Republican Kooks Come from Kook Culture

Cleveland    I read Karl Rove, the long time George W. Bush political mastermind and Svengali. He writes a regular column for the Wall Street Journal. He is an interesting voice for the Republican establishment or what’s left of it.

In the wake of the Alabama election he has taken a fascinating position. First, he back pats himself for having been a target – along with Democrats – for Judge Roy Moore’s fundraising campaigns. He’s not a fan, so he’s fine with that. Secondly, he – along with the Journal editorials who are a bizarre group themselves from what I can read – is part of the anti-Bannon wing of the Republican Party. If Bannon wants a revolution in the party so it is more Trumpy, Rove and his tribe want their good ol’ days back somewhere on the lawns of Maine seasides and Texas ranches.

Rove’s main argument is that as long as the Republican Party puts forward what he refers to as “kooks,” they will get beaten by Democrats in races that he believes should be shoo-ins for them. He cites a surprisingly long list of kooks in Arizona and Nevada and other deep red states, and then makes the incontestable argument that Judge Moore was the kookiest of the lot running in the reddest of Republican states where the party had won darned close to 90% of its statewide races in recent years. Rove’s plea is that the Republican Party needs to stop putting forward kooks.

How bizarre. He seems either oblivious or in denial about the fact a “kooky” culture is what produces kooky candidates from dog catcher to President. If the Republican contribution to cultural issues are evangelical extremes and Bible-thumping, which seemed to be the Moore program, along with retro-racism and women-bashing, now tainted with outright sexual abuse and harassment from the top to the bottom, why would kooks not feel at home and entitled to put themselves forward as standard bearers for the party. If the party stands for no health care, cutbacks in support to the elderly and the poor, tax breaks and subsidies for corporations and the rich, but won’t admit it, yet flies ever flag on the cultural front, then the party is going to keep attracting a range of kooks flying their own freak flag for Republicans.

Rove misses the fact that the message about the internal culture of the Republican Party is that this is now the home of the hostile, where wild men and some wild women can now take their rage to election contests rather than the road. He’s the rearguard, and they are vanguard.

It’s not clear that Republicans have learned anything from the Moore defeat about kooks. They allowed him to grow like a monster in their soil for decades, and then reaped the harvest. There is no real sign of any move by the party to pull the weeds they have planted so deeply across the country.