The Base

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"The Base"

waynegilchrest.jpg

The man pictured above is Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) who you probably haven’t heard of, but who’s at the center of what’s probably the most under-covered political story of the day. Ron Brownstein’s taking note:

This ideological inquisition among Republicans isn’t confined to the presidential race. The two House Republicans most critical of the Iraq war (Walter Jones of North Carolina and Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland) have drawn serious primary challengers from the right. So had Nebraska’s Chuck Hagel, the Senate Republican most critical of the war, before he announced his retirement last month. Virginia Republicans recently decided to choose their next Senate nominee by convention rather than primary — a move that favors conservative former Gov. Jim Gilmore over moderate Rep. Tom Davis. […]

On problems ranging from health care to energy, they have retreated to a reflexive denigration of government and praise of unfettered markets aimed squarely at hard-core conservatives. Tellingly, the GOP hopefuls have broken with Bush primarily on the policies — comprehensive immigration reform and the Medicare drug benefit — that he consciously formulated to expand the party base.

Arnold Schwarzennegger and perhaps more plausibly Charlie Crist in Florida show there are templates for very successful versions of Republicanism out there, but the GOP’s base’s bizarre view that defeat in 2006 stemmed from insufficiently dogmatic adherence to the gospel of spending reductions, so that budget cuts plus doubling down on the war will redeem the party, is forcing everyone to walk off the cliff.

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