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The Weekly Standard Laments the Party of Hate Debate

November 29, 2007

Over at the conservative Weekly Standard, there is despair and consternation at the picture of the Republican Party presented at last night's CNN/YouTube debate. While one column feared the "vaguely threatening parade" of the assembled GOP White House hopefuls, editor and Fox News commentator Fred Barnes lamented a debate that was "mortifying to the candidates." Apparently, the truth is not setting them free. Because the Party of Hate Americans saw on stage last night wasn't a caricature, but the reality of what the GOP has become.
Barnes summarized his angst over the embarrassing Republican display last night:

My wife Barbara exclaimed, "This is humiliating. This is really bad." Of course she was right. And then things got worse. This debate not only was mortifying to the candidates. It also should have been embarrassing to the viewers, especially Republican voters who might have been watching.

His colleague went much further in decrying the image of today's GOP as immigrant-loathing, gun-toting, gay-bashing hatefest:

So, a good night for for the lowest denominator, a bad night for the GOP. America got to see a vaguely threatening parade of gun fetishists, flat worlders, Mars Explorers, Confederate flag lovers and zombie-eyed-Bible-wavers as well as various one issue activists hammering their pet causes.

Which is to say, Americans got to see the true face of the Republican Party.
As I wrote two weeks ago, the Republicans have devolved into the Party of Hate. With its evangelical base splintered and big business supporters jumping ship, the only message seemingly uniting Republicans is disdain - of immigrants, of blacks, of gay Americans and above all, Muslims.

Heading into 2008, the Republicans are saddled with a bad product. The current Republican brand combines an unpopular President George W. Bush, an unpopular war in Iraq and unpopular positions across the gamut of domestic issues, all tainted by the GOP epidemic of corruption. The face of the GOP is now neither Lincoln nor Reagan, but Bush, Libby, Delay, Abramoff, Cunningham, Ney, Stevens and Fletcher. The enduring image of the Party is not Bush in a flight suit, but a Most Wanted Poster. And now the people who brought you Abu Ghraib, Terri Schiavo and Hurricane Katrina can only offer $100-a-barrel oil, a housing crisis, a credit crunch and saber rattling with Iran.
Its privatization agenda dead, the GOP has morphed into the party of big government conservatism, massive deficits, self-defeating American unilaterlism, and, above all, fear. All that remains to unite the fractured Republican Party and its amen corner is hatred. Of immigrants. Of African-Americans. Of gay Americans. Of Muslims here and around the world. Bereft of ideas and increasingly rejected by the American people, the conservative movement's profound identity crisis leaves it certain of only one thing: hatred of the other.

That grim reality, of course, is not grist for the conservative mill in the aftermath of last night's debate. Instead, the Republican amen corner decries supposed plants in the CNN audience and asks "is this what running for president of the greatest democracy in the world has become?" As Fred Barnes put it:

"By my count, of the 30-plus questions, there were 6 on immigration, 3 on guns, 2 on abortion, 2 on gays, and one on whether the candidates believe every word in the Bible. These are exactly the issues, in the view of liberals and many in the media, on which Republicans look particularly unattractive."

The Party of Hate is unattractive, indeed. But not merely to "liberals and many in the media", but to more and more of the American people every day.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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