The toe-sucker tells the Stupid Party to drop the Christian right

The toe-sucker tells the Stupid Party to drop the Christian right

Dick Morris, the paragon of morality, the Clinton mercenary, advises the GOP to give two taps behind the ear to its Christian supporters. Seems the man once known as the toe-sucker and the guy on the other end of the line from Bill and Monica (don’t ask), thinks the GOP ought to say “thankee” to the Christian right and then dump them like yesterday’s underwear. You see, it’s no longer convenient to be saddled with their embarrassing insistence on morals and all that pleasure-killing talk, because Arnold Schwarzenegger has proven that liberal Republicans can win big elections.

Of course, it’s not as simple as all that; the California recall hardly being a good indicator of a normal election.

In any case, those icky Christians are dragging down the GOP, says Morris, causing the double-digit gender gap. I guess in Dick’s world, all Christians are men and all women are pro-abortion. Why would anyone listen to this guy who’s willing to turn a political trick for whichever political party waves a twenty in his direction? But what do you expect from a mercenary? High principles? Actually believing in what you say you stand for? No, it’s doing whatever takes to win, because winning and the power you win is the only thing, baby.

Thanks, but no thanks, Dickie. And I hope GWB tells you the same thing.

  • Well, the problem with Morris’ analysis is not that it is wrong, exactly, but rather that it is parochial. It’s an accurate description of the political realities of California, a liberal-leaning state with a large racial-minority population. But generalizations nationwide or elsewhere just can’t be drawn from it. William F. Buckley says he votes “for the rightmost viable candidate,” and the question of viability is a prudential judgment based on local factors. I’ll accept Arnold Schwarzenegger as the best governor I might be able to get in California; I would not say the same in Texas. Arnold would only be the most-rightward viable candidate in about 10 or 12 other states in the union. Obviously, a pro-life conservative Republican will have an awkward time winning in California, but let’s not pretend that progressive Democrats don’t face the mirror-image problem. Southern Democrats *who win* are not Ted Kennedy. Legislative and gubernatorial races depend quite a lot on the dynamics of the individual and the details of the state. Pennsylvania has two Republicans in the Senate (one is even the chamber’s leading pro-life voice); Arkansas and Louisiana have four Democrats; only one of the seven states north of Pennsylvania now has a Democratic governor; all the Southern states have had a Democratic governor for at least a time in the past decade … I could go on forever.

    As for the presidency, Dubya won without California by overwhelmingly winning the South and West. As Richard Nixon put it, you can’t win the presidency without conservatives, but you can’t win it *only* with them.

  • Victor,

    I have a quibble with at least one of your points. It has been acknowledged that McClintock could have won the recall had Arnold not been in the race. In other words, it does not take a quisling moderate to win as a Republican in California.

    The problem is that no one thinks in terms of voter education. Political strategists think of voters as static in their views. But remember how Reagan was able to reach out to people who were not his natural constituency and convince them to support him and his policies.

    Clinton did it too by convincing a certain segment of voters that he was not a liberal. In fact, today liberal is a dirty word that no politician wants to wear; they’re moderates now. There’s a reason for that, but conservatives don’t get it.

    The right conservative with the right message communicated effectively can win without having to compromise on the basic principles of conservatism. And I believe he can win even in the most liberal regions. He may not win San Francisco, but he can win California. He may not win Cambridge, but—yes—I think he can win Massachusetts.

  • Dom:

    How has been acknowledged that McClintock could have won the recall had Arnold not been in the race? I am unaware of such evidence, although I’d be happy to see it if you can cite it.

    I’m surmising it could only be a poll, but I’m not sure how salient it could be for two reasons: First of all, with no Arnold, the dynamics of the race would have differed. McClintock would not get the free pass he did from the Davis slime machine, and those attacks would acquire a different focus (as a right-wing kook, which worked before). Second of all, we actually *have* the 2002 election to compare it, in which Republicans, in a pretty similar environment, the same voter pool, against the same unappealing candidate with high negatives, ran a conservative candidate. But we lost in a generally good year for Republican candidates nationwide.

    One is obviously entitled to hope (and your hopes and mine are probably similar, Dom), but I would have more optimism if there were *one* pro-life, pro-family conservative Republican in statewide elective office in California. Herschensohn? Simon? Fine candidates, but they didn’t win. If there were recent success, I agree it would make sense to look at that candidate’s particular qualities. Or Massachusetts for that matter; the present Republican governor is of the “personally opposed, but …” school of abortion, and a bit of a wet on guns and homosexuality; though good (at least rhetorically, my memory tells me) on other conservative issues like school choice.

    As for your other point, obviously you’re right that candidates can educate and persuade voters, and there are limits to the kind of “what if” punditry we’re both engaging in. Things change obviously and never predictably, and candidates are often the ones to make them change. Who knows what could happen if in California there were a charismatic, intelligent optimistic Hispanic (someone like Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal maybe)—faithful to church teachings on social issues, strong on color-blind assimilation (no MEChA), not tied to big money and serious about effective social welfare, and with the right sense of style? Obviously he could realign California’s politics (your examples of Reagan and Clinton are spot-on), but such politicians truly are rare. Most of the time, politics *does* follow a predictable pattern, and it’s better to take a half-loaf likely winner than a full-loaf likely loser.

  • Victor,

    I wish I could remember where I saw the evidence cited for McClintock’s strength, but I can’t. It might have been National Review.

    In any case, I agree with your other points. But I wonder if the conservative candidates who get put forward in these elections are really the cream of the crop. Perhaps the really smart ones don’t put themselves in elections in which they know they’re going to get trashed and so ineffective conservatives candidates like Simon get pushed to the fore.

    I am left wondering, like you, what we could do with a truly dynamic, charismatic conservative. I think Bobby Jindal does bear some watching.