Joe Lapointe has worked as a sports reporter with the New York Times and a segment producer for "Countdown With Keith Olbermann'' on Current TV
Fox News Channel and right-wing radio have formed a formidable propaganda factory to influence and intimidate the Republican Party, right wingers and conservatives. But the cracks in their coalition became evident this week when talk-show host Mark Levin attacked Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida.
One immediate issue was the GOP's bigoted and dangerously extremist views on immigration, particularly of Latinos. On "Meet the Press," Bush told David Gregory the Republicans need to change their tone.
"Our demographics are changing," Bush said, not about the Republicans but about the nation. "And we have to change. Not necessarily our core beliefs, but the tone of our message and intensity of it."
Bush is the son of former President George H.W. Bush and brother of former President George W. Bush. He's a probable candidate for President in 2016. He went on to allude to the party's recent attacks on women's reproductive rights and other sexual behavior.
"There's a gender gap in favor of President Obama among women," Bush said. "There has to be a concerted effort to reach out to a much broader audience than we do today."
Although Bush spoke in a calm and rational manner, his dangerously moderate and realistic opinions drew a spew of invective from Levin, a radio host who ranks third in vitriol behind Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.
"I think the Bush family has been a disaster and has been very harmful to the Republican party and the conservative movement by joining in with the Left and mischaracterizing those who have not a bigoted bone in their body," Levin said. He then said people like Bush have not been "intellectually honest" and have not "shown much integrity."
"I think Jeb Bush has this exactly wrong," Levin said. "He and his brother have done enormous damage."
Levin did not screech, foam at the mouth and hurl vile names at Bush, the way he does with Democrats, liberals and progressives. But his words made clear the fissure between the two major factions of the current Republican Party.
On one hand, you have the Money Men, guys like the Bushes, who have close contacts among the Saudi Royal Family, Texas oil tycoons and the elite of the military-industrial complex.. These people always give lip service to God, guns and all the other "cultural values" issues. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney belongs to this side of the party, despite his recent "harsh conservative" conversion.. They say what they need to pump up the ya-hoos and bo-bos, but they always remember the real deal is about making rich people even richer and powerful people more powerful.
Levin represents the other side of the Republican coalition: The Crackpots. They include the Tea Party, the bigots, the paranoids, the gun nuts, the birthers, the Bible-beaters, the gay-bashers and the misogynists. For several decades, Republicans have been able to meld the two factions. That's how Nixon and Reagan each got elected twice.
But that coalition may soon come apart. What if Romney loses big this fall? That's still the top probability. An Obama landslide might pull power away from the Republicans in Congress who did their best to sabotage the President's efforts toward economic recovery.
The aftermath might be a historic blood-letting between two sides of a reactionary political faction dangerously out of touch with the United States of the 21th Century.
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