just no evidence of it. Over the past 30 years the Republican Party has gone from Gerald Ford to Ronald Reagan to Newt Gingrich to Dick Cheney ? i.e., from conservative to reactionary to crazy to batshit insane ? and Rove’s “two T’s” are further evidence that they have no intention of rowing this back. They’re obviously getting more desperate in the face of possible electoral defeat this November, but other than that they’re just doubling down on the same old strategy of cultural bloodletting in the service of economic plutocracy.

For all the talk of Joe Lieberman being “purged” from the Democratic Party last month, that was a one-off deal. It’s the Republican Party that’s been steadily (but relentlessly) purging moderates for the past couple of decades, swearing electoral death on anyone who refuses to accept Grover Norquist’s screwball economic ideas. The result is that there’s virtually no one left in the party who can be described as a moderate, and the party’s continued existence depends wholly on nurturing the most radical elements of its base and then radicalizing them even further.

That’s not a strategy Democrats should emulate, but at the same time it certainly doesn’t bode well for the prospect of the Republican leadership coming to its senses and building pragmatic technocratic policy coalitions from the center outward. I think the party’s leaders know perfectly well that if they were to pause their project of radicalizing the conservative base for even a short while, the party would literally implode.

Then again, maybe I haven’t thought about it hard enough. Perhaps centrist Republicanism is poised and ready for a comeback. Maybe.