Protests Over Profiteering At Tea Party Convention

The Tea Party movement is a scam–both intellectually and financially. Intellectually the tea baggers spread the talking points of the far right with simplistic views on the issues based upon a lack of understanding of the facts. Besides taking advantage of the ignorance of the tea baggers to promote their political agenda, some leaders of the movement are also using this for financial gain as I recently discussed. Even some in the Tea Party movement are catching on:

A Tea Party convention billed as the coming together of the grass-roots groups that began sprouting up around the country a year ago is unraveling as sponsors and participants pull out to protest its expense and express concerns about “profiteering.”

The convention’s difficulties highlight the fractiousness of the Tea Party groups, and the considerable suspicions among their members of anything that suggests the establishment.

The convention, to be held in Nashville in early February, made a splash by attracting big-name politicians. (Former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech.) But some groups have criticized the cost — $549 per ticket and a $9.95 fee, plus hotel and airfare — as out of reach for the average tea partier. And they have balked at Ms. Palin’s speaking fee, which news reports have put at $100,000, a figure that organizers will not confirm or deny…

Philip Glass, the national director of the National Precinct Alliance, announced late Sunday that “amid growing controversy” around the convention, his organization would no longer participate. His group seeks to take over the Republican Party from the bottom by filling the ranks of local and state parties with grass-roots conservatives, and Mr. Glass had been scheduled to lead workshops on its strategy.

“We are very concerned about the appearance of T.P.N. profiteering and exploitation of the grass-roots movement,” he said in a statement. “We were under the impression that T.P.N. was a nonprofit organization like N.P.A., interested only in uniting and educating Tea Party activists on how to make a real difference in the political arena.”

Mr. Glass said he was also concerned about the role in the convention of groups like Tea Party Express, which has held rallies across the country through two bus tours, and FreedomWorks, a Tea Party umbrella. He called them “Republican National Committee-related groups,” and added, “At best, it creates the appearance of an R.N.C. hijacking; at worst, it is one.”

Erick Erickson, the editor of the influential conservative blog RedState.com, wrote this month that something seemed “scammy” about the convention. And the American Liberty Alliance withdrew as a sponsor after its members expressed concerns about the convention’s finances being channeled through private bank accounts and its organizer being “for profit.”

“When we look at the $500 price tag for the event and the fact that many of the original leaders in the group left over similar issues, it’s hard for us not to assume the worst,” Eric Odom, the executive director of the American Liberty Alliance and an organizer of the tax day rallies last April, wrote on the group’s Web site.

More commentary via MemeorandumThe Atlantic Politics Channel, Washington Monthly, Top of the Ticket, Mother Jones, Wonkette, The Politico, Politics Daily and The Monkey Cage

More Stories From “Game Change” Including Clinton Sleaze and Conflict Between Obama and Biden

More items from Game Change have come out since my run down yesterday. These include more examples of sleaze from the Clinton campaign and conflict between Obama and Biden.

While Hillary Clinton tried to disassociate herself from the smears against Obama based upon drug use when young, Mark Penn boasted to his staff how many times he managed to say “cocaine” on Hardball. Hillary was pleased by this:

“Hillary’s reaction to Shaheen’s remarks was, ‘Good for him!’ Followed by ‘Let’s push it out.’  Her aides violently disagreed, seeing what Shaheen had said as a PR disaster. Grudgingly, Clinton acquiesced to disowning Shaheen’s comments. But she wasn’t going to cut him loose. Why should Billy have to fall on his sword for invoking something that had been fair game in every recent election?”

While yesterday’s post dealt with John Edwards’ affair, there is also a section with McCain’s aides confronting Cindy McCain about her affair:

“The man was said to be her long-term boyfriend; the pair had been sighted all over town in the last few years. Members of McCain’s senior staff discussed the unsettling news, and their growing concerns that Cindy’s behavior had been increasingly erratic of late. [John] Weaver and others suspected that the Cindy rumor was rooted in truth. It was upsetting, Weaver believed, but not a threat.”

The Obamas flew to Nashville to get Al Gore’s assurance that he would not run before Obama decided to run. While the McCain campaign had problems with Sarah Palin’s ignorance, the Obama campaign had problems of their own with Biden’s mouth. From Politico:

The tensions began in September of 2008 word got back to Obama’s campaign headquarters that Biden had told reporters on his campaign plane that he was more qualified than his running mate to be president.

“A chill set in between Chicago and the Biden plane,” Halperin and Heilemann write in the book, to be released Monday. “Joe and Obama barely spoke by phone, rarely campaigned together.”

And when Obama campaign manager David Plouffe was asked about having Biden dial into the nightly campaign conference call, he responded: “Nah.” Instead, Biden had his own call with Plouffe and senior campaign adviser David Axelrod.

Obama himself was growing increasingly frustrated with his running mate after Biden let loose with a string of gaffes, including a statement that paying higher taxes amounted to patriotism and criticism of one of the campaign’s own ads poking fun at John McCain.

But when Biden, at an October fund-raiser in Seattle, famously predicted that Obama would be tested with an international crisis, the then-Illinois senator had had enough.

“How many times is Biden gonna say something stupid?” he demanded of his advisers on a conference call, a moment at which most people on the call said the candidate was as angry as they had ever heard him.

Following his campaign plane braggadocio about being more qualified than the man who put him on the ticket, Biden’s access to the press was limited and he grilled new staffers that were assigned to him to try and determine if they were part of his team or loyal to Chicago…

When the ticketmates talked a few days after Biden’s prediction that Obama would be tested, Obama lit into his running mate. But Biden didn’t apologize – or even indicate he understood why his comments in Seattle were problematic, though McCain’s campaign had already cut an ad featuring the dark warning.

I noted both the low opinion of John Edwards by Democratic Party leaders as well as the conflict between John and Edwards over John’s affair in the previous post. These two narratives also came  together here:

There were apparently “two Americas” within the marriage between John and Elizabeth Edwards. The former North Carolina senator’s wife viewed herself as a worldly intellectual and publicly called her husband “a hick” and his parents “rednecks,” according to the authors.

“She was forever letting John know she regarded him as her intellectual inferior,” they write, mocking her husband, the presidential hopeful, as somebody who “doesn’t read books.”

Fox Has Again Used Old Video, Distorting The News

Fox has been embarrassed again for using old video to exaggerate turn out at a recent event. Sean Hannity was recently caught doing thisThe Swamp reports on the latest case:

FOX has done it again, and this time, once again, FOX says its misplay of the wrong crowd video was another regrettable mistake.

Today, FOX News host Gregg Jarrett was talking about Republican Sarah Palin’s book tour and the crowd she is drawing at the start of it – no small turnout, with some 1,500 people lining up early this morning for a chance to get into this evening’s premier book-signing for Going Rogue in Grand Rapids.

“Sarah Palin continuing to draw huge crowds while she’s promoting her brand new book,” FOX’s Jarrett told his viewers. “Take a look at — these are some of the pictures just coming into us… The lines earlier had formed this morning.”

But it turns out that Happening Now had pulled some video of something that happened last year: Displaying video today from Palin’s campaign for the vice presidency, on the ticket with the GOP’s Sen. John McCain – which also drew considerable crowds, as shown today in video of a smiling Palin before an adoring campaign crowd.

“This was a production error in which the copy editor changed a script and didn’t alert the control room to update the video,” Michael Clemente, senior vice president of news at FOX, sad this evening. “There will be an on-air explanation during Happening Now on Thursday.”

Book Provides More Stories About Palin

Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe followed Sarah Palin during the 2008 election campaign and have published their account in an upcoming book, Sarah from Alaska. CNN has described some of the items in the book, such as this report about Palin on election night:

According to a copy of the book obtained by CNN, Palin’s speechwriter Matthew Scully had prepared a brief speech for the then-Alaska governor to deliver while introducing McCain, before he gave his concession speech at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. But after conferring in his suite with senior advisers Mark Salter, Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt, McCain nixed the idea of having Palin speak before him.

 

Schmidt then broke the news to Palin. But she told no one on her staff, the authors write, setting off a series of staff miscommunications that went unresolved until moments before McCain took the stage to concede the election.

Palin did not inform her adviser Jason Recher, who was planning out Palin’s movements that night, about Schmidt’s directive.

“I’m speaking,” Palin told him, according to the book. “I’ve got the remarks. Figure it out.”

Palin’s deputy chief of staff Chris Edwards, meanwhile, was also unaware that Palin had been told she was not to speak. Edwards, ready to load the speech into teleprompter, bumped into Schmidt, who told him McCain would be speaking alone. Edwards relayed Schmidt’s order to Palin, but she once again did not let on that Schmidt had already spoken to her.

The governor could not understand why she was not being allowed to speak. “This speech is great,” she said, according to the authors. “It’s all about how John McCain’s an American hero.”

The confusion continued until the final minutes before the concession speech, when Palin – still shuffling through her speech notes – gathered with McCain, family members and senior staff outside McCain’s villa at the resort.

Sensing uncertainty, Salter finally put his foot down. “You’re not speaking,” the longtime McCain adviser told Palin. “John has decided it’s unprecedented.”

Other incidents mentioned include how the McCain team used flash cards to bring Palin “up to speed on foreign affairs and major national issues.” This included a card to teach her that the Prime Minister of Great Britain is Gordon Brown. During the campaign she wanted to bring up Jeremiah Wright, believing it would help prevent the defeat which had become inevitable the day McCain chose Palin. Apparently Palin wanted very badly to win, on one occasion being quoted as saying, “I just don’t want to go back to Alaska.” Perhaps that foreshadowed her eventual resignation as governor.

November 3, 2009
Posted: November 3rd, 2009 08:03 AM ET
From

Palin was concerned about the cost of the wardrobe that was purchased for her during the campaign, according to the new book.

Palin was concerned about the cost of the wardrobe that was purchased for her during the campaign, according to the new book.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Tensions within John McCain’s presidential campaign boiled over on Election Night last November when Sarah Palin, McCain’s running mate, repeatedly ignored directions from senior staffers who told her she would not be delivering her own concession speech.

Those fresh details on the conflict between Palin and members of the McCain team come in a new book – “Sarah from Alaska” – by Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe, two members of the press corps that traveled with Palin during the 2008 presidential race. The pair spent much of the following year reporting on the campaign turmoil and the vice presidential nominee’s difficult return to Alaska after the election.

According to a copy of the book obtained by CNN, Palin’s speechwriter Matthew Scully had prepared a brief speech for the then-Alaska governor to deliver while introducing McCain, before he gave his concession speech at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. But after conferring in his suite with senior advisers Mark Salter, Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt, McCain nixed the idea of having Palin speak before him.

Schmidt then broke the news to Palin. But she told no one on her staff, the authors write, setting off a series of staff miscommunications that went unresolved until moments before McCain took the stage to concede the election.

Palin did not inform her adviser Jason Recher, who was planning out Palin’s movements that night, about Schmidt’s directive.

“I’m speaking,” Palin told him, according to the book. “I’ve got the remarks. Figure it out.”

(more…)

Will Palin Have The Same Effect on The Health Care Debate As On The 2008 Election?

The conservative campaign against health care reform has degenerated into repeating the fantasies of a crazy lady posting on Facebook in Alaska and talking points spoon fed from the insurance industry.While perhaps not all Obama supporters are excited about this cause as they were about the election, the battle against Republican misinformation and smears certainly does have the feel of a general election campaign.

There are differing viewpoints as to how this will all play out. I’ve previously quoted Marc Ambinder as believing the strategy will turn out to be counterproductive. Josh Marshall posts a warning of a different danger arising from this:

Watching the current “debate” over healthcare reform, I find myself in the strange position of giving thanks for John McCain. His behavior during the election was anything but classy, but he did refuse to take that final step of endorsing the fully crazy wingnut memes (Obama is a Kenyan Muslim terrorist, etc.) even though certain folks were urging him to go there. When I see how easily the “death panel” and other completely-divorced-from-reality memes have taken hold of the public and the media, I can’t help but wonder if such crap would have propelled McCain to victory, if he had chosen to embrace it. Oh, the irony: McCain’s last shred of integrity saved us from a McCain presidency.

Even if this isn’t true, you can bet this is the lesson the GOP will take into 2012. What we’re seeing right now is a preview of the election (God help us).

It certainly is possible that this is the lesson the GOP will take into 2012. We can never underestimate the insanity in the party now that they have driven out most of the sensible people and the conservative movement has turned into an echo chamber for extremists.Whether this will help them is a different matter.

I don’t go along with the idea that repeating the right wing memes which McCain stayed away from might have propelled him to victory. McCain might have stayed away from these memes due to maintaining a shred of dignity, but this was also the pragmatic thing to do. His campaign was already seriously hurt, probably to the point where victory was impossible, by choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate. He already both had the support of the “wingnuts” and was being dragged down by them.

There is a certain percentage of people in this country who believe all the delusions common among the far right, and these people were already going to vote for McCain. Tying himself to these people also lost the moderates and rational conservatives. Claiming that Obama is a Muslim would have only appealed to those who were already planning to vote for him but risked alienating even more sane voters.

I wonder if Sarah Palin’s influence on the health care debate will be similar to her influence on the McCain campaign. Initially the choice of Palin resulted in a surge of excitement for the campaign, and even gave McCain a lead in the polls. Soon reality prevailed and Palin turned off far more voter s than she attracted for the ticket.

At present, her absurd claims about “death panels” are firing up the right wing. Right wing lies are also creating concern among many others. However, what happens when the main arguments from the right wing come down to things which are easily demonstrated as not being true by simply reading the actual legislation? Will the fear linger, dooming health insurance reform, or will reason prevail as it did during the general election campaign? Will sensible people who are momentarily frightened by the prospect of “death panels” show a change in position when the scare stories are debunked and see that the arguments from the right do not contain valid reasons to oppose health care reform?

Conservatives vs. Meghan McCain

meghan-mccain

Meghan McCain has come under tons of criticism from the right wing since she criticized Ann Coulter. Most of the attacks have centered around trivial matters such as her weight. McCain responded yesterday.

Michelle Malkin wrote today about what she sees as The Trouble With Meghan McCain. To her credit Malkin did avoid criticism based upon her weight. That, after all, is a trivial matter. Instead she attacked Malkin for her choice of comedians.

Malkin argues “The trouble with Meghan McCain is that, like her father, she has no fixed ideological principles — conservative, liberal, or otherwise.” I really haven’t paid very much attention to Meghan McCain’s writings until all the controversy in the past week so I’m not sure if this is a fair criticism or not. I am interested in seeing McCain’s response.

It is possible that, if we were trying to view Meghan McCain as a serious political pundit, this might be an issue. It is a different story if we try to see her as a typical young woman with a Republican background who just happens to be the daughter of their last presidential candidate. In this sense McCain might have some lessons for them as to why the Republicans are turning into a regional party of the south and Mormon belt, and why young people are abandoning them in tremendous numbers.

Is the problem that McCain has no principles, or that she will not adopt the extremist principles which are required of anyone staying in the Republican Party? The Republican Party has been driving out their moderates and taking on an extremist philosophy which even Barry Goldwater was highly critical of in his later years. Maybe they don’t mind that John McCain’s daughter doesn’t accept their extremism, considering they also see John McCain as a heretic, but in addition we saw two of Barry Goldwater’s granddaughters back Barack Obama this year, along with many other Republicans.

It is one thing for a political party to think they are adhering to a consistent philosophy. It is a problem for that party when their views become so narrow and out of touch with reality that many of their supporters leave the party. When a generation is becoming lost to them, they must seriously question if they are in danger of going the way of the Whigs.

Meghan McCain is certainly not a flaming liberal. If conservatives desire to have any chance of building a majority party which has the support of the young they would be far better off listening to her objections as opposed to attacking her weight or choice in comedians. The Republicans received Meghan McCain’s vote in 2008 because her father was on the ticket. They can hardly expect to win the youth vote if this is the only way many young people (or rational people of any age) will have anything to do with the GOP.

Neither Goldwater nor Reagan Would Recognize The Modern GOP

I’ve often pointed out that, while some conservatives claim the conservative movement began with Barry Goldwater, modern conservatism has become a philosophy quite different from Goldwater’s beliefs. Goldwater was so distressed by the direction that conservatism was going, especially with the increasing influence of the religious right, that in his later years he even referred to himself as a liberal. I have no doubt that if he was still alive Goldwater would have actively backed Barack Obama over John McCain, especially after the addition of Sarah Palin to the ticket, as did two of his granddaughters. With the GOP becoming a southern regional party dominated recently by George Bush and now by politicians from the religious right such as Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin, the party has also moved away from the views of Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan’s name is repeated ad nauseum at most Republican gatherings primarily because the GOP does not have any old leaders to brag about. Nixon was a crook. Bush was an incompetent who undermined our national security and trampled on the Constitution. Previous Republican presidents such as Dwight Eisenhower, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abe Lincoln would all be Democrats today, and the conservatives would also drive out Gerald Ford.

Many modern Republicans cling to Ronald Reagan’s name and pretend his views were comparable to their own. Many of those who actually worked with Ronald Reagan know better and have recognized that the modern Republican Party has moved far to the right of Reagan. This includes former Reagan chief of staff Ken Duberstein, speech writers Jeffrey Hart and Peggy Noonan, and Colin Powell (see here and here).

Another Reaganite, Mickey Edwards,  describes how Ronald Reagan would not recognize what the Republican Party has become, criticizing the current Republican opposition to virtually all government action (other than for military action, which apparently does not count as big government):

A shocker: The Constitution, which we love for the limits it places on government power, not only constrains government, it empowers it. Limited government is not no government. And limited government is not “small” government. Simply building roads, maintaining a military, operating courts, delivering the mail and doing other things specifically mandated by the Constitution for America’s 300 million people make it impossible to keep government “small.” It is boundaries that protect freedom. Small governments can be oppressive, and large ones can diminish freedoms. It is the boundaries, not the numbers, that matter.

What would Reagan think of this? Wasn’t it he who warned that government is the problem? Well, permit me. I directed the joint House-Senate policy advisory committees for the Reagan presidential campaign. I was part of his congressional steering committee. I sat with him in his hotel room in Manchester, N.H., the night he won that state’s all-important primary. I knew him before he was governor of California and before I was a member of Congress. Let me introduce you to Ronald Reagan.

Reagan, who spent 16 years in government, actually said this:

“In the present crisis,” referring specifically to the high taxes and high levels of federal spending that had marked the Carter administration, “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” He then went on to say: “Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it’s not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work.” Government, he said, “must provide opportunity.” He was not rejecting government, he was calling — as Barack Obama did Tuesday — for better management of government, for wiser decisions.

A problem with political labels is that their definitions are not clear, and they change with time. At one time the major differences between left and right might have been over economics but, although many Republicans try to obfuscate this with their claims that Obama is a socialist, the left now supports a capitalist system at least as much as the right. Considering the amount of  collusion between big government and big business favored by Republicans, I often consider liberals to be the actual supporters of capitalism.

During the Bush years liberalism came to be defined more  upon opposing the policies of the Republicans than based upon past definitions. Currently the sets of views which primarily separate liberals from conservatives are 1) support for liberty by the left and opposition to the authoritarian views of the right and 2) having a reality-based viewpoint as opposed to the anti-intellectualism of the right. Edwards concludes his article criticizing both the anti-intellectualism of the Republican Party and its focus on seeking power rather than on promoting freedom:

The Republican Party that is in such disrepute today is not the party of Reagan. It is the party of Rush Limbaugh, of Ann Coulter, of Newt Gingrich, of George W. Bush, of Karl Rove. It is not a conservative party, it is a party built on the blind and narrow pursuit of power.

Not too long ago, conservatives were thought of as the locus of creative thought. Conservative think tanks (full disclosure: I was one of the three founding trustees of the Heritage Foundation) were thought of as cutting-edge, offering conservative solutions to national problems. By the 2008 elections, the very idea of ideas had been rejected. One who listened to Barry Goldwater’s speeches in the mid-’60s, or to Reagan’s in the ’80s, might have been struck by their philosophical tone, their proposed (even if hotly contested) reformulation of the proper relationship between state and citizen. Last year’s presidential campaign, on the other hand, saw the emergence of a Republican Party that was anti-intellectual, nativist, populist (in populism’s worst sense) and prepared to send Joe the Plumber to Washington to manage the nation’s public affairs.

American conservatism has always had the problem of being misnamed. It is, at root, the political twin to classical European liberalism, a freedoms-based belief in limiting the power of government to intrude on the liberties of the people. It is the opposite of European conservatism (which Winston Churchill referred to as reverence for king and church); it is rather the heir to John Locke and James Madison, and a belief that the people should be the masters of their government, not the reverse (a concept largely turned on its head by the George W. Bush presidency).

Over the last several years, conservatives have turned themselves inside out: They have come to worship small government and have turned their backs on limited government. They have turned to a politics of exclusion, division and nastiness. Today, they wonder what went wrong, why Americans have turned on them, why they lose, or barely win, even in places such as Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina.

And, watching, I suspect Ronald Reagan is smacking himself on the forehead, rolling his eyes and wondering who in the world these clowns are who want so desperately to wrap themselves in his cloak.

The Republican Party has turned into primarily a southern regional party based upon authoritarianism and anti-intellectualism. It would no longer provide a home for either Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan.

Candidates And Support For Their Running Mate

There has been a lot of attention paid to John McCain’s statement on This Week that he would not necessarily support Sarah Palin if she runs for president in 2012. CNN describes the exchange:

Sen. John McCain said Sunday he would not necessarily support his former running mate if she chose to run for president.

Speaking to ABC’s “This Week,” McCain was asked whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin could count on his support.

“I can’t say something like that. We’ve got some great other young governors. I think you’re going to see the governors assume a greater leadership role in our Republican Party,” he said.

He then mentioned governors Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Jon Huntsman of Utah.

McCain said he has “the greatest appreciation for Gov. Palin and her family, and it was a great joy to know them.”

“She invigorated our campaign” against Barack Obama for the presidency, he said.

McCain was pressed on why he can’t promise support for the woman who, just months ago, he named as the second best person to lead the nation.

“Have no doubt of my admiration and respect for her and my view of her viability, but at this stage, again … my corpse is still warm, you know?” he replied.

While it is hard to see anyone in their right mind endorsing this candidate, it is hardly shocking that a candidate might not support their former running mate. Al Gore did not support Joe Lieberman in 2004. John Kerry did not endorse John Edwards in 2008.

While ideally a vice presidential choice should be for someone qualified to be president, other political factors are often involved–far more in the case of Palin than in general. Even should the vice presidential candidate be qualified to be president, a presidential candidate might balance the ticket with a running mate with views different from their own. Even if Palin had the intellectual qualifications to be president, it might also make sense that McCain would prefer someone from a different wing of  the party to be the 2012 candidate as opposed to his running mate.

Don’t Panic About Palin 2012–Yet

The winner of the 2008 election hasn’t even taken office yet but CNN is already polling for 2012. The results:

  1. Mike Huckabee – 34%
  2. Sarah Palin – 32%
  3. Mitt Romney – 28%
  4. Newt Gingrich – 27%
  5. Rudy Giuliani – 23%
  6. Bobby Jindal – 19%
  7. Charlie Christ – 7%

Note even all conservatives are thrilled with this. Hot Air writes, “Tough choice. Do we go with the blue-collar populist social con who’s soft on immigration? Or do we go with Huckabee?”

Fortunately a poll this far before 2012 is primarily a test of name recognition and has little predictive value with regards to who will actually win. After the 2000 election Joe Lieberman led many polls for Democratic nominee in 2004 due to having been on the ticket, but he went nowhere once people actually started campaigning and voting. Having been on the ticket in 2004 didn’t help either John Kerry or John Edwards compete in 2008.

What is distressing is that sixty-six percent support the top two candidates who are from the religious right. Huckabee, who does have increased name recognition after running in 2008 even edges out Palin (but within the margin of error). The rest aren’t exactly social liberals either (considering the compromises Giuliani made in running this year). As I discussed yesterday, the religious right is currently the base of the GOP. A candidate they support will receive a boost in support, but also alienate far too many people for such a candidate to be likely to be viable in a national election.

Kathleen Parker Continues Assault on the Religious Right

If we are to ever regain the benefits of a viable two party system we will need to either see the Republicans move from their extremist positions or see a new party replace them. While many Republicans continue to delude themselves by arguing they lost because they were not conservative enough, some Republicans, such as Kathleen Parker, have been trying to warn them that they are on the wrong path.

Back in October I pointed out Kathleen Parker’s argument that John McCain made a tragic mistake in choosing Sarah Palin to be his running mate, joining  the “pantheon of men who, intoxicated by a woman’s power, made the wrong call.” Steve Benen notes that Parker called on Palin to step down from the ticket in September, arguing that “If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.” Parker looked beyond the problems with Sarah Palin in an op-ed today which correctly correlates their affiliation with the religious right with the decline of the Republican Party as a viable national party. Parker writes:

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

I’m bathing in holy water as I type.

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth — as long as we’re setting ourselves free — is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.

She even does something rare for a Republican–write that “Howard Dean was right.”

It isn’t that culture doesn’t matter. It does. But preaching to the choir produces no converts. And shifting demographics suggest that the Republican Party — and conservatism with it — eventually will die out unless religion is returned to the privacy of one’s heart where it belongs.

Religious conservatives become defensive at any suggestion that they’ve had something to do with the GOP’s erosion. And, though the recent Democratic sweep can be attributed in large part to a referendum on Bush and the failing economy, three long-term trends identified by Emory University’s Alan Abramowitz have been devastating to the Republican Party: increasing racial diversity, declining marriage rates and changes in religious beliefs.

Suffice it to say, the Republican Party is largely comprised of white, married Christians. Anyone watching the two conventions last summer can’t have missed the stark differences: One party was brimming with energy, youth and diversity; the other felt like an annual Depends sales meeting.

She also notes the demographic trends which work against the Republican Party:

But, like it or not, we are a diverse nation, no longer predominantly white and Christian. The change Barack Obama promised has already occurred, which is why he won.

Among Jewish voters, 78 percent went for Obama. Sixty-six percent of under-30 voters did likewise. Forty-five percent of voters ages 18-29 are Democrats compared to just 26 percent Republican; in 2000, party affiliation was split almost evenly.

The young will get older, of course. Most eventually will marry, and some will become their parents. But nonwhites won’t get whiter. And the nonreligious won’t get religion through external conversion. It doesn’t work that way.

Given those facts, the future of the GOP looks dim and dimmer if it stays the present course. Either the Republican Party needs a new base — or the nation may need a new party.

Even marrying and getting older won’t necessarily change how people vote. Voting is a  habit and once people vote for one part in a couple of elections it is difficult to get them to change. That, on top of exploiting fear of terrorism, is how the Republicans have managed to remain in power as long as they did even when their policies were far to the right of most voters.

Parker might be making the mistake that many Republicans make of confusing tolerance of other life styles with actually living differently. Just because young Democrats marry and have children does not mean they will suddenly vote based upon banning gay marriage and abortion. They certainly will not tolerate a party which desires to prevent embryonic stem cell research or to intervene in end of life decisions as in the Schiavo case.

Despite what many Republicans seem to think, many Democratic voters hold good jobs, invest in the stock market, are married, have children, abstain from drugs, and live what Republicans see as their life style. The battles on social issues are often not over how we live but over whether we want to have a government which tells people how they should live. While the party of Ronald Reagan spoke of getting government off our backs, they have been repudiated because have ignored this principle by agreeing to allow the religious right to use the power of government to impose their views upon others.