This IS Your Father’s Republican Party

It is somewhat amusing to find so many Republicans who are shocked, shocked about the tactics that John McCain and Sarah Palin are using. Race-baiting? Never! Anti-intellectualism? Reagan and Bush I never would have done that! Crazed insane accusations of treason? Who could have predicted it?

I’m not sure whether to condemn them for their ignorance or their dishonesty.

This has been part of the Republican playbook at least since Nixon, elevated to an art form under Reagan, refined under Atwater and perfected under Rove. Quite simply, strategically, there is nothing new here. David Brooks claimed the other day that Sarah Palin’s hatred of ideas is something new. Nonsense. It is right out of George HW Bush criticizing Dukakis for being a Harvard elitist.

The biggest difference is that 1) they have candidates who are not as smooth on the stump (this was George W. Bush’s and Reagan’s forte–they were good at letting others do the dirty work); and 2) the fundamentals are so strongly against them that they need to rely more centrally on it. And I imagine that YouTube also helps reveal it.

But this is part of the standard playbook. The problem is that now it is harder to hide. One might now say, as McCain did the other day, that we know who the culprits are–and they will be revealed.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.