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Everything That Is Wrong With the GOP

How the Republican Party incentivizes the replacement of real policy thinking with fact-free paranoic fantasism.

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Kirsanow was far from the only one. “Sorry I missed @tedcruz carving up Chuck Hagel on TV like a roast,”  tweeted RedState editor and Fox News contributor Erick Erickson. “Cruz showed what happens when preparation, talent, and discipline come together,” gushed Pete Spiliakos at the theoconservative journal First Things. Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin enthused that “tough questioning” from Cruz and other Republicans exposed “Hagel’s pose as a consistent and ardent friend of Israel and foe of Iran…to be nothing but a hastily constructed façade that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.” These are but a few examples from a  vast ocean.

This adulation illustrates just how deeply rooted GOP dysfunction is. The Republican base elects someone like Cruz, who’s extreme enough to have suggested  the United Nations was coming for America’s golf courses. Cruz, who’s not only a ideological member of the base but beholden to it, brings its unsupportable ideas and implacably hostile attitude to the center of the Republican party. And he’s rewarded not just by adulation from his supporters, but widespread praise from the ostensibly serious conservative commentariat. There’s just no incentive for any Republican to speak out against the party’s descent into paranoia, and every reason to believe you’ll be rewarded by giving into it.

So if you want to know why the Republican Party will remain broken for the foreseeable future, go watch the Ted Cruz game tape from this week. And try to think how it could have been otherwise.

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