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Mann-Ornstein and Their "It's Even Worse than It Looks" Draw a No-Standing-Room-Left Crowd at Berkeley's Jack Citrin-Led IGS in the Days After Graduation

Mann-Ornstein: "It's Even Worse than It Looks": Berkeley Research Workshop on American Politics, lunchtime, May 18, 2012

I asked a bunch of questions. Here is a question I did not ask:

"A point of view that has not been well-represented here today is that of Markos Moulitsas Zuniga--of Daily Kos. So let me try to channel what Kos would say:

"'Look. You two are expecting normal politics to rein in a Republican Party gone bonkers extreme. But it will not work. The press corps will continue to say "he said, she said, yadda yadda yadda" either because they are gutless cowards or because they are bought. In a world of low-information voters, the bonkers extremism and sheer total meanness of the Republican Party will not get through. The only way it could get through would be if moderate Republican barons were to announce that they had had enough and were crossing t'he aisle, and if they did so in a way that they brought their affinities with them. But I don't see Brent Scowcroft doing that, I don't see Colin Powell doing that, I don't see Greg Mankiw doing that, I don't see Marty Feldstein doing that, I don't see Gail Wilensky doing that, I don't see Bob Dole doing that, I don't see Jack Danforth doing that, I don't see Richard Lugar doing that--and I don't see you doing that, Mr. Ornstein. I don't see you calling for the defeat of every single Republican candidate this fall and every fall until the party comes back to reality.

"'And since all of you moderate Republicans are unwilling to take the only step that might fix the situation on your side, we have to take the only step open to us: We have to stop bringing a set of policy proposals and briefing papers to what the Republican Party has made a thermonuclear exchange. We have to oppose their noise, slime, and lie machine with a noise, disinfectant, and truth machine of our own--and at the same intensity.

"'That means you moderates need to pick a side and fasten your seat belts, rather than wringing your hands about how the Republicans are being so mean, and you wish they would be less so.'

"Mr. Mann and Mr. Ornstein, please give me an alternative strategy I can follow to help the non-insane Republicans recapture their party. Please give me an alternative to signing up with Kos. And if you cannot give me an alternative, why are you two not signing up with Kos right now?

"The stakes, after all, are high."

Jack Citrin writes:

UC Berkeley | Institute of Governmental Studies: Special Session of the Research Workshop on American Politics: Please join us Friday, May 18 at noon in the IGS library (109 Moses Hall), for a special session of the Research Workshop on American Politics with authors Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein. As always lunch will be served. Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institution, have observed Washington politics for more than 40 years — and they're acclaimed for their carefully nonpartisan positions. Now, they say, Congress is more dysfunctional than it has been since the Civil War, and they know who to blame.

One of the two major parties, the Republican Party, has become an insurgent outlier — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition

they write in their new book, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism