One thing has struck me these past few years about the right in America. As it has slowly abandoned its own principles - limited government, individual freedom, balanced budgets, federalism - it has been forced to resort to three fundamental issues to keep itself alive. The first was the war on terror, the second fundamentalist Christianity, and the third, hatred of the left. The first has waned somewhat, not because we aren't still at war and in great peril, but because it is manifestly obvious that this administration is stunningly incompetent in its execution of the war. There's only so much you can do to defend it at this point. The evangelical base whose support for Bush is entirely for religious rather than political reasons - the theocratic heart of the GOP - will never stop believing, as long as the Supreme Leader refuses to show any doubt and keeps preventing vaccines from being developed, puts pro-lifers on the Court, and keeps up the pressure on gays. But the rest - and they're critical - are motivated entirely by being anti-left.
The most depressing aspect of this was the vile "Swift Boat" attack on John Kerry in the last election campaign. But you only have to watch O'Reilly or read Powerline or listen to Sean Hannity or David Horowitz to know that the only thing that really gets them fired up any more is loathing of liberals. The only way the GOP base will be motivated to vote for an incompetent, exhausted, fiscally insane administration is if they get to vote against "libruls". Michael Moore, the Daily Kos, Paul Krugman, George Clooney, et al. are therefore the GOP's last, best hope this fall. Feingold's call for censuring the president is the best thing to happen to Bush for a long time. Hillary will help, whatever she actually does. The question is merely whether the anti-left card will work any more. It barely did the trick last time - in a buoyant economy, in wartime, against a candidate as pathetic as Kerry, Bush could have lost if a few thousand votes in Ohio hadn't been beaten out of the anti-gay scrub. My gut predicts a huge swing against the GOP this fall. So watch out for the anti-left hate and hysteria from Republicans. It's coming. It's all they've got left.
(Photo: Dennis Cook/AP)