Sunday, February 10, 2008

GOP Deathwatch: Tracking the Kübler-Ross Model

The hardest part of being a General Political Practitioner is telling the family the bad news. Dr. DWSUWF diagnosed a dangerous tumor in the Republican Party in the fall of 2006. He did not catch it as early as he would have like, but it was still treatable. In this November 15, 2006 post, Dr. DWSUWF biopsied several right wing sites, with disquieting results. The cancer of the right wing vocal minority compromised the GOP's immunity against stupidity and triggered tissue rejection of a rational and electable candidate like Chuck Hagel. His diagnosis then described Hagel as -
"a bona fide, high integrity conservative, who can retrieve the libertarian swing vote, might even pull in Democrats like Reagan did, and would certainly retain the White House for Republicans. And what is the only objection from the right? He is not a team player with the most unpopular President of the last 70 years. Good strategic thinking. Just the kind of thinking that will elect a Democrat for president in 2008."
In January of 2007 Dr. DWSUWF prescribed an aggressive treatment plan injecting comments throughout the political blogopsphere:
"Republicans better hope that Chuck Hagel runs for president and gets some traction in the party... The Republican right is now so out of step with the majority of Americans over the War in Iraq, that I cannot see how Republicans can nominate an electable candidate. Fortunately this ragged right is becoming marginalized (although over-represented in the blogosphere, is now a small minority of the Republican party and and even smaller minority of American opinion overall."
Unfortunately this meager treatment had no observable effect on the malignancy, as exemplified in the comment threads here, here and here.

The doctor did not give up and offered the treatment again on January 10, 2007:
"Since GWB is hell bent on making sure the Iraq war is even more unpopular and a bigger issue in '08 than it is now, one wonders whether any Republican can be elected President in '08. The spectre of Single Party Democratic control of the federal government hangs over the '08 contest. There is hope. There is one Republican presidential hopeful who has been on the right side of the war since '03. That, in the considered opinion of DWSUWF, makes him the only electable Republican in '08. And that makes Chuck Hagel the DWSUWF Designated Divided Government Presidential Candidate of choice."
And yet again on March 30, 2007:
By June, Dr. DWSUWF was desperate to find a cure, even embracing alternative radical treatments like Ron Paul rEVOLution. Stubbornly, Dr. DWSUWF continued to venture into the wild to inject prescriptive commentary on any right of center sites he could find. This comment exchange with rightwingdog on a May 7, 2007 GOP Bloggers post was typical :

Ron Paul is NOT a Republican, he is a Libertarian. That is reason enough to leave him out of the poll. Chuck Hagel is an embarrassment to the Republican Party. He is a RINO pure and simple. He now has stated he is thinking of running as an Independant. I say good riddance. Why not explore the field of names and find out their abilities, their records and what their feelings are on the major issues. You may be surprised at what you find. WA

Posted by: rightwingdog [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 7, 2007 11:54 PM

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury ... I submit for your consideration, clear evidence of how the Republicans are going to screw up the 2008 presidential election just like they did the 2006 midterms. EXHIBIT A - The comment directly above this one, spewed all over this fine blog by one "RIGHTWINGDOG." Please consider this comment carefully and understand that this is a fair representation of the on-line right wing vocal minority of the Republican Party. keep in mind that Hagel and Paul are BOTH MORE CONSERVATIVE IN THE REAGAN/GOLDWATER TRADITION THAN ANYONE IN THIS ADMINISTRATION OR ANY DECLARED REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT. You can only conclude, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the Republican party is doomed for a generation.

We rest our case.

Posted by: mw [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 8, 2007 06:14 PM

Alas, it was all to no avail. The patient refused all treatment. It was time to face the truth. The GOP is terminal. The cancer of the vocal minority of the rabid right has paralyzed and enfeebled the GOP body and infected the GOP brain. The party is incapable of articulating a coherent reason for its own existence outside of opposing Hillary Clinton. It is a clear indication of the level of brain damage when GOP loyalists are reduced to blaming Bush Derangement Syndrome for its current state, even asserting that 70% of the U.S. population is infected. The real poison that accelerated the progression of the disease is clear: Bush administration incompetence, Bush/Cheney assertion of expanded Unitary Executive power contrary to the Constitution and American principles, Bush/Cheney contempt for the Rule of Law, and excessive zeal promoting and extending a completely unnecessary war. There is nothing left to be done. All we can do is watch and understand the process as it unfolds.

In her seminal 1969 book On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross enumerated the five stages of dying. The psychological process that begins when a patient first becomes aware of a terminal illness is also known as the Kübler-Ross model.

The Kübler-Ross five stages of dying as described in Wikipedia
  1. Denial: The initial stage: "It can't be happening."
  2. Anger: "Why me? It's not fair."
  3. Bargaining: "Just let me live to see my children graduate."
  4. Depression: "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"
  5. Acceptance: "It's going to be OK."
We can use these as milestones to track the progression of the disease through the Republican body politic. Understand that this is a large bloated patient, and the disease will progress at different rates in different parts of the body. Different stages and symptoms can and will present at the same time.

The first stage is always experienced by patients confronted with a terminal diagnosis. It is a universal human reaction. By now, virtually the entire Republican Party is either in or passed through this stage. I exhibited some symptoms myself. Karl Rove was one of the earliest, and most prominent Republicans to publicly present the denial stage symptoms. Only days before 2006 mid-term election, Karl Rove denied the reality obvious to everyone else by claiming secret knowledge predicting a Republican mid-term victory in an NPR interview with Robert Siegel :
"MR. ROVE: Yeah. Look, I'm looking at all these Robert and adding them up. And I add up to a Republican Senate and a Republican House. You may end up with a different math, but you're entitled to your math. I'm entitled to "the" math."
Interestingly, Karl Rove has remained in the Denial Stage to this day. Most recently displaying the symptoms in a Newsweek Opinion piece - Crackup? Not So Fast:
"Calm down. The GOP's demise isn't as imminent as some would have it.. The Reagan coalition has a natural desire to stick together. Fiscal, defense and values conservatives have more in common with each other than with any major element of the Democratic Party's leadership."
Yeah Karl. That's why the Democratic party turnout is crushing Republican party turnout in every primary and every caucus in every state [From the transcript of today's Meet the Press, so far in the primaries "Republicans have gotten 12.9 million votes, Democrats have gotten 19.2 million votes"]. That's why tens of thousands turn out to see either Clinton or Obama at routine campaign stops while, at best, tens of hundreds can be bothered to show up for John McCain. That's why money is pouring into the Democratic coffers and trickling into the Republicans. Karl's extended denial stage is delusional on a scale that is breathtaking to behold.

One more example of GOP denial and then we'll move on to stage two. This example is notable because we are seeing the denial expressed, not by an individual, but by an entire communal Republican blog.
GOP Bloggers is a three year old blog with the tag line "BLOGGING FOR THE MAJORITY" and describes itself as "a online grassroots community with the goal of keeping a Republican majority in Congress, and a Republican President in the White House." To be fair, the tag line in the blog header has been qualified since the 2006 midterms to now say "still BLOGGING FOR THE MAJORITY - we'll be back." Right. The point, is that the GOP lost any claim on the majority 18 months ago and has no prospect of seating a majority in either legislative house before the year 2011. None. But there is that tag-line. I'd call that "Denial" on a grand scale.

In addition, the blog is still promoting a blog sidebar badge that sports the original completely false tagline. It's a lie. If they were blogging for the majority, by any measure, they would be blogging for the Democratic Party. Add stale FAQs and old, inaccurate descriptions, a blog that once hosted multiple posts every day, now showing no new posts in over two weeks, a political blog whose readership of over 50,000 visitors/month as recently as last May, now dropping under 20,000 visitors in the middle of a white hot political primary season, and you have to ask yourself - WTF? GOP Bloggers is in a death spiral. Perhaps, just perhaps, presenting a reality based view of the world would help them pull out before they auger in completely.
Anger is the second stage a patient reaches when facing a terminal illness. Anger at God, anger towards doctors, nurses, and families, and in the case of the terminally ill GOP, anger at other Republicans and the presumptive nominee of the party:

Sean Hannity as reported by AJ Strata

"I tuned into Hannity see what had happened today and the guy just went off on what can only be described as a lick-spittle tirade! Apparently Rich Galen wrote a piece today and noted how conservatives tearing down McCain is basically doing the liberal media’s work for them... But something inside Hannity snapped over this and he was in the throws of insanity. He claimed those who question his actions are pompous, arrogant, hanger-ons who are simply trying to angle for jobs in the new administration and have sold their principles for money. "
Laura Ingraham at CPAC:
"Of all the people introducing the three remaining candidates for president, I get to introduce the conservative," Ingraham said [Introducing Romney]. "No one can embody all of Ronald Reagan. It's impossible," said Ingraham. "But we do want, and I think deserve, a candidate who is proud to be a conservative. And who embodies conservative ideals. Is that too much to ask?" Ingraham continued. "I don't think it's enough to say you were a foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution. I think the question is 'what have you been doing for conservatism lately?'
Glenn Beck Radio Transcript:
GLENN: Glad we can all rally around John McCain. It's great. We've got amnesty right around the corner, we have the closure of Guantanamo Bay, we have less information from terrorists, we have a 50-cent a gallon gas tax coming thanks to McCain/Lieberman, more assaults on the First Amendment, possibly the fairness doctrine although I don't know how we could make a case for the fairness doctrine because the media today is going to start to make the case that Rush Limbaugh and everybody on talk radio's completely irrelevant. .. There are no conservatives in Manhattan! They've all been locked away. They have all gone insane. All the conservatives are rocking back and forth some place in Bellevue going, I just don't get it, I just don't understand it. And New Jersey? That's how John McCain won big in New Jersey because of the conservative stance he took?... I don't think I can do this job anymore (crying). I don't. I don't think I can do this job anymore. I really done.
STU: You need to stop letting it bother you.
GLENN: It's not bothering me.
STU: It is bothering you. It's driving you insane.
GLENN: It's not bothering me. I don't know how to make sense of it anymore. This is my job. My job is to try to make sense of stuff. I can't make sense of this. "
Rush Limbaugh Transcript:
"The establishment of the Republican Party has let the Republican Party slide. You've used conservatives when you needed them. You've not led; you've not kept your promises, and now you're promoting a candidate who spent years leading the effort to marginalize the party and demean conservatives in a host of critical issues! You establishment Republicans created this mess. You created this scenario, and your tactics today -- with the name-calling and the demeaning of the base, which is really why you're attacking talk radio. When you attack me, you attack my audience. When you attack Levin and Hannity and Ingraham, you're attacking their audiences. You're attacking the base of the party. It's going to backfire on you, and you'll have yourselves to blame. Until you accept responsibility for what you've done and are doing to this party and take significant steps... Why do you think the Democrats are so happy to see what you guys are doing to the party? And why do we never see this happening to the Democrats themselves? You're going to be responsible for the election if you don't fix this. You establishment Republicans are going to be responsible for the election of a Hillary Clinton or a Barack Obama. It will not be us who are responsible. It will not be talk radio. It will be you. "
The entire floor of the CPAC Convention as analyzed by SnarkSmith:
"A presumptive Republican presidential nominee whose message to the CPAC crowd is, "hey, you could do worse," whose audience needs to be instructed not to boo him, and who gets booed there anyway, is a Republican presidential nominee with a real problem. Movement conservatives' antipathy for John McCain runs so deep that they preferred a guy who wasn't in any meaningful sense a conservative for the first 60 years of his life, to McCain, whose unconservatism consists, apparently, in opposing torture, believing that global warming is real, and that it isn't feasible to round up and deport 12 million Mexican immigrants."
Bargaining is a brief stage that the terminal patient may pass through after the crying, lamentations and rending of garments phase. The patient may attempt to open negotiations with God, or with Satan, or even with the presumptive nominee himself to stave off the inevitable.

Ann Coulter - Provacteur & Book Promoter:
"McCain uses the boilerplate language of all Republicans in saying he will appoint "strict constructionists." This is supposed to end all discussion of the courts. But if he's picking strict constructionists, he will have to appoint judges who will commit to overturning McCain-Feingold. That could be our litmus test: Will you hold President McCain's signature legislation restricting speech unconstitutional? ... If Hillary is elected president, we'll have a four-year disaster, with Republicans ferociously opposing her, followed by Republicans zooming back into power, as we did in 1980 and 1994, and 2000. (I also predict more Oval Office incidents with female interns.)If McCain is elected president, we'll have a four-year disaster, with the Republicans in Congress co-opted by "our" president, followed by 30 years of Democratic rule.There's your choice, America."
Richard Viguerie - Conservative Saddle Burr:
“Rhetoric isn’t enough,” Viguerie said. “To get the enthusiastic support of conservatives – support he must have, to win – Senator McCain must make his case with deeds, not just words.”Senator McCain must surround himself with conservatives in policy positions, so that conservatives know what sort of people will make key decisions in a McCain Administration. He must have a number of Sister Souljah moments with the Washington establishment liberals who consider him their favorite Republican. He must make conservatives cheer for him every night when they watch the news on TV – not just when they hear him give a good speech.”
Alfred Regnery - WSJ Opinionist:
"It will take a lot more than vague promises, but there are a few things that might bring a good many conservatives into the McCain camp.... - Take a firm no-new-taxes pledge... - Get specific on spending....- Pick a fight with the press... - Pick a conservative running mate early... - Get specific on judicial nominations... Mr. McCain is standing on a precipice. By saying the right things, he could bring a lot of conservatives into his camp. But if he does not, he could lose enough of them to assure a Democratic victory in November."
Depression is the fourth stage, and can include mourning, deep melancholy, pessimism, listlessness, and in the case of the death of a political party, refusal to campaign or even vote. Only a few Republicans have reached this stage, but one notable example:

James Dobson - Christofascist:
"I'm deeply disappointed the Republican Party seems poised to select a nominee who did not support a Constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage, who voted for embryonic stem cell research to kill nascent human beings, who opposed tax cuts that ended the marriage penalty, and who has little regard for freedom of speech, who organized the Gang of 14 to preserve filibusters, and has a legendary temper and often uses foul and obscene language. I am convinced Sen. McCain is not a conservative, and in fact, has gone out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes of those who are... I cannot, and I will not vote for Sen. John McCain, as a matter of conscience. But what a sad and melancholy decision this is for me and many other conservatives."
We can expect to see many more clinically depressed Rpublicans in the coming months.

The final stage. Some never reach it, fighting to the end, or simply wallowing in depression and self-pity. Acceptance in this context simply means to give up and accept that the death of the GOP is inevitable.

At the time of this writing, DWSUWF is the only Republican to pass through all five stages to accept the inevitable (with the possible exception of Andrew Sullivan and Peggy Noonan). Having worked diligently from the inside, lo these long six weeks, as a stalwart fighting to save the GOP, I have reconciled myself that there is nothing more to do. I oppose euthanasia on principle, so all we can do is watch the end using the Kübler-Ross Model to track the final stages.

This is, of course, very bad news for the supporters of Divided Government such as Dr DWSUWF. We are now on board a hell-bound train rocketing down the rails toward single party Democratic Government, with either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama controlling the levers of power for the expanded unitary executive designed by Dick Cheney, complemented by increased Democratic majorities in both houses of the legislature and a real possibly of a 60 vote filibuster-proof plurality in the Senate. God help us. One can only hope that the Democrats will not have time to do as much damage in two years of single party control as it took the Republicans to do in six.

One last straw to grasp, is the possibility of a Hagel/Bloomberg presidential effort (in that order) to replace the dying GOP (more in a future post) . There is no historical precedent for a successful third party presidential run except in the role of spoiler. However, there is a precedent for a new opposition party successfully displacing an established major party that has disemboweled itself (Lincoln's Republicans replacing the Whigs).

But for the current incarnation of the Republican Party itself, it is all over. The only remaining suspense is to see what Alien-like creature of hell will erupt through the GOP chest cavity as it convulses in its final death throes.

UPDATED: 17-Feb-2008 - Fixed typos, some grammatical inconsistencies, and added links.

Linked by Dr. Pat Santy, who does not concur with the diagnosis, but agrees with the prognosis.

Cross-posted at Donklephant.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, that is the answer. If the Republicans would simply look exactly like the Democrats all will be well. We can win all of the elections. Of course, I assume your "advice" comes from a loyal leftist? If both parties were exactly the same as the one you favor you would "win" all elections. The term "echo chamber" comes to mind.

Hagel? Ron Paul? Oh, you are one of those strange people who equate "wisdom" with "putting your finger in the wind".

You sure spent a ton of words to say nothing.

Fair? Vacuous would be a better description, or perhaps simply "lame".

mw said...

Thanks for visiting Anonymous!

Always delighted to have you back here commenting.

Be sure to stop back on November 5th, and let us know how it is all working out for you.

Anonymous said...

Well, you've finally abandoned the divided government gig out of pure disgust for the pile of garbage the Repubs have spewed out. Bush is the worst President in our country's history and their nominee to be is too aligned. Too bad the puppetmasters have shut Ron Paul out. Time to go golfing. By the way, I miss the Obama and Billary pic.

mw said...

You are back again. You seem to be singing a different tune than earlier in this thread. No I have not abandoned the divided government meme. But, I ask you - What can one do, if one cannot get there from here riding a GOP steed, no matter how much one beats that dead Republican horse?

There is one additional possibility. More next week.

The Obama and Hillary pic is still here. Just relocated to the archives.