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GOP Deathwatch: Tracking the Kübler-Ross Model

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The hardest part of being a General Political Practitioner is telling the family the bad news. Dr. DWSUWF diagnosed a dangerous tumor in the Republican Party in the fall of 2006. He did not catch it as early as he would have liked, but it was still treatable. In this November 15, 2006 post, Dr. DWSUWF biopsied several right wing sites, with disquieting results. The cancer of the right wing vocal minority compromised the GOP’s immunity against stupidity and triggered tissue rejection of a rational and electable conservative candidate like Chuck Hagel. In January of 2007 Dr. DWSUWF prescribed an aggressive treatment plan injecting comments throughout the political blogopsphere. Unfortunately this meager treatment had no observable effect on the malignancy. The doctor did not give up. He offered the treatment again on January 10, 2007 and yet again on March 30, 2007. By June, Dr. DWSUWF was desperate to find a cure, even embracing alternative radical treatments like Ron Paul rEVOLution.

Alas, it was to no avail. The patient refused all treatment. It is time to face the truth. The GOP is terminal. The cancer of the vocal minority of the rabid right has paralyzed and enfeebled the GOP body and infected the GOP brain. The party is incapable of articulating a coherent reason for its own existence outside of opposing Hillary Clinton. All we can do is watch and understand the process as it unfolds.

In her seminal 1969 book On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross enumerated the five stages of dying. The psychological process that begins when a patient first becomes aware of a terminal illness is also known as the Kübler-Ross model.

The Kübler-Ross five stages of dying as described in Wikipedia

  1. Denial: The initial stage: “It can’t be happening.”
  2. Anger: “Why me? It’s not fair.”
  3. Bargaining: “Just let me live to see my children graduate.”
  4. Depression: “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”
  5. Acceptance: “It’s going to be OK.”

We can use these as milestones to track the progression of the disease through the Republican body politic. Understand that this is a large bloated patient, and the disease will progress at different rates in different parts of the body. Different stages and symptoms can and will present at the same time.

DENIAL

The first stage is always experienced by patients confronted with a terminal diagnosis. It is a universal human reaction. By now, virtually the entire Republican Party is either in or has passed through this stage. I exhibited some symptoms myself. Karl Rove was one of the earliest, and most prominent Republicans to publicly present the denial stage symptoms. Only days before 2006 mid-term election, Karl Rove was already denying the reality obvious to everyone else by claiming secret knowledge and predicting a Republican mid-term victory in this NPR interview with Robert Siegel :

“MR. ROVE: Yeah. Look, I’m looking at all these Robert and adding them up. And I add up to a Republican Senate and a Republican House. You may end up with a different math, but you’re entitled to your math. I’m entitled to “the” math.”

Interestingly, Karl Rove has remained in the Denial Stage to this day. Most recently displaying the symptoms in a Newsweek Opinion piece – Crackup? Not So Fast:

“Calm down. The GOP’s demise isn’t as imminent as some would have it.. The Reagan coalition has a natural desire to stick together. Fiscal, defense and values conservatives have more in common with each other than with any major element of the Democratic Party’s leadership.”

Sad. To think he was once heralded as a political genius. He has mentally blocked out the news that the Democratic party turnout is crushing Republican party turnout in every primary and every caucus in every state [This from the transcript of last Sunday’s Meet the Press: so far in the primaries “Republicans have gotten 12.9 million votes, Democrats have gotten 19.2 million votes“]. He refuses to acknowledge that tens of thousands turn out to see either Clinton or Obama at routine campaign stops while, at best, tens of hundreds can be bothered to show up for John McCain. Nor can he face that money is pouring into the Democratic coffers and trickling into the Republicans. Karl’s extended denial stage is delusional on a scale that is breathtaking to behold.

ANGER

Anger is the second stage a patient reaches when facing a terminal illness. Anger at God, anger towards doctors, nurses, and families, and in the case of the terminally ill GOP, anger at other Republicans and the presumptive nominee of the party:

Sean Hannity as reported by AJ Strata

“I tuned into Hannity see what had happened today and the guy just went off on what can only be described as a lick-spittle tirade! Apparently Rich Galen wrote a piece today and noted how conservatives tearing down McCain is basically doing the liberal media’s work for them… But something inside Hannity snapped over this and he was in the throws of insanity. He claimed those who question his actions are pompous, arrogant, hanger-ons who are simply trying to angle for jobs in the new administration and have sold their principles for money.”

Other examples include Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and the entire entire floor of the CPAC Convention.

BARGAINING

Bargaining is a brief stage that the terminal patient may pass through after the crying, lamentations and rending of garments phase. The patient may attempt to open negotiations with God, with Satan, or even with the presumptive nominee himself to stave off the inevitable.

Ann Coulter provides an example:

“McCain uses the boilerplate language of all Republicans in saying he will appoint “strict constructionists.” This is supposed to end all discussion of the courts. But if he’s picking strict constructionists, he will have to appoint judges who will commit to overturning McCain-Feingold. That could be our litmus test: Will you hold President McCain’s signature legislation restricting speech unconstitutional?”

Other examples include Richard Viguerie and Alfred Regnery

DEPRESSION

Depression is the fourth stage, and can include mourning, deep melancholy, pessimism, listlessness, and in the case of the death of a political party, refusal to campaign or even vote. Only a few Republicans have reached this stage, but one notable example:

James Dobson:

“I’m deeply disappointed the Republican Party seems poised to select a nominee who did not support a Constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage, who voted for embryonic stem cell research to kill nascent human beings, who opposed tax cuts that ended the marriage penalty, and who has little regard for freedom of speech, who organized the Gang of 14 to preserve filibusters, and has a legendary temper and often uses foul and obscene language… I cannot, and I will not vote for Sen. John McCain, as a matter of conscience. But what a sad and melancholy decision this is for me and many other conservatives.”

We can expect to see many more clinically depressed Republicans in the coming months.

ACCEPTANCE

The final stage. Some never reach it, fighting to the end, or simply wallowing in depression and self-pity. Acceptance in this context simply means to give up and accept that the death of the GOP is inevitable.

At the time of this writing, DWSUWF is the only Republican to pass through all five stages to accept the inevitable (with the possible exception of Andrew Sullivan and Peggy Noonan). Having worked diligently from the inside, lo these long six weeks, as a stalwart fighting to save the GOP, I have reconciled myself that there is nothing more to do. I oppose euthanasia on principle, so all we can do is watch the end using the Kübler-Ross Model to track the final stages.

This is, of course, very bad news for the supporters of Divided Government such as me. We are now on board a hell-bound train rocketing down the rails toward single party Democratic Government, with either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama controlling the levers of power for the expanded unitary executive designed by Dick Cheney, complemented by increased Democratic majorities in both houses of the legislature and a real possibly of a 60 vote filibuster-proof plurality in the Senate. God help us. One can only hope that the Democrats will not have time to do as much damage in two years of single party control as it took the Republicans to do in six.

One last straw to grasp, is the possibility of a Hagel/Bloomberg presidential effort to replace the dying GOP (more in a future post). There is no historical precedent for a successful third party presidential run except in the role of spoiler. However, there is a precedent for a new opposition party successfully displacing an established major party that has disemboweled itself (Lincoln’s Republicans replacing the Whigs).

But for the current incarnation of the Republican Party, it is all over. The only remaining suspense is to see what Alien-like creature of hell will erupt through the GOP chest cavity as it convulses in its final death throes.

Excerpted from Divided We Stand United We Fall