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Mulling over what Dick Armey had to say over at Gandelman's blog and Ali Bubba's response, I get the feeling I so often have when I'm looking at political analysis - the feeling that these people are having a "Blind Man and the Elephant" moment, seeing a part of the big picture but not grasping the whole critter. Bubba's correct about Armey playing the loyal soldier, obeying the 11th Commandment and not giving Bob Dole the beating he deserves for selling the Republican House down the river in the 1995 government closure battle, but I think he's dead wrong in reading an anti-Religious Right message into what Armey has to say, much less taking that particular message and reinterpreting it as a stick to beat Catholic Republicans with.

Much of the dissatisfaction the base has with the GOP Congress can be traced to the wishy-washy moderates in the Senate who have refused to back the more conservative House caucus on just about every issue of importance to the base: immigration, border security, tax reform, you name it, the GOP Senate majority has ducked and weaved and sought a bipartisan comity that far too often just doesn't exist. The reason for that is that the GOP Senate caucus just isn't as conservative as the House caucus. Thanks to gerrymandering by both parties over the years, Congressmen tend to represent more extreme factions within each party because their districts are drawn to maximize the number of loyalist voters in their district, regardless of what party holds that district. Senators, in contrast, are elected at large within a state, and if they're too extreme they can't get elected unless the opposing candidate is really weak. So in the House you get radicals like Tom Tancredo, but the same state sends Wayne Allard and Ken Salazar, neither of them known as any kind of firebrand, to the Senate.
This suggests to me that there's no real cure for the problem unless you can throw out the RINOs and replace them with somebody more conservative but electable, as was tried with Arlen Specter a couple of years ago when Pat Toomey ran against him in the GOP primary. Unfortunately, as Ali Bubba said, Mehlman and Rove stuck their noses in and supported the incumbent, who narrowly beat back the challenge. Specter went on to show his gratitude by being his usual PITA self when it came to helping out W in the Senate, which is another illustration of the principle that no good deed goes unpunished, especially in politics.

Bubba's slam on the Catholics for getting Congress involved in the Schiavo mess, though, is a cheap shot, and unworthy of him. Conservative Catholics are a big part of the "Reagan Democrat" bloc that switched sides in the 1980s from the New Left McGovernite Democrats to the Republicans, and for the most part they've stayed loyal to the GOP. Their reasons for doing so were pretty much the same as the evangelicals - we got tired of having the Feds tell us what to do with our kids, our schools, and our hospitals, and got tired of having pro-life candidates rejected out of hand by the Democrats. This isn't to say that there aren't liberal Catholics who vote Democrat, but there are a heck of a lot of us who vote Republican. Is it that unreasonable that we, like a lot of other groups in the Repubilcan party, might call in our markers and get all up in our Congressmens' grills about something that we felt was important? I'm not even going to discuss Bubba's ignorance of how the hierarchy works WRT politics here (short version: it doesn't, and for very good historical reasons) exept to say if you're going to talk smack about people and their church you ought to learn something about it so you can back up the talk with some knowledge.


Maybe, just maybe, the remaining GOP Senators will learn a lesson from these last two largely wasted years and quit being a bunch of obstructive fucks if they remain in the majority. Otherwise it's going to be a long two years until 2008.





*My parents were early converts, switching in 1968 to vote for Nixon over Humphrey, but then they were both career military and could see the way things were going in the Democratic party. Besides, we Trainors are honest soldiers: we stay bought. ;)