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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Republican tonic

At National Journal, Jonathan Rauch thinks John McCain is a good antidote to the Bush strategy of focusing on the "base." Excerpt:
So McCain offers Republicans hope of a revitalized center, a connection to independents, a productive presidency, improved fiscal credibility, improved moral credibility, a restored constitutional balance, a firm instead of flimsy war on jihadism, and a way forward on immigration. You have to look back to Reagan to find such a serendipitous match between the man and the moment.
Peter Wehner at National Review has some rejoinders here and here, including this:
Between 2000 and 2004 President Bush not only mobilized his base, he demonstrated remarkable appeal to groups who do not usually vote Republican.
I think what's remarkable actually is how party identification shifted toward the Democrats after 2002, reversing a trend of decades.

Wehner does acknowledge something went wrong in 2006, and says:
I would add that among the chief reasons the GOP lost in the 2006 congressional elections was it was viewed as not being conservative enough on spending issues (thereby undermining the Rauch thesis, which is that Republicans “swung too far to the right”).
I think it's somewhat different from that. I think voters started perceiving "the right" as Tom DeLay saying "we've pared [the government] down pretty good," and also fighting to intervene in the Terry Schiavo case. I think people have started seeing smaller government as really a centrist cause, contrary to what Republican "moderation" meant in Nelson Rockefeller's time.

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