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Is the Far Right Shooting the G.O.P. in the Foot?

Peggy Noonan, columnist for the conservative Wall Street journal and one time primary speechwriter and special assistant to Ronald Reagan said today on ‘Meet the Press” that Rick Perry’s recent comments made her wince. Noonan said that Perry, like other Republicans in the 2012 presidential sweepstakes, read Michele Bachmann and possibly Sarah Palin, presently have a persona problem in that they can’t tone down their rhetoric to the point that moderate voters find them appealing. Judging from the fact that independent voters have decided the last three elections, that’s a real problem for the Republican Party going forward. Financial commentator Maria Bartoromo appearing on the same program pointed out that even on Wall Street, a bastion of conservative sentiment, that people have grown tired of comments such as those made by Rick Perry since he has entered the 2012 race. Likewise Maria Cardonna of CNN opined: “(Perry) announced his candidacy on Saturday and has since campaigned like an angry bull cornered by a Matador. . . . This approach may help win him the nomination, but it also will help lose him the White House. . . . The firebrand technique may endear him to the tea party faithful, but it will alienate him from the critical voting bloc made up of sensible, rational, moderate, mainstream independent and even Republican voters put off by the extreme right-wing factions of their party.” Frank Bruni of the New York Times labeled Perry’s comments “general-election arsenic”: “And thus did a candidate who appeared so fearsome on the horizon — and who, for now, rides high in polls — come to look somewhat frizzier and patchier in the barnyard upon closer inspection. . . . Perry and Michele Bachmann, with their particular evangelical fervor, frighten many Republicans as much as they do Democrats and could be general-election arsenic.”

But it’s not just the pundits on political television that are pointing out the potentially destructive farce and folly of comments like those of Rick Perry. Conservatives with established bona fides like Karl Rove, John Podhoretz, Ed Morrissey, Ron Paul, Michael Gerson and others are pointing out the same thing. To wit; Karl Rove: “You don’t accuse the chairman of the federal reserve of being a traitor to his country. Of being guilty of treason. . . . And, suggesting that we treat him pretty ugly in Texas. You know, that is not, again a presidential statement.” John Podhoretz: “What Perry did was make a thoughtless blunder, an unforced error; we’re now going to spend a couple of days discussing whether he was summoning violence on Ben Bernanke’s head or not, which is of absolutely no use to Perry. … This was a serious rookie mistake on the national stage.” Ed Morrissey: “Perry needs to learn a lesson from this experience. It’s good to offer red meat to the base, but it’s bad to let yourself get caught up in the feeding frenzy.” Ron Paul: “Now they have this other governor, I can’t remember his name . . . . He realizes that talking about the Fed is good, too. But I’ll tell you what, he makes me sound like a moderate. I have never once said Bernanke has committed treason.” Michael Gerson: “I think the unfortunate context here is that that’s the importation of language that’s used on the Internet, used on talk radio, used in book titles. We have titles like “Treason.”… that type of language has been imported in the Republican primary process. I agree that it’s a long-term problem. I don’t think that it’s necessarily a short-term political problem in Iowa and other places.”

The bottom line in all of this is that the Republican Party has got to come to terms with its fatal attraction to the Tea Party. It must decide whether or not it wants to become the party of political extremism or a conservative party that can offer some semblance of an alternative to the Democrats and it must come to this conclusion in short order as the 2012 political season is now underway and gaining steam all the time. What all of this hot rhetoric on the right does is to reframe the 2012 presidential debate from whether or not the “hope and change” of 2008 is to be rejected to whether the fear of electing a right-wing radical is just too great a risk for the American people to take. That fear would thereby make the reelection of Barack Obama the safer course to follow.

S.J. Gulitti
8/21/11

Sources:

Meet the Press; http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032608/

Talking Points: Rick Perry’s political land mine; http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/article/1041905–rick-perry-s-political-land-mine

Perry Made ‘Rookie Mistake’ With Bernanke Comments; http://www.newser.com/story/125973/perry-made-rookie-mistake-with-bernanke-comments.html

Marcus and Gerson on GOP Candidates’ Language, Presidential Vacations; http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics/july-dec11/mandg_08-19.html

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SJGulitti

SJGulitti

I am a resident of N.Y.C., and a political independent. I hold two college degrees: SUNY Buffalo (BA) and University of Illinois (MA) as well as a Professional Certificate from NYU. I am a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve where I am still serving as a reserve commissioned Warrant Officer. I am member of the International Labor Communications Association, a member of the Iron Workers Union and a sometimes- freelance writer that has been published in some minor and professional venues.

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