If the GOP establishment wants to know why Donald Trump is drawing enthusiastic crowds and Jeb Bush can't fill a coffee shop, they need look no further than the response they offered to President Obama's speech on Tuesday night.
In the lone piece of good news from last night, we have endured the last State of the Union speech from our current president.
However, when South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley delivered the Republican response, she inadvertently demonstrated the fundamental problem with today's Republican Party. It is completely out of touch with its own base and the majority of ordinary Americans, and doesn't even realize it.
Gov. Haley by all accounts is a very pleasant individual and a woman of character and faith. I'm sure she has genuinely conservative convictions. But you would have to look pretty hard to find them last night.
Whatever conservative passion Gov. Haley might have was masked in a mush of politically correct verbiage which betrays the fecklessness of today's GOP, and illustrates why so many conservatives are bolting the party.
She began by apologizing for the Republican Party and accepting blame on behalf of her party for the nation's woes. But not in the way that she should have.
"We need to be honest with each other," Haley said, "and with ourselves: while Democrats in Washington bear much responsibility for the problems facing America today, they do not bear it alone. There is more than enough blame to go around.
"We as Republicans need to own that truth. We need to recognize our contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America's leadership. We need to accept that we've played a role in how and why our government is broken.
"And then we need to fix it."
The base agrees with the governor that Republicans share much of the blame. But for the exact opposite reasons Haley suggests. The base wants fighters, and today's Republicans are led by appeasers. We want Winston Churchills, and they give us Neville Chamberlains. We want George Patton, and they give us Gomer Pyle.
By "fix it," I don't think Gov. Haley means put on the gloves, get in the ring, and duke it out with the political opposition. But in order for the Republican Party to be the loyal opposition, it needs to, well, stand in opposition to something.
To listen to Gov. Haley, you would think the Republicans are to be blamed because they have been too shrill and combative and not nearly nice enough. They just haven't accommodated enough, haven't crossed the aisle, have been too difficult, aggressive and assertive. Haley wants us to "fix it" by being a softer, kinder, gentler GOP. But that's exactly what got us into this mess.
Haley's message sounded one uncertain note after another. It was a speech of pale pastels rather than bold colors.
For instance, she said, "No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country." No one?" That sounds suspiciously like the exact message we hear daily from the open borders, pro-amnesty crowd.
She immediately qualified that by saying "that does not mean we just flat out open our borders." But she makes no mention of how we should secure those borders. No mention of a double-layer security fence, or increased personnel, or vigorous use of E-Verify, or deporting criminal aliens.
"We must fix our broken immigration system," she went on, a phrase which has become code for amnesty and a guaranteed path to citizenship.
"It means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion." Translation: we must never take into account the murderous ideology that Islamic immigrant wannabes may be bringing with them into our country.
There's no mention of the stark reality that the terror of which she speaks is in fact spawned by one particular religious ideology, which she evidently cannot bring herself to name. Just like our president, she apparently cannot bring herself to use the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism." But we cannot deal effectively with a problem unless we can identify it, name it, and tell folks how we are going to deal with it.
She referred to church shooter Dylann Roof as a "domestic terrorist." Translation: our terrorists are just as bad as theirs, who are we to judge?
"We didn't turn against each other's race or religion." Translation: we must not say anything critical of Islam, even though it teaches its followers to cut our heads off.
"[T]here's a tendency to falsely equate noise with results. Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference."
Translation: We need to be softer, kinder, gentler. Taking an unapologetic stand on principle is the wrong way to go. The key is not making our case, it's shutting up, sitting down, and listening to our political adversaries, and then giving them in the end whatever they want. That's exactly how we got the bloated monstrosity of the omnibus bill, over which Democrats are gloating because it funds every part of the Democratic agenda.
"If we held the White House, taxes would be lower for working families, and we'd put the brakes on runaway spending and debt." Translation: We're helpless and powerless even though we control the House, the Senate, and the public purse. Even though President Obama can't spend a dime without our say-so, we're too pusillanimous to use the power of the purse to stop his agenda.
It wasn't enough for voters to give Republicans control of the House, the Senate and control of the purse. Nope, there's not a thing we can do, we're told, unless you give us the White House, too. That has become the excuse du jour for the GOP, and Haley is putting the full force of the GOP behind it. The GOP has prostrated itself before the executive branch as if the executive was the supreme branch of government and not a co-equal one.
"We would respect differences in modern families, but we would also insist on respect for religious liberty as a cornerstone of our democracy." Translation: we are not going to invest one ounce of energy in fighting to protect natural marriage and the right of children to be raised by a mom and a dad. Nope, the best we can hope for, to borrow from a parable of Jesus, are some crumbs of religious liberty to fall from the master's table.
If the GOP establishment wants to know why Trump is drawing enthusiastic crowds everywhere he goes and Jeb Bush can't fill a coffee shop, they need look no further than the official response they offered to Obama's speech.
By their fecklessness, their cowardice, and their capitulation they have created the vacuum that Donald Trump is filling. If they don't like him, they have only themselves to blame.
Bryan Fischer hosts "Focal Point with Bryan Fischer" every weekday on AFR Talk (American Family Radio) from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. (Central).
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