This Week’s Cover

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Here’s this week’s cover story by Michael Grunwald on the state of the Grand Ole Party. An interesting tidbit: Joe the Plumber is leaving the Party in disgust. An excerpt:

So are the Republicans going extinct? And can the death march be stopped? The Washington critiques of the Republican Party as powerless, leaderless and rudderless — the new Donner party — are not very illuminating. Minority parties always look weak and inept in the penalty box. Sure, it can be comical to watch Republican National Committee (RNC) gaffe machine Michael Steele riff on his hip-hop vision for the party or Texas Governor Rick Perry carry on about secession or Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann explain how F.D.R.’s “Hoot-Smalley” Act caused the Depression (the Smoot-Hawley Act, a Republican tariff bill, was enacted before F.D.R.’s presidency), but haplessness does not equal hopelessness. And yes, the Republican brand could benefit from spokesmen less familiar and less reviled than Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich, but the party does have some fresher faces stepping out of the wings.

The Democratic critiques of the GOP — that it’s the Party of No, or No Ideas — are not helpful either. It’s silly to fault an opposition party for opposition; obstructionism helped return Democrats to power. Republicans actually have plenty of ideas.

That’s the problem. The party’s ideas — about economic issues, social issues and just about everything else — are not popular ideas. They are extremely conservative ideas tarred by association with the extremely unpopular George W. Bush, who helped downsize the party to its extremely conservative base. A hard-right agenda of slashing taxes for the investor class, protecting marriage from gays, blocking universal health insurance and extolling the glories of waterboarding produces terrific ratings for Rush Limbaugh, but it’s not a majority agenda. The party’s new, Hooverish focus on austerity on the brink of another depression does not seem to fit the national mood, and it’s shamelessly hypocritical, given the party’s recent history of massive deficit spending on pork, war and prescription drugs in good times, not to mention its continuing support for deficit-exploding tax cuts in bad times.

I asked Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel about this same subject in an interview not too long ago, here’s his take:

We have a long time to go but I’d still bet on us in 2010. If you look at history, I mean it happened in ‘72, people talking about the dominance of the Republican Party because of Richard Nixon’s trumping. In 1980 they were saying that about Ronald Reagan. I just think that anybody that tells you that they can predict the future — I mean ‘64 to ‘66 and then ’68 — I don’t think anybody should be in the business of predicting two years out let alone 10 years out. That said, first, we have a New York 20 race that should’ve been a lay down for the Republicans and it wasn’t. Second, I think what Republicans tactically and strategically are saying today is a mistake. And, third, look at long-term trends in the country, the ascending groups in the population are Democratic by proclivity of three-to-one and the descending groups are Republicans in almost every group. You know, you see the rise of the Hispanic vote, the rise of the young voter, the professional couple, as a larger proportion of the electorate; those are all Democratic in proclivity.

Commentator Alaskanturkey has a point: here’s the other side as presented by MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough who has a book out on the subject.

Grunwald tells me that Joe the Plumber also said he didn’t vote for McCain in the primary; he voted for Huckabee! “I was not a fan of McCain. That amnesty bill was the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard in my life.”