Establishment Republican Fantasies Of Fall 2012

Dreams of returning to glory in 2016 on a wave of . . . Jon Hunstman-mania? More common than you might think, Dear Reader – at least in some benighted quarters.

Here’s the Cliff Note version: Establishment Republicans (what’s left of them) tire of feigning allegiance to the Movement to escape cannibalization. So the dream begins with a Movement-Romney car wreck in 2012. To pave the way for radical moderation in 2016. Moderation of course is relative. But that’s marketing.

Does every dream star Huntsman? No. But he’s a convenient reference. A placeholder for full throated moderation unleashed. That he failed so completely in 2012 is a minor quibble.

Republican Fantasies Require Democrats Do The Heavy Lifting

This dream’s highlights? Obama and Democrats (note the distinction) do all the hard, dirty work: absorb Movement punches, tire them out and stagger to be last man standing in 2012. These dreaming Republicans lack the spine and commitment to take back their party the old fashioned way, on the ground, from local to state and federal levels, think tanks, etc. They’re actually more feckless than their rootless Democrat counterparts. Which says a lot.

You might well ask how a militantly moderate figure could ever navigate base-controlled primaries. Or whether 2012 failure might merely further radicalize the Movement, excusing failure with Romney as convenient scapegoat. Can militant Republican [sic] moderation survive in a Citizens United world?

You’re right to wonder. We’ve posed the same questions. Already, for example, Scott Walker in Wisconsin is calling for “Let Ryan Be Ryan” and to Ryan-ize Romney. The blame game goes both ways.

Dreamers answer that their money-shot (if you will) is 4 more years of political and economic stagnation. Obama’s just a nice guy but a flawed political figure. Leaving the door open for Americans desperate for seemingly practical, across-the-aisles solutions. From ‘a uniter, not a divider’. As dreamers get more excited telling this tale, they imagine [Hunstman/Jeb/Your Name Here] surging through the primaries riding a tidal wave of agreeability and common sense. USA! USA! But with BMWs and Volvos.

The Script Needs Work

Implausible? We agree with you. The Establishment Republicans sound so much like the Bourbons in exile. They’re essentially passive. Obama will stop the Movement now. Events, fate, Providence then will deliver circumstances in 2016 ripe for them.

Establishment Republicans themselves do nothing. As they have since 1993. These dreaming Republicans are like lilies in the field (per Ecclesiastes). Worse, they have no ideas of their own. In fact, to hear their laundry list of what Republicans should campaign on, it’s often Newt without Newt. Simply because those ideas are already out there – national prestige programs are the rage, like the Moon again for some reason. Their own version of Prague Spring – Newt with a ‘human face’.

Complicating matters? Both Biden and HRC already embody the marketing space these Republicans dream about. True, fatigue with Democrats in 2016 is a real possibility, and a referendum on a third Obama term tricky. Yet they and other national Democrats can actually practice politics now and then.

We enjoy reading La Noonan’s latest catty column on the Romney campaign. Or Kristol’s despair. Car wrecks command attention. Although the election’s still close. But the long game? For these dreamers, 2016 is no longer idle salad fork chatter but now with the main course.


  1. says

    Alex, pardon the delayed response. Not sure what to make of the lament at Protein Wisdom.

    On one level, we’d all agree probably the political blogosphere and the change to social media altered content, discourse and status for many . For good or for ill, the world changed since 2006.

    On the personal level, the post evoked a certain empathy. It always hurts in any endeavor to be left behind as one’s chosen field evolves. Here it was memories of a more collegial, less transactional blogosphere of old. In another circumstance, it could also be a once in demand musician finding the phone no longer ringing. Sometimes it’s simply age and demographics, sometimes a decision not to evolve with the times. For Protein Wisdom it might be both?

    On the other hand, to traffic in Rightist memes (however one tried to explain it away as ‘classic liberalism’) and not recognize the growing demand for meme fealty, simplicity and intensity over the years at best is unobservant. (See Red State). The post itself with its meandering content, invoking debate and complexity might explain why the author no longer is on the Rightist “A” list?
    DrLeoStrauss recently posted..Establishment Republican Fantasies Of Fall 2012

  2. hidflect says

    The invective between both sides is getting so rancorous I feel it should all be written in Copperplate Gothic font just to give it the correct historical perspective.

  3. says

    I know you are not a fan of Obama, which is neither here nor there, but those four years he buys the country are worth a lot. The worst Obama stagnation is better than four years of the disaster that Romney and GOP control of Congress would bring, which would likely start with another very destabilizing war in the Middle East and have every possibility this time of spiraling into a much larger conflict. If Obama keeps us out of Iran, that alone would be worth it.

    The prime demographic of the Fox bubble also ages four more years and the country’s general demographic shift creates an electorate ever less receptive to the movement conservative message. At some point, capital will again reassess its political strategy and determine that movement conservatism is no longer a wise investment (since it seems incapable of adapting to changes in the political landscape) or that it is time to attempt a high stakes coup (which would be very unlikely to succeed and even if it did would have a very high number of unintended consequences). Where capital decides to place its bet—or how precisely capital hedges its bets—is however difficult for me to predict.

    • Dr Leo Strauss says

      Am with you and your analysis. Agree that buying four years and preventing another unified Movement government a worthy goal. You’re right, too, that this outcome transcends the pros and cons of any particular persona.

      Your take on what those four years buy is also compelling, particularly the Fox demo and Generation Y, etc. Absent other developments, the Movement’s window of opportunity may well decline.

      On the other hand, stagnation itself represents potential for radicalization. And might well serve Movement political narratives going forward. To proactively anticipate and neutralize that possibility would require more political acumen and skill than Democrats have heretofore shown.

      Agree with you that a key question remains whither capital. As always, the question is their ROI. Given the re-distribution and transfer of wealth that’s already occurred, frankly placing chips on all sides to maintain a tectonic status quo also buys time. In the Athenian model, an Oligarchical Coup would be some time distant, after faux liberal democracy’s pretense demonstrably fails. We’re still living that illusion.

      Capital has never been so mobile. Possible that factions might well just skip the coup stage. Who wants the headache of actually being in charge? Listen to Michelle Rhee drone on about class room sizes?

      After all, where’s their loyalty? To a bunch of states they loathe and never visit on a map? Or to a lifestyle and membership in the Singapore Air Business Lounge? Who says America herself can’t be just another LBO with sweetheart exit deals?

    • Dr Leo Strauss says

      Alex, if only that were so. Given today’s environment, one could imagine a modern Roosevelt sending a SMS to Virginia boasting that his operation was a clear success, pointing out that thanks to him, 345 people in Benghazi “liked” a sham Facebook page. And turning their IP addresses over for follow-up email spam and AdSense merch placements.

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