Founded by Drew Pearson 1932
Republicans from Oz
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
WASHINGTON – The Tin Man has no heart. The Straw Man has no brain. The Cowardly Lion has no courage. And as if to prove reality truly is stranger than fiction, a group of politicians have been vying to play these parts. The coveted roles have gone to:
Tin Man: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., who ran as the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee espousing the economic platform he designed that would undermine social safety net programs, what Winston Churchill called spreading “a net on the abyss.” Even Republican President George W. Bush, an avowed compassionate conservative, took issue with Ryan on the subjects of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Straw Man: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., edged out Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., all of whom advocated the shutdown of government unless President Obama caved in to blackmail: the dismantling or delay of existing law, the Affordable Care Act. Because such demands had no chance of success, the reality was that they simply and brainlessly were advocating anarchy.
The Cowardly Lion: Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, is the unchallenged choice. He follows; he does not lead. When recently asked at a press conference, “Do you care more about your job than your country,” he did not answer. Boehner consistently does the bidding of Tea Party Republicans while surreptitiously signaling that he disagrees with their shut-down-the-government agenda.
Put together, these men from Oz have placed the GOP in jeopardy as the party without a heart, a brain, or courage. The progressive wing of the party, known as Rockefeller Republicans after former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller of New York, has all but vanished. In the Senate, only Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, remains. The battle now is between mainstream and Tea Party elements.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has emerged as the mainstream leader, unequivocally staking out his position by dubbing Sen. Cruz a “Whacko Bird.” Famous for his on-again off-again maverickism, McCain was asked by his friend then-Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to be his running mate on the 2004 Democratic presidential ticket only to become the Republican presidential standard bearer in 2008 and picking Tea Party favorite, Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska., as his running mate. Nonetheless, McCain today is the face of Republican mainstreamism that promotes fiscal conservatism while accepting social safety nets and an understanding that politics is the art of compromise.
When Congress was populated with World War II veterans, patriotism and cooperation were the watchwords as exemplified by the enduring friendship of Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., and the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, both severely wounded veterans. It is that bond shared by McCain, who was wounded and held captive in North Vietnam, that so contributes to camaraderie, respect, and good governance, though, clearly, combat experience is not the only pathway to such attributes.
So the battle is on. Will the Republican Party belong to the McCains and Doles or to the Republicans from Oz? If it is the latter, the party will probably go the way of the Whigs as more and more Republicans shed themselves of the label and call themselves conservatives or Independents or, eventually, an entirely new third party. Perhaps, remembering their George Washington, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton roots, they will reincarnate the Federalist Party.
© 2013 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND