Firebrands Out, but GOP Remains the Same

Ezra Klein on Republicans' fitful attempt to reinvent themselves

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 7, 2013 1:34 PM CST

(Newser) – Something strange is happening to the GOP. All of the 2016 contenders seem to have reached a conclusion, Ezra Klein observes in a Bloomberg column: "It's better to build a reputation as one of the party’s adults than as one of its firebrands." But Republicans are trying to look more moderate—so long, Dick Morris and Sarah Palin—without actually changing fundamental policy stances. Witness Eric Cantor's policy speech this week, awash in milquetoast policy ideas that were nothing but "appetizers and side courses."

Party renewal isn't an overnight process. "After the 2008 election, Republicans went through their anger phase, engendering the rise of the Tea Party," Klein writes. Then came denial, and the belief that if they nominated the inoffensive Mitt Romney, voters would naturally reject President Obama. Now they're bargaining, trying to change their behavior but not their ideas. "The question now is whether the Republican Party will be forced into the final step of the process: policy change." Read the full column here.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor gives a policy address Tuesday at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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None of these strands appears close to blossoming into a new, or even slightly different, agenda. That’s the problem with the Republican establishment reasserting control. They’re still the establishment. - Ezra Klein

We’re seeing the normal progression of a grass-roots populist movement. It ran out of control for a few years — that’s why we call it a movement rather than an organization. But it’s receding a bit now. - Vin Weber, former GOP Congressman

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