Michael Tomasky tends not to pull his ideological punches. Two months ago, after Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu lost her Senate runoff election, the Daily Beast pundit called the Deep South “one big nuclear waste site of choleric, and extremely racialized, resentment,” and semi-sarcastically told Democrats to “let the GOP have it and run it and turn it into Free-Market Jesus Paradise.”
In a Monday column, Tomasky jabbed repeatedly at the 2016 Republican presidential field, declaring it “astonishingly weak” and decrying the candidates’ “hostility to actual ideas that might stand a chance of addressing the country’s actual problems,” but saved his Rob Gronkowski-like haymakers for the party base, which allegedly craves both “empty-calorie bromides” and “red-meat appetizers and entrees.”
Tomasky speculated that even if one of the Republican aspirants were “Lincoln and TR and Reagan all rolled into one, with a little bit of Thatcher on the side…it wouldn’t matter. He wouldn’t be able to demonstrate the breadth of his vision, because that isn’t what the GOP base of today wants.”
From Tomasky’s piece, headlined “The GOP: Still the Party of Stupid” (emphasis added):
None of these [candidates] looks much like a president, with the exception of Jeb Bush; and more to the point, they don’t sound like presidents either. They sound like they’re running for RNC chairman at best, or more likely leader of the Tea Party caucus. So despite all this spin from conservatives about what a strong field this is, as usual the opposite is the truth. It’s an astonishingly weak field, unified not only in their opposition to Barack Obama and the federal government but also in their hostility to actual ideas that might stand a chance of addressing the country’s actual problems…
But the problem in the first instance isn’t them. Let me put it this way. The greatest cardiologist in the world could move to town. But if everybody wants to eat chili-cheese fries all day and nobody wants to have bypass surgery, there’s still going to be a lot of heart disease.
You follow me? There could be a man in this presidential field who is the political equivalent of that cardiologist—Lincoln and TR and Reagan all rolled into one, with a little bit of Thatcher on the side and what the hell, a tiny dash of Clinton, just for crossover appeal. And it wouldn’t matter. He wouldn’t be able to demonstrate the breadth of his vision, because that isn’t what the GOP base of today wants.
I finally sat myself down and watched that Scott Walker speech from last week that everyone is raving about. If this was the standout speech, I sure made the right decision in not subjecting myself to the rest of them. It was little more than a series of red-meat appetizers and entrees…
Walker, I see, has surged in a new Iowa poll…[I]t seems clear that Walker has gained on the strength, so to speak, of his empty-calorie bromides.
He’s gained because those items— kicking Planned Parenthood, denying your own citizens subsidized health-care coverage, pretending that voter fraud is a thing—are what pass for ideas in today’s GOP. Walker is even more vacuous on foreign policy, as Martha Raddatz revealed yesterday, twisting him around like a pretzel with a couple of mildly tough questions on Syria. The Democratic Party has its problems, but at least Democrats are talking about middle-class wage stagnation, which is the country’s core economic quandary…
But you can’t really discuss economic problems as a Republican presidential candidate, because in the pond of voters where you’ll be fishing, “America” has no such problems. Some people—roughly 47 percent of them—have economic problems, but that’s all their fault, you see. So these candidates are about to spend a year pandering to that. That will make them weak in more ways than one.