This letter from a reader at The Daily Dish accurately sums up exactly what has been wrong with the mindset of those on the right during the last two elections and why I don't foresee the Republican party emerging from their self-imposed wilderness anytime soon:
I think you're underestimating the echo chamber effects on the right. It's not that they've perceived what has gone wrong over the last 8 years, been forced to bottle it up to preserve their hack jobs, and gone nuts as a result. Rather, they did NOT perceive what has gone wrong, but did perceive that their side lost two elections. For years these folks have been exposing themselves only to their own media; any criticism made of Bush by anyone who is vaguely "liberal" is attacked and dismissed.
At best they might find a blog post quoting and criticizing a piece of liberal opinion mediocre enough in its execution to serve as a straw-man, and ignore that liberal's response to it.
Socialism, defeatism, and BDS: if you've been listening to conservative talk radio or watching any of the commentators on FOX News lately this is exactly what you've been hearing, and you'll continue to hear it over and over and over again because they have nothing else. It's why after crushing defeats in the last two elections the solution arrived at by the party leaders is that they need to become more conservative and veer farther to the right, as if America just didn't understand what their positions were and that's why they've been losing elections. It's also why we've seen the precipitous rise of socially conservative, incurious dullards like Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber.
So what you have is a conservative movement that spends 8 years dismissing any criticism based on income inequality as socialism, any based on the limitations of military power or blowback as defeatocrat treason, and any based on corruption or incompetence as Bush Derangement Syndrome. Then this movement gets smacked in the face by reality - two straight massive electoral defeats.
Their response to defeat is to attempt to reform their party, but that reform is built around the only criticism of Bush they view as legitimate: that he spent too much money. This is why we have tea parties, and rejection of stimulus, and the obsession with earmarks.
So the one meme they're now all clinging to with a death grip is fiscal responsibility. Now I'm not saying that this is a bad thing, and we'll have to wait and see if President Obama's own economic plans pan out for the country (and anyone who has already dismissed them as failed is both a liar and a fool), but I'm trying my damnedest to remember having seen the small group of rabid conservative "tea party" protesters holding up signs lamenting their children's futures I now see many Friday evenings at the intersection outside where I work when Bush was spending and borrowing like a college kid with his dad's new credit card and I just can't seem to recall any of them.
And this is why the Republican party will remain in the wilderness for the foreseeable future, because the American people can smell this brand of hypocrisy from a mile away: "Any criticism of our guy was blatantly partisan and far off the mark (and therefore easily dismissed) and it will take many years for the country and the world to see what a great job he did. And your guy? Well, he's a Marxist/Socialist/Communist who will take away our guns and our fetuses while surrendering our nation to his secret Muslim masters during a presidency that has so obviously failed after its first few months that there's no point in even trying to debate this with us. Have we mentioned his fake birth certificate yet?"
So do me, the rest of the country and the entire world a favor Republicans and keep your fingers in your ears while you continue to chant, "Palin in 2012! Palin in 2012!" Obama's definitely going to need a second term if we're going to get ourselves back on the right track and your unceasing, mindless groupthink as you bang your collective heads against the wall is what's going to get us there. Stumble on...