Bromides from Morning Joe host and former Republican Congressman Scarborough (The Last Best Hope: Restoring Conservatism and America's Promise, 2009, etc.) on the restoration of the good old GOP.
Whether the reader actually wants that restoration—and Scarborough assures us that it is inevitable: “I know that will happen”—depends on whether he or she agrees that Ronald Reagan was a demigod. Scarborough seems to think so, even as he brings Dwight Eisenhower back into the ranks of true-blue conservatives. (Should that be true-red conservatives?) By Scarborough’s account, the GOP went astray in its steady march toward ideological purity in the post-Reagan years, forsaking the big-tent approach that Eisenhower espoused for a mean-spirited politics of “grievance and resentment.” In the past, writes the author, purity over practicality led to the near-damnation of the GOP to “complete political irrelevance”—just witness the years in the wilderness following the crushing defeat of Barry Goldwater in 1964. Scarborough argues that Richard Nixon’s middle-ground, silent-majority approach was the better one, adding that even Goldwater came around to embracing the wisdom of compromise. Yet, for anyone who remembers the breathtaking revelations of the Nixon tapes, it is curious for the author to suggest that Nixon and his successor, Reagan, did not appeal to “racial resentments”; both surely did, just as surely as the Republican right does today, supplied with Gingrich-ian code words (say “urban,” not “black”). Not that Gingrich is a hero of the Reagan mold by Scarborough’s view, any more than was Mitt Romney (“a flip-flopping moderate who offended conservatives as well as swing voters”).
Well-meaning, though the coming electoral cycle will show whether the GOP abandons the gladiatorial politics of resentment and, per Scarborough, actually makes some effort to show that it can govern.