The Media’s Remarkably Credulous Reaction to the GOP’s New “Moderation”

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Last night I was emailing with a friend about the post-election shadow dancing going on within the Republican Party. Practically every ambitious politician in the party is making soothing noises about being nicer to Hispanics, lightening up on social issues, and compromising on the fiscal cliff, but the thing is, it’s all just talk. With only a couple of exceptions from some of the few actual moderates still left in the party, the Jindals and Walkers and Rubios are pretty transparently unwilling to change any actual policies. They’re as hardnosed as ever on abortion and taxes and amnesty. They just think the party should sound a little less hardnosed.

This doesn’t surprise me. What does surprise me—because I guess I never learn—is that a fair number of mainstream reporters seem to be taking these various statements at face value. Ed Kilgore brings the sarcasm:

Yes, years from now conservatives will sit around campfires and sing songs about the legendary internecine battles of late 2012, when father fought son and brother fought brother across a chasm of controversy as to whether 98% or 99% of abortions should be banned; whether undocumented workers should be branded and utilized as “guest workers,” loaded onto cattle cars and shipped home, or simply immiserated; whether the New Deal/Great Society programs should be abolished in order to cut upper-income taxes or abolished in order to boost Pentagon spending. There’s also a vicious, take-no-prisons fight over how quickly to return the role of the federal government in the economy to its pre-1930s role as handmaiden to industry. Blood will flow in the streets as Republicans battle over how to deal with health care after Obamacare is repealed and 50 million or people lose health insurance. Tax credits and risk pools or just “personal responsibility?”

As Ed says, “They are entitled to fight with each other all day long about how many zygotes could fit on the head of a pin, and how deeply the 47% have been corrupted into permanent serfdom. But the MSM really, really needs to show it understands this isn’t a fight about any kind of fundamentals.” No it’s not. If the GOP endures another few years of losses, they’ll start to moderate out of self-defense, but that’s still a few years off. If they lose in 2016, my guess is that it will happen sometime around 2017. If they win in 2016, then God only knows.

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