The GOP is blowing it

The word on the street is that if Republicans gain control of the House, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) will hire dozens of lawyers and investigators to use the congressional committee he would chair to pursue a partisan vendetta against President Obama.

What does it tell us about the Republican Party that Issa’s projected path to power is to imitate the tactics of Richard Nixon in the 1950s, to pursue the practices of partisanship and personal destruction that most voters loathe about politics today?

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If voters are not excited by the prospect of the Energy and Commerce Committee being chaired by a gentleman whose natural inclination was to apologize to BP, they will be repulsed by the notion of an investigative committee being abused with witch-hunts similar to the hyper-partisan impeachment of former President Bill ClintonBill ClintonTrump on NAFTA: Renegotiate or withdraw Trump says he will renegotiate or withdraw from NAFTA Poll: Voters divided on role of government in gun control MORE.

Will taxpayers support hiring a new army of congressional Republican staffers to create a modern version of the House Un-American Activities Committee?

The Republican Party is now dominated by forces far outside the mainstream of American politics. They have learned nothing from previous Republican victories or defeats.

Republicans will gain some seats, but not nearly as many as they could. Their voices of venom, intolerance and extremism will rally the Democratic base and alienate moderate Republicans and independents.

Many Republican voices, from right-wing media to primary campaigns, speak of those they disagree with not as opponents, but as enemies. They speak of political adversaries not as patriots with differing views, but as un-American demons guilty of treason.

This dark-side wing of Republicanism treats political discourse not as a reasoned debate about the future of the nation, but as a forum for name-calling, invective and personal destruction, shouting down congressmen at town meetings and making excuses for those who wave placards that make our president look like Adolf Hitler and question his Americanism.

For the most visible wing of Republicans in 2010, opponents are not described as having wrong views. They are described as threatening America itself, by those who disrespect the diversity that America represents.

Far too often, when major Democrats are named at Republican events, the haters take center stage. They hate Jimmy Carter. They hate Bill Clinton. They hate Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense: Benghazi report fallout | Nearly 50 dead after Istanbul attack Clinton: Istanbul 'strengthens our resolve' to defeat 'radical jihadism' Trump: Trade partnership is 'continuing rape of our country' MORE. They hate Al GoreAl GoreMain Street to Washington: A train ride through division Clinton’s third-term dilemma Third-party candidates aim for Sanders loyalists MORE. They hate Harry ReidHarry ReidThe Trail 2016: 11 hours, 800 pages, 0 changed minds Senate faces critical vote on Puerto Rico Menendez holds the Senate floor to rail against Puerto Rico bill MORE and Nancy Pelosi and Barack ObamaBarack ObamaTrump on NAFTA: Renegotiate or withdraw Nigel Farage: Trump better for UK than Obama Obama lauds abortion decision from Supreme Court MORE. Republican politics looks like a moveable feast about which Democrat they hate the most on a given day.

What happened to the Republican Party and the principled conservatism of Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley? Where is the big-tent conservatism of Ronald Reagan, who could battle and do business with Tip O’Neill with mutual respect and even affection?

Would Dick Morris write on this page that the great trustbuster Teddy Roosevelt was a socialist, as he recently wrote of Obama?

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Would Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle say of Abraham Lincoln that if conventional politics fails, there may need to be a Second Amendment solution? Which guns, aimed at whom and for what purpose was Angle referring to when she spoke these words?

Mr. Issa can champion his taxpayer-financed inquisition. This is what Americans voted out in 2006 and 2008. It is not what Americans want in 2010 and 2012.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net .