Wednesday, August 03, 2011

No Way for GOPers to Get Centered

On the whole, I think that the deal worked out this week between the White House and Congress to raise the national debt ceiling--really, the resolution of a hostage crisis cooked up by the GOP--was not a favorable one to Democrats. However, The New Republic’s Ed Kilgore finds a silver lining in it:
The big debt limit vote in Congress, it is increasingly obvious, is just an appetizer for the divisive, voter-alienating struggles it has built into the schedule at key points during the 2012 presidential campaign, making an eventual GOP presidential nominee’s efforts to “pivot to the center” an athletic feat, at best. And as Tea Party activists and other conservatives have made clear in their reactions to the deal just signed, their efforts to force everyone in the GOP to join in future hostage-taking exercises aimed at middle-class entitlements and other targets beloved of voters have just begun. ...

This rocky road ahead raises a very fundamental question about the long-range strategy of the Republican presidential nominee. It is often asserted that presidential candidates “play to the base” during contested primary contests and then “pivot to the center” once they are playing on the expanded field of a general election. This desideratum is more important these days for Republicans than for Democrats, since the GOP is without a doubt the more ideological of the two major parties ...

How much harder might the “pivot to the center” be for the 2012 GOP nominee, who will head up a party convinced its recommitment to conservative principles and its partisan militancy won the 2010 midterm elections and now has Democrats on the run? Moreover, in a year where the last cycle’s “true conservative” candidate Mitt Romney has moved significantly to the right but is now considered dangerously moderate, the distance such a “pivot” would have to span appears daunting, if not downright impossible.
You’ll find the whole of Kilgore’s essay here.

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