In Defense Of 1994

A reader writes:

One thing you've done recently on your blog that has irritated me is run letters from readers claiming that "the GOP has been crazy all along" and alleging that the Gingrich Revolution of 1994 had the same incoherent rage as the present GOP, even going so far as to slander the Contract with America.

This is absurd. The Republican revolution in 1994 was far more positive, far more focused and far more reasonable.  The contract focused them around spending reduction, welfare reform and ethics reform.  There was no mention of affirmative action, immigration, abortion, gays or any of the other dog whistle issues currently driving the GOP.  Even Rush Limbaugh -- trust me on this -- was smart and focused in his criticism of Clinton.  He was a joy to hear then; he's unbearable now. 

The buildup to the 1994 mid-terms was, for me and many Republicans, a time of optimism and excitement; the buildup now is one of fear and loathing.  There is simply no comparison between 1993 and 2009.

The shame of the current state of the GOP is that they are the festering ruin of the good ideas that prevailed in the mid-90's -- ideas reduced to ideology; thought reduced to dogma.

And dogma now reduced to paranoid and hateful bile. My reader is right about the Contract With America. It was specific; it was constructive; and it was not a Christianist screed. What my other readers were referring to, I suspect, is the fringe attack on the Clintons, the Vince Foster, drug-running in Arkansas, and on an on - the kind of stuff David Brock was hired to disseminate.

Now, it seems, that's all that Republicanism is. Which is why, mercifully, there are fewer and fewer people in the party.