Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Sane and the Few

In one of my earlier pieces I asked what I thought was a rhetorical question: Where are all the sane conservatives? Of course it only seemed rhetorical because finding one who is actually not insane has been so hard to do. You could say it’s been practically impossible. Practically, that is.

Because, as it turns out, there are a few conservatives out there who not only aren’t insane, they are quite lucid, and in the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, I decided to give them their moment in the sun, as it were.

So this month, I am suspending my “Idiots’ Delight” segment and replacing it with this oddly titled piece. No, I do not think it will become a recurrent theme – this is after all a progressive blog – but fair is fair. I have been exacting in my criticism of the Right for years, and will, no doubt, continue to berate their deplorable conduct as I see fit. But when presented with evidence of reasonableness among their ranks, the only honorable thing to do is tip my hat and say, “Bravo, well done.”

So, without further ado, let’s get on with it.

Chris Christie. Whatever else you may think of New Jersey’s outspoken Republican governor, this much is certain: he doesn’t drink from the same punch bowl as the vast majority of his party brethren. Case in point, when Christie was criticized by certain conservative groups for nominating a Muslim judge to the state Superior Court out of fear that he would use his position to impose Sharia law, the Gov wasted no time blasting his critics.

“Sharia law has nothing to do with this at all. It's crazy. It's crazy,” Christie said at a press conference earlier this month. “The guy's an American citizen who has been an admitted lawyer to practice in the state of New Jersey, swearing an oath to uphold the laws of New Jersey, the constitution of the state of New Jersey, and the Constitution of the United States of America . . . .This Sharia law business is crap. It's just crazy. And I'm tired of dealing with the crazies.”

Wow! Now that takes balls. If only a certain executive we all know and sometimes admirer would grow a pair like that!  Wouldn’t it be nice if Christie could wake up and see the light with respect to another of his party’s extremist fairytales: supply-side economics. I guess that’s asking a bit much, isn’t? Still, it was refreshing to see a Republican stand up to the insanity of his own party and win, if only on points.

Jon Huntsman. Okay, so Ronald Reagan has a better chance of coming back from the dead than this man has of winning the Republican nomination, but the ex-Utah governor gets my vote if for no other reason than for killing two proverbial birds with one stone in his criticism of Rick Perry and the vast majority of his party on evolution and climate change.

“When we take a position that isn't willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science has said about what is causing climate change and man's contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position,” Huntsman told ABC's “This Week.”

Huntsman also said he couldn’t remember a time when “we actually were willing to shun science and become a party that was antithetical to science. I'm not sure that's good for our future and it's not a winning formula.” You ever get the feeling that you could count the number of responsible Republicans on one hand? Well Jon Huntsman is the index finger on that hand.

Peggy Noonan and David Brooks. I’ll be the first to admit that I have tried on many occasions to decipher whatever it is that Noonan appears to be saying whenever she manages to find her way onto the Sunday morning political talk-show circuit, to no avail. I’d have more luck stubbing my toe to get rid of a headache than to figure her out. As far as Brooks is concerned, I confess to a certain affection for the man’s writing style, though his substance, like his arguments, leave much to be desired.

Up until now, the only thing the two have had in common is that they are both self-described conservatives; Noonan more so than Brooks, who has always been viewed more as a moderate, a RINO among the Tea Party types.

Well now you can add one more thing that they share: good taste. Both have joined the chorus of Rick Perry doubters and voiced their concerns about the Texas governor’s candidacy. Ladies first:

“In 2012, the Republican candidate will be called either mean or dumb, or both,” Noonan wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “Certainly, his politics will be called mean. And if the candidate is Rick Perry, people will look at him and think: Hmmm, is there something to the charge? He should keep that in mind as he pops off. If there is a deeper, more reflective person there he'd best show it, sooner rather than later.”

David Brooks, in his New York Times op-ed piece, was somewhat more salient in his observations, suggesting that Perry is benefiting from a “rightward shift” not just within the Republican Party but within the electorate as a whole. “The number of moderate Republicans has withered.” Perry “does best among conservative voters . . . who don’t believe in global warming, evolution or that Obama was born in the U.S.”

Despite inferring that Perry is “ideologically slippery” and that he is “the latest iteration of Tom DeLay Republicanism,” Brooks sees the problem as hinging on messaging and the ability of Perry’s opponents – namely Mitt Romney – to push back.

“If voters think Nancy Pelosi is the biggest threat to their children’s prosperity, they will hire Perry. If they think competition from Chinese and Indian workers is the biggest threat, they will hire Romney. He’s just more credible as someone who can manage economic problems, build human capital and nurture an innovation-based global economy.”

Brooks issued one final warning. “Romney might be able to beat back the Perry surge. In the meantime, it’s time to take Perry seriously. He could be our next president.”

Seems to me I may have said as much in an earlier piece. Great minds do think alike, don’t they?

And, of course, I would be remiss if I left out perennial Rush Limbaugh irritant and head RINO, David Frum. The editor in chief of FrumForum, Frum has been doing his best to atone for his role in what will undoubtedly go down as the worst presidency in generations.  His moderate stances and his willingness to butt heads with Tea Party conservatives sets him apart from other conservatives.  Whether you want to call him a turncoat or perhaps someone who knows there is more to politics than just black and white, this much is certain: Frum, like Brooks, is among a handful of journalists who dares to buck the headwinds of a movement hellbent on eliminating anything and anyone that differs with them, and he has paid a price for his courageousness.  In 2010, Frum was kicked out of the American Enterprise Institute for criticizing the GOP for their staunch opposition to the Obama healthcare reform bill.  Recently he reversed his stance on gay marriage after having been a strong opponent of it for years.

Disagree if you must, but disrespect him not.

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