Running Scared: Observations of a Former Republican
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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Friday, January 28, 2005

Speaking of Lovely

posted by Jazz at 1/28/2005 10:27:00 AM


I was just watching last night's episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The guest was Christie Todd Whitman. Back when I still had enough hope for the Republican party that I was sticking with them, I really thought that Christie was the future of the party. On the show, I have to say that she looked really beautiful... much better than the strained look she displayed when Bush chased her out of the EPA. She was getting some PR for her new book, "It's my party too", of course. (There is also a web site for the subject.)

She was right on form, and didn't mince words or dance around any questions. When asked about the current status of the GOP, she smiled and said, "When you have people in charge who think that Spongebob Squarepants is more important than Social Security, you've got serious problems."

The web site linked above has a lot of really good information about how moderate Republicans need to learn to work with the Democrats if they want to exert any leverage and reclaim the party from the neocons. There is a particularly good article from the Times reprinted there. It talks about how viciously and personally Whitman has been attacked by the extreme conservatives.

The Bush family omertĂ  demands silence and loyalty from all the president's retinue, so Mrs. Whitman's decision to speak out is in itself an outrage. Some have questioned her credentials as a Republican and ridicule her for arguing against a strategy that has brought the party unprecedented power. A few have even compared her to Michael Moore.

"I expected criticism," Mrs. Whitman, 58, said last week, sitting in the living room of Pontefract, her family's gracious farm in New Jersey's hunt country. "But I'm surprised at how personal the attacks are."

The reaction from the left wasn't much warmer, however.

Of course, in publishing, as in politics and paper training, timing is everything. Even as partisans on the right have blasted her, many on the left are angered that she waited until after the election to complain.

So why didn't Mrs. Whitman publish sooner? And why should environmentalists or moderates take her seriously, given that she was chairwoman of Mr. Bush's re-election effort in New Jersey? Mrs. Whitman's explanation is simple: The president isn't the issue. The party is. "If I had spoken up during the campaign, people would have viewed it in the context of the election, and it would have been forgotten the next day," she said.

The article concludes with a rather pessimistic tone, however. It's also the exact sentiment that finally drove me to leave the GOP and register as an independent.

She hopes the book helps expand her role as a fund-raiser and proselytizer for Republican moderates. "If you veer too far from the center in American politics, eventually people will stop listening," she warned.

What Mrs. Whitman will find out in the coming months is this: With Republicans ascendant, and Washington awash with conservative hubris, is anyone in power willing to listen?

Update: It's important to remember exactly how popular the moderate Republican Whitman was. She was one of the poster children of the party who the conservatives like to march out in front of the camera to try to paint a less neocon face on the party. However, now that she has spoken out about her moderate beliefs and concerns over the party, she is subject to attack from all sides. Check out this post at Betsy Newmark's blog for an example of the sudden "knife in the back" tactics that you can expect if you don't silently nod in agreement with the Bush/Rove agenda.