John Young
Special to the Daily

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January 29, 2014
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Young: GOP has terrible niche it must scratch

This just in: John McCain — too liberal for the Republican Party.

Guilty as charged, as pronounced last week by state committee members of the Arizona Republican Party. They voted to censure the state’s senior senator, and is anyone surprised? McCain’s crimes: insufficiently pure thought and collaboration with the enemy. Firing squad to be assembled at dawn.

McCain’s chief offenses, said a state party spokesman, were backing immigration reform and “supporting funding” for the Affordable Care Act.

Really? Supporting the ACA? No. McCain opposed it. What he did say in 2013 was that tea party extremists who sought to shut down the government over it should cool it.

The voters had returned President Obama to office, McCain observed. Like it or not, that counted for something — plus the fact that the ACA had been law for four years.

Far be it for these fingers to parse Arizona’s pulse. Nonetheless, let me be the first to predict that this matter — the state party’s denunciation of McCain — will weigh on voters like dust impedes wind: not at all. McCain should send these loud galoots a thank-you note.

We are seeing a “Lord of the Flies” moment in the party of Eisenhower, Goldwater, Ford and Dirksen. About the only things that separate today’s tea party petulants from the tenor of William Golding’s blood-lusty boys are shirts and shoes.

The tea party’s crowning achievement thus far has been to shut down the government, for the second time in two decades, a gambit that succeeded mainly to remind voters how much they like government.

Granted: In their impervious, locked-down, locked-up, gerrymandered districts, some in Congress need not worry about how their tactics and rhetoric are received by your basic scientific sampling of American voters. You’d think their party would, however.

Speaking of being weighed down: In a recent post in The New Yorker, Frank Rich extends his sympathy to today’s Republican Party over the fact that certain voices have become its own, and they aren’t the types that win national elections.

The first is Fox News. Fox’s ratings are robust within the niche it cultivates with its highly calculated appeals to white conservatives, but it’s anathema to a broader, diverse constituency. It’s something that concerns Fox News not one wit. But it should the GOP.

Add the voices that dominate AM radio. Actually, “dominate” is insufficient for the condition. That part of the dial has become what CB radio was in the ’70s: relevant only to listeners who know each other’s handles.

Hearing a political message that they desire makes these listeners feel better, but Rich points out that the central premise pumped out by right-wing broadcasters is a myth.

Rather than being victimized by “lamestream” media, Republicans, when in power nationally, were enabled and bolstered by the media establishment. Does anyone remember Operation Iraqi Freedom? Those media, Rich writes, were “the GOP’s best friend for several generations. ABC, CBS and NBC nightly news worked for GOP presidential candidates — convincing voters to see elections through a wide prism.”

Rich continues: “Conservatives delighting at the influence of their favorite talk show hosts and the decline of the mainstream media have missed this crucial modern political lesson: The GOP fared best in presidential politics through a nationalizing lens — not narrow-based ideological appeals.”

Yes, it’s a serious marketing problem when Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ted Cruz, Louie Gohmert, Sarah Palin and those Arizona state GOP committee members are the faces and voices of the enterprise.

Explain to me the viability of an organization that offers itself as a national player but is too narrow to countenance the likes of a John McCain.

Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

We are seeing a “Lord of the Flies” moment in the party of Eisenhower, Goldwater, Ford and Dirksen. About the only things that separate today’s tea party petulants from the tenor of William Golding’s blood-lusty boys are shirts and shoes.


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The Summit Daily Updated Jan 29, 2014 06:56PM Published Jan 30, 2014 08:07AM Copyright 2014 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.