Frank Rich joins the roster of columnists who are considering whether the Republican Party is defining itself into irrelevance with the narrowness of its views. Even sympathetic David Broder said there's some justification to believe this. Arkansas, as usual, goes against the flow, showing this year an affinity for core Republican doctrine -- pro-white, anti-gay, anti-abortion. Writes Rich:
The G.O.P. ran out of steam and ideas well before George W. Bush took office and Tom DeLay ran amok, and it is now more representative of 20th-century South Africa during apartheid than 21st-century America. The proof is in the vanilla pudding. When David Letterman said that the 10 G.O.P. presidential candidates at an early debate looked like “guys waiting to tee off at a restricted country club,” he was the first to correctly call the election.
And then there's the "WildWordsmith of Wasilla," the great hope of the GOP faithful because, well, she's not a white man. Aren't appearances enough to fool voters, as when Bush brought in break dancers and gospel singers to the otherwise nearly monochromatic 2000 convention?
At the risk of being so reviled, let me point out that in the marathon of Palin interviews last week, the single most revealing exchange had nothing to do with her wardrobe or the “jerks” (as she called them) around McCain. It came instead when Wolf Blitzer of CNN asked for some substance by inviting her to suggest “one or two ideas” that Republicans might have to offer. “Well, a lot of Republican governors have really good ideas for our nation,” she responded, without specifying anything except that “it’s all about free enterprise and respecting equality.” Well, yes, but surely there’s some actual new initiative worth mentioning, Blitzer followed up. “Gah!” replied the G.O.P.’s future. “Nothing specific right now!”
The good news for Democrats is a post-election Gallup poll finding that while only 45 percent of Americans want to see Palin have a national political future (and 52 percent of Americans do not), 76 percent of Republicans say bring her on. The bad news for Democrats is that these are the exact circumstances that can make Obama cocky and Democrats sloppy. The worse news for the country is that at a time of genuine national peril we actually do need an opposition party that is not brain-dead.
If you haven't seen it, you should read Dick Cavett's comment on Palin, the most shared article on the Times website this weekend.