Politics » Politics Feature

GADFLY: The GOP Blame Game Begins



The pixels had barely faded from the TV and computer screens from the reports of Obama's victory Tuesday night before the Republicans started blaming everyone but their own candidate for his abysmal defeat. Actually, Republican operatives and conservative media pundits had already set the table for this finger-pointing fest days (if not weeks) before the election, with the wholesale abandonment of the Republican ship by such previously reliable "rats" as Bill Kristol, Peggy Noonan, Christopher Buckley and David Brooks.

You heard it, didn't you? It was the economy's fault. It was George Bush's fault (you know, the inconvenient Republican), it was Sarah Palin's fault, and, of course, the old standby: it was the media's fault. No mention of McCain's abandonment of the "straight talk" of his earlier incarnations, his flip-flops from positions that made him tolerable enough to Democrats (and, therefore, attractive to independents and "swing" voters) to have been mentioned as a possible running mate to Kerry in '04, and certainly no responsibility taken for running one of the slimiest campaigns since the one Bush ran against McCain in 2000. Oh no, none of that accounted for the "thumping" (to use the term even Bush recognized as characterizing his party's loss in the 2006 mid-term elections) that McCain (and the rest of his party) suffered at the hands of the "Obamarama Express." I'm surprised I haven't heard the words "vast left-wing conspiracy" uttered by any of the Republican apologists.

Perhaps the funniest statement of absolution by the Republicans for their blamelessness in the carnage represented by their loss was mouthed, not surprisingly, by the sacrificial-lamb-in-chief of the Republican campaign, Sarah Palin, who said (and I kid you not, this is a direct quote): "I know that I know that I know that there was nothing done wrong in the campaign." It's hard to tell whether she was channeling Bill Withers or Donald Rumsfeld in that statement.

It truly amazes me (though it shouldn't) that the party that likes to tout the virtues of personal responsibility (like blaming the victims of predatory lending practices for incurring mortgages that had time bombs embedded in them) wasn't capable of practicing what it preaches. Then again, look at its titular leader these past eight years. Asked to admit to any mistakes he had made during his tenure, he was hard-pressed to come up with even one (other than the rhetorical "bring 'em on," his cowboy-esque response to the Iraqi insurgents).

But, then again, this kind of buck passing isn't entirely unique to Republicans. After all, haven't Democrats been blaming the corrupted election process, and third-party candidates, for its losses in the last two national elections, without, even once, admitting their own responsibility for running two of the worst campaigns in political history? Had the results in '00 and '04 even approached the size of the Obama victory (as many thought they should have), Republican electoral shenanigans couldn't have come close to "stealing" those elections. If this election proves one thing about the dangers of electoral manipulation, it's that there is, after all, safety in numbers.

As far as I'm concerned, the Republicans can continue with their "circular firing squad" blame spree forever. The longer they continue to gorge themselves on delusion, deflection and denial, and the longer the consequent disarray their party suffers, the firmer the grasp of what is, hopefully, a newly resurgent progressive movement will be on the politics of this country, and the less likely we will ever be to suffer the indignities visited on us by the likes of another George W. Bush.

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