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The ugly faces of the modern GOP

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By Rick Howell

“Super Tuesday” might not have been so super for Republicans in Virginia, where a low turnout still produced a 60-40 victory for Mitt Romney.
    Virginia Republicans who bothered to vote were forced to choose between only Romney and Ron Paul. Santorum and Gingrich had earlier proved too incompetent to get on the ballot.
    They even went to court to try and reverse their mistake, but the courts would have none of it. (Republicans love to go to court when they don’t get their way; that’s how George W. Bush became president.)
    One oddity in the Virginia vote was the fact that Ron Paul actually carried Lynchburg, due to his adoption by many of the “Christian conservatives” at Liberty University, which now has its own precinct on campus.
    The city newspaper reported that one character in the Paul camp at LU kept shouting at the Romney supporters, yelling “Real Christians read the Bible, not the Book of Mormon!”
    Many people among the religious right won’t admit it, but their real beef with Romney is definitely the “M” word, only it’s Mormonism rather than moderation.
    But it’s almost certain that he’ll get the nomination, although it’s going to be a long haul against opponents and many party regulars who have such extremist views that they can’t possibly win a national election.
    The Rush Limbaugh episode speaks volumes about how many conservative men view women. Limbaugh’s tirade against a young female law student was outrageous, contemptuous, and – if he had any decency at all – he should be ashamed of himself.
    But he has no shame, of course, no more than any of the other loud-mouthed extremists on the right who have spent years venting their hatred and contempt for anyone who dares to disagree with them.
    But Limbaugh’s attack has hardly been condemned at all by Republican presidential candidates, which prompted conservative columnist George Will to say that they “want to bomb Iran, but they’re afraid of Rush Limbaugh.”
    The toothpaste has been out of the tube for a long time now in regard to birth control and abortion rights. It’s not going back in.
Women have shown – as they did in Richmond recently, where they got arrested for it – that they won’t be marched back to the dark ages on these issues. They’ll resist, they’ll protest, and they’ll vote, and the Republican Party will live to regret these backward attacks on women.
    Most everyone agrees that the “GOP brand” has been hurt. Indeed, how can it not be when you see what conservative Republicans propose?
    Across the country, there are about 450 abortion or birth control bills in various state legislatures. There are also attempts in many states to force registered voters to show a picture ID when they come to the polls.
    Under the bogus threat of “voter fraud” (which does not exist in any meaningful way), Republicans are doing all they can to decrease the number of people who vote. They know that less voters, not more, is what often keeps them in office.
    Shame on Virginia Republicans for doing that here, and shame on Governor Ultrasound for signing it. 
    There’s a madness now in the national Republican Party and in the greater “conservative movement” that holds it hostage. The likes of Limbaugh, Santorum, Hannity, Coulter, Gincrich – and in Virginia, Bob Marshall and Bob McDonnell (with a lot of local help from Steve Newman and Kathy Byron) – have driven the party to the edge of a cliff in their pursuit of “true conservatism.”
    Mitt Romney’s task will be to try and win an election against a respected and likable incumbent by riding a very ugly elephant once known as the Grand Old Party.

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Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com.