Grumblings from Colin Powell Republicans

Peggy Noonan's column in today's Wall Street Journal gushes about the one panel at last weekend's National Review Institute conference that struck a false note to my ear. It had a clever title, "What's Wrong with the Right?" but a less clever premise, that trashing the conservative base is the key to winning elections. So much for Reagan's 11th Commandment, "Thou shalt not speak ill of any Republican." A wag at my table quipped, "this panel is what's wrong with the right."

Acknowledging faults and seeking to improve strategies are appropriate for a grand gathering of conservatives trying to understand how a failed president was re-elected. On this panel, however, Joe Scarborough, Bill Kristol and John Podhoretz bloviated about how anyone straying from far right orthodoxy was being "stifled." Noonan was quite taken with Joe Scarborough's critique:

"I think the debate within the party has been stifled," [Scarborough] said. "It has been stifled because we have created this conservative groupthink over 30 years that's become more and more narrow. . . . Everybody's afraid to talk."

Poignantly -- really, it was poignant -- he spoke of the party he entered when he ran for Congress in 1994. It was alive with ideas: John Kasich on the budget, Jack Kemp on taxes, John Engler on welfare reform, Tommy Thompson on crime control. This was the bubble and fizz of a movement at its height. Now, he said, the national conversation is more constricted, with radio stars, websites and magazines functioning as unofficial arbiters and limiters of domestic and foreign policy debate.

Poignant? No, more like pitiful, that Ms. Noonan can find no ideas among today's Republicans after spending the weekend with Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Bob McDonnell, Jim DeMint, Artur Davis, Tom Cotton, Peter Thiel, Andy McCarthy, Mark Steyn, Jonah Goldberg, Arthur Brooks, et. al.

Especially annoying, because the "right stifles all dissent" meme has been hammered by the left and the Colin Powell wing of the Republican party. The GOP, the line goes, has been hijacked by Tea Party extremists and crazies, and won't win any future elections until we become more moderate and reach across the aisle.

"Everybody's afraid to talk"? Seriously? Nobody stops talking 24/7/365.

I suspect that what this is really about is revealed in the mention of "radio stars" being arbiters of the debate. Mark Levin frequently hammers Kristol and Scarborough, whom he calls the "Morning Shmo." Rush's 20 million listeners find that he makes a more convincing case for conservatism than most Republican politicians. Professional jealousy, perhaps?

Peggy Noonan's column in today's Wall Street Journal gushes about the one panel at last weekend's National Review Institute conference that struck a false note to my ear. It had a clever title, "What's Wrong with the Right?" but a less clever premise, that trashing the conservative base is the key to winning elections. So much for Reagan's 11th Commandment, "Thou shalt not speak ill of any Republican." A wag at my table quipped, "this panel is what's wrong with the right."

Acknowledging faults and seeking to improve strategies are appropriate for a grand gathering of conservatives trying to understand how a failed president was re-elected. On this panel, however, Joe Scarborough, Bill Kristol and John Podhoretz bloviated about how anyone straying from far right orthodoxy was being "stifled." Noonan was quite taken with Joe Scarborough's critique:

"I think the debate within the party has been stifled," [Scarborough] said. "It has been stifled because we have created this conservative groupthink over 30 years that's become more and more narrow. . . . Everybody's afraid to talk."

Poignantly -- really, it was poignant -- he spoke of the party he entered when he ran for Congress in 1994. It was alive with ideas: John Kasich on the budget, Jack Kemp on taxes, John Engler on welfare reform, Tommy Thompson on crime control. This was the bubble and fizz of a movement at its height. Now, he said, the national conversation is more constricted, with radio stars, websites and magazines functioning as unofficial arbiters and limiters of domestic and foreign policy debate.

Poignant? No, more like pitiful, that Ms. Noonan can find no ideas among today's Republicans after spending the weekend with Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Bob McDonnell, Jim DeMint, Artur Davis, Tom Cotton, Peter Thiel, Andy McCarthy, Mark Steyn, Jonah Goldberg, Arthur Brooks, et. al.

Especially annoying, because the "right stifles all dissent" meme has been hammered by the left and the Colin Powell wing of the Republican party. The GOP, the line goes, has been hijacked by Tea Party extremists and crazies, and won't win any future elections until we become more moderate and reach across the aisle.

"Everybody's afraid to talk"? Seriously? Nobody stops talking 24/7/365.

I suspect that what this is really about is revealed in the mention of "radio stars" being arbiters of the debate. Mark Levin frequently hammers Kristol and Scarborough, whom he calls the "Morning Shmo." Rush's 20 million listeners find that he makes a more convincing case for conservatism than most Republican politicians. Professional jealousy, perhaps?

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