Green Room

The hollow howl of the RINOs

posted at 10:18 am on May 1, 2009 by

This week’s defection of Sen. Arlen Specter to the Democrats predictably set off another round of factional flame wars within the Republican party. The mutual finger-pointing is well-known by now. So-called “moderates” or “reformers” claim the GOP has drifted rightward, or that it is now dominated by a social conervativism toxic to the larger body politic. Social conservatives respond that such critics are unprincipled, that the 2008 presidential nominee, Maverick-y reformer John McCain, was a big loser, and so on. We have heard it all before.

The debate was clarified for me by an exchange at Instapundit. Glenn Reynolds correctly noted that the social con agenda is, if anything, less strident than it was in the 1980s. Reader Neil Sorens responded that “the change in perception is that with fiscal conservatism abandoned, the only distinguishing characteristic of the Republican Party is now social conservatism.”

That perception may well be reflected in how voters saw the presidential candidates in 2008, placing Mike Huckabee as the most conservative candidate, despite his progressive-populist pitch on a number of economic issues. Voters placed Huckabee right next to then-Pres. Bush, and rightly so.

After all, Bush was the biggest spending president since Lyndon B. Johnson, arguably even bigger, and the biggest since Nixon after excluding defense spending. The No Child Left Behind act, the 2002 farm bill, the 2003 Medicare prescription drug benefit, the 2005 highway bill — the list of big spending bills goes on and on. As Nick Gillespie summarized in January:

If increases in government spending matter, then Mr. Bush is worse than any president in recent history. During his first four years in office — a period during which his party controlled Congress — he added a whopping $345 billion (in constant dollars) to the federal budget. The only other presidential term that comes close? Mr. Bush’s second term. As of November 2008, he had added at least an additional $287 billion on top of that (and the months since then will add significantly to the bill). To put that in perspective, consider that the spendthrift LBJ added a mere $223 billion in total additional outlays in his one full term.

If spending under Mr. Bush was a disaster, regulation was even worse. The number of pages in the Federal Registry is a rough proxy for the swollen expanse of the regulatory state. In 2001, some 64,438 pages of regulations were added to it. In 2007, more than 78,000 new pages were added. Worse still, argues the Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy, Mr. Bush is the unparalleled master of “economically significant regulations” that cost the economy more than $100 million a year. Since 2001, he jacked that number by more than 70%. Since June 2008 alone, he introduced more than 100 economically significant regulations.

Specter was comfortable with all of this, as a true RINO; he voted for the trillion-dollar “stimulus” giveaway, just as he voted to water down the Bush tax cuts. One of his chief defenders, Sen. Olympia Snowe, stabbed House GOP moderates in the back by voting for the stimulus.

However, beyond the stimulus, the fact remains that most of the big-government items of the Bush Administration had substantial support from a Republican House and a Republican (or evenly-split) Senate.

That mindset can be found outside Congress, too. For example, “reformer” pundit David Frum — who called the Specter defection a “catastrophe” — also found the GOP opposition to the ginormous stimulus bill “brain dead.” He thinks the biggest expansion of an entitlement program since Johnson was the key to Bush’s reelection in 2004, though Democrats regained their traditional advantages on Medicare and education not long after the drug benefit and No Child Left Behind. He advocates a carbon tax that not even Democrats will openly advocate (hence their cap-and-trade boondoggle). Frum’s books make clear that he has resigned himself to an ever-growing government, which renders him particularly ill-suited to influence those who would at least like to resist it.

Similarly, Christine Todd Whitman can pen an NYT op-ed preaching fiscal restraint and less government interference in our everyday lives — but where has she been on these issues in this century? It’s a piece that could just as easily have been written by Rudy Giuliani, or any of the rest of the usual suspects. The case of Kal-fohr-nya Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also comes to mind.

At root, the real problem the Snowes, Frums and Whitmans of the world have is that social cons actually advocate and vote their principles on social issues. If the GOP is in danger of being seen as ideologically narrow and too identified with social issues, it is in no small part because its supposedly “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” wing generally has been socially liberal and not fiscally conservative. Having abandoned the core principles on which Republicans are supposed to agree, they would like the social cons to dump the remainder of their principles as well.

It is one thing to be a moderate or a centrist or a reformer. It is another thing to be a Republican In Name Only. Such people have no standing to dictate where everyone else sits on the party bus, let alone drive it.

Cross-posted at Patterico.

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Always good to hear “so-called” analysis.

MarkT on May 1, 2009 at 12:56 PM

Republicans should lead with our strength the economy, national security, and energy independence and leave the social issues to the states. If California wants to be the hemispheric welfare, moonbat, criminal and pervert magnet, (no plasma TV’s over 40 inches and no more black cars) let them own that (and pay for it). We’ll keep Texas.

Ricki on May 1, 2009 at 1:00 PM

Specter was comfortable with all of this, as a true RINO; he voted for the trillion-dollar “stimulus” giveaway, just as he voted to water down the Bush tax cuts. One of

That’s odd. Did he run into a character limit or something?

Count to 10 on May 1, 2009 at 1:08 PM

President Bush wanted to be a nice bi-partisan Republican president by working with the Dumocrats, but you can’t work WITH the Dumocrats, you can only work FOR the Dumocrats. If you give them an inch, they’ll take hundreds of miles or maybe even LIGHTYEARS. You can’t trust them to keep their word because they are PROVEN liars. They were supposed to cut spending when President Reagan got his first tax cut, but they not only DIDN’T cut spending, they INCREASED it. They did the same thing with President Bush I. They made him into a laughing stock because he went back on his “No new taxes” remark and again INCREASED spending. President Bush II compromised with the Dumocrats basically by implementing the programs that the Dumocrats wanted even before the Dumocrats were able to do it themselves. You can’t be bi-partisan with Dumocrats, because they can’t be trusted to do what they promised. The Dumocrats only know how to do three things: TAX, SPEND AND OVERREGULATE THE FREE MARKET ECONOMY.

TruthToBeTold on May 1, 2009 at 1:09 PM

Is the end of the post cut off?
I’m seeing this:

Bush tax cuts. One of

TexasDan on May 1, 2009 at 1:09 PM

The howling rinos got him!

lorien1973 on May 1, 2009 at 1:11 PM

Nah. Allah is working on another McShamnesty’s daughter post.

csdeven on May 1, 2009 at 1:13 PM

Nah. Allah is working on another McShamnesty’s daughter post.

csdeven on May 1, 2009 at 1:13 PM

*insert obligatory joke regarding “bandwidth”*

TheUnrepentantGeek on May 1, 2009 at 1:16 PM

I second Ricki and thank ya, we will keep Mississippi as well. Love to Texas!

What is so incredible about this is the sheer existence of SPECTOR, (to be said with that James Bond accent), in the GOP indicates our tent is large. The same can be said of Collins, Snow, McCain, Grahmnesty, and on some days a few others. The presence of these idiots in our party show we are indeed very, very tolerant. Arlen’s claims of our going too far to the Right is of course baloney, but having strong desires to enforce our Founding Documents is not just a Right thing, but it is right as a belief and as a principle. One could assert some Democrats would also like the Founding Documents enforced, but because of the “strong arm” techniques Rick Santorum said the Democrats deploy on their members; I doubt seriously we ever will see evidence of their true beliefs. The latest example, Joe Liberman. This suggest the Democrats do not tolerate moderates or Conservative leaning Democrats in THEIR party. So who really has the big tent?

Arlen has always been a political animal, and is the very definition of why so many turned out for the tea parties. We are beyond fed up with politicians. In my mind Arlen left so he could join the party full of politicians. Seriously, if you look listen to the Dems they never say they are reflecting the voice of their constituents. Dittos to the RINOS in the GOP. They certainly do not cave very often to their constituents screaming at them not to vote for a bill that enslaves generations of American citizens. Just the other night Obama said the American people would “eventually come around” to his way of viewing enhanced interrogation techniques. He outright is rejecting the views of 58% of the American public, and also consistently trashes the 55 million voters that DID NOT vote for him. These actions are not consistent with the claim the DNC is a “large tent” party. The day the GOP begins fighting back and actively demonstrating this to the Independents who are largely former Republicans, that is the day the GOP begins taking back Congress, each purple leaning state, and saves the nation from certain disaster. And throwing the RINOS out in the process would be a very good first step!

freeus on May 1, 2009 at 1:25 PM

It’s spot on … I remember listening to Jerry Falwell preach his TELEVISED sermons every Sunday in 1980. He espoused the Conservative line – socially and fiscally – and even went as far as saying that those who opposed these ideals “are being used, either knowingly or unknowingly – as tools of Satan”. I believe that is a direct quote. I don’t know if you can find them today – but Falwell’s sermons back then were partisan enough – he probably should have lost his tax exempt status.

In was in this environment that the “reactionary”, “war mongering”, “geriatric”, “tool of Falwell’s Religious Right” … Ronald Reagan PULVERIZED Jimmy Carter.

Anyone who says that Conservatism is over and can’t win – is flat out lying their face off. Let me tell you – this nation was a lot more socially liberal in the 60′s than it is today. Most liberals will admit that. The nation turned away from all that.

It is NOT TRUE … this notion that morality erodes over time and it doesn’t swing back. Social values “ebb and flow” depending on who’s leading.

What the RINO’s want is to acknowledge that we’re being led by Obama – and we should have people like them in our party because they can work with Obama to “temper” is radical ways. That is a farce.

I was in the military and one thing I know – there are always a certain number of troops who get scared and “rationalize” a reteat from the goals of the mission as soon as the bullets start flying. To be a good platoon leader – you have to recognize that you can’t listen to these people – you have to be firm with them.

“We’re taking that hill folks – and if you aren’t in it for the fight I’m getting rid of you right now!”

Only way to deal with the RINO’s and those too scared they think we need to modify our position and principles.

Soldier-Up people – you’re Republicans. You want to whine go call Cindy Sheehan – have tea with her.

HondaV65 on May 1, 2009 at 1:43 PM

Republicans should lead with our strength the economy, national security, and energy independence and leave the social issues to the states.

Yes, yes, yes, yes!

PrincipledPilgrim on May 1, 2009 at 1:43 PM

Karl was rushed off to the castle Aarrrrrrrrgghhhh.

Daggett on May 1, 2009 at 1:43 PM

Nah. Allah is working on another McShamnesty’s daughter post.

csdeven on May 1, 2009 at 1:13 PM

*insert obligatory joke regarding “bandwidth”*

TheUnrepentantGeek on May 1, 2009 at 1:16 PM

Heh. Actually Allah’s busy Twittering back and forth with the Rubenesque Republican. Red ’til I’m Dead!

Jaibones on May 1, 2009 at 1:49 PM

Yes, yes, yes, yes!

PrincipledPilgrim on May 1, 2009 at 1:43 PM

Yes. New platform:

- National Defense,
- The economy,
- Freedom and Liberty.

Jaibones on May 1, 2009 at 1:50 PM

The GreenRoom ate half the post. It’ll be back up in a moment. Earlier today, comments were turned off for no reason. Still some bugs, it seems.

Karl on May 1, 2009 at 1:55 PM

Earth to RINOs: we tried it your way with two generations of Bushes. Now, shut up.

King Bush I (1988-1992) needed nothing but to keep his promises and he’d have had a second term. Nope, couldn’t do it. Wasn’t prudent at that juncture. Dissing Reagan, a tax increase, recession, gun control, no swamp left behind, Souter, a war of half measures…

And throwing the RINOS out in the process would be a very good first step!
freeus on May 1, 2009 at 1:25 PM

Yeah, there’s no stock left in the RINO tent argument. It’s the same aggressors and liars in power crying victim the way the liberals do. I don’t blame the voters as much any more — the party apparatus keeps S.P.E.C.T.E.R. incumbents locked in. That’s a good reason to give $0.00 to parties.

The real argument in the Republican Party is ruling-class vs. Main Street.

Feedie on May 1, 2009 at 1:57 PM

Yup.

ExTex on May 1, 2009 at 2:31 PM

Amen – Amen – A M E N

Hal-9000 on May 1, 2009 at 2:53 PM

Honda V65 and Feedie

I concur. Speaking of catastrophic Bushes and the ruling class, let’s not forget Jeb “You can’t lead a mob” Bush.

The Bushes remind me of what NFL coach Bill Walsh once said about his then starting quarterback Steve DeBerg – “He plays just well enough to lose.”

Dubya in particular. Two Republican presidential wins and we get massive overspending and a complete, total inability and unwillingness to promote, advocate for, and defend his good policies, i.e., national defense. Dubya wanted to be popular and also liked playing the martyr. He didn’t understand that it’s not just about him. He left a lot of good people twisting in the wind because he took the alleged “high road” out of laziness and the insular, imperial self-regard that is part of the Kennebunkport Bushes.

Django on May 1, 2009 at 3:12 PM

I am not a social con by any stretch of the imagination. The closest I come to being one is saying that religiously conservative people have the right to be religiously conservative without leftie howler monkeys getting in their faces.

Common ground should be fiscal conservatism. And I fully agree that social issues have been a poor substitute for substantial fiscal conservatism. The biggest social con would kiss Janeane Garofalo for tickets to watch Rudy Guiliani debate the TOTUS. The biggest fiscally conservative social moderate tends to like Palin the more they know her.

Sekhmet on May 1, 2009 at 3:12 PM

Defection?

Nah, more like a declaration.

Finally, the Spectre is out of the closet…

karl9000 on May 1, 2009 at 3:18 PM

If the GOP is in danger of being seen as ideologically narrow and too identified with social issues, it is in no small part because its supposedly “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” wing generally has been socially liberal and not fiscally conservative. Having abandoned the core principles on which Republicans are supposed to agree, they would like the social cons to dump the remainder of their principles as well.

Yes. If Frum and “Bubbles” McCain are truly interested in re-instituting Republican-driven small government then they need a better platform than “social cons suck, hooray for queer marriage.” I think at the end of the day, they just want to be associated with the popular team that’s getting stroked by the pop culture and the media – and they’re not. They don’t actually stand FOR anything that I can see other than caving in to whoever’s currently in power.

Django on May 1, 2009 at 3:24 PM

Yes. New platform:

- National Defense,
- The economy,
- Freedom and Liberty.

Jaibones on May 1, 2009 at 1:50 PM

We don’t need a new platform. We need people who take the current one seriously.

The great myth of the Republicans as social cons only is such horsecrap.

We do need Republicans to be fiscally conservative. The number of social conservatives who disagree can be counted on one hand, and they don’t pay attention until election time anyway.

We need Republicans to be proud of conservatism. End of story.

bcm4134 on May 1, 2009 at 3:35 PM

At root, the real problem the Snowes, Frums and Whitmans of the world have is that social cons actually advocate and vote their principles on social issues. If the GOP is in danger of being seen as ideologically narrow and too identified with social issues, it is in no small part because its supposedly “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” wing generally has been socially liberal and not fiscally conservative. Having abandoned the core principles on which Republicans are supposed to agree, they would like the social cons to dump the remainder of their principles as well.

It is one thing to be a moderate or a centrist or a reformer. It is another thing to be a Republican In Name Only. Such people have no standing to dictate where everyone else sits on the party bus, let alone drive it.

Karl, I totally agree. Moderates wait for the political winds to blow before they find their direction. As for the list of RINOs, I wholly concur. However, when I mention McCain or Lindsay Graham or Bill O’Reilly or Dennis Miller heads are spinning spewing pea soup.

I believe the fiscal conservative/social liberal is a liberal not in the classical sense. Conservative means limited government and specifically enumerated powers. From the New Deal to the Great Society to Obama’s New Era of Responsibility, that which is not explicitly conservative without reservation is modern day, non-classical liberal. This is O’Sullivan’s Law and it stands.

Angry Dumbo on May 1, 2009 at 3:41 PM

We don’t need a new platform. We need people who take the current one seriously.

The great myth of the Republicans as social cons only is such horsecrap.

We do need Republicans to be fiscally conservative. The number of social conservatives who disagree can be counted on one hand, and they don’t pay attention until election time anyway.

We need Republicans to be proud of conservatism. End of story.

bcm4134 on May 1, 2009 at 3:35 PM

You put this very well. I totally agree on the platform. The platform has never been the problem. In fact it has been one of the Republican Party’s greatest strengths dating back to the Contract for America and the Balanced Budget Amendment. The party stood for something at that time.

Angry Dumbo on May 1, 2009 at 3:53 PM

This is a very clearly articulated explanation of what happened to the GOP and why there is a perception that it turned further right when it did not.

National Defense conservatives who believe in a strong military but used prudently rather than overextending it like Bush did in Iraq (ie-nation building), and fiscal conservatives who believe in low taxes and low federal spending as a % of the federal budget, and limited government in general got burned real bad. They thereby got disillusioned and this part of the GOP bailed somewhat leaving social conservatives left.

It is not the Social Conservatives who hurt the GOP. People did not vote against socon values. They voted against what they felt was an unecessary war in Iraq or too costly war (although finishing it with the surge) and a surrender on limited government by Bush and the GOP in Congress. Throw in the tanking financial industry and economy and pow, lose the election.

The interesting thing is that almost every socon I know is also for limited federal government in-line with the Constitution. Religious people tend to want to be honest and stick to the Law.

Sapwolf on May 1, 2009 at 4:03 PM

The truth is that Juan McCain would’ve lost to Obama like Mondale did to Reagan if it had been for Palin. It is time for McCain, Graham and Swartznegger to move on to greener pastures and let the GOP be the GOP. Rather to lose on principle than compromise ideals for personal gain. If McCain and Huckabee had not used the evangelicals as tools to defeat Romney, this whole scenario could’ve been totally different.

volsense on May 1, 2009 at 4:06 PM

I couldn’t agree more. As a fiscal conservative and social libertarian (in that I’m socially conservative personally but don’t care too much what others do — e.g. I wouldn’t personally hire a prostitute but I don’t care if others do or if others are), it feels like the party has no foundation and has slipped left from me.

Jens on May 1, 2009 at 4:35 PM

The biggest fiscally conservative social moderate tends to like Palin the more they know her.

Sekhmet on May 1, 2009 at 3:12 PM

What a load of garbage, there is nothing and I mean nothing in the way Palin governs that shows she’s a fiscal conservative. She’s just as much of a populist as Huckabee when it comes to fiscal policy. Something the Palin supporters gleefully ignore. That was the point Karl trying to make.

lowandslow on May 1, 2009 at 5:20 PM

Actually, my post was not in the slightest bit about Palin. I don’t know enough about her fiscal record to have factored her into this post. I will say she had a record of taking on entrenched, corrupt GOP pols, which suggests you can hold social con positions and be a “reformer,” though not one David Frum would like.

Karl on May 1, 2009 at 8:03 PM

To me this story could not be emphasized enough. I just read where Mitt, Juan McCain, Cantor, Jeb BUSH, and Jindal are on the National American Blah Blah tour. It was made very clear this “is not a contract with America”. Loverly! The article on the American Spectator also said there is some sort of moves being made, (RIGHT!), to reach out to Palin, but that the door had been slammed in Newt’s face because of his connection to American Solutions. If Palin joins this group she is toast. Somehow, I do not think she is very welcome for a multitude of reasons.

My head has made contact several times with the wall!

These idiots just do not get it. I am very disappointed Jindal joined this cabal, and Mitt as well. It was a political power seeking move on their parts which runs in the vein of S.P.E.C.T.R. E. relocating himself. To me it was all based on sucking up to RINOS and mods in the party. They apparently are also saying the GOP needs a new voice, platform, etc. As everyone said here, what we need is a reconnection between the GOP, the Base, and the American public. Then it would help if they could trop the political calculations, and run the party with some common sense. It is all rather simple, but far too difficult for the beltway types to fathom.

This so called tour of listening to the American public by this group is a farce.

freeus on May 2, 2009 at 2:14 PM

Karl,

There is much to admire in your post, however, the conclusions that its a Republican Problem is incorrect.

Also spending is only one side of a fiscal evaluation of an administration – the other is the taxing of the people

TO wit, please examine this article carefully researched by a noteable organization

http://www.heritage.org/research/taxes/bg2001.cfm

Also Karl, Bush spent less per GDP than any other president in modern times – for most of his tenure, its only when the Dems assumed control in late 2005 that his administrations budgets soared for the last two years under democrat leadership.

2002 taxes were 12.9% of GDP the second lowest year since 1944

2002 outlays were 16.0% of GDP, except for the Republican led Clinton years – the Lowest since Nixon

2003 Taxes were 11.6% the lowest of any American President – since 1942

2003 outlays were 16.6% of GDP reflecting the slowdown in the economy due to 9/11

2004 taxes were 11.7% again the lowest of any American President – since 1942

2004 outlays were 16.9% – without subtracting the cost of 9/11 and two wars and the florida hurricanes (4 of them) even without subtracting this was better than Reagan, LBJ, Nixon, and truman and was about where Eisenhower and Bush I were in spending

2005 saw democrats in the senate force the repeal of some taxes 12.9% were collected – however 12.9% of GDP is still better than Clinton, Reagan, Carter, Nixon, LBJ, Kennedy, Eisenhower and FDR

Outlays in 2005 were still under 17% despite Katrina and 2 wars Better than Reagan, the Democrat Clinton years

2006 Saw Harry Reid take control of the Seante from the Minority – with the Focus on a national election taxes were repealed and rose to 13.8% still significantly better than Clinton almost as good as most years of Reagan, better than Carter, Nixon, Lby, Kennedy, and Truman

Spending in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 averaged 16.9% of GDP

so the last 4 years of Bush were better than these years, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1984, 1983, 1982, 1981, 1976, 1975, 1959(tied) 1954, 1953, 1952

http://www.gpoaccess.gov/USbudget/fy08/hist.html

I don’t know how and where you are drawing conclusions about fiscal conservatism, I think its more from MSM emotionalisms and less from actual facts

EricPWJohnson on May 2, 2009 at 9:46 PM

Eric spending almost doubled since the early 90s . Did the population double?

Jamson64 on May 2, 2009 at 11:04 PM

* 2010 United States federal budget – $3.60 trillion (submitted 2009 by President Obama)
* 2009 United States federal budget – $3.10 trillion (submitted 2008 by President Bush)
* 2008 United States federal budget – $2.90 trillion (submitted 2007 by President Bush)
* 2007 United States federal budget – $2.77 trillion (submitted 2006 by President Bush)
* 2006 United States federal budget – $2.7 trillion (submitted 2005 by President Bush)
* 2005 United States federal budget – $2.4 trillion (submitted 2004 by President Bush)
* 2004 United States federal budget – $2.3 trillion (submitted 2003 by President Bush)
* 2003 United States federal budget – $2.2 trillion (submitted 2002 by President Bush)
* 2002 United States federal budget – $2.0 trillion (submitted 2001 by President Bush)
* 2001 United States federal budget – $1.9 trillion (submitted 2000 by President Clinton)
* 2000 United States federal budget – $1.8 trillion (submitted 1999 by President Clinton)
* 1999 United States federal budget – $1.7 trillion (submitted 1998 by President Clinton)
* 1998 United States federal budget – $1.7 trillion (submitted 1997 by President Clinton)
* 1997 United States federal budget – $1.6 trillion (submitted 1996 by President Clinton)
* 1996 United States federal budget – $1.6 trillion (submitted 1995 by President Clinton)

Jamson64 on May 2, 2009 at 11:07 PM

Jamson64

Yes and so did the GDP

in 1995 GDP was not even 6 After Bush 13

Duh! and 2005/6 was Katrina and the Surge and 2007 and 2008 were all Democrat Budgets

The Budgets from 1996 to 2001 were submitted by Tom Delay and Newt Gingrich

EricPWJohnson on May 3, 2009 at 1:57 AM

So much for facts getting in the way – again!

EricPWJohnson on May 3, 2009 at 1:57 AM

Karl
Keep up the good work. You are one of my favorite bloggers on here.
Someday rinos can all go back to being democrats and “help” them just like they have helped us. The sooner the better.

kangjie on May 4, 2009 at 3:48 PM