The May 14 issue of Newsweek proclaimed that some descendants of famous Republicans--Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Barry Goldwater--are thinking about changing parties and voting Blue. In an article titled, “Generational Tensions: The sons and daughters of some iconic Republicans (Ike! T.R.!) are contemplating crossing the aisle,” reporter Michael Hirsch set up the improbable idea that the logical move by unhappy "fiscally conservative" Republicans is to the Democratic Party. According to Ike's granddaughter Susan Eisenhower, “moderate ‘Eisenhower Republicans’ “ are not content, but Newsweek did not fully explore the illogic of this proposed alternative (emphasis mine throughout):
Increasingly, however, she says that the partisanship and free spending of the Bush presidency—and the takeover of the party by single-issue voters, especially pro-lifers—is driving these pragmatic, fiscally conservative voters out of the GOP.
Debatably, the dissatisfaction of moderate Republicans with the Iraq war and with what the article categorized as religiously influenced issues surrounding topics like Terri Schiavo, abortion and homosexuality can be answered by the Democratic Party, but not the problems of bloated bureaucracies and out of control spending. The article did not state the obvious; a Big Government GOP is still smaller than the modern Democratic Party.
Hirsch didn’t mention that all of the Democratic presidential candidates promise to impose socialized medicine on America, not to mention a plethora of extra programs. How is that small government? This article begged for that kind of a reality-check, but it didn’t come. Instead it provided more comments like this:
Eisenhower says she could vote Democratic in 2008, but she's still intent on saving her party. "I made a pact with a number of people," she tells NEWSWEEK. "I said, 'Please don't leave the party without calling me first.' For a while, there weren't too many calls. And then suddenly, there was a flurry of them. I found myself watching them slip away one by one."
The party might even be alien to Barry Goldwater, the 1964 GOP nominee who jolted the party rightward when he said that "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." Goldwater's youngest daughter, Peggy, who is active in GOP politics in Orange County, Calif., says she is a "moderate conservative," just as her firebrand father became later in life, irked by Republicans in Washington who embrace big government. "The government is taking on more than I feel they can handle," she says.
Eisenhower did not actually state that the Dems are the answer to Big Government woes, but Hirsch didn’t draw attention to that. Instead, he wrapped up with some stats and analysis which would have been a perfect time to point out that spending will skyrocket if Democratic plans are implemented.
Only one lonely sentence addressed the fact that for all of its spending, the GOP is still better than the alternative, but it was lost and then abandoned among the pronouncements of Republican flight to a Democratic haven. The quote flowed directly into an auction block for Eisenhower’s vote and mitigated the significance of that previous sentence:
Even so, Eisenhower and other lifelong Republicans say they haven't heard much yet from the leading Democratic candidates that persuades them. "I can't tell you how many Republicans I've talked to who are thinking along radical lines" about deserting in '08 if they hear the right message, says Eisenhower. "It's a buyer's market. Make my day."
No kidding that there isn't anything very fiscally persuasive coming from the Dems. John Edwards and Barack Obama’s own numbers for universal health care run between $50 billion and $65 billion a year and do not include the price tag for establishing and funding a new agency. These lowballed costs contradict the testimony of the expert witnesses at the Senate Finance Committee’s hearing on universal coverage, who mostly agreed that any plan will cost between $70 billion and $100 billion a year. Experts like John Sheils from the Lewin Group, a top health care consulting firm, say the Democrats’ claims of saving billions with cost-cutting tactics and efficiency “are just dramatically overstated.”
Those are just the health care costs. That doesn’t include the proposed increases in education, entitlements and funding various concerns like rebuilding New Orleans or global warming and the environment.
Pretending that the dissatisfied Republicans’ remedy for big spending GOPers is to turn toward the Democratic Party is disingenuous and unrealistic. Newsweek should have pointed out this disconnect, but it seemed too busy making a statement.
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