Quote of the day--facing the true face edition

>> Thursday, May 26, 2011

And that is why, in my view, we cannot ignore Gingrich even if his campaign is doomed to fail. His campaign, with all of its narcissism, mendacity, intellectual incoherence, and duplicity is the Republican Party in its purest, least adulterated form. By looking at Gingrich we are not avoiding how the Republicans will choose their issues, or even their candidate: we are looking at their methods, ideology, goals, and tactics in their ultimate nature.

-Jonathan Zasloff, "Why Gingrich Matters",
The Reality-Based Community, May 20th, 2011
(emphasis in original)

Pretty much. Partisanship, underhanded political tactics, extreme rhetoric and so on and so forth aren't new and in fact go back to the beginnings of the Republic, and this makes it hard to put a finger on why the current political climate in America seems so toxic and has seemed that way for such a very, very long time. I mean, any time you point to something specific, it's usually not too hard to find something equivalent or even worse occurring some time in the course of the last two-centuries-and-change. (Members of Congress insulting each other on the floor--at least nobody clubbed anyone else almost-to-death with a walking stick, right?)

But I think maybe Zasloff is onto something. What has changed is the sense that one side in particular isn't playing in good faith, isn't serious, is willing to respond to a national tragedy with blackmail threats, even, if it counts as "winning" even an inch in some battle that's pretty much incidental to, well, probably just about everyone else's concerns over the country's prosperity. What happened to politicians zinging each other and then rolling up their sleeves to effect some sort of actual compromise in which both sides give up something and both sides gain something? When you think about it, doesn't it seem like that sense of being in it together started to dissolve around the same time Representative Newt Gingrich was playing chicken with the Federal budget in the '90s?

No, Zasloff is, unfortunately, right that we can't just ignore Newt Gingrich. Whether Zasloff is right that Gingrich more-or-less invented the modern GOP or whether Gingrich is merely the embodiment of the Republican Party's sins (their attic portrait, perhaps?), he's the face of the GOP today. He sure as hell ain't Eisenhower, anyway.

(H/t Digby.)


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