Will Durst: Party purity pricks pragmatism
And now, this week's freshly updated, highly speculative, oddly prescient, extremely long-range, totally indispensable, magically delicious, 2016 Presidential Campaign Alert. Pay no attention to that bilious sensation you are experiencing. It is simply sweet anticipation swelling into full-bloat boogie as the race for the White House floats tantalizingly around the corner. Admittedly, a wide corner. Multiple lanes. Many laps to come. Think Talladega, baby.
Putatively premature perhaps, but hey, it's the only game in town. What else you got inked on your critical political calendar? The upcoming Arkansas gubernatorial election? And come on, Arkansas guber? How redundant is that? Like saying Hollywood faÃ§ade? Or New York attitude. North Dakota drowsy. Congressional disappointment.
Part of our fascination with the upcoming presidential replacement process is a termed-out incumbent ensures competitive action on both sides of the aisle will be crazier than Norman Bates on peyote riddled with corn fungus. Exactly why for the next 38 months we can count on machinations wilder than a singles bar rest room during the zombie apocalypse. Motives more convoluted than press releases from Alex Rodriguez.
Democrats seem intent and content to hurtle headlong, arms akimbo, down the path of least resistance, envisioning some sort of loosely recollected Clintonian squishy soft landing. While over on the GOP side, the road promises to be just a tad rockier with immense and immovable internal obstacles to be negotiated. And no, we're not talking about Chris Christie.
At least a baker's dozen GOPers have had their names bandied about as prospective suitors for the top slot of their party's ticket. Rand Paul, Christie, Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, Mike Beebe. Then don't forget the old standbys -- Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann. And it would be most unwise to write off a possible spontaneous Cheney incursion.
This particular nomination process is primed to probe identity: party purity pricking the pragmatists. The true believers versus the moderates. Ideologues taking up arms against those who do whatever it takes to assist their constituents, even if it means consorting with Democrats. You know, traitorous toads.
Threats of boycotts and arguments over government shutdowns and distractions involving dual citizenships have already filled the air like Syrian shrapnel, making it impossible for any individual candidate to gain traction.
Then you factor in further slippage on all the mud being tossed at each other by Christie and Paul, the party's version of the Battling Bickersons. Added onto the slippery slope created by absolutely everyone tarring absolutely everyone else as a RINO, and it's a miracle any conservative is still standing.
Desperate to throw a positive spin onto things, Reince Priebus, chair of the RNC, said these "debates" are good for the party. Yeah. "Good," which is national party chairman code for "you're killing us here." Also, to call these barbed attacks "debates" is like calling a sledgehammer a finger massage.
So, put on your Kevlar aprons, kiddies, because it's only going to get hotter in the GOP kitchen. This war is just beginning and looks destined to culminate in nothing less than a fight for the very heart and soul of the Republican Party. Although, many folks would be willing to debate whether either of those objects actually exist.