The discontent of the GOP elder statesmen

I wrote a couple of items this week about the dearth of grown-ups in the Republican Party, but in fairness, I should note that GOP adults exist. They’re just not in Congress.

For example, former Sen. Pete Domenici, a New Mexico Republican, is so frustrated with his party’s tactics on the debt ceiling, he’s created a “truth squad” with members of the H.W. Bush administration in the hopes of explaining reality to congressional Republicans.

“The debt’s coming due, and they say it isn’t coming due,” Domenici said in a recent interview. “They’re wrong.”

He expressed frustration that his party may be willing to let the debt limit be ruptured. “Who do we get?” he asked. “Bring God down, Christ” to make the case against doing so? […]

The current standoff, he added, “is absolutely beyond my comprehension.”

Former Sen. Alan Simpson, a Wyoming Republican, reflected this week on his party’s refusal to even consider additional revenue as part of a debt-reduction deal.

“We’re at 15 percent revenue, and historically it’s been closer to 20 percent,” says Simpson. “We’ve never had a war without a tax, and now we’ve got two,” he says. “Absolute bullshit.”

Of course, it’s not just the debt talks. I often think about a quote from former Sen. John Danforth, a Missouri Republican, who served with Simpson and Domenici in the Senate. Last year, he expressed some concern about the direction of his party.

“If Dick Lugar,” Danforth said, “having served five terms in the U.S. Senate and being the most respected person in the Senate and the leading authority on foreign policy, is seriously challenged by anybody in the Republican Party, we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption.”

Lugar, the Indiana Republican, is facing a serious primary challenger, and may very well lose.

At what point can the GOP’s old guard agree that the party really has gone so far overboard that it’s beyond redemption?