Poor, poor pitiful GOP

Pity the poor GOP, isolated and lonely, on the fringes of a country that is moving forward without it. Indeed, watching GOP leaders speak these days is painful, like listening to a racist uncle who doesn’t realize that certain words are simply no longer acceptable in civilized company.

For example, there was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) back in February, accusing President Obama of “an audacious effort to Europeanize the country,” adding that Obama’s efforts to pass the Employee Free Choice Act would “turn the country into a Western European-type country pretty rapidly.”

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This line of criticism seemed a bit bizarre. Do Americans now hate Europeans? Had I somehow missed the memo? I needed to know if I was behind the times, so I asked nonpartisan pollster Research 2000 to include the question as part of the Daily Kos weekly survey. Well, it turns out that 63 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the continent, compared to just 29 percent who don’t.

What about San Francisco, whose values and marsh mice are constant targets of GOP ire? Turns out people love San Francisco — 65-24. And France, which we supposedly really hate? The cheese-eating surrender monkeys have a 61-32 favorability rating, with Republicans clocking in at 56-37. And New York City, which GOP leader Rush Limbaugh is quitting in a huff because of tax hikes? 66-26.

OK, the geographic attacks may be misfiring, but they’ll always have their divisive social issues, right? They certainly got a lot of mileage of anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives during the first half of this decade! Except even that now appears to be changing. “By a 53-39 percent margin, [New York] voters support the Senate passing a bill to legalize same-sex marriages that would virtually ensure its becoming law,” announced Siena Research Institute, summarizing its latest polling. “Democrats, independent and young voters, and women strongly support Senate passage. Republicans strongly oppose passage.”

Ahh, but that’s just liberal New York! Or is it? A CBS News poll from mid-March found that only 35 percent of Americans opposed legal recognition for same-sex couples. That number was 30 percent for independents, and 26 percent for Democrats. Republicans? Fifty-nine percent opposed any legal recognition — once again, grossly out of touch with just about anyone who isn’t white, male or a Southerner.

How about national security? Republicans can always depend on that, can’t they? True to form, they spent this past weekend in a collective frenzy over Obama’s handshake with Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) was apoplectic, accusing Obama of bolstering America’s enemies. Yet polling has consistently shown the American people prefer dialogue with countries like Cuba and Iran over the typical conservative response of belligerence and bombs.

“Venezuela is a country whose defense budget is probably 1/600th of the United States,” Obama said in response to that criticism. “It’s unlikely that as a consequence of me shaking hands or having a polite conversation with Mr. Chavez that we are endangering the strategic interests of the United States. Even within this imaginative crowd, I think you would be hard-pressed to paint a scenario in which U.S. interests would be damaged as a consequence of us having a more constructive relationship with Venezuela.”

It’s easy for Obama to mock detractors when they are so clearly out of step with the American mainstream, be it on Venezuela, France, San Francisco, the gays or pretty much anything else. Their fringe, mostly Southern, base may love the rhetoric, but it ultimately alienates the women, youth and independents whom Republicans need for an electoral revival.

Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.