Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen:
The day after Chris Christie, the cuddly moderate conservative, won a landslide reelection as the Republican governor of Democratic New Jersey, I took the Internet Express out to Iowa, surveying its various newspapers, blogs and such to see how he might do in the GOP caucuses, won last time by Rick Santorum, neither cuddly nor moderate. Superstorm Sandy put Christie on the map. The winter snows of Iowa could bury him.
From a Web site called the Iowa Republican, I learned that part of the problem with John McCain and Mitt Romney, seriatim losers to Barack Obama, “is they were deemed too moderate by many Iowa conservatives.” The sort of candidates Iowa Republicans prefer have already been in the state. The blog cited Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah (considered to the right of Cruz, if such a thing is possible), Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the party’s recent vice presidential candidate and its resident abacus, and the inevitable Sarah Palin, the Alaska quitter who, I think, actually now lives in Arizona. If this is the future of the GOP, then it’s in the past.
None of these candidates bears the slightest resemblance to Christie. And the more literate of them — that’s not you, Palin — must have chortled over post-election newspaper columns extolling Christie as precisely the sort of candidate the GOP ought to run in 2016. This is the dream of moderate Republicans, but not many of them vote in the Iowa caucuses or the South Carolina primary, two of the early nominating contests.
Iowa not only is a serious obstacle for Christie and other Republican moderates, it also suggests something more ominous: the Dixiecrats of old. Officially the States’ Rights Democratic Party, they were breakaway Democrats whose primary issue was racial segregation. In its cause, they ran their own presidential candidate, Strom Thurmond, and almost cost Harry Truman the 1948 election. They didn’t care. Their objective was not to win — although that would have been nice — but to retain institutional, legal racism. They saw a way of life under attack and they feared its loss.
Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled — about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.
As with the Dixiecrats, the fight is not over a particular program — although Obamacare comes close — but about a tectonic shift of attitudes. I thank Dennis J. Goldford, professor of politics and international relations at Drake University in Des Moines, for leading me to a live performance on YouTube of Merle Haggard singing “Are the Good Times Really Over.” This chestnut, a lament for a lost America, has been viewed well more than 2 million times. It could be the tea party’s anthem.
There is so much fail in such a short column that I don’t know where to start. I guess I should begin with the part that got the most attention which is the stuff about interracial marriage. I’m not exactly sure what Cohen was trying to say. “Republicans aren’t racist but interracial marriage makes them want to puke?” WTF? More importantly, what does any of that have to do with Chris Cristie?
I’m guessing that Christie is as surprised as anyone to see himself described as “cuddly”. Even by New Jersey standards he is harsh and abrasive. He’s Tony Soprano, not a Teddy bear.
The slams that Cohen takes at Sarah Palin are the epitome of gratuitous. The Dixiecrats were disaffected Democrats that came and went 65 years ago. What is their relevance to Christie or the Tea Party?
Last but not least, Merle Haggard is not your stereotypical Republican. I’m not even sure if he’s a Republican at all. The song that Cohen refers to was recorded in 1982 and was posted on YouTube five years ago. 1982 was the middle of the “Reagan Recession” and we were still recovering from Vietnam, Watergate, high inflation, Arab oil embargoes and the Iran Hostage Crisis. But if you listen to the end you will find out that Haggard says the “good times ain’t over for good.”
I will be the first to admit that I say a lot of inane shit, but nobody is paying me to do it. Richard Cohen gets paid a lot of money by one of the largest newspapers in the country to produce calumnious and mendacious drivel.
He’s been doing it for a long time, so this is no accident or aberration. Somebody must want him to write this puerile punditry.
My question is why?