Sen. Bennett: “I find plenty of slogans on the Republican side, but not very many ideas.”

Says of GOP, “ideology and a demand for absolute party purity endangers our ability to govern once we get into office.”

bob-bennettBack in October, Steven Hayward, “the F.K. Weyerhaeuser fellow at the American Enterprise Institute” wrote: “The brain waves of the American right continue to be erratic, when they are not flat-lining.”

A similar point was just made by Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) — or made that should be Sen. Bob Bennett (RUT).  TP has the story:

Last month, Sen. Bennett came in a distant third behind two other GOP candidates vying for the three-term senator’s seat at the Utah Republican Party’s nominating convention in Salt Lake City. His defeat was heralded as a Tea Party victory and prompted Utah’s other GOP U.S. senator, Orrin Hatch, to say tea partiers “don’t have an open mind” and “won’t listen.” Yesterday, Bennett had some harsh words for his party and its future:

As I look out at the political landscape now, I find plenty of slogans on the Republican side, but not very many ideas,” Bennett told The Ripon Society.

“Indeed, if you raise specific ideas and solutions, as I’ve tried to do on health care with [Oregon Democratic Sen.] Ron Wyden, you are attacked with the same vigor as we’ve seen in American politics all the way back to slavery and polygamy; you are attacked as being a wimp, insufficiently pure, and unreliable.”

Bennett predicted that the GOP would win back control of the House in this year’s midterm elections, but added, “The concern I have is that ideology and a demand for absolute party purity endangers our ability to govern once we get into office.”

—  This is a Think Progress cross-post.

JR:  I think it has been obvious for a while that the conservative movement should be renamed the conservative stagnation:

24 Responses to Sen. Bennett: “I find plenty of slogans on the Republican side, but not very many ideas.”

  1. Lou Grinzo says:

    “Conservative movement” is definitely wrong, as you said, Joe. I suggest “conservative Constitutional constipation” or “triple-C”.

  2. Tim L. says:

    Tea baggers represent the kind of movement that should be flushed.

  3. FishEagle says:

    I think you’ve missed the point about conservatives. Their view is that it is not up to government to do all the thinking. So of course they’re not going to be coming up with ideas and suggestions all the time. They’d rather try and improve on the present situation and try fix existing problems in government before attempting anything new. When you spread yourself too thinly, not only do you have no impact but you also waste a lot of money.

    I work in an environmental implementation programme. This is by far the biggest problem I’ve encountered in management – too many ideas and too little action.

  4. mike roddy says:

    Bennett’s correct, and thanks to him for having the courage to speak out.

    Republicans were never that interested in ideas, but at least it was a niche, and Cato and National Review actually had some thoughtful writing from time to time. Now even they have a slogans-only policy.

    The extreme Right isn’t being honest about limiting government, anyway. With the exception of the Pauls, they vote for every military appropriation bill that comes before Congress, and every giveaway to fossil fuel lobbies. The money being spent on foreign occupations with no discernable goal could have easily converted us to clean energy by now. Only the Right could accomplish this, since Democrats are afraid of being called cowards. Peace is also in the conservative tradition, and if conservatives are really as respectful of history as they claim they need to look into this.

    But then, if your m.o. is to just be angry all the time, thinking they could think this through is probably just a fantasy.

  5. Daniel Ives says:

    My personal opinion is that the far-right conservative “movement” will indeed lead to a stagnation in the November elections. Numerous Tea Party candidates have won Republican nominations thanks to a strong backing by the far right and a general anti-incumbent attitude. But what will happen in the general elections? Will these far-right (in some cases I’d even say extremist) candidates win the votes of Independents and Moderates? The way I see it, these candidates have isolated their voting demographic to the far right, which is a small, but vocal minority. They certainly can’t expect many Democratic votes, and they have driven away moderate independents and even moderate Republicans. We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out. I’m certainly no political stategist, but this seems to have a potential to backfire. What do you all think?

  6. mike roddy says:

    Daniel, #5, you could well be right, but we’ve underestimated the strength of the Right before. After Goldwater lost, we thought the loonier fringe was discredited, but he turned out to be ahead of his time.

  7. Peter Mizla says:

    As Bennett said the Republican party has no ideas, or solutions to change the current problems we are suffering from, since its been caused by their philosophy over the last 30 plus years!

    If we use the same ideas again- is that going to be a path out of the mess we are in. Is it going to solve the immense problems we are facing with climate change? Frankly if the Republicans gain power again- it will destroy the nation more so then in 1929.

    Any short term gains for the conservative movement will be short lived-
    unless they overthrow the Government!

  8. cervantes says:

    Yeah well, as insane and bigoted and extremist as they are, they’re still polling ahead of the Dems and voters are currently projected to reward their lunacy and atavism with major gains in November.

    Explain that.

    [JR: Actually, they aren’t polling ahead of the Democrats. BUT the party in power basically always loses midterm seats, particularly when unemployment is high. And, of course, progressives suck at messaging and the media focuses on the horse race, not the substance.]

  9. Daniel Ives says:

    Mike, #6, I certainly agree that we should not take my thoughts as a given and we shouldn’t underestimate the right. I would very much like to see young liberals and progressives show the activism and organization they demonstrated during the 2008 Presidential Election during the upcoming November elections. If the same political machine that was so crucial to electing Obama can remobilize for the mid term election, it would be a very welcome sight!

  10. Seth Masia says:

    This all looks eerily familiar to those of us who remember the Goldwater campaign. The conservatives isolated themselves in a mantle of purity, Johnson’s campaign framed Goldwater as a dangerous nut, and Johnson took 61% of the popular vote.

    Our real ongoing problem is not that tea partiers are going to win seats (though a few may do so), but the pernicious effect their noisiness will have on Blue-Dog Democrats, fastening them more firmly to a right-of-center statis.

  11. This is a perfect storm for our civilization and it requires unified and unanimous commitment to challenges of adaptation and mitigation.

    If we are not unified in the future then we will be united in our extinction. I have been listening carefully to conservatives for any solution or idea. So far their ideas all seem to be head in the sand solutions.

    It is considerate of any obstructionist group label themselves as clearly as Republicans do. Scapegoating is part of the process. This behavior is not very smart of them.

  12. Dean says:

    General polls about popularity of one party or the other don’t mean much unless a party has credible candidates. The deciding votes in elections are for people, not parties.

    Let’s also remember that the conservative revolution was dependent on two key things: Carter and the Iran hostage crisis was very bad for Democrats, and Reagan was the master communicator. Who among top Republicans has that skill? Obama is the best communicator around now, and I think his poll numbers are similar to Reagan’s at this point in both of their first administrations.

    Let’s also remember that the Republicans lost the Senate in Reagan’s first midterm election.

  13. Leif says:

    In my real life I am the CEO of a large oil producing company. (Not at liberty to say which one at present.)

    The science of green house gas accumulation and subsequent climatic disruption is, in fact, clear and unequivocal. It is also clear that our Nation is on the verge economic collapse, largely because of imported energy costs to foreign nations. Because we have such large cash flows we have been able to employ the best lawyers, accountants, PR and advertising, technical and engineering, (although we do not always listen to them when profits are at stake), people available in the world. Because of all this we have made out like the bandits we are.

    However the time has come to be straight shooters with the American people and the people of the world.

    It is clear that the present trajectory will lead to serious societal collapse and as such will have profound effects on the value of our portfolio. To that end we are immediately curtailing all funding of “contrary science” and using a significant portion of all profits to re-establish ourselves in the only game in town. The Awakening Economy of sustainability and GREEN ENERGY. We are after all an energy company.

    We realize that there will be hardship to many share holders and we will honor all hardship portfolios to the tune of $40,000 per year. Above that you folks will have to tough it out thru the transition. The up side is that it is our unequivocal professional opinion that we will be well positioned in the near future to achieve substantial growth in the continued well being of the Human Species.

    It is by now obvious why my identity must remain anonymous. Early transition is crucial to market share and our future profitability and long term share holder stability.

    Or else I am a retired boat builder in the North West with a tenuous grasp of reality.

  14. fj2 says:

    #13. Leif, Good one!

    Yes, this is the tremendous task that the president must undertake converting industries deeply entrenched in the status quo to willingly cooperate completely in the transformation that must come to prevent the horrors that will come with business-as-usual.

    And, may be the reason that he is slow to come up with significant action (we can only hope).

  15. Justin says:

    Are we really to believe the above post?

  16. cervantes says:

    JR — I’m sorry to have to tell you that you are mistaken, the Republicans really are polling ahead of the Dems. Josh Marshall’s generic congressional ballot has Repubs at 44.5%, Dems at 42.3%. Yeah, it’s close, and some of the specific polls have the Dems slightly ahead, but that’s his current weighted average. Half the people are drinking the KoolAid.

    [JR: I’m happy to tell you that the Rasmussen polls are right-wing crap, as 538 and others have shown. So no, it’s pretty much a dead heat in the generic battle, which is hardly the only relevant poll question.]

  17. Gary says:

    A the core of Judiciary Committee conformation hearings, concerning Elena Kagan nomination to the Supreme Court, you will find among the social issues
    discussed the reason why mitigating climate change is being resisted.

  18. Gary says:

    Sorry…..forgot the “t”….At the core….

  19. Jim Groom says:

    Sen. Bennett said slogans and few ideas. Correct on both parts of his quotation. His honesty points to the reason he was not accepted for another run at office. The right has moved even further into fantasy land…and has taken far too many along for a bumby ride. A few years a great book entitled ‘Whats A Matter with Kansas’ came out. The purpose was to explain why folks continue to vote against their own best interest. Looks like the book needs to be released again with an updated title. Perhaps ‘We’re screwed!’

  20. catman306 says:

    Don’t forget that rigged voting procedures and paperless voting machines could have an impact in November. Election modeling needs to include those factors.

  21. catman306 says:

    Thanks, Leif #13, that was priceless and exactly where my blunderings were headed.

    Didn’t those corporatist leaders ever see Rollerball with James Cann? The Energy Corporation!
    A very prophetic movie, indeed.

  22. Chad says:

    What does it matter who wins this fall?

    If the Republicans win, Obama vetos everything.

    If the Democrats win, the Republicans filibuster everything.

    Nothing happens either way.

  23. homunq says:

    @Chad22: Well… if Al Franken miraculously wins 51 seats, he can overturn the filibuster, and then it does matter.

    I actually think that if every Democrat up for reelection is forced by their constituents to pledge to support filibuster reform at the start of the new session, it improves my daughters’ chances of living to a ripe old age by around 0.1%. (A high chance of getting filibuster reform, which leads to a 40% better chance of getting an adequate climate bill in the US, which improves the global chances of adequate action by 25%, which reduces the chance of half of humanity dying from 10% to 8%. Sure, these probabilities may be a bit inflated, but I’m sure that none of them is more than an order of magnitude off.) So, if she were the only person I cared about in the world, the filibuster would be about the equivalent of the nasty infection that kept her bedridden for the last 2 weeks. But it’s that level of importance, times billions of people.

  24. Ziyu says:

    NPR ran a story about why polls are biased in favor of conservatives. Polls are done through landline telephones. About 25% of the population has only cell phones and they tend to be younger and more liberal. The ones who own landlines are more likely to be conservative. So conservatives are overrepresented in the polls.
    On a side note, the Tea Party is going to help Harry Reid win the election. The TP candidate scared a lot of moderates and Independents away when Sharron Angle advocated for a revolution if she didn’t win the ballot.