Comments: Week of March 25, 2013

1. “Conservatives have solid reasons to believe that over time their position will prevail if they wait out the hits they take along the way,” wrote Frank Rich in a feature comparing Republican intransigence on the sequester to the profitable hard line taken after Barry Goldwater’s presidential defeat in 1964. “In the end, the party’s best bet may be not to do something but just stand there until history cycles back to it once more” ­(Lipstick on an Elephant,” March 11–18). “The most convincing aspect of Rich’s scenario is that in the immediate post-Goldwater era the commentariat really did deliver the party’s eulogy,” wrote P. M. Carpenter on his blog. “A mere four years later, it retook the White House; and twelve years after that it entered its 30-year phase of ideological dominance … The least convincing aspect of Rich’s scenario is that in the immediate post-Goldwater era the GOP had essentially the same American electorate to cycle back to in four years or sixteen. Today’s GOP won’t. By 2020, even Texas will have turned a rather deep purple through browning, and other onetime GOP strongholds, such as Virginia and even Georgia, are bluing, demographically, by the day. So clearly, some adjustments will have to be made—at least in tone.” At Time’s Swampland, Joe Klein agreed. “The party will be trapped by the Limbaugh minority until a critical mass of Republican leaders stand up to the wingnut horde,” he wrote. At the Dish, Andrew Sullivan saw some evidence of that resistance already. “It does seem to me that on immigration reform and marriage equality, there has been an adjustment to public opinion and demographic reality.”

2. By far the most twittered-about part of Jason Zengerle’s story on the congressional campaign of once-disgraced former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford was that he offered the job of campaign manager to his now-ex-wife, who declined (Back on the Trail,” March 11–18). “It suggests either that Jenny Sanford is a more forgiving person than most, or that Mark Sanford still hasn’t figured out how personal relationships work,” wrote Josh Voorhees at Slate’s the Slatest. At the >Washington Monthly’s Political Animal, Ed Kilgore offered a third possibility—that Sanford is charmed. “I couldn’t help but marvel at what a relatively easy time Sanford has had recovering from such a spectacular implosion, spending his post-­gubernatorial days ‘almost Thoreau-ing’ on his family’s plantation, building a cottage to house his political memoranda, mulling life in the big picture and occasionally jetting off to New York or Miami or Buenos Aires to spend time with his lover (and eventually fiancée),” he wrote. “If Sanford hit bottom or struggled through a Dark Night of the Soul, it was in considerable comfort. Here’s this man who grew up on a plantation and married an heiress, and then presided over a state that is a living monument to inequality, proudly championing the most churlish and self-righteous instincts of its privileged classes. But his new empathy still extends no further than people just like him. And odds are he’s going to go back to Congress, where I suspect he will declare his rehabilitation complete.”

3. Two issues ago, we unveiled a new and expanded “Culture Pages,” including a curated weekly “To Do” list in place of comprehensive event listings, which can still be found in full online. Some readers have applauded the change—“Thank you for extending the Culture Pages,” wrote one; “Thumbs Up on the ‘To Do’ list,” wrote another—but the complaints have registered, too. “Have you lost your minds???” asked one reader. “This is the biggest mistake since Coca-Cola tried to introduce their new Coke to replace ‘Classic’ Coke.” It was not the only reference in letters to New Coke.

4. Last week, the NYPD announced a change in policy regarding traffic accidents, promising to investigate more crashes, not just those where the victims have died—a change Robert Kolker had proposed, among others, in our fall survey of driving accidents in the city (A Year in Traffic Deaths,” November 25). At least one advocate wrote in to thank us. “If you hadn’t told the story about these injustices so clearly and convincingly, this victory would have been all the more difficult to win,” wrote Juan Martinez from Transportation Alternatives in a letter.

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Comments: Week of March 25, 2013