Could David Brooks, Frank Bruni and Joe Nocera be any more disappointed with the Republican Party? Over the last week, the three New York Times columnists have written op-eds about how miserable the ultra-Republicanness of the Republican Party establishment has made life for moderate Republican officeholders.
In his piece, which riffs off of a Times news story by Jonathan Weisman, Brooks sets the tone for his page, uncorking a sluice of tears not just for moderate Republican Sen. Richard Lugar but for conservative Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, both of whom have had to swing “sharply to the right to fend off primary challengers” from the “wingers.” The “wingers,” as Brooks calls them, “have zero tolerance for the compromises needed to get legislation passed.” The winger campaign is guided by “grievance politics, identity politics,” he writes, and they “have trashed the party’s reputation by swinging from one embarrassing and unelectable option to the next: Bachmann, Trump, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum.”
The wingers are “ferocious,” “extreme,” “metastasizing,” conductors of “heresy trials” (the presidential debates!), “meshugana,” and creators of “insular information loops,” Brooks continues.
After the Brooks piece ran, the ur-moderate Republican, Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, announced she wouldn’t seek re-election this fall, which prompted the liberal Bruni to write a celebration of her 33-year career in Congress. Bruni confesses a “kind of crush” on Snowe, one he says he shared with other Capitol Hill reporters. “We liked her best for her disobedience,” he writes, her rejection of her “political tribe’s often tyrannical orthodoxy.”
Last came Nocera, who reprised the points made by Brooks, Bruni and Weisman to make his: that he was rooting for Rick Santorum to win the Republican nomination so that the party would take such a beating in the general election that its “extremist” faction would abandon its “ideological rigidity” and the party would turn to the “endangered species” of moderate Republicans, like Christine Todd Whitman and Lincoln Chafee.