by Max Brantley
It ought to make interesting reading.
Already, you have Condi Rice saying "mixed messages" from Republicans on women and immigrants harmed the party. David Frum said Republicans "have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex." (Fox News, anyone?) Rick Santorum and Marco Rubio both say Republicans need to reach (non-Cuban) Hispanics.
None of this searching for a putative Republican soul would be necessary if all of the United States was like Arkansas. Here, the majority despises President Obama and a smaller, but real, majority despises providing health care to poor people. Arkansans elected extremist Republicans to congressional seats. Arkansans turned the legislature over, if barely, to the Republican Party. The Republicans triumphed with a rigid platform that disrespected women and immigrants and honored wealth, just like the party's evangelical and financial base desires. The party leaders demonstrate every intent of delivering that agenda in the coming legislative session, even if it means wrecking hospitals and clinics all across the state.
Could you believe there are still Republicans like new Sen.
Mike Alan Clark who told the Democrat-Gazette yesterday that he still believes Medicaid expansion is a cafeteria plan that will allow the Republican state legislature to choose small parts of federal law he wants to obey? It's not 1957, fellows. That scaled-back Medicaid idea was a nice campaign fib to feed to those who might think universal health care is a good thing. But now the Republican majority must govern. And if Medicaid expansion is refused, it means more than the loss of services for 250,000 more Arkansas citizens. It also means a loss of money that could cut the existing Medicaid shortfall. That means the legislature will have to come up with $350 million a year to support the existing Medicaid program, either by an increase in taxes or a reduction in services (and the jobs of those who provide the services). It's not brain surgery. It's arithmetic. Again.
Thank goodness the balance of the U.S. is not Arkansas.
The Civil War metaphor is really apt, isn't it? A changed majority is pitted against a South determined to resist down to the last mule and sidearm. And I do mean sidearms.
UPDATE: Note that anti-immigrant Sean Hannity suddenly is "evolving" on immigration. Republicans want those Latino votes. No evolution on black people just yet. Will evolution reach Arkansas? Since evolution hasn't reached Arkansas science classrooms lo these many decades after Scopes, it seems hard to believe.