New York Times political reporter Jeremy Peters used the failure of President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress to repeal Obamacare in order to pile on the hostile ideological labels in his Monday post-mortem, particularly on top of those “Republican hard-liners” who don’t believe in good governance: “G.O.P., Once Unified Against Obama, Struggles for Consensus Under Trump.”
In all there were 15 ideological labels in the 1100-word story: 11 “conservative” labels, two “right,” one “far right,” and one “hard-liners.” (The words “left” or “liberal” didn’t appear in the report at all.)
Whenever a major conservative plan in Washington has collapsed, blame has usually been fairly easy to pin on the Republican hard-liners who insist on purity over practicality.
But as Republicans sifted through the detritus of their failed effort to replace the Affordable Care Act, they were finding fault almost everywhere they looked.
Peters really spiced up the rhetoric as he imagined nasty Republicans trying to kneecap poor Obama and his health-care scheme:
For eight years, those divisions were often masked by Republicans’ shared antipathy toward President Barack Obama. Now, as the party struggles to adjust to the post-Obama political order, it is facing a nagging question: How do you hold together when the man who unified you in opposition is no longer around?
Mr. Obama provided conservatives with not just a health law to loathe and a veto pen to blame, but also a visage that allowed their opposition to be more palpable.
“With Obama no longer being there, the emotional element of the opposition is drained away,” said Rich Lowry, the editor of the conservative National Review.
Peters’ labeling became increasingly hostile, as he threw around terms like and "rabble-rousing" and especially “far right," the same term the paper uses to describe actual fascist parties in Europe. Meanwhile, appearances in the paper of the term “far left” to refer to the American political system are rare to nonexistent in the paper.
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In the health care fight, it was not just the far right, egged on by rabble-rousing outside groups, that split from the Republican leadership. There were dissenters among the more middle-of-the-road conservative lawmakers, those representing suburban communities outside Philadelphia and Washington and rural states like Louisiana. Even party leaders like Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, the powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, opposed the bill.
Interest groups on the right were also divided, with natural allies like Americans for Tax Reform, the anti-tax outfit, and Americans for Prosperity, a free-market group backed by the Koch brothers, on opposing sides.
David Frum, who has been a critic of conservatism for years, is also lumped in with conservatives:
“Trump, whatever else he is, was able to see that what was being offered to Republicans was not really what they wanted,” said David Frum, the conservative writer and a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush. “They wanted more health care for themselves, less immigration and no more Bushes. And what they were offered was no more health care, more immigration and a third Bush.”