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Friday, May 29, 2009
By Steven L. Taylor

Peggy Noonan’s column in today’s WSJ (Republicans, Let’s Play Grown-Up) well captures my general mood in regards to the Republican at the moment, both in terms of their general predicament as well as to the Sotomayor nomination in specific.

In regards to the general predicament:

Some, and they are idiots, look at Judge Sotomayor and say: attack, attack, kill. A conservative activist told the New York Times, “We need to brand her.” Another told me a fight is needed to excite the base.

Excite the base? How about excite a moderate, or interest an independent? How about gain the attention of people who aren’t already on your side?

The base is plenty excited already, as you know if you’ve ever read a comment thread on a conservative blog. Comment-thread conservatives, like their mirror-image warriors on the left (“Worst person in the woooorrrlllddd!”) are perpetually agitated, permanently enraged. They don’t need to be revved, they’re already revved. Newt Gingrich twitters that Judge Sotomayor is a racist. Does anyone believe that? He should rest his dancing thumbs, stop trying to position himself as the choice and voice of the base in 2012, and think.

Indeed.

While the example here is the nomination, the broader point is on target: enough, already with the perpetual outrage. Yes, I realize that there are plenty of folks on both sides of the aisle who are perpetually inflamed about something. However, it is my view (and I don’t think it is a controversial, or even contestable point) that such voices dominant the Republican Party/conservative movement these days.

Specific to the Sotomayor nomination:

The choice for Republicans isn’t between “attack” and “roll over.” It’s broader than that, and more interesting. There’s a new and fresh opportunity here for Republicans in the Senate to be serious, and, in their seriousness, to be seen and understood in a new light.

In fact, if the Republicans treat this as simply an opportunity to score some cheap political points, they have to understand that they are destined to lose, as barring an as yet unrevealed scandal, Sotomayor will be confirmed.

As such, Noonan correctly observes:

Republicans can be liberated by the fact that they’re outnumbered and likely about to lose. They can step back, breathe in, and use the Sotomayor confirmation hearings to perform a public service: Find out what the future justice thinks and why she thinks it, explain what they think and why they think it, look at the two different philosophies, if that’s what they are. Don’t make it sparring, make it thinking.

Don’t grill and grandstand, summon and inform. Show the respect that expresses equality and the equality that is an expression of respect. Ask and listen, get the logic, explain where you think it wrong. Fill the airwaves with thoughtful exchanges.

One can dream, yes?

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2 Responses to “On Playing Grown-up”

  1. Pierre Says:

    1. I agree that The Base doesn’t need to be further excited, but every time the pundits point out some awful thing Those Liberals are doing, a few of the base are motivated to write another check.

    2. Re: Noonan’s “There’s a new and fresh opportunity here for Republicans in the Senate to be serious, and, in their seriousness, to be seen and understood in a new light.” I’m not sure how many arch Republicans want to be seen as “serious”. To be measured and thoughtful is a liberal trait to them; therefore, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, etc. The humming you hear is William F. Buckley spinning in his grave.

  2. Mark L Says:

    The Democrats won control the last few years by 1) the Republicans overreaching on spending and internal corruption and 2) exciting the base with a lot of heated rhetoric (much of which on the war, Obama is now running away from due to practical considerations). The Republicans need to moderate for now, and excite the base when the Democrats start to overreach. If they excite the base for the sake of cash flow, they will alienate the moderates.


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