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The story has been writing itself longer than Adam Nagourney has been penning his "Dems Divided" excuses for journalism in the New York Times: Democrats lose an election (stolen or otherwise); wailing and gnashing of teeth begins; Democrats engage in a civil war between the "liberals" and the "moderates" for control of the Party.

That storyline got a thankful reprieve in 2006 with Democratic victories in the Congress.  However, conservatives were not usually forced into similar storylines, as 2006 was viewed as an aberration caused by temporary disillusionment with Iraq, coupled with disgust over the Mark Foley business.

Now, however, the Civil War meme has started to hit the GOP with gale force winds even with over a week left until the election.  Except that there's a big twist this time: whereas Democrats looked forward to their periods of finger-pointing and internecine strife with angst and dismay, the GOP base is actively looking forward to what some are calling the "excommunication" of their supposedly "RINO" former allies.

First, the civil war, as reported by the Telegraph.  On the one side, we have the appropriately named Jim Nutso Nuzzo, former aide to Bush Senior, who believes that anyone who failed to stand by Sarah Palin as the most brilliantest VP choice in the history of VP choices should be kicked to the curb:

Jim Nuzzo, a White House aide to the first President Bush, dismissed Mrs Palin's critics as "cocktail party conservatives" who "give aid and comfort to the enemy".

He told The Sunday Telegraph: "There's going to be a bloodbath. A lot of people are going to be excommunicated. David Brooks and David Frum and Peggy Noonan are dead people in the Republican Party. The litmus test will be: where did you stand on Palin?"...

"Win or lose, there is a ready made conservative candidate waiting in the wings. Sarah Palin is not the new Iain Duncan Smith, she is the new Ronald Reagan." On the accuracy of that judgment, perhaps, rests the future of the Republican Party."

Nuzzo is supported by the Limbaugh wing of the party.  Listening to Limbaugh on the radio just a few days ago (yes, I listen to rightwing radio on occasion just to hear what the other side is thinking), I heard him excoriate the GOP for attempting to make the tent too big, as he argued instead that the moderates should be shut out to make room for the supposed silent conservative majority who had been turned off by the overly "liberal" Bush Administration.  No, I'm not kidding.

On the other side are the likes of former Bush 43 speechwriter David Frum, who believes that the GOP must significantly moderate its economic message in the coming years to have a chance:

Mr Frum argues that just as America is changing, so the Republican Party must adapt its economic message and find more to say about healthcare and the environment if it is to survive.

He said: "I don't know that there's a lot of realism in the Republican Party. We have an economic message that is largely irrelevant to most people.

"Cutting personal tax rates is not the answer to everything. The Bush years were largely prosperous but while national income was up the numbers for most individuals were not. Republicans find that a hard fact to process."

Frum is right, of course: if the GOP is to have a chance at all outside the deep South and the Western Diamond of Idaho, Utah and Wyoming, it will need to move away from the Southern Strategy of opposing all middle-class economic boons under the guise of welfare for black brown lazy people, and toward the tempered, intellectual conservatism of Dwight Eisenhower and Gerald Ford (both of whom would be considered lefties in today's political environment).

Of course, no such move back toward Rockefeller Republicanism will happen so long as the conservative base has anything to say about it.  And it's no wonder: The "base strategy" practiced by Lee Atwater, Karl Rove and Steve Schmidt turned out not only to be base, but also to be not much of a long-term strategy: by purging themselves of moderates, running the country into the ground, and using increasingly shrill, independent-alienating rallying cries, the GOP has managed to make themselves a regional party largely relegated to the hyper-religious, under-educated, and deeply xenophobic areas of the country.

And where the base lies, there lies the power.  The GOP base, as seen from the thinly veiled vitriolic hate at Sarah Palin rallies, doesn't look far different from the denizens of Free Republic.  For them, the reign of terror cannot begin soon enough.  Or rather, given the rightist and fundamentalist temperament of those involved, "Spanish Inquisition" might be a more appropriate term.  A few comments from the Freeper thread will suffice:

A lot of people are going to be excommunicated

[pictures of Hannity, Ingraham and Limbaugh] Our excommunicators?

The Vichy Republican list:

Colin Powell..check

Scott Mclelan..check

William Weld...check

Doug Kmeic...cehck

Freid...check.

David Frum...check

David Brooks..check

Chris Buckley...check

Adelman..check..

George Will...check

Peggy Noonan...check

Feel free to add to the Vichy Republican list, one and all, bring the noise, this stuff is unacceptable.

My, what a nice little bloodbath they have planned.  If the base can ensure that they all lose their jobs, perhaps we really will have the "liberal" media they've been complaining about.

Remember, McCain IS from the "RINO" side of the party. If he does lose it will be a repudiation of THIS side of the party. It will not be Sarah Palin's fault, it will not be George Bush's fault, it will not be conservatives fault. It will be the fault of the "RINO" wing of the party that told us we could only win by going moderate this election cycle.

I honestly believe that McCain would be up 10% in the polls if he was a Ronald Reagan conservative who stood by free-market principals instead of twisting with the political winds. He may still win, I hope he does, but he is NOT a Reagan conservative.

And these RINO idiots expect us to swallow whatever moderate POS they choose for us. Maybe McCain wasn't "moderate" enough, maybe they will give us Lincoln Chafee in 2012, or maybe after 4 years of earning their Obama kneepads they will endorse Obama as the republican nominee as well as the democrat, just like in the old Soviet Union.

Yea. And our job here at Free Republic is to fight tooth and nail to keep these scum bag traitors out of the tent after the Mc/Palin win. These slimes will attempt to slither their way back in under the radar. A purging will be the Order of The Day ! Even against the wishes of the new president....One Term Johnny !

Yes, this is the conservative base that actively hopes for a one-term McCain presidency, to be followed by the glorious Palin ascendancy.  The more power to them: if they succeed in making Palin the standard-bearer in 2012, it will make the Reagan-Mondale election look like a fight to the finish.

These snobs have run this country for 30 years.

It is time to tell them to F off, scram, vamoose, get lost, retire, and move over.

David Brooks and David Frum and Peggy Noonan are dead people in the Republican Party.

Peggy Noonan tries portray herself is a loving caring human being. She is anything of the sort. She is an vindictive, rude, arrogant, backstabber that I would not trust with my silverware.

Now personally, my pet nickname for Ms. Noonan has always been "The Ghoul", for her ability to take even the most disgusting arguments and line them with honey.  Still, one might have expected a little more respect from the conservative base for Ronald Reagan's primary speechwriter and one of the most talented remaining Republican wordsmiths.

Well these fine upstanding conservatives, along with Barnes of FNC have sure shown their colors. I canceled my subscription to Barnes’ dumb magazine. The rest, never watched or read them anyway. Noonan has gone tippy in the brain of late.

Rush, Sean, Beck and Ingraham for me. Who needs more?

Those pernicious Vichy Republicans, those weak wristed, wobbly Vichy’s who long only to bow down to Liberals are disgusting to real Americans.

I bet each one has a interview with the Obamao if..and I said if, he wins.

When Palin talks about "real" America and "fake" America, this is the sort of person she's appealing to.

Even though Palin lacks some polish, which she is picking up and improving daily, she is the conservative standard-bearer in this election. Anyone who mocks her, runs from supporting her, or country-club weasels looking down their nose at her, has taken out official RINO cards. Now we know who they are. More will expose themselves this week. RINO’s taking flight and the rest of us remain at the barricades to inherit the party.

I don't think the Freeper base will be denied.  There will be no serious and credible moderating influences on the party.  In fact, most of the more moderate GOP Congressmembers will have been run out of office by Democrats, either in this election cycle or in 2010.  The GOP civil war will be fierce, and the nuts will win out.  And if the victory goes to the hungrier, more determined squad, you can bet that the Freepers will outlast George Will in sheer, crazy determination.

It will be fun to watch--but it will also be ugly and probably lead to scattered violence.  Here's hoping America stands at the ready as the great Rightwing Inquisition unfolds in all its bloody splendor.

Originally posted to thereisnospoon (David Atkins) on Sun Oct 26, 2008 at 06:38 PM PDT.

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