Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Post Reaganites

The Moose observes that houses divided against themselves cannot stand.

The White House and the House of Representatives are at war with each other. So much so that Dennis Hastert stood with William Jefferson rather than Alberto Gonzales.

The immediate complaint was Executive Branch over-reach. But the conflict goes far deeper than that. It is also about the treatment of Porter Goss, the Dubai deal, big spending and immigration.

But the problem is even more profound than that.

The deeper cause of the split between the While House and the House is that the latter feel that they are being condescended to. The House Republicans sense that the elitists at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue view them as a bunch of right wing, nativist yahoos.

And these "yokels" intend to teach the patricians at the White House a lesson. Moreover, the House Republicans have as their potent allies in the entire network of conservative talk radio who are raging against the "elitist" inside-the-beltway machine.

The talk among House Republicans is that they plan to go their own way this November. Comprehensive immigration reform is a non-starter with them. The wingers in the House could care less about the political fate of their own President. Even Karl Rove cannot persuade them otherwise.

This is a deeply ironic moment. This White House once thrived on the politics of pandering to the base. Now, they are being devastated by it.

This is a lesson for the Democrats, as well.

The truth is that the anti-immigration House Republicans are post-Reaganites. Unlike the Gipper, they express a crabby, narrow version of conservatism that is the polar opposite of the sunny optimism of Reagan. Consider these eloquent remarks that President Reagan delivered at the re-opening of the Statue of Liberty in 1986,

"We sometimes forget that even those who came here first to settle the new land were also strangers. I've spoken before of the tiny Arabella, a ship at anchor just off the Massachusetts coast. A little group of Puritans huddled on the deck. And then John Winthrop, who would later become the first Governor of Massachusetts, reminded his fellow Puritans there on that tiny deck that they must keep faith with their God, that the eyes of all the world were upon them, and that they must not forsake the mission that God had sent them on, and they must be a light unto the nations of all the world -- a shining city upon a hill.

"Call it mysticism if you will, I have always believed there was some divine providence that placed this great land here between the two great oceans, to be found by a special kind of people from every corner of the world, who had a special love for freedom and a special courage that enabled them to leave their own land, leave their friends and their countrymen, and come to this new and strange land to build a New World of peace and freedom and hope."

Our country could benefit from a revival of Reaganite conservatism in the GOP and JFK progressivsm in the Democratic Party.
-- Posted at 6:17 AM | Link to this post | Email this post