In an editorial, The Economist magazine has attacked America's Republicans; labelling them "fratricidal, increasingly extreme on many issues and woefully short of ideas".
- Fratricidal: "This week California’s Republicans chose two relatively moderate former chief executives, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, to run for governor and the Senate. But both had to dive to the right to win, which will not help them in November. And in neighbouring Nevada the Republicans chose a tea-partier so extreme that she may yet allow Harry Reid, the unloved Democratic Senate leader, to hang on to his seat. Many of the battles are indeed nastier than normal: witness the squabble in Florida, where the popular governor, Charlie Crist, has left the party; Senator Lindsey Graham walking away from climate-change legislation for fear of vile personal attacks; and even John McCain, who has battled with the southern-fried crazies in his party for decades, joining the chorus against Mexican “illegals” to keep his seat."
- Increasingly extreme: "There is a dwindling band of moderate Republicans who understand that they have to work with the Democrats in the interests of America. There is the old intolerant, gun-toting, immigrant-bashing, mainly southern right which sees any form of co-operation as treachery, even blasphemy."
- Woefully short of ideas: "The Republicans seem to be reducing themselves into exactly what the Democrats say they are: the nasty party of No. They may well lambast Mr Obama for expanding the federal deficit; but it is less impressive when they are unable to suggest alternatives. Paul Ryan, a bright young congressman from Wisconsin, has a plan to restore the budget to balance; it has sunk without a trace. During the row over health care, the right demanded smaller deficits but refused to countenance any cuts in medical spending on the elderly. Cutting back military spending is denounced as surrender to the enemy. Tax rises of any kind (even allowing the unaffordable Bush tax cuts to expire as scheduled) are evil."
The dissection of the GOP continues in an extended essay.
One Republican's answer to these tensions is to focus like a laser beam on the deficit. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels – a staunch social conservative – has called for a truce on social issues. He made the remarks in an interview for The Weekly Standard. The next president, he said, “would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues. We’re going to just have to agree to get along for a little while,” until the economic issues are resolved.""
Nice idea but it's had a big thumbs down from conservative pundits. Ramesh Ponnuru, for example…
"Truces are usually popular, and most people see the economic issues as more important than the social ones at this moment. But I’m not sure how a truce would work. If Justice Kennedy retired on President Daniels’s watch, for example, he would have to pick someone as a replacement. End of truce."
…and Ross Douthat…
"On the set of existing social-issue flashpoints where the president has direct power — executive orders and (especially) judicial appointments — Daniels’ suggestion doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s a political loser in the G.O.P. primaries, but more importantly it’s an impractical approach to governing: A “truce” policy would either turn out to be a meaningless rhetorical flourish (and would be quickly attacked as such), or else it would be indistinguishable from surrender."
Until the Republicans agree on a way forward they can take comfort from Obama's awful numbers. This table – also from The Economist – records American voters' belief that things are getting worse on alm ost every front: