The Republican Menagerie
You can't read a political analysis of presidential politics in the Republican Party without tripping over the denizens of the zoo. In no particular order, you have RINOS, Libertarians, Fiscal Conservatives, Social Conservatives, Foreign Policy Hawks, Isolationists, NeoCons, Tea Party Republicans, Establishment Republicans, Moderate Republicans, Reagan Republicans, Rockefeller Republicans, Free Market Capitalists, CINOS (Capitalists in name only), anti-FED Republicans, Gold Standard Republicans, Crony Capital Conservatives (CCCs), and Constitutional Conservatives. There is the spectrum from pro-life from conception to Kevorkian Euthanasists (aka total birth abortionists). Gingrich calls himself a populist conservative. I have no clue what that could possibly mean. No doubt, I've left many others out.
Other than anti-FED, pro-gold and pro-lifers, the criteria are hopelessly ambiguous. The recent spectacle of self-serving attacks on Bain Capital has badly muddied the economic waters. Criticism of honest tax returns has been sheer madness. Fidelity to the Constitution begs the question of what that means. How far back in time should one go to define the GOP fauna? How far back should questions of character be given weight?
I doubt there is a convincing answer to the various meanings and how they overlap. How does making out with Nancy Pelosi on a couch stack up against RomneyCare?
For starters, it would be nice to have a clear definition and list of members of the RINOS, Establishment Republicans, and Tea Party Republicans. Do people get to classify themselves?
Maybe these are all rhetorical questions in the end. Yet the nomination and the election depend in large part on how the voters understand and apply these terms.