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October 18, 2005

Who are the Real RINOs?

“During the 18 years I served in the Senate, Republicans often disagreed with each other. But there was much that held us together. We believed in limited government, in keeping light the burden of taxation and regulation. We encouraged the private sector, so that a free economy might thrive. We believed that judges should interpret the law, not legislate. We were internationalists who supported an engaged foreign policy, a strong national defense and free trade. These were principles shared by virtually all Republicans. But in recent times, we Republicans have allowed this shared agenda to become secondary to the agenda of Christian conservatives. As a senator, I worried every day about the size of the federal deficit. I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage. Today it seems to be the other way around.” — John Danforth, moderate Republican and former U.S. Senator and ambassador.

Is this the turning of the tide? Is this the comment that finally strikes at the heart of the evangelical Christian camels who have infiltrated the Big Tent?

I've long placed the blame on Karl Rove for his master strategems and his overplaying of niche manipulation. He's the one whose campaign tricks have made the Christian Right feel that it is more central to Republicanism than it actually is. But I have not been willing up to this point to place blame on the President, primarily because of his righteousness on Iraq and the War on Terror. But I think I'm coming around to a more concrete sense that his agenda is less secular than it seems and that his steadfast refusal to veto any appropriations from Congress is a serious problem.

It's not so important that Republicans get their way as it is that the nation is run properly, and now is the time for all good Republicans to look to the health of the nation. Bush's domestic agenda has been crippled since birth with a singular inability to manage sprawling bureacracies with vision or discipline, and while neocons like myself have been searching the horizon for signs of progress, few things seem to have been going well domestically.

Since I fundamentally believe that life is like a crap sandwich (the more bread you have, the easier the crap goes down), I haven't sweated the domestic agenda. But I'm trying to think hard about what it is that GWBush has done for the country, as opposed to the national interest on the world stage, and I'm coming up blank. So I think that I am returning back to the kind of skepticism I had back in '03. The little things are starting to add up, starting with Plame.

GWBush may be the president that proves that if you don't mind bankrupting the country, there's little that America can't accomplish. Is that going to be the cost of putting AQ down? It better not be, and I see dark economic clouds on the horizon.

And while these economic worries are at the front of my concerns, I'm starting to think that perhaps this Miers nomination is more than it appears to be. The word today is that she's against all sorts of abortions. Whether or not it should be, it's going to be the handle on which her nomination swings and I can clearly see GWB running this nomination train straight into a brick wall.

So the question is whether this Bush understands where the soul of America is, and what kind of Christianity is the Christianity of this Christian nation. It's the Christianity of Christmas. The Christianity of Norman Rockwell and a moment of silence. It's the Christianity of the 'C' in YMCA. It's not the Evangelical Christianity of those awaiting the Rapture or those of the Chick tracts. It's not the Christianity of Operation Rescue, and like it or not, it is not the Christianity of political opportunity. So I have to ask very seriously if this president sees himself as the leader of the Republican Party or of a Born Again Nation, because a lot of us are not ready to blur the line between Church and State. Not for anyone under any circumstances. If it is faith that's calling the shots in the White House, then maybe we have to go back to pre-Kennedy skepticism.

I understand and respect that George W. Bush has a good heart. That's not enough. I understand and respect that he has his priorities in the right place, but he clearly is not managing effectively, and the shortcuts and favors he seems to be cutting for people is starting to smell to me like something other than incompetence. Bush has done everything I have needed him to do as President except resolve the Plame mystery. Now he's got to be on the defensive with me as regards the economy, his responsibility in pandering to a loud minority Christian sect, and the effectiveness of his domestic agencies.

Here's the score:

Homeland Security: D
Interior: C
Defense: B
Health & Human Services: Fail
Federal Reserve & Treasury: B+
Energy: C-
Transporation: Who?
State: B+
HUD: Who?
Education: C
Commerce: Who?
Iraq: B+
Trade Deficit: D
Veteran's Affairs: B
Agriculture: B

That's not good. It's adequate. But my priorities have not been domestic. Now I'm turning that way and it doesn't look good for this crop of Republicans. The more happy evangelicals are with their influence on the GOP, the less happy I am.

Posted by mbowen at October 18, 2005 11:56 AM

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Cobb on who's a RINO from rgcombs.blog-city.com
Cobb put up an interesting post on Tuesday (10/18) in which he redefined RINO (Republican in Name Only). He began with a quote from former Sen. John Danforth: ?During the 18 years I served in the Senate, Republicans often disagreed with each other. [Read More]

Tracked on October 22, 2005 10:45 AM


Why the B+ on the treasury, the B+ on the state and he B on Veteran's Affairs and Agriculture? He's treated Vets poorly, as you noted he's never vetoed a bill, and ignored homeland security.

Posted by: Lester Spence [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 18, 2005 05:31 PM

Incompetence. That's been my beef re Bush more than policy per se. There was ample evidence that this man is a bungler/bad planner-strategist. Arguably well-meaning and earnest, but still a slow-thinking bungler. Katrina was just the most recent example. But nooooo, y'all Republicans stood by him at vote time cuz....what, again?

Now you finally realize what cooler-headed liberals and republicans (god, including Bob Barr and O'Neill) knew: Kerry, supposed faults and all, was a much better choice for your presidency.

Posted by: memer [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 18, 2005 06:34 PM

Inflation is under control. Greenspan is pretty much blameless. Bush reversed himself on steel tariffs - he basically admitted that he got it wrong. Wall Street is doing well enough.

I like the way agriculture is going. We've held back the panic on Mad Cow and kept the beef folks happy and consumers safe. We have seen expansion in organic food supply and sales with a minimum of hassle from the Feds.

Rice was a good choice and is continuing Powell's legacy at state, and really when you think of it, there are no discernable punishments that the US has suffered because of Iraq. We're doing very well on AIDS in Africa.

I just talked to some folks associated with the VA and they were happy with Bush, no wait, that was the VFW. Hmmm Strike that.

Homeland Security is FUBAR.

Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 18, 2005 06:52 PM

I think, last time I heard you mention Plame it was "under your radar." (I've not been reading regularly, sorry, so it is possible I'm misremembering)

Why do you now suddenly care?

Do you now see what the rest of us saw all along, or the noise has just gotten too loud to ignore?

It sounds to me like you are (finally) waking up to this president's True Agenda. It isn't pretty.

Posted by: Okolo at October 18, 2005 08:26 PM

The president's domestic failure is failure. It is not a plan to undermine the dreams of people who dream.

This is about determining the extent to which the president's domestic agenda is all about placating evangelical christians. He gets the scrutiny because although I'm satisfied with his foreign policy, he has fallen short on bugetary matters. So now I'm going to take out a pound of flesh over Miers.

No way does this mean I suddenly see things the way every other critic of Bush sees him. Anyway it's not about Bush so much as it is about leadership in the Republican Party and who is leading it for what reasons. You ask me, I want Newt Gingrich back.

Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 18, 2005 08:36 PM

Part of what I meant but wasn't clear about is many of us have known (suspected) for a long time that he had an evangelical agenda. Not even that he was placating them, he is one of them.

If he truly is evangelical, and that influences both his domestic and foreign policy, do you see any reason to look at his foreign policy in a different light? Let's remember just who/what evangelicals are, many are anxiously awaiting the imminent return of Jesus. If his agenda (foreign or domestic) is guided by principles like that, should it matter?

If he's expecting the Book of Revelations to be fulfilled in his
lifetime, should I be worried about Armageddon and the fact that he has taken over what was once called Babylon? Do we know or should we care just how deep his beliefs go? Just how much does he believe (if at all) that Israel must be in the control of the Jews before Jesus can return? Or maybe he believes that the Temple in Jerusalem must be rebuilt to herald in Jesus.

Should this even be part of the discourse? Maybe not, but if he is that bad, then what? What if Iraq (Babylon) really is a Holy War? Hypothetically speaking, would you still support it then?

Posted by: Okolo at October 19, 2005 09:40 AM

I just realized, I could have/should have simply said:

So what if his foreign policy is also influenced by his evangelical views?


Posted by: Okolo at October 19, 2005 10:01 AM

Not in a million years. That's all PNAC. The neocon globalists aren't evangelicals.

Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 19, 2005 10:31 AM