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sage distillation of gop in 2007 September 21, 2007

Posted by KG in 2008 Elections, politics.
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kurt anderson in nymag:

As everyone knows, the Republican Party has spiraled into disrepute. A whopping 20 percent of Americans have swung from positive to negative on the GOP in just three years, leaving pretty much only hard-core partisans in the clubhouse/bunker. It’s Iraq, of course—but not just Iraq. The GOP’s remarkable success at presidential politics the past 40 years has been a function of its “daddy party” image—happy to exercise military power abroad, unaccommodating of misbehavior and hard-luck stories at home, penny-pinching, can-do— in contrast to the Democrats’ “mommy party” M.O. of naïveté, mollycoddling, and profligacy. And the Republicans’ only shot at electing a president next year really does depend on pushing that old trope. Ken Duberstein, the Reagan chief of staff turned lobbyist and board whore (Boeing, Fannie Mae, etc.), insisted the other day that “the Republican Party continues to be the ‘daddy party.’ ”

But that is beginning to sound wishful. In fact, if the Democrats don’t blow it, 2008 could be the election that finishes off the pro-GOP salience of the tough-daddy-soft-mommy paradigm. Because the Republicans are being rapidly rebranded as a party of men who exemplify the least attractive, most pathetic aspects of the gender—they are the stubborn, arrogant, lazy, incompetent (Iraq, Katrina), hypocritical, crude, nasty fathers, Homer Simpson crossed with Tony Soprano, the kind of men who snarl and posture as old-fashioned patresfamilias but don’t come through when and where it counts. The GOP is becoming the deadbeat-daddy party.

Theirs is also the party of moral righteousness in which the Reverend Ted Haggard, Congressman Mark Foley, and Senators David Vitter and Larry Craig were all, only a year ago, leading lights. And consider the personal backgrounds of the top Republican presidential contenders, who seem more mack daddy than Father Knows Best. Rudy Giuliani contrived to annul his fourteen-year-long first marriage to his cousin, then publicly cheated on his second wife, and now, having married his mistress, has alienated both his children. Notoriously alley-catting Fred Thompson impregnated the mother of his children in high school and then married a babelicious, 24-years-younger second wife—and, lacking much (manly, paternal) taste for hard work, has by all accounts let the wives push him along in politics. It’s ironic, and a bit awkward, that the only GOP candidate who’s had just one wife, Mitt Romney, is the Mormon great-grandson of polygamists.

Although Hillary still has her swinger husband to worry about, she and he are still married, and indeed the three leading Democratic candidates, by comparison to most of the Republicans, are the very pictures of traditional family values—even-keeled, good providers, long marriages to just one spouse, children who evidently like them. They each ooze competence and seriousness. And indeed their party, when it has run the executive branch, has proved itself to be fiscally prudent and disciplined, the better-governing parents: Of the last seven administrations, the two with the smallest growth in federal spending were the Democratic ones, Clinton’s and Carter’s. And the biggest spendthrift? The current one.

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