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Etch-a-Sketch: A New Era for the GOP

Thanks to those of you who submitted "enhanced interrogation" recommendations for former Bush administration lawyers yesterday, particularly "Mauckjw," whose ideas appeared in today's column on the subject. Many others were insightful, too, except for the one who called me a "dipsh@t."

Today the Sketch will go to the new National Harbor development, where Disney is planning to build a resort hotel. But today the entertainment there is being provided by Michael Steele as he addresses the Republican National Committee. According to the advance text, he's going to tell us that "the era of apologizing for Republican mistakes of the past is now officially over." Also over, presumably, is the era of Michael Steel calling Rush Limbaugh "incendiary" and "ugly," labeling abortion an "individual choice," and confessing that his office is too masculine.

This, naturally, leads us to today's question: With the era of apologizing over, what will the new era of the Republican Party be? As usual, I'll crib from your answers for tomorrow's column.

Warm regards,

The Dipsh@t

By Dana Milbank  | May 19, 2009; 10:02 AM ET
Categories:  Etch-a-Sketch  
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I imagine the New Era of Republicanism will resemble the previous era, only older and whiter and with far fewer members.

Posted by: j_cristof | May 19, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Sweet, my second surreptitious contribution to the WaPost. Dana, you should tell Maureen Dowd about the proper way to crib from other people, transparently. Who is going to be the first to attack the Etch-a-Sketch? As for the Republicans I think this is clearly the era of no. They don't really need to do anything other than oppose most everything and bet on the Democrats messing things up, which is not a bad bet. The Democrats don’t even need to mess up if they simply fail to rectify a catastrophe. The GOP also needs an equivalent DLC to reestablish a modern party and purge the Birchers or their modern counterpart.

Posted by: Mauckjw | May 19, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

If the latest Gallup poll is any indicator Dana, the new era for the GOP is likely to be one characterized by a poverty not only of ideas, but also of members who buy into those ideas. The share of the electorate who is willing now to identify themselves as republican is down to 21%. That is about 10 percentage points less than the number who are willing to identify themselves as conservative, which means that not only have they lost the middle voters, but now the erosion is cutting into their base.

The difference is that middle-of-the-road voters will vote democratic. These conservative, I thin, are simply dropping out of politics altogether.

I see the GOP as truly an endangered species. And like their biological counterparts in nature, unless they adapt to the changed environment, they will perish. And you know how the GOP (and especially their base) feels about Darwin.

Posted by: jaxas | May 19, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, tell me when they start aopologizing for their lies to start a phoney War, tell me when they are going to apologize for changing regulation to let those Bankers break our economy, and a lot of poeple losing their job, tell me when they start apology for letting the Oil aand gas industry rob us, while you the Media, just telling us oh the Gas price went up by 25 centns in one week, something we already know.

Posted by: tqmek1 | May 19, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

These people cannot change, period. They are stuck and they lack he first rule to making a change: You must first recognize that something is wrong. They don't see anything wrong with the way they have governed the country. They remind me of my children when they were growing up, a lamp would be broken, they were they only two in the house but when an inquiry was made as how the lamp got broke they responded "not me or I don't know". They were teenagers. These are grown-assed men and women and they still will not acknowledge they did wrong. They are hopeless. Leave them alone and wait until they die off and another generation comes along-turn off the oven and stick a fork in this group they are done!

Posted by: dhampton100 | May 19, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Based on recent developments, particularly the Cheney approach "We are less safe" and the RNC approach to rebrand the Dems as the "Democrat Socialist Party", I'd guess that the New Era of the Republian Party will be a rediscovery of its core principles: fear-mongering and name calling.

Posted by: gshpc | May 19, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

In contrast to the "Democratic Socialists" perhaps the Republicans should become the "National Socialists".

Posted by: Mauckjw | May 19, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

The new era will begin when the blanket references to Ronald Reagan cease. We get it... Great guy, great era for the party.

Know who does not get it: everyone under 30 years of age.

Posted by: Goombay | May 19, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I believe, Dipsh@t, that they will stick with religion. That way, they can still utilize fear and exclude so many unwanted types.

Posted by: fedup3 | May 19, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

the republicans are going to flip the script and become the new hippies in the "era of aquarius". they'll run in the streets with handbands and tye die shirts singing:

"when the moon is in the seventh house
and jupiter aligns with mars
then piece will guide the planets
and love will steer the stars..."

SYMPATHY and TRUST abounding
golden living DREAMS OF VISIONS
mystic crystal REVELATIONS

this is the dawning of the age of aquarius
the age of aquarius
aquarius! aquarius"

(with all due copyright respect to "hair" and the fifth dimension; caps lock mine for emphasis on the obvious

Posted by: glenknowles | May 19, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Since when have the Republicans apologized to anyone for anything?? With all due respect, Mr. Steele, your whimpering to the radio slob doesn't qualify. They will continue to be the party of rich greedy b@st@rds and toothless rednecks, because it's only the uneducated that could support the agenda put forth by the oligarchists that drive the party.

Posted by: tennesseemoonshiner | May 19, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

First, if you are going to act enraged that someone authorizes or condones what you consider torture, then ask readers to chose which of these methods to use on the officials you are either a hipocrite or possibly what another poster called you. Don't play it both ways and act all indignant.
2nd. The Republican party should focus on fiscal responsibility. This is not just tax cuts, but spending discipline. Many deride them as the Party of "No" but given the Stimulus package was put together in secret by a few DNP leaders, and then voted on without having been fully read is irresponsible. If President Bush handed over a staggering deficit, then Pres. Obama has managed to double down on it inside of 3 months. Look at projections for the next 10 years and if they don't give you pause you are a fool. We are rapidly mortgaging our childrens future.
3rd. Get back to "governance." This is an area that Republicans have ceded over the past 10 years or so. With Gingrich and company it was more like ruling than governing. Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Reid appear to be headed down the same path. It seems that either Democrats or Republicans want to win to punish the other party, not provide good governance.

Posted by: Barnacle-Bill | May 19, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Steele's done it again! The new Republican campaign theme will now be:

"Change Delivered In A Tea Bag."

I couldn't have put it any better myself.

Posted by: lonquest | May 19, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

The only apologizing I recall them making is to Rush Limbaugh.

Posted by: jimgilmoregon | May 19, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

The only "new era" for the gop I'd like to see is the era of being in the political toilet for the next thousand years. F them all.

Remember, republicans are:

1. homophobic neanderthals
2. tax-phobic cockroaches
3. selfish cowards
4. religious hypocrites
5. mean spirited jackasses
6. hateful mamma's boys
7. sexually repressed perverts
8. anal retentive crybabies
9. self-righteous simpletons
10. misogynists
11. rednecks
12. anti-intellectuals
13. paranoid schizophrenics
13. callous slugs
14. greedy hogs
15. stupid, stupid, stupid

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | May 19, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I was getting tired of all the Republican apologizing. I hope they can replace it with overwhelming ignorance and fake indignation. That would be a breath of fresh air. But, perhaps in the meantime, this will be the GOP's era of loosing.

Posted by: SuperPants | May 19, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Woah, the Era of the GOP Apologizing is over? I didn't even know it had begun! Since when does the GOP apologize to anyone who isn't named Rush Limbaugh?

I thought we were still in the GOP era of making excuses, blaming the media & the Democrats for all of the failures of the past 8 years, and refusing to take any responsiblity for absolutey anything?

I must have missed the memo.

The next GOP era? how about an era defined by calling Obama a socialist/communist/fascist/godless/baby killer and well, no actual constructive ideas or policies - but who needs those pesky things when you have straw men, hyperbolic emotionally driven rhetoric, Fox News, and Talk Radio!?

Posted by: cjpotter19 | May 19, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm listening to Steele speak now, and even though all of it is lies, evasions and half-truths, he comes off pretty well...better then some of the ranters speaking for the Repubs these days.

I suspect he got some help with this speech from Frank Luntz, mouthing all the proper Republican talking points, and even pretending to care about the suffering of the American "little guy".

Lots of flowery rhetoric, but the Republican agenda, a continuing transfer of wealth from the poor and the middle-class to the rich, remains the same as always.

And until the Republican leadership actually realizes that most Americans are on to their bait and switch routines, their popularity will continue to plummet...

Posted by: wagonjak1 | May 19, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

show me the republican with the ballz to stand up to Rush, Coulter, Cheney, Dobson, Robertson, Gingrinch, McConnell and Boehner, and I'll bother to pay a moment's attention to that person.

Until that person arrives, it's all the Same Old Republican Sh!t.

Posted by: katavo | May 19, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

The new era will be devoted to adherence to the worship of their real God, money. Their religious symbol will be the Laffer Curve. Those who stray from the holy writ of cutting taxes will be burned at the stake for heresy. Those who advocate spending on the poor will be stoned to death. Those who advocate racial equality for non-whites will be fed to alligators. Sentencing for these crimes will be meted out by the High Priests, Rush Limbaugh, Grover Norquist, and Newt Gingrich.

In foreign policy, they will return to the policies of Ronald Reagan, i.e. saber rattling, appeasement, and treason.

Posted by: jheath53 | May 19, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

The new era of the Republican Party will begin in about 25 years.

Posted by: danw1 | May 19, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans will no longer apologize. . . if Rush Limbaugh approves of not receiving the necessary apologies essential to remaining conservative. If there are no salutary apologies, then the unapologetic can follow Specter--a threat that will ensure ample apologies. Or, apologize to absolutely everyone for being outed.

Posted by: gaystaggo | May 19, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

The party of no's new era will be when the party of no is nomore! And then they will blame it on Pelosi, Reid & Obama.

Posted by: MAC14 | May 19, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

The era of apologizing for Republican mistakes of the past is now officially let us begin the era of pretending those mistakes were made by Democrats! (I'm looking at you, President Clinton...)

Posted by: carlitalh | May 19, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

The combination of the word "new" and "GOP" is an oxymormon.

There has been nothing new from them since Eisenhower and that was a turn for the worse.

With enough patience, we can watch this dinosaur make itself extinct (if they don't all go postal on us first in their self-righteous frustration over a Black Democrat in the White House).

Posted by: coloradodog | May 19, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

How about simple, like the the disinformation age? Or more specifically, the series of tubes age? The era of bad feelings?

I would also settle for them progressing into the mesozoic era, since they appear to be living roughly in the age of reptiles. (I mean, have you seen John Boehner's skin? Creepy.)

Let the era of apologizing for Republican mistakes yet to come begin!

Posted by: kszimmerman | May 19, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

The Era of Apologizing is over; now comes the Era of Not Having Enough Power To Do Anything Worth Apologizing Over.

Posted by: davestickler | May 19, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Also, if Michael Steele manages to "hip" the Republican Party, maybe they can become the party of naw, dawg.

Posted by: davestickler | May 19, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans and Democrats seem to be in an arms race to see who can be the most austere, unhappy, and dismal.

I'd appreciate if the GOP would return to being the party of snooty millionaire industrialists in favor of no government regulation, i.e. pure fiscal--and ONLY fiscal--conservatives. Some glimmers of hope have been Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura (technically not a Republican, but close enough), and, Ted Nugent, people who seem to grasp the idea of making a lot of money and then enjoying the hell out of life. And only supporting government regulation taht leads to really cool new stuff.

Heck, it's my belief that all upper middle class and wealthy people are closet Republicans, and the working class aspire to it, by virtue of aspiring to be part of those upper classes. The only thing standing between most of Hollywood, along with our exploding middle materialist class, and the Republican party is the depressing, unwashed Christian right, and perhaps fear of Sean Penn.

The Republicans should allows itself to be represented by former entertainers, wealthy AND telegenic inviduals (sorry Warren Buffet), and comedians who avoided political commentary. We then need to reunite all the people plagued with perpetual guilt and conscience, and then banish them to go handle Indian affairs or something.

Posted by: Wallenstein | May 19, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Era of Being a Much Smaller Party
The Almost Powerful Enough to Filibuster era
Era of Playing for a High Draft Pick
Ronald Wilson Reagan Era (aspirational rebranding)
Michael Steele Era
The Dark Ages - works on many levels
Year(s) of the WASPs
The "George W. who?" era (moderate wing)
"W" for Rushmore era (conservative wing)
Era of Urban and Suburban Hip Hop Settings
The Specter of Collapse
Oxymoron Era (became a minority by becoming older, whiter, and male-r)

Posted by: CJMiva | May 19, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

They aren't rebuilding. They're recycling failed notions that should long ago have been banished to an Island of Misfit Ideas.

Posted by: ktartiste | May 19, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

CJMiva -- "era of playing for a high draft pick" is brilliant.

Posted by: davestickler | May 19, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Did you see Meghan McCain on Colbert? She's got her dad's centrist politics (circa 2000, not 2008) and her mom's looks. (Thank God it wasn't the other way around.)

In 2010, Meghan will be old enough to run for US Representative. In 2016, she could be a Senate candidate. And in 2020 she could run for President.

Maybe there is hope. Eventually.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | May 19, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

There will be a new era of progressive Republicanism. Piggybacking on No Child Left Behind, they'll have the No Stone Left Unturned campaign to discover a viral label to pin on President Obama. This in turn will give rise to the No Fact Left Ignored campaign which will blame the Democrats for everything, from the Crucifixion up to and including the Apocalypse, and Rick Perry's plastic hair. It will culminate in the All Truth Left Behind campaign that will seek beatification for both Ronald Reagan and Goerge W. Bush while establishing the Republican Party as the first fact free enterprise zone.

Posted by: bklyndan22 | May 19, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

If the age of apologizing is over, can the age of indictments please please please begin?

I don't want to hear their apologies. I want to her their pleas: "Guilty. Guilty. Guilty."

Posted by: ankhorite | May 19, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

If the apologies are over, the Republicans have some vintage whines I suspect they will now bring out of the vault.

The Democrats aren't listening to us!

Obama is destroying the economy!

The liberals are the party of "blame America first"!

With these white whines under their belts, they will be emboldened to move on to the RANTS (Reds w Absurdly Nasty Tanins):


Posted by: j2hess | May 19, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Two words: Deeeeeeeeeeeep South.

Let me set this up a bit. Fact: the deep south has been an outlier in US politics since the civil war. Have you spent significant time in the deep south? It's just different, man. The politics are different, the culture is different, the people are different, the cities are different. I know that journalists, especially the DC folks, tend naturally to get wrapped up in the beltway tit-for-tat, but structures are really important -- they shape trajectories and mold contextual trends. And the 'new' GOP is southern. It's political base is southern. It's leadership is southern. It's values are southern. Full stop.

This means two things, in my opinion. First, any way you look at it, Republicans are in heap of trouble. Obama's '08 victory demonstrated that Dems could win without the deep south. For the non-historians out there, despite the south's awkwardly persistent outlier status, it's been a crucial part of the past two majority governing coalitions in Washington. FDR expanded the Democratic party beyond its natural base in 1932 through New Deal reforms, and Reagan snatched the region from the Dems for good in '80, after the weirdness of the post-Watergate years. Obama's '08 win was the first time since before '32 that a majority coalition was southernless. That's unbelievably huge. Who's now brainstorming the Republican counter-strategy? A bunch of southern politicians! I mean, sometimes the deck is just stacked.

How will this shape the post-apologist GOP? (I'll toss in a slight barb here, since the premise is so obviously weak, based on the false assumption that Steele's statement has currency for anyone other than himself.) If I were a betting man, I'd double down on the theme of "cultural nationalism," sometimes termed Republican populism. The GOP's 'new' talking points will have deep (southern) roots. Obama's foreign policy will get the good old 'west v. rest' treatment. His economic policies will be denounced as 'socialist.' His social policies will be coded in anti-cosmopolitan terms. And so on.

For me, the game here is interesting not because a turning point is approaching, but because the GOP is so clearly trapped in its own cage. There are very, very smart people out there getting paid a ton of money right now to understand and address this stuff. But political parties, like ships of state, aren't speedboats. They're ocean-liners. (Sorry, I just really like that analogy.) And it's going to take a long time for the Republican Party to turn itself around.

Posted by: irwin4211 | May 19, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

I guess they are entering the era of amnesia. My dictionary defines amnesia as "loss of memory due to brain injury, shock, fatigue, repression or illness." This seems to fit pretty well. The only problem is that the underlying policies that caused what the GOP wants to forget about the past have not changed. Their leading voices; Gingrich, Limbaugh, Cheney, Boehner, and McConnell are still spewing the same rhetoric that got is into the current crisis. Change is about more than declaring the past is forgotten. I for one have not forgotten nor am I likely to forget for the foreseeable future.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | May 19, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

The Era of Goo Feeling. Taking a page from the Bill Clinton playbook, the Republicans will suddenly become sensitive to the sufferings of the American people. However, they will then sit down until the feeling passes.

Posted by: hlabadie | May 19, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

The Era of Toothiness. The Republicans will flash the ivories at every opportunity to show how happy and friendly they are: Turn that frown upside down, America.

The Era of the Broad Tent Pole. Lacking enough fabric to form a tent, the Republicans will cluster around the tent pole of Republicanism, tax cuts for all.

Posted by: hlabadie | May 19, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, davestickler. I grew up near Detroit so I am deeply familiar with the concept.

Posted by: CJMiva | May 19, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

I don't see why Milbank is so upset at being called a dipsh@t. It would make a pretty cool URL.

Posted by: PeterPrinciple | May 20, 2009 1:28 AM | Report abuse

To end the "era of apologizing for Republican mistakes", you must first recognize those mistakes. I think this is where the Republicans are failing. The Iraq War wasn't a mistake? The massive tax cut that Bush put through wasn't a mistake? The hate campaign against gays wasn't a mistake? Come'on guys what mistakes have you admitted to - is losing the election the only mistake you recognize?

Posted by: james68 | May 20, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Conceiving itself the tip of an iceberg, the GOP has entered the Era of Melting, to be followed by the Era of Evaporation.

The Bitter Rains to come will merely feed growth of the Democratic Party.

Posted by: jhbyer | May 20, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Irwin4211, thanks for an eloquent and accurate summation.

My one quibble is your saying "the deep south has been an outlier in US politics since the Civil War". I'd argue the South was an outlier BEFORE the Civil War, in fact, to the extent its politics led to the Civil War.

Legalizing slavery ruined the South politically, imo, by setting a pattern of hypocrisy and double-speak, where a cherry-picked Bible remains elevated above the US Constitution and opposition to government hides a dependency on it to oppress minorities, whether African American, gays or nonChristians.

Posted by: jhbyer | May 20, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

The new, Official Slogan of the GOP will be: "Hey you kids, get off my lawn."

Posted by: sheehanjc | May 20, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

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