by Clarence Page
After Mitt Romney's 2012 election shellacking, a predictable blame-storm has broken out between Republican pragmatists who want to win elections and the zealots who love to argue.
You can see that big divide most recently in such events as the Tea Party Express' staging its own rebuttal to President Obama's State of the Union Address, even though Republicans already had booked a tea party favorite, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, to deliver the party's official response.
Tea Party Express chose Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who in the past has described President Obama with words like "un-American," to deliver their response -- as if Rubio just isn't outraged enough.
Elsewhere you can see the divide in the new
Created by American Crossroads, which consultant Karl Rove and others built into the biggest
In other words, they want to avoid earnest but hopelessly doomed
Or Todd Akin, whose contention that "legitimate rape" rarely causes pregnancy helped sink his 2012 Missouri race.
Or Sharron Angle who lost the 2010
Although those are the type of
He's an "establishment" guy who raised hundreds of millions of dollars from deep-pocket donors and "had jack to show for it," fumed Red State blogger and newly hired
Rove is "a total loser," scoffed Donald Trump, who knows a thing or two about losers.
Town Hall's Terry Jeffrey tallied various Bush administration affronts to conservative orthodoxy in a piece titled "Karl Rove is Not a Conservative." Indeed? If Rove isn't conservative enough for this crowd, moderate
For more invective, see the Twitter hash tag #CrushRove.
Welcome to the circular firing squad that inevitably assembles after a party has suffered a big loss. Some say, "We were too extreme" while others argue, "We weren't extreme enough."
Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus has announced plans for "Republican renewal." Other leading
To Democrats, the feud may bring to mind the sentiments that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger reportedly expressed during the Iran-Iraq War: What a pity that one of them has to win.
No wonder the biggest fear of the party establishment is that tea partiers will stage another big comeback in 2014 midterm elections, as they did in 2010, and learn all of the wrong lessons from it.
Even though the turnout in mid-terms is much smaller, older and more conservative than it is in presidential election years, as one Republican operative told me recently, the right wing might well "get the wrong message that they don't have to change -- and we get clobbered again in 2016."
Nevertheless, this is a soul-searching process that the
Until now, attacking President Obama was all it took to unify the party's factions. Now the factions are attacking each other. Before they can take their argument about the country's direction to the Democrats, they first need to settle it among themselves.
The GOP's Civil War Stumbles On | Politics