Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice
With the election fast approaching, we're seeing the development of a curious new political trend: the Republican turncoat. In just the last week or so there have been some fervent and surprising cries of dissent from erstwhile GOP loyalists. 

A few examples:

* This morning, Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie praised the federal response to Hurricane Sandy. In an interview on NBC, Christie called Obama “outstanding” for expediting relief efforts. He also told MSNBC that Obama “deserves great credit... He gave me his number at the White House and told me to call him if I needed anything." He added that he doesn't "give a damn" about a photo op with Gov. Mitt Romney.

* Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice infuriated many of her fellow conservatives when she refused to criticize President Obama's response to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. “We don’t have all the pieces and I think it’s easy to try and jump to conclusions about what might have happened here,” she told Fox’s Greta Van Susteren. “It’s probably better to let the relevant bodies do their work.”

* Former Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, once considered a possible GOP vice-presidential contender, angered many Republicans when he said that Obama is "exactly the kind of leader" the country needs at this point in its history.

* Ben Stein, the actor and onetime speech writer for President Richard Nixon, shocked his fellow fiscal conservatives when on “Fox& Friends” he said that Mitt Romney's tax plan is not workable and that the wealthy need to pay a little more.

* And Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, a Republican and former assistant to Gen. Colin Powell, said Friday, "Let me just be candid. My party is full of racists. The real reason a considerable portion of my party wants President Obama out of the White House has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as commander-in-chief and president, and everything to do with the color of his skin."

Wilkerson's comment came in response to John Sununu, a chief adviser to Mitt Romney and former White House Chief of Staff under George H. W. Bush who suggested that Powell, who's still a registered Republican, endorsed President Obama for a second term because they are both black.

Powell said last week, "I think I'm a Republican of a more moderate mold - that's something of a dying breed I'm sorry to say."

Dying breed, indeed. This all looks a bit like a page from a Paddy Chayefsky screenplay. A growing number of Republicans are evidently mad as hell for the sharp right turn their party has taken and they're not gonna take it any more. 

Ric Epps, a political science professor at San Diego State University and a political analyst on Fox 5 San Diego and U-T TV, says this new group of Republican turncoats isn't surprising. 

"It shows there is clearly a philosophical divide within the party. The GOP is suffering from an identity crisis," says Epps. "Up to now, people like Colin Powell, Condi Rice and Ben Stein haven’t stood up for themselves. They've let the religious right and the Tea Party control the party's agenda. Moderates and traditional conservatives are simply saying that what they are seeing now in their party is not what it historically has stood for."

Observing the 2012 presidential campaign, I've concluded that many of the iconic Republicans of the past half-century who I admire so much wouldn't have even made it through the primaries this past year. They're all too, uh, liberal.

Ronald Reagan, for example, was a proud conservative, but lest we forget, he raised taxes 11 times, gave amnesty to more than one million undocumented workers, and seemed to genuinely like Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill and understood the power of reaching across the aisle. 

All three of those things would have put him out of favor with today's crop of Republicans.

Nixon, too, was far too progressive for this new breed of Republican. He supported the Clean Air Act and affirmative action, increased Social Security benefits, and proposed healthcare reform that would have required employers to buy health insurance for all their employees and subsidize those who couldn’t afford it.

Nixon also created the Environmental Protection Agency - the same agency that many Republicans now say should be slashed if not outright dismantled

Concludes Epps, “If most Republicans in 2012 looked at Nixon, Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, or Barry Goldwater, all of whom were fiscally conservative but socially responsible and didn’t bring religion into politics, they would see them as turncoats, too."


  1. As a lifetime Republican who changed her party about mid-way into Bush 2's first four years, it's been a horror to see the Grand Old Party lose it's mind. What a delight to see some people with integrity tell the truth instead of just knuuckling under to get "their guy" elected. Apparently they concur that they don't WANT their guy this time around! How refreshing!

  2. I think Colin Powell is unwilling to run due to his selling America on the Iraq War. He's mentioned it in several interviews. I wish he'd get over that mistake because the Republicans haven't fielded a real contender in years. Colin Powell is a real contender, a tried and tested leader who can lead the Republican party out of the rut they've mired in for years.

  3. Well, I think you're trying to prove a point and it may seem plausible. But I don't think it's appropriate to bring old figures and guess how they'd be seen today. It lacks accuracy because those were different times and those GOP personalities acted within the reality of their time. After the end of the Cold War, being the US the only superpower in Earth, there's no longer a race to become the most advanced and powerful country in the world, so the politics have changed drastically. Now it's an internal race between the rich an powerful, and people pursuing social justice. In that sense, I believe it's more accurate to say that the transformation in politics most probably would have affected those past GOP personalities and they would've ended lining up with the current GOP views and trends. Great article nevertheless!

  4. Thanks for the comments, all of you.

  5. David C. ClevelandOctober 31, 2012 at 7:38 AM

    Jamie, I was a life long Republican until I felt lied to by the Bush 2 white house on starting and not funding the Iraq war and the search from WMD. I am not an independent and probably prouder to be an American because of it. The current behavior of the Republican party towards its goals was demonstrated to me at the University of Northern Iowa in a communications class where we had a mock congress of sorts. I was the majority leader and worked with the other side to achieve a compromise. I was chastised as that not considered appropriate to that professor even in that time. The 'right' way was to force your issues, refuse to compromise, and let the other side grovel but still never give in. So 30 years ago the cut throat politics of today were growing seeds in a native liberal arts university. It never sat right with me, and until recently, was not the norm.
    I have much more respect for Colin Powell, Chris Christie and others that can look at the president and praise the things he does right while maintaining positions on other topics that they don't agree with vs. what we are seeing now where agreement on anything is a sign of weakness and betrayel. This does not bode well for America. If the republicans win the White house next week, it will be interesting to see if the democrats will employ the same block at all costs the presidents agenda, as my old professor would suggest, or whether they take the 'higher' road.

    1. Fascinating, David. Thanks for your thoughtful reply. It will be very interesting indeed to see what happens if Obama is re-elected OR if Gov. Romney wins. Either way, one has to wonder: will anything get done in Washington?