Republican Nuts Fall Off the Tree

Seems like just yesterday Republicans were warning Democrats not to count their hicks before they were catched.

Democrats said they had a plan to get the guys with the Confederate flags, but Republicans said you can’t con those folks into loving federal overreach. Democrats said they could draw pro-life votes, but Republicans scoffed: “We’re the pros. Get a life!” Democrats said they could attract budget-balancers and Republicans countered: “That is our constituency and you can’t budge it.”

Well, bite your tongues, all you RNC guys and gals with the starched collars. Them there rubes done drug you out the door. Bob Casey Jr. challenged Sen. Rick Santorum as a pro-life Democrat, and when the votes were counted, he was, as Barbara Walters put it, “The happiest man in the womb.” All over the country people told exit pollsters they sent their spendthrift reps over the Bridge to Nowhere.

How did that happen? Are voters so dense they could not spot the fangs under the sheep’s clothing? Can they not divine that electing Democrats will, in the long term, endanger the values they most prize? The optimistic answer is: With a Republican President, a Democrat Congress cannot do much damage, so it’s a good way to send a message. This happy-face analysis assumes that in two years all this is easily reversible.

I also prefer to see the cup as 49/100 full, and if I wasn’t a big believer in the future, I would not be spending half my income on tuition. But I suspect the Reagan Revolution is over … unless the Republicans understand what happened this Election Day. It was simple: The Revenge of the Nuts.

Yep. If asked to identify the exact moment the Republicans lost the Congress, I would not cite the day Jack Abramoff got arrested. Or when Tom DeLay got indicted. When Duke Cunningham and Bob Ney got convicted. When Mark Foley was unmasked. When Bush said neither troops nor Donald Rumsfeld would leave before he did. When Katrina stumped the feds for a week. When 100 soldiers died In Iraq in October. Nope, none of the above.

That moment came in mid-October on the Laura Ingraham Show. David Kuo had just been on, claiming that his co-workers at the Bush White House referred to values voters as “nuts.” Laura flattened him like a pancake, then welcomed her next guest, Robert Novak, who casually let drop that Kuo was right. He, too, had been present many times when administration staffers called their voters-of-faith “nuts.”

Now nuts, foodwise, are very nutritive and are unfairly maligned by being made synonymous with kooks. But that thought offers scant solace to a serious and earnest citizen who has just been consigned to the snack dish alongside the raisins. There are many fine people who vote Republican from a vision of limited government, restrained taxation and fiscal responsibility: they are certifiably normal.

Those of us whose hearts echo with the aborted cry of the unborn, and who think to offer our votes as their proxies, can apparently only participate when on furlough from the asylum. If the eldritch cry of lives snipped before birth or snuffed before death keeps you awake at night, you be hearin’ some strange voices, son; might want to have the nerve doctor check that out. And if you are attuned to a vision of a healthy society being built around a traditional structure of marriage and families, then you are a screaming loon of the most offensive variety.

You think you can snicker at people behind their backs, write them off as a lunatic fringe, and then come around smiling every two years for a vote? No, sirree, Bob. That makes you a huckster and a slickster, and folks down here in the Bible Belt don’t take none too kindly to that kind of moonshine. We have kicked more Bible salesmen and carpetbaggers, phony revivalists and gold-stock peddlers, out of these parts than you city slickers ever seen. Why, look at you boys right now, gettin’ taken by Al Gore for billions with the old Armageddon end-of-the-world grift. Next thing you’ll be sending millions to some e-mail scam artist from Nigeria.

If Republicans ever want to have a party again, the kind with streamers and funny hats and spiked punch, they had better learn some respect. Life does not go around handing out gifts you don’t appreciate, at least not for long. The cultural issues formed an integral part of the Republican rises to power in both 1980 and 1994. They are the product of bleeding-heart conservatism, people who really care for every life and who really care for the soul of our society. Love them—or they will leave you.