Monday, November 17, 2008

Nov. 17: G.O.P. Feudin' About Its Future

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Last week's meeting of the Republican Governors Association looked a little bit like a family reunion in which the family members don't really want to be together.

They all had different ideas about what it would take for them to get back on track after this year's election. In fact, if the late, great humorist Will Rogers had seen them, he might have changed his description of an unorganized political party from Democrat to Republican.

There were tiffs over strategy, focus and ideology. And there was Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.

One firm conclusion from Palin's appearance: Her ego is as big as her hairstyle. She has already begun her presidential campaign for 2012, at least in her own mind. She is now what Sen. John McCain, who picked her as his running mate, accused President-Elect Barack Obama of being: A celebrity.

And that leads to another conclusion: The G.O.P. has to work on its female bench strength in the post-baby boomer generation. If Palin, who counters the big ego with a lack of intellectual curiosity, is the best they've got, they're in more trouble than they realize.

Many people have made the point that the Republicans lack diversity. Want proof? Look in the special election issue of Newsweek at the picture of Sen. John McCain's concession speech. Just about every face is white. That's why the Republicans hold up Gov. Bobby Jindal, of Indian descent, as their version of Obama.

Jindal, Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist may really represent the future the Republicans want - pragmatic workers who reach across party lines. That's what Obama did in winning the presidential election. If this year's results mean that the era of red states and blue states and selective campaigning and governing is at an end in both parties, so much the better.

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