GOP meltdown?

GOP meltdown?

: There’s increasing buzz among — what should I call them? nonleftist? — commentators that the Republican party is splitting over the Schiavo case.

I’m not sure the — what should I call them? progressive? — other side should start singing “Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead” quite yet. Bush has Teflon. I don’t think Congress does, though.

Nonetheless, there are clear issues of inconsistency and ideology for the right: fights over whether religion trumps political philosophy.

And that should yield opportunities for Democrats — not by yelling at nya-nyaing at the the Republicans over this too-sensitive story but instead by finding new middleground that; I’m not seeing that yet but I hope I will. Or to put it another way: With this case and others, the Republicans do not stand on clear principle — or they can’t decide what principle to stand on. So the Democrats have the opportunity to stop being a party of complaint and start being a party of principle.

All that said, the opportunity to nya-nya is, of course, irresistable. As Kos says, inspired by a poll that shows 82 percent of Americans opposed Congressional interference in the Schiavo case:

This is turning into a disaster of epic proportions for the GOP. They thought they had the Dems wedged, and instead they have wedged themselves from the American public. Congress is being exposed as the cynical, power-mad, ethics-free zone that it has become under DeLay’s leadership.

On the melting GOP, Andrew Sullivan says:

We’re getting to the point when conservatism has become a political philosophy that believes that government – at the most distant level – has the right to intervene in almost anything to achieve the right solution. Today’s conservatism is becoming yesterday’s liberalism.

And he continues:

It’s been clear now for a while that the religious right controls the base of the Republican party, and that fiscal left-liberals control its spending policy. That’s how you develop a platform that supports massive increases in debt and amending the Constitution for religious right social policy objectives. But the Schiavo case is breaking new ground. For the religious right, states’ rights are only valid if they do not contradict religious teaching. So a state court’s ruling on, say, marriage rights or the right to die, or medical marijuana, must be over-ruled – either by the intervention of the federal Congress or by removing the authority of judges to rule in such cases, or by a Constitutional amendment….

Again, the demands of the religious right pre-empt constitutionalism, federalism, and even the integrity of the family. When conservatism means breaking up the civil bond between a man and his wife, you know it has ceased to be conservative. But we have known that for a long time now. Conservatism is a philosophy without a party in America any more. It has been hijacked by zealots and statists.

Glenn Reynolds quotes blogger Mark Daniels:

In taking jurisdiction over Terri Schiavo’s case from the state courts, where conservative Republicans would have previously said it belonged, and handing it to federal judges, the Republican Party arrogated to the federal government breathtaking new powers that would have made Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan wince.

On his MSNBC.com, Glenn looks at this from various angles, and says this is causing a split between Republicans and libertarians in the party.

Congress’s involvement in this case seems quite “unconservative” to me, at least if one believes in rules of general application….

Quite possibly. National security is the glue that has held Bush’s coalition together. The war isn’t over, and we haven’t won yet, but it’s going well — Austin Bay notes that it’s a war that we are winning — and this is allowing the divisions to show. All of the people I’ve quoted are on the right, and they’re all unhappy. One may argue that libertarians and small-government conservatives aren’t a big part of Bush’s coalition, but his victory wasn’t so huge that the Republicans can surrender very many votes and still expect to win. So this is a real threat.

And Joe Gandelman — who has a great roundup of posts on this here; he is the best rounder-upper around — sums it up this way:

The genie is now out of the bottle: this wing of the GOP is at variance with process conservatives and many libertarians ó and is defining the party as the party of theocracy.

In other words, if God is on your side, the voters might not be….

: LATER: Of course, this is hardly the only issue to split parties. Hardly. Iraq was hardly unanimous in either party. And I like this description of the political splits in indecency from this week’s Time cover story:

Granted, conservatives and liberals tend to be offended by different things. Conservatives tend to see a culture glorifying promiscuity and drug use. Liberals get more concerned about violence and degradation of women. The right sees the machinations of amoral Hollywood. The left sees soulless megabusinesses dropping their standards to court the coveted 18- to 34-year-old male demographic.

Here, too, there is a religous angle, by the way.