Two weeks ago, I said that a profound split in the Republican Party would become apparent on November 5 if John McCain lost. Turns out the pros aren’t waiting for the death certificate to fight over the corpse.
With despair rising even among many of John McCain’s own advisors, influential Republicans inside and outside his campaign are engaged in an intense round of blame-casting and rear-covering—-much of it virtually conceding that an Election Day rout is likely.
A McCain interview published Thursday in the Washington Times sparked the latest and most nasty round of Washington finger-pointing, with senior GOP hands close to President Bush and top congressional aides denouncing the candidate for what they said was an unfocused message and poorly executed campaign.
What is emerging is a group of Palinistas gathered around Bill Kristol and The Weekly Standard and the two kings of Right Wing Radio–Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. They believe the future of the Republican Party is in the way Palin can work up a crowd of The Base. Their theory is to return the early days of minority guerrila war when Newt Gingrich was a backbencher and Rush was just getting started. They will launch a permanent campaign against Obama in the same way they ran a permanent anti-Clinton operation.
The other group are what is left of The Right of Ideas–David Brooks, Peggy Noonan, Chris Hitchens, Bruce Bartlett, Chris Buckley, David Frum. They are horrified by Palin and have all publicly denounced her. Many of them have endorsed Obama. They believe the Republican Party has to change to deal with the glaring facts of the inequality of American Life in the 21st Century. (going to write a lot more about this report tomorrow).
Ideologically Brooks and Co. are supported by the business part of the Republican Party (U.S. Chamber of Commerce) that is throwing Millions into Senate Republican racesand wants nothing to do with the Brownshirt Palinistas. If McCain and Palin get blown out running such a hard right fear campaign, they will both be permanently damaged, and the true minority representation of the rednecks will be revealed. But this won’t stop Limbaugh and Kristol from pushing her hard (run for Senator?) to the center of their cultural conservative party. The only question is–will it be the Republican Party or a new third party?