article

05.26.09

The GOP's Suicide Mission

Memo to my party: Blasting targets like Sonia Sotomayor and Colin Powell is a surefire strategy to guarantee our extinction.

Plus, more Daily Beast contributors react to Sotomayor's nomination.

If the GOP is ever to be resurgent, it has to pick its fights carefully. The tendency is, unfortunately, to shoot at everything that moves.

Here are a couple of fights we don’t need: Colin Powell and Sonia Sotomayor.

Let’s face it, Sotomayor is a political trifecta. Woman. Hispanic. Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval from George H. W. Bush.

Yes, Mitch McConnell has to make his pro forma gestures about doing due diligence. And it is important to fully examine Judge Sotomayor’s judicial record. But, every day this confirmation battle gets unreasonably extended is a good day for Democrats and a bad day for Republicans.

We should be on our knees praising Colin Powell for declaring that he has not, despite the desire of some narrow and vocal forces within the GOP, left the party. Because if he does, we might as well turn the lights out.

Sotomayor is going to be confirmed. There is little doubt about it. So, going into weeks or months of paroxysms and hysterics about alleged “judicial activism” is just going to make the party look bitter, mean, tone deaf, and out of touch.

And we should be on our knees praising Colin Powell for declaring that he has not, despite the desire of some narrow and vocal forces within the GOP, left the party. Because if he leaves the party, we might as well turn the lights out. This is a man who, arguably, could have been the first African-American president had he made the decision to run against Bill Clinton in 1996.

Powell is a man of unquestioned military experience and diplomatic skill, the first African-American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of State under a Republican president. And yet, some attack him as just not “Republican enough.” Not a good message for independent and swing voters. 

No one is suggesting that Dick Cheney or Rush Limbaugh leave the party. So why are they insistent on defining the party as such an exclusive club? Because if they keep it up, they’ll offend enough Republicans so that’s just what the party will be: exclusive. It’s a recipe for permanent minority status.

I admittedly and proudly align myself with the more centrist, Powell wing of the party. But I think it’s great that there are strongly conservative voices in the party. Hell, I loved seeing Liz Cheney out burning up the TV circuits defending the policies of President Bush. She’s a superstar in the making. I don’t agree with everything she says, but I think it’s good that the party has a broad chorus singing the hymns. Even if it’s not in perfect harmony.

So, for the good of the party, after applying reasonable due diligence, we ought to be prepared to wave a white flag on Sotomayor, give Colin Powell a big bear hug and sincere thanks for sticking it out, and move on.

Xtra Insight: More Daily Beast contributors react to Sotomayor's nomination.

As vice chairman of Public Strategies and president of Maverick Media, Mark McKinnon has helped meet strategic challenges for candidates, causes, and individuals, including George W. Bush, John McCain, Governor Ann Richards, Charlie Wilson, Lance Armstrong, and Bono. McKinnon is co-chair of Arts & Labs, a collaboration between technology and creative communities that have embraced today’s rich Internet environment to deliver innovative and creative digital products to consumers.