Chris Matthews interviewed Republican bigwig Mike Pence yesterday on "Hardball". Chris, who has a genuine love and passion for the rough-and-tumble world of politics, was trying to put his finger on the Republican problem, and thereby point the way to how the party can become relevant again. He repeatedly asked Pence whether he believed in evolution., and Pence repeatedly refused to answer the question! It is obvious that Pence does *not* believe in evolution, but he refused to say so forthrightly, and this highlights the dilemma Republicans find themselves in these days. No Republican candidate can get nominated without getting the "seal of approval" from the so-called social conservatives. Yet, no candidate can win a general election without being able to appeal to the moderate portion of the electorate.
Mathews' point was that if the Republicans do not believe in science, they become merely a fringe party, a relic of a bygone era. The recent defection of Arlen Spector is instructive here. Spector made it clear that his defection was based on recent polling which indicates he could not have won a Republican primary for re-election. The reason is precisely as I stated above, that the anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-everything forces control the primary process. Spector, a cancer survivor, mentioned stem cell research in particular as important, and stressed how he has always been a supporter of increased funding for NIH.
As a Democrat there is a part of me which welcomes this Republican slide into oblivion, as the Whig party did many years ago; but as an American, I can't feel good about this ominous development in our national politics.