Thursday, May 24, 2018
Opinion

A new GOP or just a cosmetic touchup?

Maybe the party is finally over.

Meaning not simply the Grand Old Party, but more specifically the bacchanal of the bizarre and carnival of crazy to which it has lately devolved. So obvious has this devolution become that even Republican stalwarts have been heard to decry the parody of a party the GOP has become.

Except now we see signs suggesting maybe a corner has been turned. There was, for example, that surprising bipartisan consensus on immigration reform, which one would have thought about as likely as a Ted Nugent concert on the White House lawn. And POLITICO reports that Karl Rove has started a super PAC whose mission is to keep the more … ahem, colorful candidates from winning Republican primaries. POLITICO also quotes what it calls a high-profile strategist who said party leaders are now trying to "marginalize the cranks, haters and bigots" whom until recently they portrayed as courageous truth tellers.

There's more. Fox "News," for many years the communications arm of the GOP, just ditched two of its fieriest firebrands: Dick Morris and Sarah Palin, who, like Linus in the pumpkin patch, kept assuring true believers of the Great Pumpkin of a Mitt Romney victory. This comes as Fox, though it still has numbers CNN would kill for, sees its ratings fall to a 12-year low among a key demographic.

Then there is Bobby Jindal. The Louisiana governor, widely considered a rising star of the GOP, has, since the election, been preaching with evangelistic zeal that Republicans must "stop being the stupid party." Which could be a reference to Herman Cain, presumably still poring over a map looking for "U-beki-beki-beki-becki-stan-stan." Or to Michele Bachmann, perhaps still searching out terrorists in the office of the secretary of state. Or to any of a series of GOP candidates who made statements on rape so spectacularly ignorant they would stun even the men in those dusty places where wives are bought like cattle.

So yes, signs are plentiful that something is afoot among the Republicans. But what does it mean?

One might hope it signifies the party's decision to abandon its alternate universe, offer reasonable alternatives to those voters not convinced that any one party or ideology has all the answers. One might hope it means an orderly retreat from the hard edge of coded racism, gay bashing, Mexican electrocuting, anti-intellectualism and fact avoidance that have been passed off as wisdom in recent years. One might hope it means a return of grownups, pragmatism, reason — and reasonableness.

One might hope.

But one might be well advised to gird that hope with wariness, given that this is the same party whose leaders, as reported on PBS's Frontline, held a meeting in 2009 and chose obstructionism as a political strategy. Note that, even while repeating his "stupid party" admonition at a GOP meeting in Charlotte, N.C., last month, Jindal assured his audience this did not mean rethinking or even moderating the party's hard-core — and frankly, out of touch — stands on issues like abortion and marriage equality.

No, he explained, he's talking about changing the packaging — not what's in it. Putting lipstick on the proverbial pig, in other words.

That will inevitably disappoint those longing for a new GOP. One hopes the party's soul searching eventually leads it to understand the need for evolution. It should not — and does not need to — become simply a pale imitation of the other party. But it also should not — and better not — settle for being simply a prettied-up version of the extremist outlier it has become.

Because you know what you call a pig with lipstick on? A pig with lipstick on.

© 2013 Miami Herald

Comments
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18