Thursday, October 30, 2008

Right-wing cabal

A Guardian (UK) journalist is one of many writing about it: Conservatives plan secret post-election strategy session. So does Jonathan Martin of Politico: Two days after next week's election, top conservatives will gather at the Virginia weekend home of one of the movement's most prominent members to begin a conversation about their role in the GOP and how best to revive a party that may be out of power at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue next year.

Who are these people? The meeting will include a "who's who of conservative leaders -- economic, national security and social," said one attendee, who shared initial word of the secret session only on the basis of anonymity and with some details about the host and location redacted.

Details of next week's post-election meeting, to be attended by state chairmen and prominent activists from the conservative wing of the party, are being kept secret for fear of being seen to pre-empt the outcome of the presidential contest.

But someone has already leaked word about the meeting.

Sarah Palin, John McCain's running-mate, though not present, will be a central figure in discussions about the party's future. "It is about what direction the party takes, the proverbial struggle for the soul of the party," Norman Ornstein, an analyst at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, the home of the neo-conservatives, said yesterday. "There will be a million postmortems and finger-pointing. What is unusual is that the finger-pointing has begun before the campaign has ended."

Palin seems to have repolaced Huckabee, and certainly Romney, as the darling of the right. Those two presumably are not ready to concede anything just yet.

"There's a sense that the Republican Party is broken, but the conservative movement is not," said this source, suggesting that it was the betrayal of some conservative principles by Bush and congressional leaders that led to the party's decline.

Conservatism not broken? Delusional.

Should McCain lose next Tuesday, the conversation will include who to groom as the next generation of conservative leaders – a list that will feature Palin at or near the top.

Grooming the heir-apparent. To take over what, exactly?

Few believe that the Republican party will respond to another brutal election by following a path of moderation, but conservatives are deeply dispirited and anxious to reassert the core values they believe have not always been followed by Bush, congressional leaders and their party’s presidential nominee . Many on the right, both elites and the rank-and-file, see a rudderless party that is in dire need of new blood and old principles: small government, a robust national security and unapologetic social conservatism.

Retreat to the far right; now, that's sensible.

Rush Limbaugh, a powerful figure in the party whose influence has spanned years of the GOP in and out of power, gave voice to this frustration Tuesday, saying candidly that "there is no elected or political leadership in Washington or in the Republican Party that people can rally around."

Limbaugh the king-maker. A windbag, certainly. An ideologue.

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