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Patrick Buchanan
Pat Buchanan
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A Republican Retreat -- or Rout?


Given the expectations raised by the Republican punditocracy — that Mitt was headed for a big victory — the jolt of defeat hit especially hard.

Now, what had seemed an orderly retreat has taken on the aspect of a rout, with Beltway Republicans calling for abandonment of fixed positions all along the line.

After Senate candidates Richard Mourdock in Indiana and Todd Akin in Missouri bollixed the question of abortion in cases of rape, Republicans are being counseled to downgrade or dump the social issues. As young people seem to support same-sex marriage, why not be good libertarians and get on board?

As Romney got 27 percent of the Hispanic vote, we must stop this talk of border fences, ID cards, employer sanctions and "self-deportation," and reconsider amnesty and a path to citizenship.

The party is being urged to shed positions dear to loyalists, to win over folks who voted for Obama. And those who urge the ditching of positions dear to the base are rewarded with indulgent media portrayals as Republican leaders who have "grown."

But there are two problems with this panicky reaction to defeat.

First, while the defections depress and dishearten the faithful, they rarely attract the disbelievers whom the switch is designed to appease. Second, such maneuvers are the indelible mark of the opportunist.

Which bring us to John Boehner's concessions to Obama to save us from going over the fiscal cliff.

Though a tax increase would violate party principle and a commitment to constituents just a month ago, and though Lord Keynes himself would argue that raising taxes in a limp economy is risky business, Boehner has offered Obama $800 billion in new tax revenues.

Yet, though Boehner is capitulating, the White House has backhanded his offer. The Clinton tax rates on the rich must be restored or no deal, says Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Obama takes a more moderate position. We must raise both rates and revenues.

The purpose here? Rub Republican noses in their capitulation, and force a rupture within their party.

While the administration could reap far more revenue by capping and cutting deductions — "tax expenditures" in the liberal catechism — an increase in tax rates would be such a transparent surrender it would cause a rebellion in the House and demoralize the conservatives.

Why, then, are Republicans still bearing gifts to Obama, with a few even pushing for concessions on tax rates?

They are terrified of the fiscal cliff, and understandably so.

For if we go over, taxes rise on every family, and polls say that by 2 to 1 the people will hold Republicans responsible.

And if we go over the cliff and taxes rise on everyone, the first order of business of Obama in the New Year will be to push a tax cut for the 98 percent of Americans who earn less than $250,000. His second move will be to reverse the damage done to the national defense by the sequester.

By his State of the Union address, Obama would be able to pose as the rescuer of the middle class from the abyss into which the GOP had plunged it — to prevent fat cats from paying a fair share for debt reduction.

And he would be able to pose credibly as a peace-through-strength Democratic president determined to restore deep cuts in defense caused by a congressional sequester.

At the end of the Battle of the Fiscal Cliff, the GOP may be left in the position of the lady who sold her virtue — and didn't get paid.

By Jan. 31, the GOP may have double-crossed its Tea Party allies by accepting increases in tax revenues and rates, and alienated its strongest supporters, seniors, by demanding and winning freezes and cuts in future Medicare and Social Security benefits.

If Republicans cut a deal on tax hikes to prevent our going over the cliff, they look like collaborators. If they refuse to cut a deal, the Bush tax cuts are history and the GOP will be forced to enact the new "Obama tax cuts."

The Republican Party seems close to the end of its tether.

Party elites want to go silent on social issues, while the base believes they define who we are. The base wants no part of wars on Syria or Iran being pushed by leading Senate Republicans.

The grass roots see mass immigration as imperiling the national unity and community and advancing national bankruptcy. The elites babble on about an open door.

Now a GOP House elected to hold the line on taxes is offering new tax revenues and perhaps higher tax rates to fund the biggest Big Government in history. The GOP is close to reassuming its role as the tax collector for the welfare state.

Meanwhile, the New Majority coalition is passing on, and the era of Reagan is over for good. The party needs new ideas and leaders other than the ones who brought them to this dead end.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?" To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at



8 Comments | Post Comment
It's a rout, ney, a death sentence. Why even ask the question?

This is what incompetence and utter disconnection from reality bring. Anybody with a brain could have seen coming this nail in the Repe coffin, from the beginning of the primary season.

If they don't wake up to the issues of the 21st century, to basic science, to global warming, to the need to protect and conserve environment ("Conserve", get it? Conserve, conservative, protect the family jewels for the coming generations, don't cash it all in now for THE MONEY. These concepts are what "conservative" really means, not just a stupid, non-thinking label for those idiots who oppose the Democrats. Does "conservative" describe the current Repes? Nope, not in our wildest dreams), the Repes are toast and very possibly so is this nation. The nation needs competent opposition to the Democratic Party, and it's not there.

Hold the funeral and whine and pine about how it was a good old fight to bring back the good old days, or wake up and find the human intelligence and spine you are capable of. Your choice, you washed up pseudo-conservatives.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Masako
Thu Dec 6, 2012 7:23 PM
Well said, Masako. A true conservative cringes when these asses call themselves conservative.
Comment: #2
Posted by: morgan
Thu Dec 6, 2012 10:54 PM
I noticed how Pat dosen't really give his opinion on what to do here. He is just running through what he thinks possible scenarios will be. He always states his opinion in foreign issues, but it seems to me he cares about the fiscial situation enough to write about it, but is unsure himself on what to do about it. I think there is a big differnence between being an opportunist, and being stuck in unpopular positions that keep you from advancing. Its crazy to maintain the same positions no matter what.
Lets talk about global warming Maskao. Its hard to deny that the temp of the Earth had gone up. Lets say the science is in and it is 100% because of man made emissions. What can we do? I hear no viable solutions. People will still drive SUVs. People still want warm homes in the winter. Clean energies cost more money in an economy thats already weak. And even if we did get US emission under control, China is a much bigger polluter than us. I recognize this problem, but I also recognize that there is not an easy answer to it.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Fri Dec 7, 2012 6:35 AM
Talk of death to the Republican party is just plain silly. These things ebb and flow. Democrats didn't come back from the brink by giving up their core values. In fact Democrats have move further left to appeal to their base. The real answer is that the Conservatives must really act conservative.
Comment: #4
Posted by: david
Fri Dec 7, 2012 7:21 AM
Masako is quite correct. The difficulty I see in the GOP is that they abandoned the center long ago with the "southern strategy" of appealing to the white conservative christian base. They decided that they would appeal to the extreme right of the party and depend on the base with what used to be called the four "Gs" - God, guns, gays, and grizzles. The tactic worked for a while, but the limits have been reached. The last gasp of this strategy has been the suppress the vote efforts and the unlimited flow of corporate cash into elections. (I suspect that some combination of those two are part of the explanation of the GOP holding onto the house as well as they did in the last election. The sense that the GOP is concerned that too many of "them" are voting is palpable in the "widespread voter fraud" claims where all attempts to find solid evidence of the claims has come up empty handed.)
For the sake of our nation I pray that the GOP will find its way to represent TRUE conservatism. Ie, fiscal conservatism without the social pseudo-religious crap. CONSERVE the environment. INVEST in the nation (like the greatest generation did). Stay the hell out of personal decisions where the government has no business: Abortion, who you love/marry, what you put in your body (the government does not own your body, you do) Having one party holding all the cards is not a good thing. I say that having voted for the party holding all the cards. The nation needs an effective opposition party and this GOP is no longer it.
Chris, we can do a lot, but it may not be effective in combating global warming as we may already be past a tipping point. We owe it to our grandchildren to try. The ability of the globe to support the human population is likely at stake. The head in the sand GOP approach "Yes, 97% of climate scientists agree, but it would make our corporate sponsors unhappy to do something, so we should study it more before doing anything." is over. One interesting proposal that I read was to have a predictable and increasing carbon tax with all of the money returned as checks to every citizen every year. Drive a SUV? Your check will not cover the tax. Drive a small hybrid? You make money in the deal. That makes it predictable for both the consumer and the manufacturer and the money is not kept by the government. There are many ideas, but it is time to get serious about the problem. Strong ideas (and a will to succeed) from all sides of the political spectrum are key.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Mark
Fri Dec 7, 2012 10:35 PM
Mark I'm glad to hear you say the "owe it to our grandchildren" line. In addition to combating climate change I also believe we owe it to our children to reduce the debt and get spending under control. Also to reform entitlements so that they can get some too.
Also Mark, I'm down with the carbon tax, but here is the big question. Who gets that carbon tax money and how do we make sure its well spent? I know that the UN wants to have a global carbon tax of $23 per cubic ton. Giving money to the UN is like paying someone to beat you up.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Sat Dec 8, 2012 10:02 AM
As always, the devil is in the details. What I liked about the idea where the carbon tax levies are immediately divvied up among the nation's citizens was that the incentives to reduce carbon use are there without the government looking at this as another way to make money for pet projects. (Such a plan, implemented simply, would, of course, create significant inequities: Poor people living in cheap apartments would have no effective way to slash utility use. Rural people with long commutes for work and shopping would subsidize urban people, etc. Things are never simple...) I am not in favor of giving that money to the UN, although you could argue that third world people contribute little to the problem while they will suffer greatly from the climate changes. I agree with you on the debt and spending. The challenge is how to make reforms and not push the economy back into recession. Don't forget defense spending in this. Steve Chapman's recent column (Defending the World, Bankrupting Ourselves) does an excellent job addressing this.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Mark
Sat Dec 8, 2012 10:58 AM
Funny you brought up about spending cuts driving us back into a recession. I was listening to a CATO forum on that subject yesterday and it was awesome. I want spending cuts, but realize too much at once will damage the system. Government dosen't create jobs, it only moves and destroys them, but if the government contracts dry up too quickly, there will be problems. Perhaps we don't need to cut anything, just not increase it. Government spending increases at about 9% every year while the economy grows at almost 2%. Thats a national disaster. And I like the idea of giving the carbon tax money back into the people rather than funneling it back into the government for just another ineffectve program.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Sat Dec 8, 2012 12:43 PM
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