Political Feuds: Dual Party Civil Wars

The two parties rip themselves apart

By Robert A. George
|  Wednesday, Jul 29, 2009  |  Updated 8:30 PM EDT
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Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) sparred with fellow Republican Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio. Voinovich blamed Southern Republicans for the party's recent stumbles. Vitter said the problem was "moderate, wishy-washy" members like Voinovich.

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The summer heat must be getting to the DC politicians. Not only are Democrats sniping at Republicans -- and vice versa -- but Democrats are going after Democrats and Republicans are denouncing Republicans. 

Retiring GOP senator George Voinovich of Ohio blamed his party's recent declining fortunes on an entire region -- the South: "We got too many Jim DeMints (R-S.C.) and Tom Coburns (R-Ok.). It’s the southerners. They get on TV and go 'errrr, errrrr.' People hear them and say, ‘These people, they’re southerners. The party’s being taken over by southerners. What they hell they got to do with Ohio?” 

Of course, there's a little bit of geographic irony in that statement. Ohio has always been somewhat split ideologically -- with its southern half voting more like its border state of Kentucky than the Rust Belt states it borders to its north and east. 

Even so, while DeMint didn't return fire, Louisiana's David Vitter did:

"I'm on the side of conservatives getting back to core conservative values," Vitter told the Washington Times. "There are a lot of us from the South who hold those values, which I think the party is supposed to be about. We strayed from them in the past few years, and that's why we performed so badly in the national elections."

"[Voinovich is…] a moderate, really wishy-washy," he said.

Of course, Vitter is also a poster child for the GOP's other recent problem -- one that has nothing to do with geography: Vitter was implicated in a prostitution scandal two years ago, not exactly the best champion of "core conservative values."

Things aren't that copacetic on the Democratic side either.  Even as the Blue Dog Democrats were brokering a less-expensive deal on health-care, Rep. Maxine Waters, former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and a leader of House Progressive Caucus, went after the moderates in her party (and the White House chief of staff, for good measure)

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) blamed now-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's work as head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), during which he worked to recruit many centrist candidates, resulting in landslide Democratic victories, for difficulties facing House leaders trying to pass reform legislation.

"That may be difficult for Rahm Emanuel, because remember, he recruited most of them," Waters said during an interview on MSNBC when asked if the White House could lean on centrist, Blue Dog Democrats to pass reform legislation.

"Now the chickens have come home to roost," she added.

Ah, that great "chickens" line.  It's gotten everyone from Malcolm X to Jeremiah Wright in trouble in the past. Ms. Waters, though, is in a safe seat, so she won't face any electoral headaches. In any event, Waters did mention that the Blue Dogs might face a primary fight -- though it's hard to believe that those conservative Democrats should feel threatened by a challenge from their left -- in districts that were conservative to begin with. Of course, Waters can still console herself:  The DC paper, The Hill, named her to its "50 Most Beautiful" list.

So, she's happy -- even if the two parties can neither stand the other side or even their own members.  

Can August recess begin soon enough?

New York writer Robert A. George blogs at Ragged Thots. Follow him on Twitter.  

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