It is almost trite to trot out the quote "those who forget history are doomed to repeat it." But I think it perfectly apropos as regards today's race for the Republican nomination for President.
What in the hell is wrong with the supposedly conservative pundit class? Their memory seems selective indeed, as they apparently have wholly forgotten WHY Ronald Reagan popularized the 11th Commandment:
"Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican."The need for the 11th Commandment arose after the Republican party cannibalized itself in 1964, with vociferous demonization by many Republican's on their own eventual nominee, Barry Goldwater. Indeed, "Nelson Rockefeller labeled Goldwater an "extremist" for his conservative positions and declared him unfit to hold office." The attacks had a profound, and likely decisive effect. Goldwater lost to Lyndon Johnson, who then proceeded to put the welfare state on steroids with his "Great Society" program.
In subsequent years, the Republican Party began to do it again, this time to Reagan when he ran for governor of California. In his 1990 autobiography An American Life, Reagan explained that:.
. . . the personal attacks against me during the primary finally became so heavy that the state Republican chairman, Gaylord Parkinson, postulated what he called the Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican. It's a rule I followed during that campaign and have ever since.Yet what we are seeing today seems a replay of 1964 all over again. Indeed, Dafydd at Big Lizards asked about a week ago, "Can somebody please explain to me why conservative bloggers are transcendentally driven to kill and eat their own candidates?" Apparently it is due to a recessive gene in Republican DNA. Jennifer Rubin has given a good portion of her columns over to savaging Newt Gingrich. Ramesh Ponnuru and Brian Bolduc at NRO and the ever mercurial Ann Coulter have all written hit pieces on Gingrich that have all the context and intellectual honesty of a rant from Alan Grayson. Then there is George Will who seems to be on LSD. According to him, the election of either Romney or, in particular, Gingrich will mean the end of conservatism - oh, and apparently, he has referred to Rush Limbaugh as a Marxist. With crap like this from the Republican attack machine, the Independents may well be driven into Obama's arms before the general election campaign even begins.
Several pundits have weighed in on the issue of which candidate they prefer thoughtfully and respectfully - Krauthammer (Romney) and John Hawkins (Gingrich) come to mind. And it is reasonable indeed to delve deeply into the character and background of all the candidates. Indeed, that is what Republican primary voters need to see and hear. But that is a far cry from what we are seeing in the demagougic and out of context, vicious attacks emanating from much of the right wing punditry. Indeed, as Rush said in his monologue today:
It's like clockwork. It's becoming predictable. I don't care who it is, a Republican presidential candidate breaks out of the pack, gets close to Romney -- or even surpasses Romney in polling data in certain states -- and the Republican establishment goes after him. Today there is a coordinated -- well, I don't know that it's coordinated, but it sure appears to be. Regardless, no matter where you look in the Republican establishment media today, there looks to be a coordinated attack on Mr. Newt. I'm not gonna mention any names because you know when I do, all I do is elevate these people and the names don't matter here.
. . . So I'm just gonna tell you, there are -- count 'em, one, two, three, four -- there are five, not counting whatever's happened on television, there are five hit pieces on Newt Gingrich today that come from Republican establishment conservative media. It's amazing.
. . . I want to call these people and say, "Let me ask you a question. When this is all over, who would you rather have --" and, by the way, none of this is to defend Newt. I don't want to be misunderstood on this, folks. None of this is to defend. I mean this is pure, 100% commentary right now. But I feel like calling some of these people, . . . I would say, "Do you really at the end of the day prefer Obama to Newt? 'Cause that's what you're gonna bring off here if you keep this up."