Former Vice President Dick Cheney said he’d take Rush Limbaugh over Colin Powell in an interview on Face The Nation this Sunday. Unbelievable!
Never mind that Colin Powell is an authentic American hero of the Vietnam and Gulf Wars; that he served his nation honorably as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Defense Secretary, and Secretary of State during successive Republican administrations; and that he campaigned for the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2000 and 2004. According to Cheney, Powell is no longer a Republican because he supported Barack Obama for president. Contrast this with Obama welcoming Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman back into the Democratic fold after Lieberman supported the McCain-Palin ticket in 2008.
There was a time when any party would have been proud to count this enlightened voice of moderation, whose intellect is seen as one of the most forward looking in the nation, among its ranks. The Republican party of Eisenhower, Reagan and Bush I knew they had an outstanding leader in Powell. But the party of Cheney prefers a blowhard egotist and demagogue like Rush Limbaugh over Powell—and have been literally inviting the latter to leave the party. Limbaugh’s only claim to fame is his radio ratings and a big fat contract worth nearly half a billion. Cheney’s statement reveals more about the mindset of the pro-torture, manipulative, and mean-spirited Bush-Cheney administration than anything we have seen and heard in the past 8 years.
In recent weeks, the state of the GOP has been the subject of a number of articles on this blog and most reputable publications in the US have been weighing in on the future of the Republican party. Many forward-looking voices within the party and the commentariat have argued for a modernization of conservative principles as the basis for renewal. People like David Frum and David Brooks believe that the GOP must venture into new areas such as healthcare and global warming, and find solutions that could cross party lines while still adhering to conservative principles. Moreover, these potential ‘reformers’ emphasize the need to widen the electoral tent and appeal to new voters of different age groups and nationalities. The Republicans, they argue, must once again talk about a new morning in America as they become—slowly, but surely and patiently—a viable alternative to the Democrats.
What we are observing is not a pretty sight in this latest round of exclusionary politics. Policy differences are acceptable, posturing between factions is par for the course, and personality conflicts are to be expected. Finding new leadership when thrust in opposition has never been easy. But Cheney’s choice of Limbaugh over Powell reduces the Republican party to a boisterous, exclusive country club that keeps the conservative political tent small and ultimately marginal. Cheney is evidently more interested in defending the Bush administration than in rebuilding the Republican party.
Cheney avoided impeachment only because of a Republican majority in Congress and a complacent Congress. And, even with the Democrats in power, he may still avoid prosecution for violating the Constitution. But hopefully, Republicans will rise to prevent Cheney from shooting the Republicans in the face and thereby destroy the party in the process. Stand up, Republicans!