Opinion

The Great Debate

GOP: Blame message not the messenger

Here’s what’s supposed to be happening:  After losing two presidential elections, Republicans are supposed to be re-evaluating what their party stands for.  Are they out of line with mainstream America?  Does the party need to change?

The answer is yes.  So the party moves to the center and searches for candidates with broader appeal.  Republicans don’t need another spectacle like the 2012 primaries, where the contenders ran the gamut from a panderer to the right (Mitt Romney) to the far right (former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum) to the extreme right (Representative Michele Bachmann, Texas Governor Rick Perry) to the lunatic fringe (Herman Cain, Representative Ron Paul).

There was one moderate in 2012 — Jon Huntsman.  Huntsman didn’t make it past New Hampshire, where he came in first among the tiny number of Democrats who voted in the Republican primary.

After conservative Senator Barry M. Goldwater lost in 1964, Republicans turned to Richard M. Nixon.  Nixon had been defeated for president in 1960 and then for governor of California in 1962.  He was politically dead — dead as Jacob Marley.  But Republicans resurrected Nixon and dusted off his centrist credentials. Nixon won.

After liberal Senator George McGovern lost in 1972, Democrats turned to Jimmy Carter, a moderate Southern governor who had nominated Scoop Jackson for president at the 1972 Democratic convention.  Carter won.  In 1992, after three losses in a row, Democrats came up with another moderate Southern governor, Bill Clinton, who had been chairman of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.  Clinton won.

In drug war, the beginning of the end?

MEXICO/

Between 1971, when Richard Nixon launched the war on drugs, and 2008, the latest year for which official figures are available, American law enforcement officials made more than 40 million drug arrests. That number roughly equals the population of California, or of the 33 biggest U.S. cities.

Forty million arrests speak volumes about America’s longest war, which was meant to throttle drug production at home and abroad, cut supplies across the borders, and keep people from using drugs. The marathon effort has boosted the prison industry but failed so obviously to meet its objectives that there is a growing chorus of calls for the legalization of illicit drugs.

In the United States, that brings together odd bedfellows. Libertarians in the tea party movement, for example, and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an organization of former police officers, narcotics agents, judges and prosecutors who favor legalizing all drugs, not only marijuana, the world’s most widely-used illicit drug.

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