Sunday, March 06, 2005


I've been pretty vitriolic towards Christine Todd Whitman in my blog postings lately. I think I have good reason: Her depiction of herself as a moderate voice of reason who can lead the Republican party to a sustained majority in the electorate masks the fact that for at least the past 25 years, she and other so-called Republican moderates have been willing to stand ally themselves with the more vicious voices in the party in order to win elections. Now that the far-right "social conservatives" have been emboldened to the point where they suggest that Ms. Whitman and others of her ilk have no place in Republican-land, Ms. Whitman is whining that people need to listen to her, that she represents the true values of the party.
I stand behind what I have said about Ms. Whitman. But I want to make it clear that she is far from a lone voice of hypocrisy within the Republican party. Others who have walked -- and continue to walk -- this shameful walk include:
  • Colin Powell
    Rudolph Giuliani
  • George Pataki
  • Olympia Snowe
  • Susan Collins
  • Lincoln Chafee
  • John McCain
I'm leaving out Arnold Schwarzenegger because I think he is something more insidious: A far-right wing nut masking himself as a moderate. The people I have named above are, I believe, truly moderate, but they commit a grave error when they retain their loyalty to a party that since 1980 has left them behind, that has adopted platform after platform that make it clear they have no interest in moderation.
These people are enablers. Their presence in the party allows the conservatives to put forward a face of reason (remember last summer's ugly performances at the Republican convention?) and enables them to win the votes of people who would be seriously disturbed by the party's real positions on issues such as abortion, equal rights for women, and Social Security.
Whitman, Powell and McCain have been publicly humiliated by the Bush/Cheney administration, which has rejected their every attempt to inject a note of reason into political life. And yet all three of them swallowed any convictions they might have and worked to re-elect this sorry regime.
In some ways, this moderate crew is worse than the Santorums and the Frists. At least the latter group is open and honest about their opposition to democracy as we know it.
And while I think it is important to work to defeat villains like Santorum at the polls in 2006, I think it might be equally productive to campaign hard against the Snowes and McCains: After all, if these guys could be elected, would their states really be reluctant to send to Congress some people who would restore the Democratic party's majority?
I know a lot of people believe that the Republican moderates protect us from the party's extreme. To them I say: Name one time we've benefitted from their moderation. Seems to me they vote along party lines in almost every case. What good does their personal moderation do us?
Just thinking out loud here. Tell me where I'm going wrong.