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Money, Bombs and Jesus.

For three decades, the Republican presidential nominating contest has served to unify the national party's coalition of social, economic and foreign policy conservatives in advance of a general election fight with Democrats.

This year, it is ripping that coalition apart.

Since the time of Saint Ronald of Reagan, the GOP has been a three-winged bird.

First, and foremost, there was the Money! wing of the party. Their political philosophy was quite sophisticated and subtle, but to give you the short version it was, Money: More!

Actually, that's the long version, too.

Next came the faction of the party primarily concerned with foreign policy. Originally the foreign policy in question was anti-communism. Then the wall fell and for a few years this wing of the GOP could be found curled up in a corner, shivering and nursing a Stoli. Then, thank God, Islamic terrorism reared its nasty head and gave the former cold warriors a new lease on life.

This is the Bombs! faction of the GOP. They do a lot of heavy thinking, write lots of white papers, and practice their chin-jutting pilates moves. Their core belief is, Bombs: Good.

Finally, there were the hillbillies. Sorry, I mean the evangelicals. By which I mean stupid people. No, wait, that was unkind. I shouldn't have said stupid people. I should have explained that we're talking about people who think a mating pair of T. Rex's climbed on some old Hebrew's boat alongside sheep, cows and goats. And later disembarked. And that the sheep, cows and goats who had bunked with the lovely Tyrannosaurus couple likewise disembarked. So, stupid people.

In any event, the Money! wing of the GOP and the Bombs! wing of the GOP knew they couldn't win national elections so they forged an alliance with the Jesus! wing, on the understanding that Money! and Bombs! would pretend to give a shit about whatever nutbar fixation the Jesus! wing had up its ass that cycle. And then Money! and Bombs! would have a cruel laugh at the expense of the Jesus! wing, and get on about the important business of lining their pockets and blowing shit up.

Well. It worked great until George W. Bush. Mr. Bush was the living embodiment of the Money! Bombs! Jesus! trinity. He loved the money, he loved the bombs, he loved the baby Jesus, all three with equal sincerity. And, lo! Under his leadership the people came
together as one to answer the question of our age: "Is this jackass the worst president of modern times, or only the second worst?" He flew like a three-winged bird.

Won't you shed a tear with me as we mourn the passing of this coalition?
Among members of Congress, the lobbying shops on K Street and the local GOP committees in Iowa and New Hampshire, Republicans are divided, confused and sometimes demoralized about their choices for president. With less than two weeks left before voting begins, the party's rank and file are being asked to ratify a new direction for the GOP amid the clash of a chaotic and wide-open campaign.

And the party's soul-searching is unfolding in a sour environment: two states where the GOP was walloped by Democrats in 2006, leaving the surviving Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire grappling with an identity crisis of their own. In dozens of interviews last week, many Republicans said they are frustrated.

Scott Weiser, who lobbies the Iowa statehouse for the Iowa Motor Truck Association, said he attended a Republican fundraiser recently where all but one of the lobbyists and business executives were still undecided about who they will support in the presidential contest.
Giuliani tends to win them on economic issues, but they cannot get by his stand on social issues. They like Huckabee on the social agenda, but do not trust his economic stands. They like the Romney they see now, but they cannot forget the positions he once embraced in Massachusetts. And they dislike McCain's opposition to Bush's first-term tax cuts and his crusade to overhaul campaign finance laws.
Well, boys, you had the guy who was right on all your positions. You had the perfect candidate. He was president from . . . oh, wait, he still is. Although his name never seems to come up during Republican debates.

What do you do when you find your perfect man, the man who is absolutely everything you ever wanted, who seamlessly embodies your party . . . and he turns out to be a baboon? I guess you whine:

The chairman of one of the presidential campaigns, a longtime party activist, said, after soliciting a promise of anonymity: "There is no party here anymore. It's just a shell."
Money! Bombs! Jesus! It was never a party. It worked only so long as no one took the Jesusites (Really, Michael? Jesusites?) too seriously. Reagan knew how to use the Jesusites without ever letting them past the foyer. Poor, dim George never understood the game. He gave them actual power, actual political credibility, he was one with them, and now they've gotten uppity and are refusing to sit down, shut up and take what the Money! and Bombs! guys hand them.

The Jesus! wing is screwing up the plan by nominating the one candidate so thoroughly stupid that he may actually be dumber than George W. Bush: Mike "What Cross?" Huckabee. The Huckabuffoon.

And the GOP -- you know, the real GOP, not the hillbillies -- cannot stand it. Can. Not. Stand. It.

Rick Moran of Right Wing Nuthouse:

I’m running out of ways to make a play on words of Governor Goober. Pretty soon, I’ll be forced to simply call him stupid.

It was one thing when the hillbillies were delivering their hillbilly votes for the profit of the Money! and Bombs! crowds. It's a whole different thing actually expecting a vice president of Merrill, Lynch, or a visiting fellow at the AEI, or a senior partner at Hogan and Hartson to vote for a practicing idiot. (I mean, a practicing idiot who doesn't bow and scrape to the Money! boys.) The Money! guys would be humiliated to be seen sharing a power table at the Capital Grille with Mike "Goober" Huckabee. The Bombs! guys are horrified at the prospect of having to defend President Huckabee at conferences in Paris, Davos or Shanghai.

Compromise, you see, that was for the Jesusites. They were supposed to compromise and swallow a Giuliani or a Romney. They were supposed to trade their votes for lip service on their trailer trash agenda. Why? Because as much as the Left sneers at the hillbillies, the Money! and Bombs! wings, sneer even more.

Blowback, my GOP friends. Blowback. Suddenly your hillbilly foot soldiers are driving the tank. Boo hoo.

“Money, Bombs and Jesus.”

  1. Blogger Randy Says:

    Here's hoping you and yours enjoyed a delightful winter solstice, Michael!

  2. Blogger Burt Likko Says:

    You forgot another faction -- the Moatdiggers.

    There's reason to believe that Iowa is uniquely susceptible to Goober's charms, and Giuliani is still leading the polls nationally, although not by nearly the commanding margin he used to. It's a five-way chess game with six players right now:

    Giuliani (trying to bridge the Bombs! and Money! factions)
    Huckabee (representing the Jesus! faction)
    McCain (representing the Bombs! faction)
    Romney (representing the Money! faction)
    Thompson (representing the James Stockdale Fan Club)
    Ron Paul (so the wingnuts finally get a place at the grownups' table)

    Notice how all of them are currently competing for the Moatdiggers' votes right now, because they may make the difference in the early states.

  3. Blogger Randy Says:

    Don't kid yourself - the moat-digger vote is huge. If it really becomes the hot button issue of 2008, a GOP nominee with the right credentials on that isue will give the Democrats nightmares in California. Don't believe me? Look at New York state and Spitzer's back-down on auto licenses. With the right propaganda campaign, it plays hugely well with working-class Democrats, naturalized citizens and other ethnic minorities.

  4. Blogger kreiz1 Says:

    This happens to be one of your all-time great posts. I'll never forget the GOP trilogy; I've already cited you in several conversations (usually giving you credit).