A Taft Republican on the Tea Party

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan aka "Our Lady Of The Magic Dolphins" as Charles Pierce at Esquire mocks her, wrote a column recently in which she imagines herself interviewing the late Robert Taft, often referred to as "Mr. Republican," about his advice to the modern-day GOP. The Wisdom of 'Mr. Republican'. I would call this creepy, but a number of pundits over the years have used this interview of dead people shtick, so it must be an acceptable form of literary device.

But if you want the the straight dope from a Taft Republican and not the hallucinatory tripping of Our Lady of The Magic Dolphins, the New York Times today has a guest opinion from John G. Taft. The Cry of the True Republican:

Five generations of Tafts have served our nation as unwaveringly stalwart Republicans, from Alphonso Taft, who served as attorney general in the late 19th century, through William Howard Taft,
who not only was the only person to be both president of the United
States and chief justice of the United States but also served as the
chief civil administrator of the Philippines and secretary of war, to my
cousin, Robert Taft, a two-term governor of Ohio.

As I write, a photograph of my grandfather, Senator Robert Alphonso
Taft, looks across at me from the wall of my office. He led the
Republican Party in the United States Senate in the 1940s and early
1950s, ran for the Republican nomination for president three times and
was known as “Mr. Republican.” If he were alive today, I can assure you
he wouldn’t even recognize the modern Republican Party, which has
repeatedly brought the United States of America to the edge of a fiscal
cliff — seemingly with every intention of pushing us off the edge.

Throughout my family’s more than 170-year legacy of public service,
Republicans have represented the voice of fiscal conservatism.
Republicans have been the adults in the room. Yet somehow the current
generation of party activists has managed to do what no previous
Republicans have been able to do — position the Democratic Party as the
agents of fiscal responsibility.

Speaking through the night, Senator Ted Cruz, with heavy-lidded,
sleep-deprived eyes, conveyed not the libertarian element in Republican
philosophy that advocates for smaller government and less intrusion into
the personal lives of citizens. but a new, virulent strain of empty
nihilism: “blow it up if we can’t get what we want.”

This recent display of bomb-throwing obstructionism by Republicans in
Congress evokes another painful, historically embarrassing chapter in
the Republican Party — that of Senator Joseph McCarthy
, chairman of the
Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, whose anti-Communist
crusade was allowed by Republican elders to expand unchecked,
unnecessarily and unfairly tarnishing the reputations of thousands of
people with “Red Scare” accusations of Communist affiliation. Finally
Senator McCarthy was brought up short during the questioning of the
United States Army’s chief counsel, Joseph N. Welch, who at one point
demanded the senator’s attention, then said: “Until this moment,
Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your
recklessness.” He later added: “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At
long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

Watching the Republican Party use the full faith and credit of the
United States to try to roll back Obamacare, watching its members
threaten not to raise the debt limit — which Warren Buffett rightly
called a “political weapon of mass destruction” — to repeal a tax on
medical devices, I so wanted to ask a similar question: “Have you no
sense of responsibility? At long last, have you left no sense of

There is more than a passing similarity between Joseph McCarthy and Ted
Cruz, between McCarthyism and the Tea Party movement. The Republican
Party survived McCarthyism because, ultimately, its excesses caused it
to burn out. And eventually party elders in the mold of my grandfather
were able to realign the party with its brand promise: The Republican
Party is (or should be) the Stewardship Party. The Republican brand is
(or should be) about responsible behavior. The Republican party is (or
should be) at long last, about decency.

What a long way we have yet to go.

Yes indeed.

Comments are closed.