William M. Daley is a former White House Chief of Staff and Commerce Secretary (and Mayor Dick Daley’s son and Mayor Richie Daley’s brother.) So when he talks politics, he deserves our attention.
On October 25, Secretary Daley wrote The GOP’s dysfunction all started with Sarah Palin for the Washington Post. I read it, and it resonated. Then, on October 27, I read Dr. Laura de la Torre’s two pithy paragraphs on Facebook. With permission, here’s what she wrote:
I respectfully disagree. Saying that Sarah Palin was the start of Republican dysfunction is like saying the amputation of the toe was the start of the diabetes. It’s true that it all got worse after that – now the leg has been amputated, the patient is blind, and on dialysis. But it did not start with that toe ulcer, which was a sign of the underlying disease process that had gone uncontrolled for years. The toe ulcer didn’t cause the dialysis and Sarah Palin didn’t “cause” Donald Trump. That tea had been brewing a long time prior. Yahoos getting elected to local and state offices (*cough*Arizona) in the first place shows the systemic nature of the disease.
What’s the cure? I don’t know. How far can I carry this analogy? It’s too late for the one-legged blind guy on dialysis (Trump and Carson supporters). The key is prevention through education and consistently good nutrition and physical activity. How does that translate to preventing a non-thinking, non-caring electorate? How do we help the American people from destroying themselves and the country we share?
I think Dr. Laura—she’s the good Dr. Laura, by the way, and a selfless contributor to our community—is right on this one, and I’m glad she raised the issue. Only a party which disrespects the notion of a functioning federal government would select as its nominee for Vice President—backing up a man who would have been 72 at his inauguration—the most sublimely unserious major party candidate for POTUS/VPOTUS we’ve seen in my lifetime. (Truly, go back. Is there anyone on either major party ticket who compares?)
Now, before I go further I need to say something about the Republican Party. I have many friends who are Republicans. Many are bright, generous people. They see a world in shades of gray, and their shades vary from mine. (Only a few of my R friends are nuttier than fruitcakes.) Substitute Democrats/Ds and you’ll get the same comments, although I will ‘fess up to the fact that I probably have a few more D friends than R friends. (Some of them are fruitcakes too!)
So when I allude to a party that does not respect the notion of a functioning federal government, I’m really talking about the fruitcake wing, best represented by the kindly old soul who, in 2010, stated in no uncertain terms that the federal government had better keep its damn hands off his Medicare.
Frankly, the Republican Party deserves credit for serving as a counterweight to the Democrats in the 1990s. Their methods—including the first and second times Newt Gingrich and crew shut down the government, Whitewater, and the ridiculous impeachment drill—were outrageous, but their demands helped bring about balanced budgets.
This time around, the crew at the helm in Congress have managed to make their predecessors look like statesmen. On the other hand, it’s easy to see the path from Gingrich to Representatives Steve King (R-Ia.) and Louis Goehmert (R-Tx.), and the ever-charming Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx.)
The rise of Sarah Palin was not an Immaculate Conception in any political sense of the term. She was a product of the crazy part of her party. Unfortunately, and sadly, it looks her successors are, as Dr. Laura notes, Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson. Now, time will tell with respect to both men. Dr. Carson is favored in Iowa today, but in the seven contested caucuses in Iowa, the eventual nominee has been the winner only twice. That said, and following Dr. Laura’s analogy, if one of these fellows—or one of the other crazies I have not mentioned by name—is the nominee, it’s hard to imagine how the party functions at the national level.