Rush Limbaugh announced this week that he was stepping down as the “titular head” of the Republican Party. He passed the torch to General Colin Powell.
The passing of the titular torch was symbolic. Whereas the old titular head is a conservative talk show host who staunchly holds conservative core principles, the new titular head is a moderate who endorsed Barack Obama and probably voted for him. So a man who leans so far liberal as to endorse Obama and enthuse about his “fresh ideas” now stands for the new Republican Party.
Rush responded to Colin Powell’s assertion that there’s a “new Republican Party”:
The version of the party that he’s waiting to emerge is not the Reagan wing of the party. Does Powell have the pulse of the Republican Party, folks? He’s for more spending. He’s for higher taxes. He’s against raising the social issues. He’s for affirmative action. He’s for amnesty for illegals. He endorsed Obama.
And now there’s an agenda — an emerging agenda — that he’s waiting for the Republican Party? The only thing emerging here is Colin Powell’s ego. Colin Powell represents the stale, the old, the worn-out GOP that never won anything. The party of Gerald Ford, Nelson Rockefeller, Bill Scranton, Arnold Schwarzenegger and those types of people. Has anybody heard Colin Powell say a single word against Obama’s radicalism — or Pelosi or Reid, for that matter? Maybe he has but his fawning media sure hasn’t reported if he has said it.
Rush makes a good point about the media. I watched a mash-up last night where the host of every newscast on all the major media outlets asked every talking head the same tired question: “Is Rush a good face of the Republican Party?” Wonder when the same hosts will ask the moderate and liberal Republicans experts: “Is Colin Powell a good face for the Republican Party?” Like John McCain, it’s assumed he is a good face for the party because he’s just like them. Well, he’s just like them until someone more like them runs for office — say, Barack Obama.
And anyway, the point may be moot. Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s star is rising, according to CNN, and he may well become the real new titular head of the Republican Party.
The contrast on Thursday couldn’t have been more striking. President Obama gave a speech on national security (text here). He blamed the Bush administration because it “veered off course.” Meanwhile, his actions turn out to be much the same. He says he’s against “enhanced interrogation” while he keeps the Guantanamo prison open. In fact, the Senate in a rare moment of solidarity voted against the funding requested to close Guantanamo. The Times puts it this way:
Unease about the lack of a clear policy on the treatment, status and eventual destination of terror suspects has left Democrats in retreat. They have also been embarrassed by allegations that Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, had been told about harsh interrogations, although she later claimed that the CIA lied to Congress over waterboarding.
So President Obama promised to close Guantanamo but didn’t quite think through how this would be accomplished. Details. Details. Cheney notes the obvious:
On his second day in office, President Obama announced that he was closing the detention facility at Guantanamo. This step came with little deliberation and no plan. Now the president says some of these terrorists should be brought to American soil for trial in our court system. Others, he says, will be shipped to third countries. But so far, the United States has had little luck getting other countries to take hardened terrorists. So what happens then? Attorney General Holder and others have admitted that the United States will be compelled to accept a number of the terrorists here, in the homeland, and it has even been suggested U.S. taxpayer dollars will be used to support them. On this one, I find myself in complete agreement with many in the president’s own party. Unsure how to explain to their constituents why terrorists might soon be relocating into their states, these Democrats chose instead to strip funding for such a move out of the most recent war supplemental.
It is more than a little amusing that HuffPo reporter Nico Pitney compares and contrasts the speeches calling the president’s speech “serious and wide-ranging” (read: boring and vague) with Cheney’s “vicious and personal” (read: plain-spoken and factual) speech.
President Obama’s moderate rhetoric hides his liberalism. Colin Powell and other moderates like John McCain and Florida’s Charlie Crist all share the same moderate rhetoric that obscures the same liberal leanings. If the new “titular head” of the Republican party is Colin Powell, there will continue to be little reason to vote Republican.
Vice President Dick Cheney’s star rises because he offers a contrast. Republicans win because they’re smart, sensible, and stick to their guns. Waffling, emotional, vague and empty platitudes win elections for Democrats. When Republicans act like Democrats, they lose. Let’s hope Colin Powell doesn’t hold the titular head mantel for long.