Giving new meaning to "rudderless"

The Republican Party is in serious trouble, therefore we are ALL in serious trouble.

I gave very serious consideration to voting for John McCain in '08 (compared to having given no serious consideration AT ALL to George W. Bush in '00 and '04). I did this mainly on the grounds that I thought a heavily Democratic congress needed the counterbalance of a Republican in the White House. But as the campaign wore on, the economy continued to worsen, due in large part to policies authored by Republicans like former McCain economic advisor Phil Gramm.

In the supposed masterstroke of the McCain campaign, a dingbat former beauty queen was chosen as running mate. And as election day neared, I could not escape the perception that Obama was young and agile, and McCain was old, inflexible and ineffective. After all that, I just couldn't bring myself to pull the elephant lever.

But I stand by my initial logic. Everybody knows the Democrats will destroy the country if left unchecked. Just like the Republicans did from '01 thru '06.

So I'm pullin' for the Republicans. I really am. But it's not looking good.

This is brought home by a Gallup poll released last week that showed that 47% of Republicans could not name anyone they perceive as "speaking for their party." Think of that. The winning candidate among the minority party is "none of the above."

John Dickerson of Slate.com points out that it's perfectly normal for a party to find itself with no clear leader after being shellacked at the polls as the GOP has been in '06 and '08. Just look at the Democrats in '94.

But the problem for the GOP goes deeper than a mere leadership vacuum. The top four people GOP faithful named as "speaking for us" ranked in inverse order to any sense of reason or logic. In a virtual tie for number one was crackpot, bomb-throwing radio entertainer Rush Limbaugh and occasionally ethically-challenged blowhard Newt Gingrich with 10% each. Both are better suited and better paid to speak into media microphones than in the well of the Senate, so their claim to party leadership rings hollow.

Next up with 9% is the smirking, fear-spreading, warmongering, shooting-friends-in-the-face-ing Prince of Darkness himself, Dick Cheney. One of the least-loved figures in a disgraced administration, Cheney inexplicably keeps finding microphones in his face. One wonders how many Republicans really perceive him as a leader and how many "just saw him on the television last night." Ranking even below Cheney is John McCain (6%). He is a welcome voice of reason in the Senate, but if his showing in the '08 campaign is any indication, his party leadership chops need a lot of work.

"Other" and "Nobody" combined for a total of 31% of Republican respondents, which beats the top 3 combined. Factor in "No Opinion" (29%) and you have a filibuster-proof majority.

Names that surfaced in the poll which actually make some vague sense as party leaders were former Governor Mitt Romney, Representative John Boehner, and the guy who theoretically IS the leader of the GOP, party chairman Michael Steele. Steele and Romney each got 2%, and Boehner got an asterisk, which denotes "less than 0.5%." By the way, this puts Boehner in a tie with George W. Bush in the poll. Make of that what you will.

Especially now that one party has a death grip on the reigns of power, we as Americans NEED a viable opposition party to foster debate and critical thought on the vital initiatives before us today. But sadly, right now the Republicans probably would be hard-pressed to muster the votes to get anchovies removed from the congressional pizza order. And this poll seems to indicate the self-identifying members of the party are, at least for now, selecting as leaders those who will only take them further down the path of destruction.

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