In anticipation of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, the New York Times Sunday Review section, edited by liberal veteran reporter Andrew Rosenthal, was crammed with articles, interviews, and features hostile toward Republicans.
Los Angeles bureau chief Adam Nagourney found the GOP in danger of losing the South and maybe even Texas one day in "The Sun Belt, Eclipsed."
For more than 50 years, the Sun Belt -- the band of states that extends from Florida to California -- has been the philosophical heart and electoral engine of the Republican Party. It was more than just a source of votes. The Sun Belt infused the Republican Party with a frontier spirit: the optimistic, free-ranging embrace of individualism and the disdain for big government and regulation.
From Richard M. Nixon through John McCain, a span of 48 years, every Republican presidential candidate save for Gerald R. Ford and Bob Dole has claimed ties to the Sun Belt. The last Republican president, George W. Bush, made a point of fixing his political compass in Texas once he was done with Yale and Harvard Business School, complete with what many heard as a slightly exaggerated drawl, as had his father, a Connecticut Yankee turned Texas oilman.
Nagourney also engaged in that strange liberal media nostalgia for Ronald Reagan, at least compared to today's "angry" Tea Party.
Yet as Republicans gather here this week, they are nominating for president a governor of Massachusetts who was born in Michigan and, for vice president, a congressman from Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Sun Belt states that were once reliable parts of the Republican electoral map are turning blue or have turned blue, like California. Only Southern notches of the belt remain. And the sunny symbol of Ronald Reagan in a cowboy hat cutting wood, as good an image of the Sun Belt spirit as there was, has given way to the angrier politics of the Tea Party, which embraces much of the same anti-government message but with a decidedly different tone.
The Sun Belt remains an economic, political and cultural force. But the 40th Republican National Convention is a sign that the Republicans’ grip on it is loosening. The nominations of Mitt Romney and Paul D. Ryan could mark the end of an era.
Eventually, some say, even Texas might move to the Democratic column as more Latinos move in and vote. Even though Florida continues to vote Republican in statewide elections, indications are that the increasing presence of non-Cuban Hispanics could tilt the state leftward.
Brian McFadden's weekly comic strip mocked the Republican convention and was unusually caustic in its liberalism,with a panel featuring "Gipper Glasses: See the world the way Reagan saw it – blocks out the poor, minorities and most of reality."
Bill Marsh, graphics editor for the paper, contributed some cute pink pig graphics and some slanted text: "A New Guide to the Republican Herd."(Will the Democratic donkeys also be reduced to a "herd" at their convention next week?)
Tea Party Voters: The populist, more radical Tea Party wing has a deep mistrust of experts, elites and even the G.O.P. establishment. Sees issues in stark black and white; has no appetite for compromise. They are conservatives first, Republicans second.
The Endangered or Vanished: Northeast moderates in Congress have dwindled to a handful of vestigial politicians like the retiring Senator Olympia Snowe as voters there have turned more Democratic. Even after the G.O.P. romped in the 2010 election, only 2 out of New England’s 22 House districts were in Republican hands.
The "dwindling" of GOP moderates at the Times has now entered its 16th year: Former reporter Adam Clymer wrote in December 1996 about "the dwindling band of Republican moderates."
Finally, contributor Kate Murphy interviewed a fringe figure in the party: "Randy Moody is the co-chairman of Republicans for Planned Parenthood, which was founded in 1995 to give Republicans who favor abortion rights a voice." Moody likes liberal screenwriter Aaron Sorkin's latest creation “The Newsroom," stating that "the Republican Party needs more people like [the show's liberal "Republican" hero] Will McAvoy."