David Horowitz, perhaps best known for having come out of the Sixties with a renewed appreciation for the Fifties, has floated a few yards ahead of the other thrashing bodies in the Sea of Punditry with a statement which, to me at least, says more about the upcoming election than any of the other verbal flotsam you're likely to see. Writing in Salon, Horowitz asserts that the Republican Party's constant paying of obeisance to its fringe members, whether to seek their support or simply to shut them up, does more harm than good to the party's stated goals. He minces no words:

"The intolerance manifested by the Republican fringe is costing the Republican Party its natural majority. In the last few years, Americans have accepted Republican principles on welfare, balanced budgets, law and order, personal accountability and most of the other reforms that have made up the Republican agenda for a quarter of a century. All that blocks Republicans from gaining the electoral majority their principles have earned them is the image of intolerance that moralists like [Alan] Keyes are constantly burnishing for them."

We may never know whether John McCain really took this to heart or not, but he certainly acts like it. Right before the Virginia primary — and in Virginia Beach, Pat Robertson's home turf, no less — McCain blasted Robertson and Jerry Falwell as "agents of intolerance", and said that opponent George W. Bush, who has cozied up to the Christian right wing, would almost certainly lose to Al Gore if he got the nomination. The inclusion of Falwell puzzles me, since he hasn't been particularly outspoken on political matters lately, but McCain definitely has Robertson pegged. And by any reasonable standard, this is an amazingly gutsy move; it's impossible to imagine, say, Al Gore telling the AFL-CIO to go pound sand.

And this explains a great deal about why Bush has been whining so about all those horrid Independents and depraved Democrats who keep crossing party lines to vote for McCain. Dubya, spoiled brat that he is, asserts it's just to hurt him, but as usual, he can't see the puppeteer for the strings. David Horowitz called this one correctly: If the Republicans are ever to become the majority party in this country, they're going to have to act like a majority, and not like a coalition of schemers drawn to one another for the purpose of mutually scamming the public like a bunch of latter-day, er, Democrats.

The Vent

#187
1 March 2000

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