David Brooks is the purportedly conservative Times columnist who is
sufficiently table-trained to appear on PBS without causing too much
liberal apoplexy. Tuesday he showed why he is one of the liberal’s favorite "conservatives," with another spiteful
attack on Tea Party type Republicans. In July 2011 he notoriously accused Tea Party sympathizers of having "no sense of moral
decency," which received fulsome praise from such staunch conservatives
as Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
In his Tuesday column, “The Possum Republicans” (because they “slip into an involuntary coma every time they’re challenged aggressively from the right”) Brooks lamented how moderate Republicans must “swing sharply to the right" to mollify "Republicans on the extreme," who favor things like Sarah Palin and Arizona's "beyond-the-fringe immigration law."
...it is worth pointing out that this behavior is not entirely honorable. It’s not honorable to adjust your true nature in order to win re-election. It’s not honorable to kowtow to the extremes so you can preserve your political career.
But, of course, this is exactly what has been happening in the Republican Party for the past half century. Over these decades, one pattern has been constant: Wingers fight to take over the party, mainstream Republicans bob and weave to keep their seats.
As opposed to left-wing Democrats, who have never tried to push their party further to the left?
Republicans on the extreme ferociously attack their fellow party
members. Those in the middle backpedal to avoid conflict. Republicans on
the extreme are willing to lose elections in order to promote their
principles. Those in the mainstream are quick to fudge their principles
if it will help them get a short-term win.
All across the nation, there are mainstream Republicans lamenting how
the party has grown more and more insular, more and more rigid. This
year, they have an excellent chance to defeat President Obama, yet the
wingers have trashed the party’s reputation by swinging from one
embarrassing and unelectable option to the next: Bachmann, Trump, Cain,
Perry, Gingrich, Santorum.
But where have these party leaders been over the past five years, when
all the forces that distort the G.O.P. were metastasizing? Where were
they during the rise of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck? Where were they when
Arizona passed its beyond-the-fringe immigration law? Where were they
in the summer of 2011 when the House Republicans rejected even the
possibility of budget compromise? They were lying low, hoping the
unpleasantness would pass.
Brooks dropped his sociological sophistication completely to get embarrassingly maudlin at the end:
First they went after the Rockefeller Republicans, but I was not a Rockefeller Republican. Then they went after the compassionate conservatives, but I was not a compassionate conservative. Then they went after the mainstream conservatives, and there was no one left to speak for me.