by Matt Stoller, Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 12:53:51 PM EDT
This is an interesting video by Anklebitingpundits in which McCain goes to a house party in New Hampshire. I found his garden variety joking insults of the press fascinating, as the crowd tittered as McCain called the media 'Trotskyites' and 'media jerks'. That was the joke, that journalists are trotskyites and jerks. Weird.
The Stop Giuliani movement is starting, though it seems rather pathetic. Rudy's Really Liberal is launched, along with a conservative declaration of independence in which signees pledge not to support Rudy. There are fewer than 100 signatures, and only four inbound links.
Eyeon08 says that lobbyists love Romney, and his fundraising will come in fairly high (rivals are saying Romney could bring in $40M). And here's the deal with Fred Thompson:
The point here is that different people are behind these two movements. The insiders hate McCain, and many in the conservative grassroots won't stomach Rudy (and, perhaps Romney).
I think that in both of these cases, though, these people are prime targets for the Fred Thompson campaign. I'm still thinking about Thompson but will have something up soon about it.
My read on all of this is that the Republican coalition is splintering among various authoritarian groups. The nonsense that the right-wing base cares about social issues is coming to full fruition as Giuliani cleans up in the polls despite his embrace of gay rights, abortion, and cross-dressing. Romney partially represents the business and lobbying elites who want to keep the profits flowing, and McCain has his base among journalists and old establishment grasstops that owe him favors. The hunger for Fred Thompson or Newt Gingrich is a proxy for Ronald Reagan's legacy.
What Reagan did in 1981, as far as I can tell, is unite various authoritarian groups into a political coalition based on a hatred of liberalism and a fear of disempowered racial groups. These authoritarians all wanted different versions of authoritarian rule (gold bugs versus Christian dominionists), but standing in the way of all of them were the old GOP risk-averse moderates and liberal Democrats. Reagan welded a coalition of the risk-averse moderates and right-wing revolutionaries together into an uneasy balance. Gradually, the risk-averse moderates with links to mainstream America lost influence in the party, until George W. Bush stomped them into nothingness. And then Bush failed to institutionalize authoritarianism sufficiently in his time and screwed up Iraq, and so the groups are now all at war with each other to be put in charge of the party and finish what they think Reagan started.
These groups might want to bring back Reagan, but it's the Reaganite coalition that itself is now perceived of as a threat by the public. Reagan never lost a war, because he was checked by a Democratic Congress and moderate GOP elders. Bush, by following the interest groups that propelled Reagan to the White House but without any checks on his impulses, lost two.
And so the GOP frontrunner is a pro-choice and pro-gay rights cross-dressing New Yorker who says that he favored most of Clinton's policies. And the 'conservative' base thinks he's a rock star.