Hello, my name is Jim, and I’m a Rehab Republican.”
I didn’t do anything to become a Rehab Republican. That’s the termed used by Rick Davis, John McCain’s campaign manager, to describe voters like myself who have turned away from the GOP. I left in 2004. Davis says McCain must win four of every five of us Rehab Republicans. That means they have to be very nice to us.
We Rehab Republicans are now GOP targets. Not in the Rovian sense, meaning they’re out to destroy us. No, they’re reaching for our hand and whispering sweet somethings in our ear.
I’m enjoying my status as a Republican project. My columns on David Iglesias have been forgiven. When I say the Iraq War was the stupidest thing my country has done in my lifetime, Republicans no longer brand me unpatriotic. They pat my wrist and mutter how I certainly have the right to my opinion. It’s so good to feel wanted.
The GOP is playing sweet music for us Rehab Republicans. I imagine them searching the iTunes library to find the right song to seduce our wayward hearts. They’re hoping we hear “Baby Come Back” playing louder than Bush’s noise machine.
It’s not working for this rehab prospect. Maybe I have yet to hit bottom. “Baby Come Back” is not what’s playing in my head. Instead I’m hearing Amy Winehouse, and she’s singing, They tried to make me go to rehab but I said no, no, no ... He's tried to make me go to rehab but I won't go go go!
Here’s the deal, Republican friends: Rehab Republicans didn’t leave the GOP. The GOP left us.
You’ve been drunk on power, on a bender for more than a decade.
Consider this our tough love for you. Under Bush, the GOP stopped being the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower; the party of fiscal responsibility; the party of small government; the party with an aura of competence; the party that established national parks; and the party that once talked of values and had new ideas for tackling old problems.
Face it, GOP, you’ve been drunk on power, on a bender for more than a decade. Look at the harm you’re causing everyone around you. Loving you just hurts way too much.
It’s you needing the rehab. It’s you that’s gotta go, go, go! So here’s your customized 12-step program.
Step 1: Admit that the GOP has been powerless over its addiction to power for power’s sake, and that its lust for unchecked power has made the nation’s life unmanageable.
Step 2: The GOP must believe that a power greater than itself can restore sanity. Remember something called “the national interest”?
Step 3: The GOP must make a decision to turn its will and very existence over to that greater power. Work for the voters on Main Street, not the lobbyists on K Street.
Step 4: The GOP must make a searching and fearless moral inventory of itself. Nobody said this would be painless.
Step 5: The GOP must admit to itself and the nation the exact nature of its wrongs. Repeat after me: “Bush and Cheney lied us into the Iraq War.”
Step 6: The GOP must be ready to have all defects of character removed by a power greater than itself. Being in the minority a few more years might do the job.
Step 7: The GOP will humbly ask God to remove its shortcomings. That requires invoking God’s name for something other than political advantage.
Step 8: The GOP will make a list of all persons it has harmed and become willing to make amends to them. Get cracking: the families of 4,000 Americans killed in Iraq; hundreds of thousands of Iraqi orphans and widows; 620,000 veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD, traumatic brain injury or major depression; the friends and families of those 620,000 veterans; Katrina victims; Valerie Plame; Pat Tillman’s family—it’s a long list.
Step 9: Make direct amends to such people wherever possible. Give Iraq back to Iraqis, move all Katrina victims out of formaldehyde-
Step 10: Continue to take self-inventory, and when the GOP is wrong, promptly admit it. Gee, imagine that.
Step 11: Seek through prayer and meditation to improve the GOP’s consciousness of, and service to, the national interest. Turning off Rush Limbaugh will make this step much easier.
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening, the GOP will carry this message to all Republicans who really need rehab and will practice these principles in all its affairs. In other words, no more dry drunks in the White House.
Easy does it, GOP. One day at a time.