Friday, August 24, 2012

Romney and Obama: Two Unwilling Mantle-Bearers

Ta Nehisi Coates of the Atlantic has put out an article about the general inability or flat-out refusal by President Barack Obama to assume the role as a leader of the Black Community.  Coates' assertion Throughout his term, there has always been a seeming unease about having a black President. In addition, the President has also shown a great fear of being seen as a "black President." Since the beginning of his career on the national stage, he has desperately attempted to not portray himself as the person to save Black America. In his 2004 speech to the Democratic National Convention, instead of talking about the struggles of Black America, he admonished black Americans for saying reading a book was "acting white" and the only other time he mentioned race in that speech was when he famously stated "There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America."

Similarly, upon running for President, he ran from his race. When the story broke about Reverend Jeremiah Wright, President Obama chose not to explain the traditions of the black church and did not defend what his priest said. Rather he pivoted gave a speech on the racial tensions still pervading America. Rather than owning his race, he attempted to paint himself in Pan-Americanism, showing himself as an ultra-Patriot. He has similarly avoided the question of his race during his Presidency, quickly back-pedaling after the Skip Gates controversy and instead of discussing race, chose to try and reconcile the misunderstanding.

As Coates notes in his article the only time the President has really directly addressed race relations since then was when he discussed the shooting of Trayvon Martin, and it was met with backlash. While the President has not said he regrets weighing in, and it is impossible to know what he is thinking, in most likelihood it probably validated President Obama's concerns about being a "black leader" as opposed to the leader of the United States of America.

Similarly, some of the President's greatest critics have come from members of his own race. Public Intellectual Cornel West, who vigorously supported him in 2008, called him the "black mascot of Wall Street." Similarly, Members of the Congressional Black Caucus like Emanuel Cleaver and Maxine Waters have proven to be some of his most vehement critics on the Hill. Yet, rather than address these criticisms or take them to heart, the President famously admonished the Congressional Black Caucus in a fiery speech where he exclaimed "Stop Complaining." Throughout his national career, a key aspect of the President's career has been his flouting of "black issues."

In some ways, ironically, this fear of identity ownership may be something that President Obama shares with his 2012 opponent, as Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has shown similar aversion to being seen as "the Mormon Candidate." Similar to Senator Obama's Speech on race, in 2007 Governor Romney gave a speech on his Mormon faith, firmly asserting "Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions." He later stated " A President must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States." Since then, Governor Romney has been wont to discuss his Mormon faith and its possible influence on his political worldview.

Yet, as trivial as it is, by becoming the Republican Nominee for President, Governor Romney is now the most prominent Mormon in America. In addition, since Mormonism has faced many stereotypes, and rumors as only a fringe faith, now that it enters the main stage, it will naturally be subject to closer examination.This appears to be a burden that he is unwilling to bear, naturally. Like President Obama, Governor Romney wants to be judged on his record on the issues and how he addresses the needs of the voters he is courting, not the needs of the Mormon Community as a whole. Whereas Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, his Primary opponent and fellow Mormon, was more comfortable discussing spirituality, and the role the church had on his life, Governor Romney altogether would avoid the issue.

A large reason for this is perhaps the fact that the Governor is part of a party that has strong influence from Evangelical Christians, many of whom assert Mormonism to be a cult. Coupled with his change of position on issues like abortion, it leads many in the Christian Evangelical wing to question his sincerity. Hence, like President Obama appears to try and paint himself "American," the Governor has attempted to paint himself as "Severely Conservative" to borrow one of his own phrases. Instead of focusing on his faith or portraying Mormonism in a positive image, he has ducked the issue, feeling it to be unimportant.

This analogy is not perfect of course. Governor Romney has not been elected and there is no knowledge of how he would tackle the Mormon question as President. However, as a candidate, he has found himself in a conundrum. Will he allow himself to address and discuss his faith in a frank and open conversation? Or will he hope both his would-be supporters and detractors alike turn the other way and find other aspects of his life to examine.

In some way though, by both Governor Romney and President Obama obfuscating their respective minority statuses, they may be doing what they feel is in the best interest of their communities. Like the immigrants who docked on Ellis Island, they feel a need to be "more American" than anyone else, in hopes of showing that Blacks and Mormons can be patriotic, competent Americans capable of governing from the highest office in the land. Yet, what both men fail to realize is that as long as they hide their race or only communicate with winks and nods, it also allows their opponents to speculate with winks and nods about their respective race and faith.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

End of Regular Blogging for the Summer

This Summer I re-launched the EMG Blog after having not properly tended to it and I must say it has been one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had as a writer. Though I know I do not have a loyal reading base, this blog has always been a cathartic thing and I feel I grew as a writer over this summer. But alas, this Saturday I shall be returning to the University of North Carolina for another year of schooling and therefore will not have as much time as I have had this summer to write. I will try and write monthly at best but my studies still do come first. Thank you for reading and I look forward to this Christmas where I can get some good quality writing in.

The Weekly Standard and Human Events Display Intellectual Dishonesty at their Finest. Updated

Usually I don't insert myself or use the first person in these blog posts but today I make a special exception because I am in some small way indirectly involved. Today, The Weekly Standard and Human Events, both conservative publications released a clip of Former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles praising Representative Paul Ryan, Governor Mitt Romney's newly-minted running mate. This meme passed quickly and was even picked up by the liberal Huffington Post. The clip includes Bowles remarking the following:
“Have any of you all met Paul Ryan? We should get him to come to the university. I’m telling you this guy is amazing. ... He is honest, he is straightforward, he is sincere. And the budget that he came forward with is just like Paul Ryan. It is a sensible, straightforward, serious budget and it cut the budget deficit just like we did, by $4 trillion. … The president as you remember, came out with a budget and I don’t think anybody took that budget very seriously. The Senate voted against it 97 to nothing."
This in and of itself would be a damning clip, if it were intellectually honest and played the whole of what Bowles was saying. But it is a misrepresentation of what Bowles said and I should know, because I was there. Bowles, the former President of the University of North Carolina System, was speaking at his Alma Mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for the annual Thomas W. Lambeth Lecture in Public Policy. For those who do not know, I am a proud Tar Heel and decided to drop in on this event to see what Bowles would say. On this evening, Bowles was invited to speak about the work he conducted on National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, also known as the Bowles-Simpson Plan.

The segment in which Bowles discusses Representative Ryan comes at around the 35:40 mark of the video. It is true that Bowles does praise Paul Ryan in a number of aspects. However, he does remark that the Ryan Budget did two very different things than the Simpson-Bowles budget. First is that the Ryan budget does not cut defense, but actually increases the budget, whereas Simpson-Bowles does tackle defense. According to Bowles, this means that Representative Ryan had to make up for $1 trillion in cuts elsewhere in the budget. Second, is Simpson-Bowles uses 92 percent of new revenue to lower taxes to create three new tax brackets and eight percent of the money to actual deficit reduction whereas the Ryan Budget takes all of the money from the closing of loopholes and deductions and uses them to reduce rates, forcing Ryan to make another $100 Billion in cuts.

It is true that Bowles is critical of President at around the 41:00 mark of the lecture. However, he does say that the President did set up some triggers to slow the rate of growth. Also, is well known that Bowles and Former Senator Alan Simpson feel resentment that the President did not wholeheartedly adopt their plan so it is not any breaking revelation. Furthermore Bowles excoriates Congress for last year's debt ceiling debacle, and according to a New York Times article published this week, Representative Ryan worked to try and stall the "Grand Bargain" between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, joining with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in his attempted obstructionism.

In addition, while Bowles may admire Paul Ryan, the love may not be mutual as Congressman Ryan was on the Simpson Bowles Commission and voted no on the plan, due to tax increases. Lastly, this week, Bowles criticized Governor Romney, Ryan's running mate, in an article saying his tax plan would not amount to real deficit reduction in an op-ed for the Washington Post. The idea that Bowles is a wayward Democrat who is somehow hitched completely to the Ryan wagon is a canard that deserves to be debunked thoroughly.

By the way, cool side note, in that video, yours truly asks Bowles a question at the 49:07 mark. And though this blog is not in the business of picking winners and losers, I make the exception by saying I am a proud student at UNC Chapel Hill, so GO HEELS!

Update: Bloomberg does a great service that I am not adept enough to do by showing the whole clip of Bowles' critique. In complete honesty and disclosure, when researching this blog, I had seen the link for this video that showed the whole clip, and I expected there to be an article, but I chose not to use it because I felt I could add a different contribution even if Bloomberg had not reported this, which they ably did. However, I still feel this blog post holds significant weight and it will stand with this update. I apologize for any impropriety.

Monday, August 13, 2012

What to make of Fareed Zakaria

This week, it was announced by Time Magazine that Fareed Zakaria would undergo a month of suspension after it was revealed that he had lifted a paragraph from New Yorker journalist Jill Lepore's article on gun control. Zakaria apologized "unreservedly" to Lepore and has not been heard from since the scandal. In addition, this weekend, his television show, Fareed Zakaria GPS did not air this Sunday on CNN (CNN is owned by Time Warner, which also owns Time Magazine). The fall is particularly brutal because of the fact that Fareed has been seen as a bright light on cable news; his show does have people with varying views but rarely does his show devolve into the shouting matches that dominates most news shows.

Plagiarism in and of itself is a serious offense for any profession, as any expelled college student will attest to. However, for Journalism it is the cardinal sin because it affects whether or not the reader can trust the writer. As Tom Plate explained in his book Confessions of an American Media Man, journalists do not have a "bar exam" or a medical license to prove that they are qualified to practice journalism-nor should they. All they have is their credibility, which is based on their accuracy in reporting. This also applies to op-editorial writers and "ideas" people; their notions must be rooted in factual and accurate reporting on the realities surrounding them. By Plagiarizing, the journalist gives up the right to have people trust their writing because it is intellectually lazy and thievery.

Moreover, plagiarism is fatal for someone like Zakaria because his entire career thrives on finding solutions and new ideas. On CNN, he has hosted a series of prime-time specials focused on fixing America's long-term difficulties such as immigration, healthcare, education and job growth. His columns are usually based on trying some middle ground to furthering the body rather than miring in the same ideologies. His is someone who is read and revered nationwide. Whenever there is an international crisis or some serious discussion on policy on CNN, Zakaria is called on for his wisdom. In turn, Zakaria has become not only the man who gives a breakdown of the news to regular people, but also to elites. President Obama was seen clutching his book on the campaign trail in 2008 and Paul Wolfowitz called him in the build-up to Iraq.

Now, Fareed can no longer claim the mantle that he once did of a sensible centrist and pragmatist not interest in ideology. Rather now it is clear through his plagiarism, whether through him or through an assistant, that Zakaria was only interested in his own brand and promoting himself. He became interested in having people know what he was thinking and not contributing to the dialogue. This is not to say he is insincere, he may think his voice has many important opinions that must be aired. But in compromising his integrity, he has lost the pedestal that he held for so long in American political journalism circles.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Was Anything Gained from the Chick Fil A Flap-Up for Religious Conservatives or Gay Rights?

Last week, in the wake of gay activists protesting Chick Fil A CEO Dan Cathy's statements on Same-Sex Marriage, Evangelical leader and former Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee announced Chick Fil A Appreciation Day. Nationwide, Christian Supporters arrived in troves to support Cathy's views on "traditional marriage" by lining up to order from the Chicken Sandwich chain. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin stepped into the fray posting a photo of her and her husband Todd purchasing food from the chain. In response, some in the gay community responded by holding kiss-ins at nearby restaurants. However, at the end, the fundamental question that must be asked is, what was gained from this whole, no pun intended, flap-up?

Cathy has always been vocal about running his business on "Biblical" principles and has also put his money where his views are. In addition, Chick-Fil-A has always been suspected of having somewhat anti-gay views, having sold their sandwiches at socially conservative functions, so for those who knew about the chain, this was nothing new. The difference is that now, in the wake of rising support for same-sex marriage, more people are not seeing same-sex marriage as a wedge issue but rather as a matter-of-fact acceptance. Similarly, Cathy had not previously been asked about his views as forwardly as he was in the interview. Furthermore, revelations that the restaurant had donated to groups like Exodus International and Focus on the Family, two notoriously anti-gay groups, seemed to accentuate the perceived homophobia.

Yet, the response by some supporters of gay rights was the equivalent, to quote Aaron Sorkin, of doling out "a thousand dollars of punishment for a fifty buck crime." Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, penned a spirited letter stating that Chick Fil A and Mr. Cathy were persona non grata in Massachusetts, while Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago said that "Chick Fil A values are not Chicago Values." However, by suppressing the restaurant's business simply because of their views on Gay rights, they betrayed one of the core ideals behind liberalism; opening up opportunities for all peoples despite their beliefs. As Glenn Greenwald pointed out, if one supports this, then they must also support say, a socially conservative mayor's ability to ban a pro-gay company from doing business in their city. Emanuel and Menino's support for equality should be just that; support for equality of all peoples, regardless of their views as long as they do not impeded the rights of others. One may find Cathy's views repugnant, but he should still be allowed to say them.

Conversely though, social conservatives' response to Emanuel and Menino clippling the proverbial wings of Chick Fil A, did nothing more than to invite contempt from those who support gay rights. Menino and Emanuel did not change their stances and gay Americans and their supporters were not intimidated by the show of solidarity. If anything, it further entrenched the opposing sides. Moreover, it showed the sorry state of conservatism. It showed how weak the social conservative movement was that they have to boycott Oreo Cookies, JC Penney and stay put in a Chicken Woodstock in order to show their support for a food chain. It showed how much the social tide is changing in regards to gay rights that they have to guard a restaurant as a refuge for their views.

In short, the Chick Fil A story tells more about America than it does about its views on gay marriage. It shows how its citizenry, its media, and its politicians turn small swipes into larger wars. It exposed how the country turns the throwing of a cherry bomb into the lighting of a Roman Candle and feeds on the conflict. Ironically enough, it comes on the anniversary of last year's debt ceiling debacle, which exposed the rotting core of the American political system. Except now it may lead people to wonder if, it's not Washington that has gone nuts, but rather how the people who send them conduct debates there that drives them nuts.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Will Anyone call out Republicans for their Dishonesty with Commanders on the Ground?

One of the commonly repeated tropes in the Republican Debates in regards to the military is the desire to "listen to Commanders on the ground." Presumptive Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney frequently repeated this in regards to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Meanwhile, Pizza Mogul Herman Cain went so far as to say he didn't need to know anything about foreign policy as long as he had good advisers. This trend did not begin with the 2011-2012 Republican Presidential cycle. During the deepest dregs of the Iraq War, President George W. Bush said "“Troop levels will be decided by our commanders on the ground, not by political figures in Washington, D.C.”

There are many issues with this concept of simply deferring to the generals or military leaders. First and foremost is the fact that the President serves as Commander in Chief and is the ultimate decision-maker in any military issue. Second of all, the concept of simply listening to commanders can lead to the military controlling foreign policy without any checks and balances. However, if one is to take Conservatives at their word, it is clear that they have not followed their own platitudes in the past and are more than willing to ignore them when it comes to Iran.

The most classic example of this comes with the build up to the Iraq War. As the Bush Administration hocked that Saddam Hussein was in the process of building Weapons of Mass Destruction, they were met with considerable opposition from security experts who felt that the War would either be disastrous for American interest or they were misjudging the gravity of such a war. The most glaring example of this of course comes with General Colin Powell, then serving as President Bush's Secretary of State, who famously warned the President "if you break it you own it." Similarly, General Anthony Zinni, who served as President Bush's Middle East Envoy, voiced his opposition to the war and in hindsight said the Iraq War was a blunder. Similarly, Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki was rebuked in a smear campaign after he remarked that the Administration was not planning to have nearly enough troops to secure victory in Iraq. Throughout the war, it was apparent that the President did not follow his own maxim and only did so when it was finally apparent that his own vision was not panning out.

Now, both in Israel and the United States, conservatives are once again flouting the better opinions of military leaders and security experts. Governor Romney has stated that he would back an Israeli strike on Iran if they even get the capacity for nuclear weapons, thereby moving the goal posts for an military strike. Similarly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has consistently attempted to compare the threat of Iran to Nazi Germany, giving a causus belli to a possible military strike. All the while however, American Security Experts on both sides have said an Israeli attack would be disastrous. Meir Dagan, the former head of Mossad has said claimed an Israeli strike would cause the Islamic Republic to go nuclear. Similarly, former Israeli Security chief Yuval Diskin has denounced the idea right out as has Major General Benny Gantz.

Yet, all the while, it appears that the Israeli Prime Minister and the Massachusetts Governor remain undaunted in their drumming up for war. In turn, the prove their hypocrisy. They claim to be patriots, wrap themselves in their respective flags and spout platitudes about the nobility and wisdom of the American and Israeli military and intelligence agencies. Yet when the opinions of the leaders of those institutions are contrary to their own, they are more than willing to disavow and discredit them.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Do Sanctions Work?

This week, The House of Representatives passed further sanctions against Iran in a 421-6 vote as a consequence for not halting their nuclear program. This augments the sanctions which banned companies that do business with Iran's central bank from business in the US in 2011 and the first round of sanctions passed by the Obama Administration in 2009. President Obama has received great praise from leaders both in the US and in Israel like Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres for his stance on Israel-the latter two are featured in a new Obama campaign video.

The sanctions themselves have had a crippling effect on Iran's economy. As of January of 2012, Iran's currency has lost 71 percent of its value since September of 2011. In addition, stories have come out of Iran regarding planes not having proper landing gears due to sanctions against Iran passed by President Clinton. In addition, the Iranian Hemophilia Society claims that the lives of thousands of children are at risk of hemophilia due to the effects of sanctions.

It is common conventional wisdom that the United States pass sanctions against countries that act against the interest of the United States and its allies. The US enacted an embargo against Cuba with the rise of Fidel Castro passed sanctions against Iraq in order to prevent Saddam Hussein from obtaining chemical weapons, and against South Africa as a means of fighting apartheid. The general theory behind sanctions is that if enough economic pressure is placed on a country, either the governing regime will relent or the people will rise up and turn against their governing body. However, with economic sanctions comes severe pain for the populace of the country suffering under sanctions. In addition, it has become quite apparent over the years that economic sanctions have not been as effective as some of their proponents say they are.

Case in point, 2012 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the aforementioned sanctions against Fidel Castro's Cuba. However in that time, the Cuban government has not changed hands. What has changed during that time is that healthcare quality has dramatically been diminished for Cuban people, particularly those with HIV/AIDS. In addition, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office has argued that the Embargo is frivolous. Furthermore, rather than deposing the Communist government, the embargo gives the garrulous Fidel Castro something to gripe about and cite as the source of his country's ills.

Similarly, from 1991 to the 2003 Iraq War, the United States enacted sanctions in an effort to contain Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime and prevent him from obtaining chemical weapons. However the sanctions also worked to create what UNICEF dubbed "a humanitarian emergency." During this time, infant mortality was rated at 131 deaths per 1000 live births. In addition, the Sanctions earned the United States the status of pariah by Islamist Extremists and was cited by Osama Bin Laden as one of a source of his antipathy towards the United States.

The two cases that humanitarians can point to as having had the desired effect of toppling regimes are the South Africa and more recently, the gradual rise in democracy in Burma. However, in both of those cases, the sanctions were specifically requested by the protesters. Bishop Desmond Tutu vehemently pushed for sanctions against his government at a time when Western leaders like American President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher pushed for "constructive engagement" to gently nudge the government along. Similarly, Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi has warned the United States' easing of sanctions, hoping it does not cause the government to stop the reforms made during sanctions.

Meanwhile, in Iran, it seems that the sanctions have had the opposite effect that their proponents desire. Members of the Green Movement, Iran's main opposition force, has stated their discontent with sanctions. In addition, last year, Iranian students raided the British Embassy in Tehran, chanting "Death to England," in light of a round of sanctions the UK instated against the Islamic Republic. With this in in mind, perhaps the best way forward to assisting in the end of despotic regimes is not to continue to write the same failed prescriptions but rather listen to the actual dissenters and their desires as to how to move their countries forward.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tomasky is Wrong-The GOP's Leadership is Wimpy in General

Newsweek's cover story by Michael Tomasky about Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney being a "wimp," has lead to much discussion even from within the magazine's franchise. In a subsequent article elaborating his views, Tomasky argues that Governor Romney "lives in fear of America's Right Wing," and that they only care about "passing the muster" with what Teddy Roosevelt famously called the "lunatic fringe" of the parties. The evidence Tomasky refers to of course is Governor Romney's serial vacillating on everything from gun control, abortion, and the Individual Mandate in his Commonwealth Care Plan.

Governor Romney's unwillingness to confront the far right, of course stands in stark contrast to George Romney's refusal to endorse Barry Goldwater in 1964 and his courageous stance on Civil Rights. It is easy to simply lay blame on Governor Romney and ridicule his weakness as just an example of a man without principle. However, it is clear that Governor Romney is not an isolated incident. Rather the GOP's leadership is being dominated by "wimps" and incompetents as they have frequently shown their unwillingness to stand against their more radical fringes when they are wrong.

The highest ranking elected Republican in the Country, Speaker John Boehner is a classic example of this. While his caucus has said they would focus on jobs, they have instead resorted to ideological grandstanding and refuse address the reality of a Democratic Senate and White House. Since taking up the Speaker's Gavel, his Republican Congress has voted thirty-three times to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In addition, they voted for two of Representative Paul Ryan's budgets, and pushed for a Balanced Budget Amendment in the midst of a debt-ceiling debate, knowing none of these would pass the Senate.

Why? Because Boehner was too weak to set his caucus in order and create an agenda that addressed his surroundings to achieve conservative goals. Furthermore, he has ambitious understudies such as Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy breathing down his back, throwing red meat to his caucus, setting themselves up as the next leaders should there be a mutiny. In turn, like Governor Romney, the Speaker has abdicated his duties as Speaker of the House out of sheer terror. While a greater leader would shape the consensus, and keep his party in line, the Speaker is fearful of losing his power and therefore allowing ideological grandstanding instead of creating solutions.

What is especially ironic is that the party is allowing itself to be lead by wimps when previously, the GOP were the ones who had the stronger leaders and the Democrats were the ones who picked wimpy leaders. Furthermore, they were able to achieve conservative goals in similar situations. Ronald Reagan got the triple crown of spending cuts, defense increases, and tax cuts in his first year in office, despite the fact that the bleeding-heart liberal Tip O'Neil of Massachusetts was the Speaker of the House. Newt Gingrich was able to achieve a balanced budget, and capital gains tax cuts with Bill Clinton as President. George W. Bush was able to pass exorbitant tax cuts, and drum up support for two wars while there was still a Democratic Senate and was aided by Tom "the Hammer" Delay and Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Then, the GOP suffered backlashes in recent years. Gingrich's hubris and vigor turned him into a polarizing figure who faced a mutiny within his own party. President Bush and Vice President Cheney's cocksure approach to Iraq led to adverse results on the ground and Tom Delay fell on his own ethical sword. In turn, the party was left with understudies who were being groomed for leadership but not necessarily ready for prime time, such as Boehner, who was not seen as leadership material. Governor Romney, meanwhile has been seen not as a standard-bearer with any relatively new ideas but rather the safe choice because he lacked the firebrand nature of his fellow 2012 candidates.

The subsequent wave of defeats in 2006 and 2008 saw the rise of the Tea Party. But instead of co-opting the Tea Party, and taming it to be a workable force, the leadership has failed to take the reins and has allowed a bucking bronco to not only disrupt their buggy but everyone else's as well. Furthermore, it appears that the Tea Party not only emerged out of this lack of leadership but it requires it. At this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), anti-tax activist Grover Norquist said the following:

We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. … We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it.
Norquist's quote is telling. It shows that the GOP has reduced itself to not having a proper party hierarchy to mitigate its fringes to the point where the fringes essentially govern the leadership. The overall dereliction of duty by the leaders out of sheer fear has allowed people like Norquist, Bachmann, and others to completely govern the party agenda to the point that the people who should be spearheading are now paralyzed by the power of the fringes. The lack of willpower creates leaders afraid of their own shadows. However, ideology rarely leads to smart governing and if the leaders of the party continue to be silent, the party risks relevance.