Joe Scarborough took some time away from his job as the ill-fitting fig leaf over MSNBC’s naked Democrat Party advocacy to write some book, an excerpt of which ran in today’s Parade Magazine under the title “Joe Scarborough: How I Would Fix the Republican Party,” and it’s about as squishtastic as you’d expect.
He starts out with some pro forma Tea Party bashing (“amateurs,” “ideologically extreme”) in making the point that we maybe could have won the Senate in 2010 with some better candidates, but then starts talking about his opposition to a 1996 Colin Powell presidential campaign that never materialized anyway:
I spoke out against the possibility of Colin Powell’s presidential candidacy in 1996 because his political moderation was so off-putting to me. The thought that he could be the standard-bearer of my Republican Party was offensive. But watching the retired general on Meet the Press in recent years has made me understand why Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush drafted him to a be a critical player in their administrations. In retrospect I realize how much better the GOP would have fared against Bill Clinton in 1996 if I had not let my hopes for a conservative stalwart get in the way of our best hope to beat Clinton.
Right, because in foregoing a “moderate” (more on that in a moment) like Powell, we ended up with that extremist right wing firebrand…Bob Dole.
What really galls me about this, though, is that Scarborough’s squishy mea culpa misses the point: that he was actually right all along. Colin Powell may still nominally be a Republican, and Scarborough is correct that he’s surely no conservative, but he’s not a moderate, either. Powell is a liberal, and while that’s his prerogative, I don’t think it serves anybody to pretend otherwise. He voted for Obama in 2008 and fucking endorsed him in the last election over that other knuckledragging, just-to-the-right-of-Albert-Speer conservative…Mitt Romney.
Scarborough claims that Republicans (and he really means conservatives here) “kick moderates like General Powell out of the party’s mainstream and drive them into the arms of the Democratic Party every four years,” but let’s be honest here–In an election between Obama and Colin Powell, Colin Powell probably would have been too conservative for Colin Powell.
He closes his piece by invoking Reagan and makes some noise about “fighting for the core principles of conservatism and emphasizing values that most Americans agree with” before saying that sometimes we’ll have to use “principled pragmatism” like Reagan sometimes did too. The difference, as I see it, is that someone like Reagan started out from a credibly conservative position and knew when to be pragmatic when he absolutely had to. When “pragmatism” is your default position at best and a handy excuse to stab your base in the back at worst, what’s the point of getting into the Big Tent, anyway?
An additional thought:
Maybe it’s just because I don’t pay much attention to intra-party stuff like this on the other side, but it sure as hell seems to me like we conservatives are the only ones who get hectored about this coalition-building business on a regular basis. When was the last time you heard, for example, anybody telling the Democrats with a straight face that they had to pay more than lip service to moderating their stance on one of their core issues like, say, abortion on demand? Yeah.