Monday, December 18, 2006

Former Bush Speechwriter Gerson Attacks "Fundamentalist" Republicans

By Rick Pearcey

"My low point with the Republican Party came in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina," writes former Bush speechwriter and now Newsweek contributor Michael Gerson.

"The response of many Republicans was to use the disaster as an excuse for cutting government spending." . . .

Fundamentalist Republicans: "This reaction previews a broader, high-stakes Republican debate as we head toward the 2008 election. One Republican Party -- the Republican Party of movement conservatives on Capitol Hill and in the think-tank world -- will argue that the 'big government Republicanism' of the Bush era has been a reason for recent defeats.

"Like all fundamentalists, the antigovernment conservatives preach that greater influence requires a return to purity -- the purity of Reaganism.

"But the golden age of austerity under Reagan is a myth.". . .

"As antigovernment conservatives seek to purify the Republican Party, it is reasonable to ask if the purest among them are conservatives at all." . . .

"Jeb Bush" Republicans: "There is another Republican Party -- what might be called the party of the governors. It is the party of Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida. . . ."

"The future of the Republican Party depends on which party it wants to be -- the party of purity, or the party of the governors. In that decision, Republicans should consider: any political movement that elevates abstract antigovernment ideology above human needs is hardly conservative, and unlikely to win."

The rest of Michael Gerson's column, titled "The Republican Identity Crisis," is here.

Rick Pearcey is editor and publisher of The Pearcey Report.