No joy in Mudville
Yes, their wayward son Mitt Romney survived to fight another day with a narrow win in his birth state of Michigan. But the real news was happening down east, where Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe decided to hang 'em up.
With her decision, the party once known for moderates like Edward Brooke, Leverett Saltonstall, John and Lincoln Chafee and yes, George H.W. Bush, is nearly extinct. Only Snowe's Maine partner, Susan Collins and, some may argue, Scott Brown, remain from that unique breed of fiscal conservative and social liberal descending from the Party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.
Today's Republican Party prefers cultural warriors like Rick Santorum, a somehow fitting candidate to represent an ideology being strangled by its own intolerance.
Snowe had obviously grown weary of trying to stem the tide of immoderation sweeping through the Senate and the GOP, and her departure may actual do more than her presence, opening what had been a solid Republican seat to potential Democratic takeover in a closely held Senate.
And the party finds itself in deep chaos, its libertarian, religious and traditional wings struggling for control and likely to emerge with a flawed nominee in Romney. It is a testament to the violent rightward lurch that began with Barry Goldwater in 1964, that the son of a popular three-term moderate governor could only eke out a 4-point win -- and a virtually split of delegates in Michigan.
Then again, today's GOP would hardly welcome Goldwater, a libertarian who favored gay rights. And they are disproving the infamous words of his acceptance speech:
I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!Instead, today's GOP reflects the less-remembered warning:
Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies.